Guest Author Interview – Toki Smith

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Title: Them Inside Me

Genre: African-American Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Synopsis: Several women come together to support each other while trying to find healthy ways to deal with the traumas each has faced. But during the course of their 8 week support group, betrayal, self-doubt and even murder begins to threaten their path to becoming survivors. “Them Inside Me” is a look at sexual assault and the long-term consequences.

Toki Smith, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Toki Smith. She is a passionate writer who takes real situations and creates an inspiring novel. Welcome to my blog, Toki.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read your book.

 TS: My book is, not only a murder mystery, but also elements of my own journey as a sexual assault victim.

CH: This book is about a support group of women dealing with traumas. Why did you decide to write this book?

TS: I haven’t read books about “real” characters in a trauma support group.  Many books have the standard few characters that are so one dimensional, it will falsely leave you thinking all victims present have the same cookie cutter behaviors.  I wanted to show, from a personal experience, what it was like for me in a support group.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues?

TS: It was hard to express my life situations in a way that drove the fictionalized elements of the story.  I wanted to be true to my history, while not making this a biography, per se.  I haven’t known pimps and prostitutes, so I drew on some of those 1970’s TV shows for inspiration!

CH: Overall, where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?

TS: My first book, The Plan, featured an assassin and I wanted to tell a story about how that person became a killer and a human being without regard for others.  During my journey, I’ve wondered why I became a law-abiding citizen and not a hard, hostile and unforgiving person.  So, I got to explore the dangerous side through my writing.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

TS: The feedback has been universal—the characters speak like people they know.  I tried to use an honest voice, as I think the character would want to express their truth.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?

TS: Yes, I set my story in a fictional town in West Virginia, but my son, who is a West Virginia University student, made me a map of the downtown area, so I could use it for the story.  Otherwise, I relied on my clinical skills, I’m a clinical social worker (mental health therapist) and a survivor of rape and incest.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write?

TS: My favorite character to write was Yvette!  She was a ‘tell-it-like-it is’ girl and I wish I could be more like her and not care about the consequences.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

TS: Penny for sure…she was a professional dealing with the long-standing consequences of being raped by a cousin.  Reliving my own rape to write her storyline was very painful.

CH: Tell us a little about your first book and whether you will decide to make your second book a series?

TS:  My first book, The Plan, introduced us to an assassin, but it’s definitely a stand-alone book.  I’m not sure if Them Inside Me will be a series.  Although, I have gotten feedback that certain characters should have their own books.

CH: Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

TS: Yes, a few take-aways would be:

  • Don’t assume you know how the victim feels;
  • Some families do make it back from trauma;
  • Don’t assume every victim is the same;
  • Suicide may not be an option to you, but respect that victims may see it as a very real option; or
  • There is help out there…keep living till you find it.

CH: What type of feedback are you receiving from readers?

TS: Sexual assault victims have reached out to me with thanks for giving them a voice.  One lady’s mother committed suicide years ago and she wanted to thank me for giving her some idea of what her mother may have been dealing with.

The Center for Abused Persons asked me to be their guest speaker (Victim’s Vigil) and from there, the Charles County Commissioners invited me to speak at a town hall meeting about childhood sexual abuse.

Lastly, one of my first therapists wrote that she was proud of me and my book was “on par with the mysteries I read.”

CH: Who are some of your writing influences?

TS: Janet Evanovich and James Patterson.

CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?

TS: Meeting other victims and having them tell me I got it right!

CH: What can we expect next from you?

TS: I would really like to write a story where Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford get back together!  I can’t believe The Way We Were has been left for so long with their characters still apart!

CH: How to Find Toki Smith:

CH: For my audience, where is your book sold?

TS: My above website and Amazon; also found at Southern Maryland libraries!

CH: Any closing remarks?

TS: Thanks Cheryl for offering your platform to support other writers.

CH: Yes, I pay it forward to other authors as much as I can. Thank you so much, Toki Smith, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Toki Smith and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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4 thoughts on “Guest Author Interview – Toki Smith

      • Cheryl! I attempted to respond from Paris but my comment didn’t go through. I am so grateful for your support and willingness to “pay it forward” to budding authors. Also Them Inside Me is a hard subject to tackle but given the climate it is a most necessary discussion. Thank you so very much and I hope this comment makes it!

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