|Interview with J.B. Toner, author of
By D.W. Jones
J.B. Toner has been a contributor to Blood Moon Rising and now
is coming out with his first novel Whisper Music. He combines religion
and vampires in a wonderful blend of suspense, action and blend of
horror. We speak with J.B. Toner on his start of writing, his novel and
the inspiration for the novel and his characters.
DW Jones: How did you get started in writing?
JB Toner: Mama read me The Hobbit. That one book shaped my whole life to a bizarrely
DWJ: Did you always love writing in the horror genre?
JBT: Nope! I actually started out writing mostly fantasy, but I've always loved reading horror. Problem
was, I kept catching myself thinking how I might tweak this or that horror tale if I were the author. Finally I
decided I'd better quit couch-quarterbacking and try writing it myself.
DWJ: Who are some of your inspirations in writing or the horror genre?
JBT: Tolkien is definitely my biggest influence as a writer. Even as a horror writer, in fact. We tend to
think of trees and fairies when JRRT's name comes up, but there's some pretty dark shit in Middle Earth. I
guess Blatty (The Exorcist) is my biggest specifically horror influence; everything gets scarier when you
bring in religion.
DWJ: Tell our readers a little about Whisper Music.
JBT: The basic premise is: What if the Virgin Mary was bitten by a vampire? The opening scene is a
massive battle between Our Lady and the protagonist, a very powerful vampiress called Danyaela
Morrigan, who ends up getting her claws on a drop of Mary's blood, hence a tiny piece of her immortal
soul. After that, she crosses paths with the cops, the Pope, and the Devil, and things get kind of intense.
DWJ: When writing this book, did you go into it thinking there will be a strong religious tone
throughout the book? Did you grow up Catholic?
JBT: I did indeed. Naturally, you don't have to believe the doctrines of the Church to read the novel
(anymore than you have to believe in real-life vampires), but the premise of the story rests on the Catholic
Faith being factually true in the Whisper Music universe.
DWJ: I love the way you wrote the characters! There is plenty uneasiness in the characters,
both in reacting to the events around them and where they fall on the scale of good or evil. Did
you intentionally write it that way or did you have clear roles and things changed during the
JBT: Thanks! It's always interesting to watch good guys and bad guys slide around the ethical scale as
they're impacted by the events of the plot. So I started with the Virgin Mary and good ol' Satan as the
"bookend" characters, setting the extremes of Good and Evil, and let the other characters move up and
down that continuum as they make their choices. The really interesting thing will be in the next book, when
even Mary and the Devil start to move out of their fixed moral positions. (Not to spoil anything.)
DWJ: There are several strong female characters from Danyeala Morrigan to Lady Claudia.
How did you come up with these bad ass women?
JBT: Well, my mom’s a bad ass and the Toner boys all married bad ass ladies. I guess I’ve been lucky to
have a lot of examples to draw inspiration from.
DWJ: I would love to see what is next for Danyeala? Do you have plans to continue this
JBT: Oh yes. Whisper Music is meant to be the first in a trilogy.
DWJ: What do you have coming out in the future?
JBT: Beacon Publishing is releasing my novel The Shoreless Sea, an urban fantasy, this coming
January, and I’m hoping to get the sequel to Whisper Music finished in the next couple of months. I’ve also
got stories appearing in anthologies from Rogue Blades, Third Flatiron, Alban Lake, and a few other
places in the weeks ahead; and besides that, the saga of the Fight Corps (BMR #74, 75) is far from over!
DWJ: If you have to give out one piece of advice to new writers, what would that be?
JBT: Do not stop. Not ever. Writing is who we are, and sometimes that sucks, but we cannot let The
Nothing swallow our voices. Just keep writing. Always.