Home of authors Holly Hunt & Jophrael L. Avario

Talking to TK Toppin, Author (1/2)

On July 01, 2011, the sequel to the fantastic The Lancaster Rule (T.K. Toppin) will be released by Champagne Books (Much to my delight!). To celebrate, I managed to hunt down kidnap blackmail ask T.K. to answer a few questions I had about herself and her writing.

HH: First of all, it’s wonderful you have you here, T. I personally much enjoyed The Lancaster Rule, and am much looking forward to reading The Master Key when it’s finally released.

Firstly, a little info from the lady herself, T.K. Toppin…

TKT: I’ve been asked quite a few times why I wanted to, and what made me wanted to write the particular story of the Lancaster trilogy.  My answer is usually the same.  I wanted to write something that captivated people’s attention with unforgettable characters, excitement and adventure, thrill and spills, and a plot so twisty and unexpected that it would have you guessing.  After all, I love reading stories like that.

While writing The Lancaster Rule, I knew there was more to tell in the story.  So the beginnings of The Master Key were forming, as well as for the final book, The Eternal Knot.  I wanted to finish the tale of Josie, my heroine’s life in the future, because in my head, there were too many loose ends, or rather, questions.  Even though the first book finished with a proper ending, even an epilogue, it still needed a real finish — if that makes any sense at all.

The Master Key, which takes place a few months after the first ends, introduces a new character that is connected to Josie.  By this new character, another is brought to light that will be shown in the final book.  Here’s a blurb:

All is not idyllic as Josie begins her new life in the future as wife to the world president, John Lancaster. A dangerous man from her past returns — Michael Ho — to wreck more havoc and destruction. With him, Ho brings a hostage, Margeaux, who turns out to be Josie’s great-niece, seven times removed! He demands a trade off — a keycode for the life of her niece.

As revelations of Josie’s past, three hundred years ago, begin to unfold, every question she has ever asked is answered. Together with John, and head of security, Simon, they head to the Scrap Yard, a cybernetics space station where they battle it out with Ho who is hell-bent on taking control of the world.

Can Josie save the life of her new-found niece? Will learning the truth of her past and family really be enough to put the ghosts to rest?

Like the first book, I truly enjoyed writing this one.  I feel that the characters have had time to grow and develop.  Almost like friends getting to know each other better.  I keep saying this, but this is my favourite of the three.  Mostly because it’s a compact little story, that, I think, really kick’s ass!

A few questions I put to T., and her excellent answers:

HH: First of all, I’d love to know the character who co-operated the least in the writing process (took off on their own, insisted on doing comic relief despite being completely not-funny, etc.)?

TKT: That would have to be Loeb.  He’s a sort of aide, assistant, what have you…  His character, at first, was simply background fluff.  But as the story evolved, so did his character.  He comes into his own in the last book, The Eternal Knot.

There is another character that I introduced in the sequel, and that would be Captain Grosjean.  Her character is one that I wanted to explore more, but couldn’t since it would not have fitting into the story.  I have, however, begun a spin-off with just her character.  So, stay tuned!

HH: I definately will! Now, who was the character you most wanted to boil in oil, and why?

TKT: Hmm…Well, in my books, the evil-doers usually do end up boiling in oil…scratch that spoiler — I never said that.  Shhh…

There are a few that I’d like to see with their insides out, and I hope I did them proper justice in building them up into nasty villains then having them meet their appropriate fates.  Enough said.

HH: It’s always very satisfying to see a truely evil character smoking in a cauldron somewhere. But out of The Master Key, what would you say would have to be your favourite scene? 

TKT: Honestly, The Master Key is my all-time favourite out of the three.  While The Lancaster Rule was great in that it built up the characters and set the pace, The Master Key is like its own book, with its own adventure.  While the continuity is there, the story can work on its own.  The same can be said for the final book, but not really.

My favourite scene is when the two main characters are having a ‘discussion’ on board a space shuttle.  Throughout the book, I tried to capture what married couples encounter — whether newly married or married for eons — and how things, at the drop of a hat, can turn into a hissy-fit for no reason at all.  And then return to normal as if nothing had happened.  It’s funny, it’s how normal people behave or react.  Here’s an excerpt where the characters are getting on each others nerves: (Uhh, some PG-13 words can be found here…)

Josie had never been in space. To be perfectly honest, she wasn’t even sure if she was going to like it, either. Aside from countless tiny dots that were stars, it seemed riddled with endless bits of junk. Lots of junk—scrap metal and bits of flotsam and jetsam from centuries of man polluting the great vast ocean called space. Every so often, the shuttle would jerk slightly to avoid these floating bits of junk. Larger crafts would simply repel them with their shields, or blast them away with their guns.

And then, getting there, or through it, was tedious enough. Hours upon hours with nothing but endless blackness around you—strapped into a small, uncomfortable chair with nothing but a nagging husband for company. She could think of a hundred other things she’d rather be doing than sitting here now, next to him.

Granted, he wasn’t particularly nagging at the moment. Just being overly polite and concerned, that it drove her ape-shit mad. He treated her as if she were made of very thin glass.

“Please, will you have a little more?” he said again, offering her a rehydrated steak sandwich.

The Bullet was a bare bones, no-nonsense, moving vessel stripped of all its niceties. And that included the food choices. Josie had no inclination of eating another morsel of the tasteless, rubbery, artificial sandwich than she did for wanting to step into a pile of shit. No matter how hungry she was.

“No, thanks.” Josie replied slowly as if speaking to someone hard of hearing.

“You’ve barely touched it.”

“I don’t eat shit.”

“You need to eat something.”

“I notice you didn’t eat it.”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Because it tastes like shit.”

“Josie…” he sighed.

“John…” she mimicked. “What is your fucking problem?”

“Might I remind you, you’ve just been injured—not four hours ago. You need to keep your strength up. You’re going on nothing more but pills and adrenalin.”

John had been trying very, very hard to keep his voice level and calm. It was very, very hard. His teeth hurt from clenching them tightly together for the last two hours.

“I’m fine! Have you never heard of, of—oh, here it is—feed the fit and starve the injured?”


“I’m not hungry—not for that, anyway.” She looked around inside the “lunch box” before them, a large metal container crammed full with suspiciously bulky packages in silver-foil wrappings. “What’s this one? Why don’t they just tell you what’s inside instead of putting stupid numbers on them? What’s number six? Feels like a log of shit.”

John sighed again. It appeared she had shit on her brains. “Six, means juice.”

“This?” Josie whipped her head to stare at him in disbelief. “This turd-like thing is juice? How are you meant to drink it?”

“Add number one to it.” John rubbed a knot at his brow. “Water.”

She rootled around in the box until she found a bulbous packet labelled ‘1.’ Then, she stared at both packets in her hands, looking left then right with a screwed up face.

“How the fu—”

“Oh, give it here.” John seethed with impatience, taking both packets from her with force. He pulled at a corner from 1, extracted an extendable straw and used it to punch a hole at a red dot on 6. He squeezed 1 and let it fill 6, the silver-foil wrapping expanded like magic. With an angry tug, he pulled the straw out of 1 and left it sticking out of 6. He pinched the end of the straw, shook the packet a few times and handed it to Josie, who watched with great interest.

“There,” he muttered, and under his breath, added: “Try not to choke.”

“I heard that,” she snapped out.


“What is the matter with you? You know, not everyone knows how to read this military-food-shit thing.”

“I could ask the same of you. What is the matter?” John turned in his seat to regard her with his sharp stare, hoping that by doing so, it would prompt her into talking.

“Nothing’s wrong with me,” she slurped up some juice, made a face and nearly spat. “Holy fuck! That is bad. It tastes like— ”

“Shit, I know.”

She glowered at him for a moment. “I was going to say piss. Look, if you’re going to behave all snippy like this the whole way, you might as well put me off right here.”

The temptation was great. So was the temptation to grab her by the neck and shake her until she talked, or her mood changed, at least. Annoying was but an understatement.


TKT: And that’s all for now.  You’ll just have to buy the book to find out what happens next.

HH: Trust me, I will! A very intriguing end to that snippet, I must say. I enjoy the characters immensly, and i am definately dying to see what’s going on here.

Tune in tomorrow for some more information about T. and her upcoming book, The Master Key, book 2 in the Lancaster trilogy. We chat about writing totems, habits, and surrounds, and how they help with writing.


June 16, 2011 - Posted by | Interviews with Awesome Authors


  1. Haha! Thanks everyone. I really hope I did the whole “being in a marriage/relationship” angle right. I’ve only my own marriage angle to use, and from what I’ve seen with friends and families (and slip out into public).
    Thanks again for stopping by.

    Comment by T.K. Toppin | June 17, 2011

  2. LOL! This reminds me of so many hissy fits my Hubby and I have together…usually after we’ve taken a long trip woth the kids. Great excerpt TK! I’ve got this added to my TBR list.

    Comment by arnorris | June 17, 2011

  3. LOL “Nothing’s wrong with me…” You painted that scene just right!
    Well done, T.K. Enjoyed this very much!

    Comment by Jude Johnson | June 17, 2011

  4. Excited to read Master Key, especially since it’s your favorite!

    Comment by Ashley Barnard | June 17, 2011

  5. Great interview, even the eww-gross boiling and oiling spoiler!! I totally love that excerpt.

    Comment by Linda Kage | June 16, 2011

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: