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Village Art & Literature

Tonia’s gentle touch

Posted on January 19 2011 at 11:58:27 0 comments

Alvechurch writer reveals her lifetime romance with story telling.

Alvechurch author Toni Anders

Everyone has got a book in them, according to the old saying . . . but for one Alvechurch woman it’s more like two a year – and she’s not planning to stop.

Retired primary school teacher Tonia Chappell had her first book published in 2004 and is now on to her ninth, due to be published at Easter.

The books are what is known as “gentle romance”, which means, says Tonia, “no sex, no violence and no swearing. Anyone who reads them expecting pages of passion will be disappointed. It suits me because I couldn’t write pages of passion.

“I don’t know how people with a family can and I’m very pleased that my publishers don’t want it.”

Tonia writes under the name Toni Anders, using a combination of her first name and her middle name, Ann.

“I just added the ‘ders’ because it sounded nice. I didn’t want to use my own name or my married name - I just wanted a name that was me,” she explains.

Her books are published in the Story Collection series of The People’s Friend by major publisher DC Thomson and then in large-print paperbacks by FA Thorpe Publishing, of Leicester, for libraries and for organisations helping people with visual impairment.

“Thomson is a very big, established old company,” says Tonia. “It’s where lots of writers have made a start. The editors are lovely and they send you Christmas cards; they are very encouraging and help you get into print.”

“I’ve been very lucky and I’ve never had a rejection,” says Tonia. “If they want to change anything, they do – but they don’t tend to change much.”

They did, however, once remove an expletive . . . “One of my heroes was extremely provoked and he said, ‘damn!’ and they took it out.” 

Tonia began by writing short stories. “I started getting stories published in about 1970,” she explains. “In those days there were a lot of women’s magazines that carried stories, but many have gone out of business.

“I had always thought writing books would be much harder, but in fact it was easier because you can develop the characters and the plot.”

Each of Tonia’s books is about 50,000 words and takes about six months to write, including the research.

She and husband Royston take holidays in France and Italy and Tonia also adores Cornwall, so her books tend to be set in those places – although one, Rivals in Love, is loosely based on Alvechurch.

Her first book, Dance in my Heart, was set against a backdrop of ballet dancing.

“I had an idea of a dancer who had an accident,” Tonia explains. “I try to find a different occupation for each heroine.“

Dance has always been an interest for Tonia and when she came out of school teaching she qualified as an exercise teacher for elderly people, now running four classes a week for Age Concern in Redditch.

The rest of the week she spends on her writing.  “I plan to keep writing for ever more – as long as Thomson and Thorpe want them, I will keep doing them,” says Tonia.

Copies of all books by Toni Anders are available at Alvechurch Library.

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