Kayla Dawn Thomas joins the Lei Crime Series Kindle World. Get to know her in my recent interview.
How did you come to be interested in the Lei Crime Kindle World?
I’d reached out to Toby a couple of times with newbie author questions, and she was kind enough to answer me. A few months later she asked me to write in her new Kindle World. The idea overwhelmed me, plus I was in the middle of writing my second novel, Tackling Summer. So, I declined. Then a year or so later, Toby asked me again to consider writing in the Lei Crime Kindle World. I look up to Toby a lot, and was honored that she’d asked me a second time, so I decided to go for it.
Tell us how your story links to the Lei Crime Series.
My story brings a whole new cast of characters into the world. The connecting thread is Jack Jenkins. The Bet’s Off takes place after Torch Ginger, so Jack is still on Kauai to take care of the mobsters trying to take over ‘Aina Ranch.
The Lei Crime Series are police procedural mysteries with a twist of romance. What genres do you explore in your story?
Usually I write romantic women’s fiction and chick lit. However, with The Bet’s Off I decided to embrace a challenge and write a thriller with a twist 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?
My story starts in Idaho, which is where I grew up, but quickly shifts to Kauai. I chose Kauai because my husband and I spent part of our honeymoon there. We fell in love with the island and dream of returning one day. Since that’s not in the cards for the immediate future, writing a book set there was the next best thing.
Tell us a little about your main characters. Why do you think readers will like them?
Vale Harper is dealing with a lot of grief at the beginning of the story. I think readers will enjoy her journey to healing. Heck, watching her bloom on the page was a joy for me. It was exciting to discover how tough she really is.
Weaver Ash is a sweetie just about anyone would love to date. He’s cute, smart, and down to earth. However, he’s got his own issues to get over so he can get on with his life.
What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works?
Weaver and Vale have to grow and overcome their pasts in order to love each other and move forward with their lives. In my first novel, Swept Up, Kara has to overcome her alcoholism and selfishness to save her career, her baby, and keep the love of her life. In Tackling Summer, Chanel has to get out of her own way and soften around the edges to deal with Maddox. As for Maddox, he has to humble himself so he can survive a summer on the ranch. Then there’s Jenna Ray. She’s confident and pretty badass, but she has trust issues. The only way she can have the handsome Thad Benson is if she matures enough to discover not all men are the same.
Share some of your story about becoming a writer.
Like many authors, I started writing very young. Actually, I was telling stories before I could write. I told them out loud to a jump rope until I learned how to work a pencil. Let me tell you, my mom was relieved to see that stage go. My grandma told me before I was out of elementary school I would be writing and publishing books someday. She was right! Sadly, she passed before I got my first novel out the door.
I lost my voice during college. It was a harsh experience to go from my high school English teachers’ darling to just another student at a huge university. To get the grades I wanted, I had to learn to write to the professor. Even in my creative writing classes, it felt like if I showed a spark of myself my work was slammed. As a result, I stopped writing after I graduated and didn’t start again until my early 30’s. I definitely felt like something was missing during those years. There’s something about having a baby then turning thirty that toughens your spirit. I stopped worrying what other people thought and got brave enough to start creating again. Within a year, I published Swept Up.
Do you have a background related to your writing or special interests? Authors are often some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met!
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and a Minor in English from Washington State University. I grew up on a cattle ranch in Idaho, which gives me a unique view on life, and that shows up a lot in my writing.
I have a very supportive husband and a fun loving ten-year-old daughter. We have two dogs, a French bulldog named Pearl (she’s my boo) and a Chaweenie named Macy (she has eyes only for my daughter). I’m a big reader, love to swim, and hang out with my little family.
What are you working on next, aside from the novella in the Lei Crime Series Kindle World?
At the moment, I’m writing a sequel to Tackling Summer. Readers have been begging since it came out, and I’m ready to revisit some of my favorite characters. Once that novel goes to the editor, I will begin the sequel to The Bet’s Off. I’m already making notes and have quite an adventure planned for Weaver and Vale.
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