A METAPHORICAL lightning strike hit Tonya Sharp Hyche as she sat on a bench overlooking Shelly Beach in November 2010.
The result was her first novel Swept Away.
Little more than two years later, Tonya is now working on her sixth crime suspense novel.
The Alabama-born mother-of-two credits her short time on the Sunshine Coast as changing her life forever.
After teaching world history to 16-year-olds in her hometown in Texas for 12 years, Tonya moved to the Sunshine Coast in August 2010 when her husband Steve, a mechanical contractor, received a temporary appointment.
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It was her life-long dream to write novels and with an uncertain contract length, she thought it best to pursue her passion rather than try to secure teaching work.
"Every day I would walk along the coastal trails and sit on a bench right on top of Shelly Beach with my dog for 45 minutes and then I would come back home and write," she said. "I come up with a simple plot line and the rest just comes to me.
"If I'm not in the mood to write, I don't. But when I am in the mood I can type anywhere between 2000 and 10,000 words a day. "
Although Tonya has been approached by a publishing company, she has continued as a self-published author so she has control over her work.
When she had three books under her belt, Tonya began promoting her collection online and through book signings while travelling around Australia with Steve.
Her fifth novel, Intersection of Lies, was launched at Bulcock Beach's Sandbar cafe on Saturday.
Tonya has sold more than 1000 books in Australia and the electronic versions on Amazon.com have been popular in the US.
With her husband's contract completed however, the couple and their youngest son Dylan will leave the Coast on Thursday.
Tonya said she was sad to be leaving, but excited that there were "more options" for her when she returned to Texas.
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