How did you come to be interested in the Lei Crime Kindle World?
Over the summer I was working on a Kindle World novella for Russell Blake’s female superspy JET. Toby happened to be writing her own take on the JET universe at the same time and I came to know her through that experience. I noticed she had a very successful series of her own with Lei Crime and loved Toby’s upbeat and helpful outlook and attitude. After both our Jet offerings hit the top 10 on the Kindle World’s Best-Seller list, I was humbled and honored when Toby asked me if I would like to keep that momentum going and write for her Lei Crime World next. Of course I said yes, but to be perfectly honest I hadn’t written any crime fiction yet, but I love a challenge so I sincerely hope I did justice to her creation.
My story takes place shortly after Lei and Michael’s wedding and their move to Maui, so that would be between Book 6 Shattered Palms and Book 7 Dark Lava. One of my main characters is Lei’s cousin from California. My other main character is a rugged Polynesian antiquities expert who helps the police and FBI on cases now and then. He has helped Marcella Scott on a case or two. Lei and Michael make an appearance in Dead Flow, as well as cameos by Marcella Scott, her partner Matt Rogers, and Lei’s faithful dog Keiki.
The Lei Crime Series are police procedural mysteries with a twist of romance. What genres do you explore in your story?
I try to cover that same genre with Dead Flow, but since I normally write action/adventure type thrillers, I tried to incorporate that type of feel into it as well. I like fast-moving adventure stories, but always with good pacing. And of course, you gotta have a little romance. They’re in Hawaii for gosh sake!
The Lei Crime Series is set in Hawaii, but these novellas could be set anywhere. Tell us about where you set your story, and why?
My story takes place on three of the islands, but mainly on Oahu and the Big Island. When Toby asked me to write for her world, I immediately became excited because volcanoes, exotic islands, ancient legends and myths are things I am very interested in. I dove in researching all the wonderful stories about the gods and goddesses of Hawaii like Pele, her sisters, and so many more! I found these to be a huge part of Hawaiian culture and endlessly fascinating. Lots of material there for sure.
Tell us a little about your main characters. Why do you think readers will like them?
I have two brand new main characters. The first one is Lei’s cousin, Gabriella (Gaby) Texeira from California. She moved from a desk job to walking a beat on the mean streets of L.A. before packing up everything and moving to Hawaii to take a job as detective for the Honolulu PD. I think people will relate to Gaby because she has problems and a past like most of us, and personal demons she has to deal with. Overcoming those things and becoming stronger, better, versions of us is something I think we all strive to do or should strive to do.
My other main character is Jake Kahanamoku, the current curator of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Jake is a fun character to write because he loves to surf and search for ancient artifacts, but is occasionally called upon to help the authorities. In a nutshell he’s a brainy, hunky dude who lives on the beach and looks good with his shirt off. Lol. No, really, people might dig him because he is old-fashioned, he doesn’t like techy stuff. He loves animals. He’s down to earth, smart and funny. He has some fears that he needs to overcome, like most of us, and of course he’s loyal and I believe would be a good friend to have.
What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works?
I think I hit upon some of major themes in the previous question. Beating down those things which hold you back from becoming the best you can be in this life. Never losing your sense of adventure. Loyalty. Love conquers all. Facing your fears and face-stomping them. And of course GOOD trumps EVIL! (eventually) In my non-fiction book How I Kicked Type 2 Diabetes Butt—and You Can Too! I document my own personal journey from being highly unhealthy and having out of control blood sugar levels to getting all my stats back to normal and living at a healthy weight. Dunn’s Revenge, a prequel novella to my upcoming series “The Specialists”, is straight up action adventure highlighting good vs. evil, loyalty and friendship, general buttkickery. JET: Outbreak is my offering to Russell Blake’s Kindle World. That story features a younger Maya/JET and tries to hit upon some his themes of self-doubt, a messed up past, love is attainable in a jacked up world, not to mention buttkickery and mayhem. Bull Run: Part One Called to Arms is the first part of a series of historical fiction pieces I have always wanted to write. It features the famous Minnesota 1st Infantry division and their repeated acts of bravery, loyalty, and copious amounts of intestinal fortitude in fighting against their own countrymen during the Civil War.
Share some of your story about becoming a writer.
I have always had a firm love of reading and books since I first learned how to read. I wrote and recorded quite a few songs, played guitar and sang in many, many rock bands. I had dabbled in writing a few novels over the years but life always seemed to get in the way. After raising my kids and accomplishing some other goals I had set, I turned my attention to writing. I started writing a few short stories and just fell in love with writing all over again. Something just clicked in my head that told me this is what I should have been doing with my life all along, whether I am successful at it or not. I just really felt the need to just write. It really helped to all of a sudden wake up one day and find I had all these stories and ideas swirling around in my head that seemed to be screaming at me to let them out and tell them. That almost makes it easy, but not really. Writing is hard. But it is an extremely enjoyable hard, if that makes any sense. I’m pretty proud of the fact that I have released five books in the last ten months while raising two kids and working full-time. Maybe it’s not Russell Blake speed, but not too dang bad! Seriously, that guy is a machine, writing from 8 am to 8 pm seven days a week like that. Independent authors like Russell, Toby, Andy Weir, Hugh Howey, and Joe Konrath have all been such tremendous inspirations for me on my journey.
Do you have a background related to your writing? Interests? What makes you interesting outside of your books…Authors are often some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met!
I love to try new things, mainly because I get bored very easily. I have been a musician most of my life, playing lead guitar and singing in various bands, writing and recording songs. I’ve lived in California, Illinois, and Nebraska (don’t ask). I am fascinated by ancient weaponry, especially swords and bladed weapon. I study and practice several different Martial Arts and I am obsessed with and have looked at about every fighting discipline known to man. I love working out, yoga (google “the 5 Tibetans” and do them every morning!) and I try to inspire people who have Type 2 diabetes to work hard so they can eradicate all the effects of that disease like I did. My first non-fiction book, How I Kicked Type 2 Diabetes Butt is available for Kindle and in print. As I mentioned earlier, it chronicles how I went from having a blood sugar level in excess of 400 and being out of shape several years ago to a normal blood sugar level of 90-100 and in reasonably good shape. I obviously highly recommend it for anyone or a loved one that has been diagnosed with Type 2. If I can do it, anyone can.
The Lei Crime Series uses mysteries to explore social issues of Hawaii… what social issues intrigue you, and why?
Some of the social issues that intrigue me are indeed some of the ones that Hawaii suffers from. Poverty and homelessness are two of the biggies. It may be paradise, but it’s heartbreaking that the poor sometimes have to live in tent cities. There just aren’t enough decent paying jobs for the number of people who live there. I touch on a few different problems in Dead Flow and during my research for the book I found out many things I had not previously known about Hawaii. Every place, no matter how it looks from the outside, usually always has its own set of internal woes.
What are you working on next, aside from the novella in the Lei Crime Series Kindle World?
I am taking a very short break, just to let the brain recharge a bit. Then I plan on pumping out Bull Run Part Two. Then I would like to do one more Dunn prequel before I finish the full length novel, The Specialists, slated for Spring 2016, which features two characters from JET: Outbreak – Josie and Chase. I am hoping to fit in a sequel to Dead Flow for Lei Crime too in the near future. I think Jake and Gaby make a good team, and a darn cute couple. Not to mention they were so enjoyable to write! In 2016, I need to finish a time travel, love story, adventure that I started last year but set aside. I would also like to do a few more other KW novellas for some of the other worlds if time allows. There is a ton of them!
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