Horses, music, and big dreams shaped Toni Leland's pre-writing life, but those same things all found their way into her novels. The subconscious mind is a great thing.
A long period of time passed between Toni's childhood daydreams of galloping across an Oregon field of daisies astride a beautiful stallion, to the wonderful year when an aging retired show horse named Sonny made his way into her life. No matter that he was the ugliest horse alive, he was the dream come true. Those emotions of a horse-crazy little girl never go away, and Leland's story characters reflect that.
Music played a large role in Leland's early years. Classical piano study for ten years, church organist during junior high and high school, participation in the A Cappella choir, and accompanist for several smaller school choral groups paved the way for Toni's position as director of The Julie Singers in Holy Loch, Scotland in the early 1980s. Ten years later, she was a proud voice with The Kent Singers in Connecticut.
Big dreams? Leland's aspiration to become either a horse veterinarian or an archaeologist never came to fruition. Marriage and children set those dreams on hold, but in 1984 she had the opportunity to live in Cairo, Egypt and was ultimately able to see and experience the wonders of that ancient land. Of course, Egypt has many Arabian horses and Toni instantly resumed her horse-crazy activities.
Once the horse bug had revived, Leland decided that she would finally have that gorgeous stallion she'd dreamed about so long ago. In fact, she'd have as many horses as she wanted. On her return to the U.S., she began acquiring quality Arabian horses to breed and show. At some point, she became acquainted with Morgan horses, and had to have one of those too. Then a charming palomino Welsh pony mare named Jasmine. (There is no known cure for horse-crazy.)
Toni Leland started writing in earnest at about that same time, combining her graphic design talent with good copywriting, and working with horse owners and stables around the Northeast. Toni designed and produced several breed organization directories over the next few years, as well as a start-up magazine for the miniature horse breed. In 1988, Toni took over publication of the well-known Nutmeg Horse Bulletin, a yearly events calendar for Connecticut and surrounding areas.
Through those years and the ones that followed, Toni Leland has lovingly and carefully created stories involving horses and the people who adore them. Though she no longer owns horses, her insight into the animal, the human elements, and the issues that face the industry are all fodder for her novels. And to think it all started with an imaginary ride on a galloping stallion.