How did you come to be interested in the Lei Crime Kindle World?
To be honest, I was always interested in you more than your Kindle World. I hope that came across the right way. I honestly had only heard of Kindle Worlds; I really didn’t know what they were. But when you invited me, well, I was IN! And now that I’ve written a story (and read your books), I am even more, and completely, (Bone) hooked. See how I did that? The fingers are quicker than the eye.
Ha, ha! You’re a smoothie, Rob. Tell us how your story links to the Lei Crime Series.
Well, I am what writers call a “pantser”. I write “by the seat of my pants”, so to speak. I don’t mind the term but I hate the analogy. I had friends that lived by the seat of their pants, and it’s not a compliment. But I have always written knowing the overall storyline and characters (and how I imagine them) but as I write, I allow the story to go where it wants (and needs) to go. I find that if I don’t know necessarily what’s around the next corner, neither will the reader. Plus, if the story is good, such a technique allows me to be pulled into the story just like a reader. I like books you can’t put down, and I try my best to write them that way. With the Lei Crime Kindle World it was easy, because I love Lei and Pono. Originally I did not plan for them to be such an integral part of Elysium Tombstones, but I didn’t really know, did I? By my own definition.
The Lei Crime Series are police procedural mysteries with a twist of romance. What genres do you explore in your story?
Ironically, I don’t really go near romance in my stories. Not because I don’t want to—love and loss are always a deep theme of the soul in my stories—but since the genre doesn’t include romance absolutely (and there’s another genre for Romance and its various kinds), I pretty much stick to the basics. However (yes, finally getting around to the ironic part), in this one, well, you’re just going to have to read it. Let’s just say Elysium Tombstones is going to fit just fine into that twist of a police procedural.
I started reading your novella and it’s got wonderful tension! 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?
Oh, Hawaii. Or should I say Hawai’i? It took me four decades to get to Hawai’i, and once I did, I fell in love. My plan is to move someday to Kaua’i. That was a huge draw, or I should say a huge perk in it being you who asked me join her Kindle World. Because it was in Hawai’i! There was never a moment’s hesitation for me.
I love Kaua`i too, having spent the first half of my life there. Maybe we’ll both end up on the beach, typing with our laptops! Tell us a little about your main character. Why do you think readers will like him?
Taggart “Tommy” Lanigan. Irish through and through. Grew up on the tough streets in South Boston (Southie). Actually ran with the most notorious crime boss in Southie at the time—he and his younger brother, Danny, were snatched up by Nathaniel Kavanagh, the Monk, at twelve or thirteen. They ran errands for the man and later, a bit more violent things. But never murder. Tommy was too righteous for anything like that. His opinion, even as a child, had always been that in South Boston—in the Irish neighborhood—you found a way to survive, or you didn’t survive.
Tommy ended up in the Navy SEAL program and on leave met Kehaulani ‘Opuni, from Hawai’i. They were completely made for each other. Years later, she was savagely murdered in Hawai’i while Tommy was back in Boston. The police on Maui determined it was a burglary gone terribly wrong. Tommy knew they were wrong and he goes back to uncover the truth and settle the ledger.
Readers will love Tommy because he is, quite literally as they’ll discover, a true tough guy with a heart of pure love. And he loves Hawai’i!
Reading a couple of chapters in, I already love him! What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works?
My favorite, most prolific, and most-awarded work is my “Land” series with Sheriff James Pruett (James Pruett Mysteries). They are all based in the Wyoming town in which I grew up (name changed). The backdrop is the Wind River Mountains, and a more beautiful place you will have a hard time finding. It and the great people there are a huge part of the success of the stories. That and my James Pruett character. I am a character-driven author. I figure without a character the reader can cheer for, relate to, and care about, what use is the story at that point?
I also love the majesty of that countryside, so raw and rugged. Conversely, Hawai’i is majestic, yet less rugged—like the Garden of Eden. Elysium is from the Greeks. It is, essentially, Heaven, though the Greeks believed it was a Western Isle. Homer wrote of it, he said: “—ever does the Ocean send up blasts of the shrill-blowing West Wind that they may give cooling to men.” Again, I fell in love with the place when I first went there, much like my main character, who grew up in the gray exhaust and crumbling stone of the big city.
My themes always seem to deal with love and loss. This is the first time that I focused on loving in the aftermath. Lanigan is tough, but his wife’s death rocked him to the core of his being. He was sure he’d never experience love like that again. He just may have been wrong about that.
I’ve read two of your books, Blood Land being the first, and that’s when I knew you’d be a wonderful addition to the Lei Crime ohana! Share some of your story about becoming a writer.
Geeze, I have been writing one way or another all my life. When I was in 4th or 5th grade, my teacher sent in a short two-page story I’d written to a national competition and it received an honorable mention (I still believe Stephen King read it and stole the train scene in The Body/Stand by Me from that story I wrote. Later in life, during college and shortly after, that’s when I started to get a little more serious. I wrote a Halloween short story for a southern California newspaper contest and won. Then I submitted a sad story I’d been working on for a while to a national writing contest and placed just out of the “money”, 11th out of over two thousand. They paid and printed places 1-10. : /
I then went quite a long time without submitting anything. I took a screenwriting class; started and stopped a few screenplays. I took a Creative Writing class after moving to Colorado. Still pretty much just messing around. Then in 2011 I wrote Black Beast, a crime procedural based in Denver but with a paranormal, Good versus Evil twist. I wanted to see if I could change the Crime/Police Drama a bit. That is my Detective Bobby Mac series. It was my first, and I think it shows. Those who have read Elysium Tombstones have, several of them, mentioned that I have evolved as a writer and that this may be my finest yet. We’ll see!
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!
Two of my aunts were published traditionally. My mom wrote short stories and created a brand of children’s books to which I contributed a story, but they never marketed or carried through with it, so you can still see them on Amazon, out of print. So I suppose you might say writing is “in the blood”. I really evolved into a writer from being a voracious reader. The whole paranormal aspect of my Bobby Mac series was a bit of a homage to Stephen King, on whose writing (and book On Writing) I cut my teeth.
Outside my writing and my books, I have been most of my adult life a senior IT network and security engineer. That makes me boring. What makes me fun, I think, is my love of dogs—Australian Shepherds, to be more precise. We have three, all related, and a fourth dog: a Jack-Chihuahua mix who DEFINITELY thinks she’s an Aussie. They have long since made her an honorary member of the Guthrie Household Aussie Posse.
Those dogs are so energetic and intelligent! My Nalu, the model for Keiki who recently died, was a Chihuahua Terrier too. She was fierce and smart. The Lei Crime Series uses mysteries to explore social issues of Hawaii. What social issues intrigue you, and why?
SIDS. We lost our two-month-old son to SIDS. He was our miracle baby. Born on Christmas Day with a scheduled C-section the next day, the 26th. Brody wanted to be a Christmas baby, and he was the only one in Denver’s Lone Tree hospital that snowy day. Maybe the only one in the city. He was healthy, beautiful, amazed the doctors at every appointment with his growth and health. Then he died in his nanny’s crib on February 21st, 2008, while taking a nap.
SIDS is so horrible because it receives almost NO attention. It’s too rare. And the worst part is that the medical community knows almost NOTHING about it. They can’t predict in, they can’t cure it—the doctor told us if Brody had been in his arms—the doctor’s arms—when he died, the doctor could have done nothing to save him. It may be one of the smallest percentage killers in the U.S. but look at who it steals from us! Our MOST precious.
I’m floored by that, Rob. Totally. I can’t imagine anything worse than losing a child. I’m so sorry. .. I hope your writing helps you work through it, I know that’s how I cope. What are you working on next?
My fourth Sheriff James Pruett novel, Aryan Land. Tanja Grubisic of FictionBookCovers (she also does non-fiction!)—a true genius cover artist whose covers should be on the NYT Bestsellers list and are, unbelievably, VERY affordable to the Indie writer—created a cover so awesome that everyone who sees it wants to read the book. NOW! It makes me want to finish the book. NOW! So I am very excited about that project. Then I really would like to write another Lei Crime World novella. Maybe two. I also have a book that I plan to try and get released shortly after the NFL season ends. It’s a mystery related to professional football in a big city, and any American professional football fan will totally relate to the plot line. I may actually write that one before digging back into Aryan Land, since the season ends in February!
I was so honored when you agreed to come on board, and to have TWO RS Guthrie books? Wow! Mahalo for the giveaways below and for joining our ‘ohana!
Connect with Rob:
COMMENT AND WIN!
Rob would love to giveaway three signed paperback copies of Blood Land (mailed free in U.S. only) and 5 digital copies of Elysium Tombstones. Any winner of Blood Land who lives outside the U.S. can trade in for all three James Pruett novels (Blood Land, Money Land, and Honor Land) in digital format!