How did you come to be interested in the Lei Crime Kindle World?
A close friend of mine, AJ Llewellyn, had been telling me about how much she loved the Lei Crime books, explaining how wonderful they were so I picked up the series and began reading it. When she told me she was going to be doing a book for the Kindle World, the whole concept was new to me. I was excited and intrigued to see how AJ was going to integrate a character you created into a book with her own style of writing. When she sent me the first couple chapters of Coffee and Kukui Nuts, I knew she was going to have a hit on her hands. I got excited when she suggested I write one of the characters so I finished reading all of the 9 Lei books in a week and loved them. Jack Jenkins, Lei’s handsome blond partner on Kaua’i, immediately clicked with me, so I took the leap. I haven’t looked back and it has been a ball creating a story for Jack.
Tell us how your story links to the Lei Crime Series.
I chose Jack Jenkins because I connected with him on a visceral level. I usually write in the gay romance (MM) genre so a handsome detective was right up my alley. We know from the Lei books that Jack is straight as an arrow and is dating a lovely island woman named Anuhea, so I couldn’t write a gay book. Developing his story would be challenging myself but in keeping with the mystery to be solved, I was certain I could plot out a wonderful thriller/mystery for him using new characters. While reading the Lei books, I became intrigued with the Chang crime family and their interests in the methamphetamine/Ice trade so that’s where Jack’s story begins. It is set on Kaua’i and in Los Angeles where Jack’s brother, Lane, and Lane’s partner Brennan, LAPD detectives, live.
The Lei Crime Series are police procedural mysteries with a twist of romance. What genres do you explore in your story?
Mystery/thriller, police procedure… and just a touch of romance.
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?
Unforeseen Danger begins in Kaua’i and then moves to Los Angeles, and finally back to Maui for a surprise conclusion.
Tell us a little about your main characters. Why do you think readers will like them?
Well, we all know Jack Jenkins. He’s a no nonsense detective living on Kaua’i but now that Lei and he are no longer partners, he’s been working alone. Though he enjoys it, he really misses having a partner. That’s where Brennan O’Neil comes in. Brennan is Jack’s brother’s partner on the LAPD and when he (Lane Jenkins) goes missing while working undercover, Jack gets to help Bren work the case and bring Lane home.
Brennan is a little bit of a wisecracking smart-ass but a wonderful detective and he knows his home turf of Los Angeles very well. Together with Jack and his experience as a detective, the two make a great pair, falling right into step with each other to try to help Lane escape some pretty vicious killers. With Lei’s help back in Hawai’i, the real reason for Lane’s disappearance becomes evident.
What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works?
The major theme in my story is of course solving a crime but because I primarily write romance, an HEA (Happily ever After) is always important. In Unforeseen Danger, my HEA takes a little bit of a twist and of course, we solve the case. This is a formula which has worked very well for me over the years and my readers appreciate the fact that they can rely on a little bit of romance (sometimes a lot) and a well-developed villain. Sometimes the villain is as horrible as a serial killer but sometimes as innocuous as a massive storm which threatens to wipe out my character’s livelihood as it did in my latest cowboy book.
I’ve written many books, nearly all in series form with as few as three books and as many as seven books in the series. Most all of my books are contemporary and all of them have characters which appear in other series. I like to say, my characters walk through each other’s stories all the time. My diehard readers love this and are very vocal about it.
Share some of your story about becoming a writer.
I was a mortgage broker for many years and after the collapse of the real estate market in 2007, I found myself at home with nothing to do. I was in my late forties and had a hard time finding anyone to hire me so I turned to my passion to fill the time…reading. After going through my home romance library of about 75 novels in a couple of months, I decided to write one. After that, I wrote another one and another one. Finally, I decided they were pretty good so I began looking for a publisher.
After submitting to 9 agents and 30 publishers and getting rejected by all the agents and 29 of the publishers, I found one who told me they thought my book had promise. Leather Nights was released in 2010 and after that I remained with publishing houses for two years before branching out to self-publishing.
Honestly, I was never planning on self-publishing but when one of my publishers went under and decided not to payout royalties and another publisher did an absolute hatchet job on my edits, I decided I’d go that route. I’m so glad I did. Self-publishing gave me total control over what I was producing from covers to editing to marketing to pricing and it’s been very good to me over the years.
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!
After leaving retail where I sold diamonds with the help of a gemological degree, I went into nursing school and then became an AIDS hospice nurse in the early 90s. I was already thirty-two when I graduated nursing school. If anyone remembers those days in the AIDS crisis, they’d remember it as a bleak time with a guaranteed death sentence for patients who contracted HIV. After some time, I retired from nursing because it became just too horrible to deal with on an emotional level and still be able to greet my young children with a smile on my face when I got home after a long day at work. My husband had just opened a new mortgage brokerage so I got my real estate license and then spent the better part of the next eighteen years selling homes and doing real estate mortgages.
These days, I write full time. I have four kids, three in their mid to late twenties, and our youngest who is a sixteen year old girl. If any of you have teens, you know how high maintenance they are and she really keeps me on my toes. All the rest still live at home and so does my granddaughter Carolyn. We are a very large family under one roof. When I’m not writing, I love to travel. I’ve been on author retreats/book signings in Albuquerque, Austin, and Atlanta in the last couple of years and I plan on being in Hawai’i with my friend AJ Llewellyn next year on a research trip. Hopefully, this will bring me new ideas for a follow-up to Unforeseen Danger.
The Lei Crime Series uses mysteries to explore social issues of Hawaii. What social issues intrigue you, and why?
I’ve covered a lot of contemporary social issues in relation to the LGBT community in my books. Homelessness, homophobia, gay marriage, hunger, and poverty are recurring themes. I wonder if most people realize that fully 40% of homeless teens living on the streets identify as LGBT. It’s epidemic and truly sickening that so much of our youth, gay or straight, live in fear for their lives each time they lay their heads down on a cold cement sidewalk every night. They wake up with the gnawing pit of hunger in their stomachs, the knowledge that their families hate them for something they cannot change, and they fight for their lives every day. I have one entire series (The Master’s Boys) which deals with unwanted young men in an unconventional way and 25% of the proceeds of the last (bonus) book in that series, Secrets, is donated to The Trevor Project, an outreach for homeless teens. I think it is very important to take care of the “least” of our children.
What are you working on next, aside from the novella in the Lei Crime Series Kindle World?
I am working on the third book in my Marine Bodyguards series, The Brat (MM romance) and then I’ll be starting another book in my Hard Riders (MM Cowboy romance) series with another Lei Crime Series KW novella to follow. That one will be set on Kaua’i and will see the return of Jack and Brennan.
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