I have recently had the pleasure of interviewing the amazing Author, Toni Pike. She is a fellow traveller and novelist who enjoys travelling the corners of the world to gather inspiration for the scenes in her novels. I hope you enjoy reading this article, and her stories.
1. How did you initially find the inspiration for your Jotham Fletcher Mystery series?
I had dabbled in writing for years, but several years ago decided to try my hand at writing a fast-moving thriller. I thought it would be fun to take on the challenge of writing an exciting story that would entice my readers to keep turning the page.
First, I read as much as I could about the features of that genre and decided that I want to write a conspiracy thriller about a religious mystery. While doing some research, I read about Simon Magus, a magician and cult leader who was mentioned in the New Testament. That gave me the idea of a story about a man who uncovers a secret sect, and also a mysterious brotherhood that is trying to hunt them down. My hero, Jotham Fletcher, goes to Rome to give a lecture and unwittingly becomes embroiled in a dangerous struggle to find out the truth.
2. On average, how long did it take you to write each book in the series?
Jotham Fletcher eventually dedicates his life to tracking down the secret sect, and there are now four books in The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series. Each one can be read as a standalone book, but they also tell Jotham’s continuing story, so I definitely recommend reading them in the right order.
They are full-length novels, so there is a huge amount of time and work involved in writing each one. I am usually able to dedicate a few hours each day to the process, and it takes me at least six months to produce one book. I am lucky to have the help of two friends who are excellent editors. They make a significant contribution at the end of the process with story advice and also finding spelling, grammar and typographical errors.
3. How does travelling help you gather inspiration for your literature?
I love to travel the world and experience the history, geography and culture of other countries. That definitely inspires my writing and helps to give me story ideas.
Thrillers often involve settings in multiple international locations, so that makes it the ideal genre for me. I have been lucky enough to travel to many different countries and particularly enjoy visiting the UK and Europe. I am Australian, just like my hero Jotham Fletcher, but he settles in a remote estate in Derbyshire and travels all over the world on his mission as a sect hunter. I am able to use the different places I have visited as settings for my novels. I use my own experience for details about locations, characters, food and local customs. There are quite a few car chases in my stories, and also narrow escapes and encounters on planes, trains and boats – so my own travel experiences have been very useful.
4. Which are your favourite authors, both old and present?
In my younger years, I loved to read many of the great classics by authors such as Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Leo Tolstoy, Emily Bronte and Joseph Conrad. I also admired Agatha Christie and thought that I had read every one of her books.
Now I mostly read mystery, thriller and suspense novels and particularly enjoy cosy mysteries. James Rollins and Steve Berry, who write conspiracy thrillers, are two of my favourite contemporary authors.
5. Which are your best tips and advice regarding writing literature and travelling?
One thing I love about writing is that I can do it anywhere, so long as I have my laptop with me. I call myself a digital nomad because when I am travelling, I can find the time – even if it is only an hour or two – to write every day.
Writing a novel is a huge undertaking. Remember that the financial rewards are meagre, so my advice is not to give up your day job but take every chance you can to write. Eventually, if it is what you really want to do, you will finish your manuscript.
My secret to success is to be well organised. After thinking about my story idea and characters, I then plan the story in great detail. It is important to ensure that the plot builds to a climax with an ending that will satisfy the reader. The outline is many pages long, and when that is finished, I then begin the work of writing the first draft. At the end of that process, it is essential to have help with editing, as I have found that it is impossible to see all your own mistakes and you also need some second opinions about your story.
If you want to use your travel experiences to inspire your writing, remember to take plenty of photos that you can refer to later. If you get story ideas or thoughts while travelling, write them down straight away before you forget them.
My main travel tips relate to organisation. I always plan my travel wardrobe well ahead with the aim of keeping my luggage to a minimum and only taking easy-care items. Another important aspect is to have a travel preparation checklist, as there are many details to take care of such as travel bookings, organising currency and notifying banks. My main safety tip is to ensure that you have valuable items such as medication, documents and jewellery in your hand luggage in case you get separated from your suitcase.
The best link to all of her books is her Amazon author page:
As always, I wish you all happy travels and have gathered some new inspiration for your trips and writing!