How did you come to be interested in the Lei Crime Kindle World?
I lived on Maui for eleven years, and now live in Seattle but I was in a Kihei bookstore on a trip to Maui recently giving the owner some of my paperback books and he asked if I’d read Toby Neal. I’d seen her covers and loved the look of her series. I contacted her to say our books were sharing shelf space, then read Blood Orchids, loved it and asked her to do a Suspense Box Set with me. Next, she asked me to do her Kindle World.
Tell us how your story links to the Lei Crime Series.
I love Lei Texeira and the pull to write her was too strong to go in a different direction. So my book, Rocky Bluff, is the time between Torch Ginger and Black Jasmine when Lei and Stevens first arrive on Maui. They’ve just moved in together and are settling in to their new jobs when Lei’s first Maui friend, Kali, is targeted in a series of disturbing crimes. I tried to stay very true to Lei, Stevens, Omura, the Iao cottage floorplan, even what Pono eats!
The Lei Crime Series are police procedural mysteries with a twist of romance. What genres do you explore in your story?
Same but I also have a supernatural element that Toby has touched on herself in Torch Ginger and others. I love the exploration of the unknown and in my story, Lei happens upon an occurrence that is beyond science. And, like Toby, I spiced up the story with some delicious intimate scenes between Lei and Stevens and also followed police procedures to make the story as true to what the MPD actually do.
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?
I set my story on Maui because I lived there for eleven years as an actress by night and a scuba diving instructor by day. I also have a suspense series that begins on Maui and stays anchored to the Valley Isle throughout the three books and although I wasn’t allowed to mention my Maui characters from those books in a KW story, I hid an incident in the book that crosses to my first Dream Jumper book. Sneaky, huh? All of my novels have cross references to characters from other books, like six degrees of separation, so I wanted to do something in Rocky Bluff that somehow links in to the Dream Jumper books. I chose to write about Maui simply because I know Maui very well and wanted to bring that knowledge and authenticity to my story. I even put a scene in there where Lei tries scuba diving for the first time!
Tell us a little about your main characters. Why do you think readers will like them?
Well, my main character is actually Lei, but her friend Kali is next in line. I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy Kali. She’s Lei’s brand new friend and running partner who works as a scuba instructor and has scored a lead role in Maui’s theatrical production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Although she looks nothing like Lei, they have a lot in common like running, they both have big dogs for protection and they come from similar childhood experiences. What fascinates Lei about Kali, besides her dog Stripe, is how vivacious and outgoing she is and how she loves people without judgement. Lei learns a lot from her over the course of the story. Just the fact that Kali plays a tap dancing groupie in the Rocky show, and is somewhat promiscuous might draw you in.
What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works?
Stepping outside your comfort zone is a theme I feature in all my books. I have a quote on my signature that says “You only journey if you dare to leave home,” and that’s been something I’ve tried to remember in my life as well as incorporating into my books. Step out of your comfort zone, stand on the edge and jump off. It might not work out, but you’ll recover. And if that jump leads you somewhere amazing, it will have been worth it.
I use this theme in my series that introduces the practice of Dream Jumping. The Dream Jumper’s Promise is about a Maui Scuba instructor and dive shop owner suddenly able to enter other people’s dreams, a skill she doesn’t want. When she finds clues to her husband’s disappearance in her dreams, she has to pursue her newfound ability and solve the mystery. Luckily she has an old friend, Jamey Dunn, guide her through the worst year of her life.
Share some of your story about becoming a writer.
When I lived in Taiwan in 2002 and adopted a baby, my friends told me I should write a book. They meant a memoir but the experience was too personal for me to share with the world so I wrote a novel about a woman who adopts a baby in Taiwan who did not look like me and wasn’t married. It’s taken me this long to consider sharing that story, even though it’s fiction, and FORTUNE will be publishing it in the Spring of 2016.
Do you have a background related to your writing? Interests? What makes you interesting outside of your book. Authors are often some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met!
I write about areas I’m familiar with so one of my novels was about a rock singer with a stalker (me in 1989), my Dream Series is about a Maui Scuba instructor (me 1981-1992) and I feature exotic places I’ve travelled to in my stories, like Nicaragua, Taiwan, Whistler, Canada and the San Juan Islands. The only location I didn’t visit but researched heavily was Afghanistan which is in the second Dream Jumper book.
The Lei Crime Series uses mysteries to explore social issues of Hawaii. What social issues intrigue you, and why?
In Rocky Bluff I touched on several–the homeless, the life of residents vs tourists on Maui and the old practice of Hawaiians to turn a sixth son into a girl. The last one is mentioned briefly. Also, I talk about the gay community on Maui, and the strong theatrical community that I had the honor of living among for so many years. In Rocky Bluff I used names of actors and people I knew in the community theater group over the years in an attempt to honor the relationships I had with so many wonderfully creative people.
What are you working on next, aside from the novella in the Lei Crime Series Kindle World?
I am finishing a Christmas companion novel to my Dream Jumper Series that is featured in a Holiday box set I compiled with some very successful authors. The set is called Criminal Christmas and you’ll have to buy it for 99 cents to see what my story is about. When I launch both projects, Rocky Bluff and Criminal Christmas, I’m going to take a writing break, put on my promo hat and also spend some time with my family!
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