Smorgasbord Open House – Australian Author Toni Pike – The Magus Covenant


Smorgasbord Open House

My guest today is Australian author Toni Pike who grew up in a suburb of Sydney. She studied Veterinary Science at Sydney University and following her marriage to an Air Force officer she travelled around both Australia and overseas to postings in London and Washington D.C. Toni taught high school as her family grew up and later went on to work in public office; including some time as a contract writer for the NSW Department of Agriculture, writing guide books for farmers. Now permanently settled in the national capital Canberra with her husband, Toni has launched her career as a novelist.

Apart from her writing; family, taking long walks and catching up with friends over coffee are important elements in her life. We will take a closer look at Toni’s debut novel and will find out more about her second book in the series at the end of her interview.

About The Magus Covenant

 COVER_Magus Covenant

The Reverend Jotham Fletcher is in Rome to give a lecture on his PhD thesis about Simon Magus at the church where he fell to his death beside the Roman Forum. Magus was a cult leader mentioned in the Bible and his libertine sect disappeared by 400 AD. But did it really die out?

A robed man is pushed from the belltower of the church at midnight and Jotham becomes the prime suspect. His lover Antonella, an expert on ancient documents, has a shocking secret. Rumours fly about a papyrus scroll that mentions Magus. A ruthless Catholic Brotherhood will stop at nothing in their hunt for the Simonian Sect. And a reclusive billionaire has the chance of a lifetime to get his revenge.

Jotham is kidnapped, tortured and on the run. He races from Italy to England to Sweden. But the body count continues to rise and so does the heat in this non-stop thriller that will leave you breathless.

One of the recent reviews for The Magus Covenant

A real page turner. By sarah hardy on 9 Jan. 2016 Format: Kindle Edition

The Magus Covenant is the ideal read for fans that love books like The Da Vinci Code.

With short chapters and quite a fast paced storyline, I flew through this book in no time at all.

I don’t read many books like The Magus Covenant and to be honest I really don’t know why as the whole church and religion storyline really fascinates me. The Roman Catholic Church for one has always been steeped in history with rumours and secrets that will always be something that intrigues many of us.

Jotham is on the run and you can really feel the adrenalin that is coursing through him and the constant mixture of emotions that he is experiencing. I enjoyed the closeness and relationship that he has with Antonella.

The Magus Covenant is a story steeped with lies and secrets. It’s one of those stories where you become a bit like the main character and trust no one. There are certainly some twists that I didn’t see coming that makes the novel even more enjoyable.

Buy The Magus Covenant

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Toni the blogger

Apart from her own blog posts with articles on travel, writing and motivation, Toni also has written some guest posts including one for the Story Reading Ape earlier this year. The article is a guide to writers on how to include that adrenaline rush correctly and effectively when your characters are faced with flight or fight response situations.

‘This is a simple guide to adrenaline and its effects on the human body. An adrenaline rush is often referred to as the flight or fight response. You, the writer, put your characters into the most incredible situations and then decide if they will confront the enemy or run away – or do something completely unexpected. But what really happens when a person confronts an assailant or has a panic attack’?  Adrenaline – A Simple Guide for writers

It is clear from this next post that not only has Toni a love of travel, but that food in the various countries she has visited is also enjoyed. We take pizza rather for granted with huge variations in the crust and toppings depending on where you live. Here is a master class on Pizza when in Rome!

‘Pizza has become a favourite meal around the world, one that has been popular for decades. Australians love to go to an Italian restaurant with family and friends, choose several different varieties laden with all sorts of toppings and then share slices around the table. And they usually eat it with a knife and fork.

The method of eating pizza in Rome is very different. You may like to try the traditional approach and see how you enjoy it. It will certainly make you feel like a local.’ Eat Pizza the Roman Way

Now it is time to hand over the blog to Toni who has chosen her selection of questions about her family history, favourite television series, what she believes is the next big thing in the publishing industry and five experiences she feels we should all enjoy.

IMG_Toni3

If you have looked into your family history have your found any surprises that you can talk about!

 I grew up in a leafy suburb of Sydney, at a time when it was not considered respectable to have a convict in your family background. But now it is generally regarded as a badge of honour. Delving into the past, I have found more than one fascinating surprise.

The First Fleet arrived in Australia in 1788. Fourteen years ago, I was delighted to discover that I could trace my descent all the way back to a marine on the Friendship, one of the convict transport ships. Private Thomas Williams had a relationship with Anne Davis, who arrived soon afterwards on the Lady Juliana, a ship transporting female convicts. It was nicknamed “The Floating Brothel” for reasons better left to the imagination. Before too long, their son Thomas Williams II was born and the rest, as they say, is history.

My great-great-great grandfather Richard Hunt arrived on a convict ship in 1816. His father worked at the Worshipful Company of Saddlers in London, where young Richard was tempted to steal some silverware. Transported to Australia, he soon became a respectable citizen: a farmer and lay preacher with a wife and five children. After his first wife died, he re-married and had five more children. Unfortunately, Richard was living in the town of Gundagai, where the early settlers had unwittingly built their settlement along the flood plain. In 1852, there was a raging one-hundred-year flood and the waters quickly rose. Everyone climbed onto their rooftops, but all the houses were swept away. More than 90 citizens were killed, including Richard Hunt and his second family.

Now I live in Canberra, Australia’s capital city. The hero of my thriller The Magus Covenant is in Rome to give a talk, but he is an Anglican Minister and rector of the oldest church in Canberra. It was built in 1845 and surrounded by a small graveyard, reminiscent of a church in an English village.

What is your favourite all time television series?

 The 1995 adaption of Pride and Prejudice, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, remains my favourite television series. Everything about it combined into a perfect synthesis almost as splendid as Jane Austen’s novel. The scenery and locations were the ideal backdrop, with a range of historic houses so well suited to the different characters who resided there. Through each episode, snippets of everyday life were revealed like a sumptuous visual feast for Jane Austen fans.

The series was recorded on film for a more painterly effect that enhanced the visual impact. Who could forget the luscious but refined Elizabeth Bennett, the dashing Mr Darcy and the incredible range of actors who all seemed to ideally suited to their roles. Most important of all, the screenplay remained true to the novel. It is the perfect story, where everything goes from bad to worse until finally all is resolved.

 What do think will be the next big development in the publishing industry?

I am certain that the next ten years will bring unparalleled changes to the publishing industry. Printed books will gradually be phased out and replaced by ebooks as an ever-increasing number of people adapt to using an electronic device for reading. The only exceptions will be printed books for young children and lavish coffee table books. The editorial process to produce an ebook will be reduced and the marketing process will increasingly become the sole responsibility of the writer.

The traditional publishing industry will slowly shrink until it finds creative alternatives to the traditional methods of publication. As digital publishing takes over, alternative forms of writing will increase their market share, including shorts stories, novellas and a range of non-fiction.

Online publishers are introducing more methods to ensure that published ebooks do not contain too many errors. At the same time, they are trying to ensure that all reviews posted are honest and unbiased. The standard of indie publishing is already high, and I believe that in the next ten years, the overall standard will improve and social media will become fully integrated into the world of publishing.

What are the top five experiences or activities that you feel that everyone should complete in their lifetime?

I love to travel the world, and my favourite mode of transport is to take a cruise. I never anticipated that I would be able to visit so many extraordinary places. I drew on some of those experiences in The Magus Covenant, as Jotham Fletcher races from Italy to England to Sweden.

There are five special travel activities that I recommend for inclusion on any bucket list. You will remember them for a lifetime, but none involve climbing a mountain or sailing white water rapids. I love to put my hero in great peril, but prefer safe activities for myself.

  1. Visit Petra in Jordan to feel like Indiana Jones as you walk down the winding sandstone canyon and then emerge into the vast archaeological site that was carved out of red stone.
  2. Sail along the Panama Canal, one of the world’s greatest engineering marvels. It takes an entire day to pass through six massive locks, Miraflores Lake and the enormous Gatun Lake that is dotted with small islands.
  3. Explore the ruins of the Temple of Delphi in Greece. It is one of the most beautiful sights in the world, set on the side of a hill and with views all the way to the coast.
  4. Wander around Taormina in Sicily, a wonderful old hilltop town that has the remains of a Roman amphitheatre and vistas of Mt Etna.
  5. Cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage in early May, when ice is still floating in the water. See the spectacular sight of whales and orcas, mountains, fjords and glaciers.

Tell us about your work in progress, plans for your blog in the next year and any special events that are coming up that are very special to you.

I am currently working on the second book in the Magus series. The Rock of Magus should be released by the middle of 2016. Once again, Jotham Fletcher is the hero and this time there is a problem in the Vatican. He will be travelling from England to America, Spain and Rome in his search for the truth.

You can read more about me on my website www.tonipike.com or visit my Goodreads page Goodreads. I write occasional articles about travel, writing and motivation. This year I’ll be visiting Brisbane and Melbourne to spend time with my grown children and hope to spend some time in Britain and take a cruise to see the Norwegian Fjords for the first time.

Link to Toni on her website and social media.

My website www.tonipike.com
My author page on Goodreads
Twitter: https://twitter.com/piketoni1

My thanks to Toni for such an interesting response to her chosen questions and we would of course be delighted to receive your feedback.

Thank you for dropping by and please feel free to reblog and share.  Sally

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