How did you come to be interested in the Lei Crime Kindle World?
I love the islands and writing about them. I’ve enjoyed the Lei Crime series and, was thrilled when the opportunity to write for the series came along. I have two series of my own—one is set in Hawai’i—but this was a chance to tackle a new challenge, a world created by another writer. My goal was to stay true to the world, but put my own spin on it.
The Lei Crime Series are police procedural mysteries with a twist of romance. What genres do you explore in your story?
I write a blend of the mystery and thriller genres. I guess “adventures” is the most apt description because I blur the lines. I also like to incorporate an element of romance, but the real focus is on the whodunnit and the adventure the characters uncover as they dig themselves deeper into trouble.
My first story in the Lei Crime world, Tough Choices, is set in Honolulu. We’re not talking about the tourist-trap side of the city, but the seedier and darker side of paradise. The juxtaposition of paradise with the crimes that filter into our society lets me create a story filled with beauty, danger, and plenty of twists.
Tell us a little about your main character. Why do you think readers will like him?
Marty Fitch is a brilliant inventor—he’s a whiz in the world of technology and creativity, but not a good judge of people. He moved to Hawai‘i after his wife stole the rights to his patents, divorced him, and ran off with a con man. He’s also a traceur, someone who practices parkour. For those not familiar with parkour, think of it as monkey meets military obstacle course. Yeah, it’s pretty wild.
What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works?
Ah, the dreaded theme. It’s the question many authors are loathe to answer. But, in the end, don’t all stories explore a theme? Perhaps one reason I write in the mystery/thriller genres is I believe everyone deserves justice. Sadly, legal justice isn’t always possible. The second book in the McKenna Mystery series, Kauai Temptations, begins with McKenna learning a woman has stolen his identity and is bouncing checks under his name. McKenna flies to Kauai, determined to avenge his battered credit. But, the woman is dead. The deeper he digs, the more the woman’s death looks like murder, which makes McKenna more determined to expose the crime. That’s how I like to explore a theme—black, white, and many shades of gray.
Share some of your story about becoming a writer.
I wasn’t one of those kids who picked up a crayon and scratched out his first novel. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in a high-pressure situation at work that I decided to try a mystery. Being your basic chicken and unwilling to “do the time,” I decided to “do the crime” with my words. When I finished the story, I realized the plot was trite, the characters shallow, dialogue terrible, etc. To my dismay, my “great American novel” was a great American disaster. It was also the point when I decided I wanted—no, needed—to write fiction. Twenty-five years later, while working on my eighth novel, there was a moment when I stopped and thought, “I just passed the million-word mark.” I’ve never been one to keep a bucket list, but joining the Writer’s Million Word Club seems like it’s something that should be on the list. Besides, it’s probably far more doable these days than joining the Mile High Club.
Do you have a background related to your writing? Interests? Authors are often some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met!
Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m really pretty boring these days. When I was younger, I ran lots of road rallies and, on more than one occasion, a friend and I drove for thirty-six hours straight to map out the most indirect route possible via backroads from Santa Barbara, CA to Las Vegas, NV. As far as work goes, the bulk of my background was in dealing with the public. I started out skip tracing and collecting money from deadbeats. In fact, during my first week on the job, fifty people lied to me about making their payments. How do I know this? Well, out of the fifty loan cards my boss gave me to collect, not one of them paid by their deadline. The good news is, I get to pull on that experience to write novels about liars, cheats, and, of course, killers. Fortunately, I only had to repo one car from a killer—and that was after the FBI arrested him.
The Lei Crime Series uses mysteries to explore social issues of Hawaii. What social issues intrigue you, and why?
I’m one of those people who believes many of our social issues stem from ignorance. Whether we’re talking about drug abuse, prejudice, or job inequality, they all stem from an inability to improve one’s life. That’s why I really like stories of redemption and perseverance. In Tough Choices, I introduce Marty Fitch, a brilliant inventor who’s lost almost everything and has moved in with his Cousin Pono to get back on his feet. Marty is desperate to reinvent his life, but can he do that when he dives headfirst into a world filled with killers and drug dealers?
What are you working on next, aside from the novella in the Lei Crime Series Kindle World?
I’m launching a new series of novellas called the Trouble in Paradise, Inc. mysteries. As part of that series, “Mystery of the Lei Palaoa” is launching on Amazon. This series features McKenna, my perennially snarky protagonist, and his young protege with a Magnum, PI fetish, Chance Logan. The book opens with the murder of an arrogant troublemaker on the streets of Honolulu. The one clue is a precious necklace the dead man wore, but it’s missing. With no other clues and no witnesses, can McKenna and Chance keep an innocent man from being convicted of a crime he didn’t commit?
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