#LeiCrimeKW Author Interview – A.J. Llewellyn


How did you come to be interested in the Lei Crime Kindle World?

I love Toby Neal’s Lei Crime series and to be honest I thought Toby was doing such a wonderful thing to share her World with other authors I wanted to be a part of it. She is not only talented and successful but very generous and supportive with other authors. Really quite rare in our industry.

Tell us how your story links to the Lei Crime Series.

Book coverWhen I chose Toby’s big loveable Tongan detective and explosives expert Abe Torufu as my World character, I read every single cannon book and made notes of everything she told us about Abe. I used everything including his penchant for chewing toothpicks, and his Sudoku habit. I loved that he and Lei failed an IED test in the field and used that as a basis for my story. The reality is that in Hawaii they don’t get many bombs and Abe references this is one of Toby’s stories. So I gave him a bomb. Two in fact. I brought in characters he dealt with in the canon stories. I mention Lei of course, but also Pono and his wife and Lt. Omura. Gerry Bunuelos who has been Abe’s partner and Lieutenant Guttierez from Honolulu Police Department are also in the story. Lt. Guttierez was one of the people who trained Abe so he features heavily in my story, Coffee and Kukui Nuts.

The Lei Crime Series are police procedural mysteries with a twist of romance. What genres do you explore in your story?

I have a gay character in the U.S. Marshal, Tony McCracken who is assigned to protect Abe. I write predominantly gay erotic romances and many of them are mysteries set in Hawaii. I was thrilled that Toby was open to a gay character, very welcoming to the idea actually. But she also stipulated no sex and I was happy to comply. It was quite freeing actually. After having over 200 books published I’ve started to run out of imaginative sexual positions!

There is no romance in the story but I wanted a kind of “bromance” between Abe and Tony. A little nod to McGarrett and Danno in Hawaii Five-O. Again, Toby was very supportive when I gave her an extended outline of the story.

The Lei Crime Series is set in Hawaii, but these novels/novellas could be set anywhere. Tell us about where you set your story, and why?

I set mine in Oahu because I love it there and the story I came up with happened when I went to a wedding cake shop in Honolulu. I always think of stories and then ask myself, “What if?” Abe is based in Maui but when I worked on his story I created a family for him. His parents, a brother who is a Coast Guard in Maui, and his sister who is a former boxing champion. Abe comes to Oahu to pick out wedding cakes for a traditional Tongan wedding. I really love Tongan tradition and I based my story on one that I attended. Hundreds of people were there and I was surprised how much was involved in making one happen.

I also created a bit of drama because when Lei got married Pono’s wife organized her wedding and she and Pono are hurt when Abe’s sister, Meleny doesn’t hire her to help her. That was fun! Tongan brides, by tradition, must do everything themselves, so that was a nice bit of character detail to put in the story.

Tell us a little about your main character(s.) Why do you think readers will like him?

Abe is adorable. And I cheated a little. I learned from a poll that Toby did, that he was one of the main Lei Crime Series characters that her readers most wanted to know more about. I know I did. I wanted to be respectful to her creation but also give him a real life. I hope she likes what I did.

What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works?

Oh, yes. My consistent theme in my most prominent series is family loyalty, love, and the pursuit of criminal justice. And food. I’m a foodie. One of my most popular series is Mingo McCloud Honolulu Mysteries. So far there are six with more to come.
Mingo is a happily married man raising his teenage son and gets into a lot of trouble with some very twisty cases. He is a forensic accountant working mostly criminal cases. He often teams up with his husband Francois Aumary, a Honolulu security expert.

I love doing research for my books and worked with a forensic accountant on the Mingo series and with a U.S. Marshal for Coffee and Kukui Nuts.

Share some of your story about becoming a writer.

I have been writing since I was seven years old. My mother died when I was six and it was a painful time for me. We weren’t allowed to talk about her and so I wrote about her. She became a super hero in my mind. I explained her shocking absence in my life as her being Super Woman. She was gone because she was helping people in trouble. I am crying writing this. I’ve never told anyone before.

I was also obsessed with horses and I wrote my first book when I was eight. I was also obsessed with death. Everyone died at the end of the story. Including the horses!

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!

Like I said I’ve been writing for a long time and have had over 200 novels published. It is my life. Along with animal activism, reading, hiking, cooking. I love my life.

What are your opinions about our justice system and those who enforce it? The Lei Crime Series uses mysteries to explore social issues of Hawaii… what social issues intrigue you, and why?

I have a strong respect for law enforcement and the men and women involved. I recently spent time doing research with officers of HPD and found they are concerned about many things I care about such as the homeless problem in Hawaii and the crippling drug issues. I have also been working with a female U.S. Marshal who really taught me a lot about how much danger ordinary people involved in protecting our welfare really are, such as judges, prosecutors, and police officers.

What are you working on next, aside from the novella in the Lei Crime Series Kindle World?

I have many ongoing series. I just this morning completed book five in my Honeybone: U.S. Marshal Series and I am working on Book seven in the Mingo McCloud Series. I co-author books with the amazing D.J. Manly. We’ve had about eighty books published together and we have many more coming up. I urge people to check out my website. I have many free books, free blog stories and all my published works listed with purchase links.

Thanks so much for joining the “Lei Train” AJ! So great to see one of my favorite characters, Abe Torufu, get his own story! 

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33 Responses to “#LeiCrimeKW Author Interview – A.J. Llewellyn”

  1. eden baylee

    Look forward to reading your book, AJ. Great to have you as part of the Lei Crime author group! 200 novels? Wow!


    • AJ Llewellyn

      Hi Scott, well I’ve been at it a while…and yes I am prolific…I love what I do! BTW I love the cover of your book. Bought it and reading it today!

  2. Anima Giraldez

    Yeah! Abe gets his own story. So many characters in Toby’s series and the kindle world authors bring them forward with much love. Wonderful how the stories continue the series. This will be a wonderful addition.

  3. BJ T.

    Pono, Abe and a bomb? Tongans and a bomb? (My grandson is half-Tongan) Gotta get it; gotta read it!

  4. sherrie

    Love that you are partnering with Toby..I have read all the Lei Crime Series books on my Kindle..looking forward to Coffee and Kukui Nuts!..lived on Oahu for a while visited Maui three times..love the setting!!!

    • AJ Llewellyn

      Hi Sherri, I love that I am partnering with Toby too. She is beyond generous and supportive with other authors. She is so very rare in publishing. I love Oahu and Maui too!

  5. Toby

    Dear AJ, thanks for sharing about your mother and how writing and inventing stories helped you cope. I too, escaped situations in my childhood by both writing and reading. Look where you are now! And thanks even more for joining my World with your terrific talent and giving Abe, one of my favorite characters, his own story.

    • AJ Llewellyn

      Thank you Toby. A long-lost aunt recently gave me a letter my mother sent her during her honeymoon. I’d never seen her handwriting before and she was a good writer. I wonder what might have happened had she been able to develop her talent. Thank you for your amazing support and your enormous talent. And thank you for creating Abe. He is a total sweetheart.

  6. Teresa

    I have loved reading since I was in first grade, I’ve never tried mt hand at writing, but I do love to escape to another world with books, especially the Lei Crime Series. Love reading about the Islands, makes me feel like I’m there and life is exciting. I hope to be able to read all of the books attached to Toby’s books, what I have read were great!

    • AJ Llewellyn

      Dear Teresa, I set much of my story in the Manoa Valley, my favorite part of Oahu. I just spent two weeks there in May and I still dream about it. Hope you enjoy reading the book and that you get the feeling you are there too. That’s how I like to write 🙂

  7. Rasana Atreya

    Interesting we have something common across cultures. My mom’s death when I was a kid (my grandparents didn’t encourage us talking about her, either) pushed me to writing. Looking forward to reading your book!

    • AJ Llewellyn

      Thank you Rasana. You are so sweet. My family is Greek and I think my mum’s passing was traumatic for them. I am sorry you experienced this too…

  8. Sandie Keeble

    This sounds like a great addition to the Lei World. It’s a wonderful series by Toby and these novellas give us a range of new perspectives. Thanks!

    • AJ Llewellyn

      Hi Sandie I have read some of the other series books and the authors involved are so talented. Working my way through them all!

  9. Holly Robinson

    Wow, A.J. 200 novels?? You astound me! This sounds like a great addition to Toby’s world–I love the idea of a bromance, and it sounds like you’ve taken some of my favorite characters and expanded on them. Can’t wait to read it.

    • AJ Llewellyn

      Thank you Hollie. Yes, I wanted a bromance. Badly. And Toby let me do it! It’s my little homage to Hawaii Five-O 🙂 Hope you enjoy the book.

  10. Sue Alexander Devers

    This sounds great–can’t wait to read it. So far I have loved all the stories and the writers are all good ones that I now read. So happy for a chance to win! 😀

  11. Patricia Logan

    Hi AJ! Well, you already know I’m a huge fan of yours and Toby’s! I just picked Coffee and Kukui Nuts and I am so looking forward to it. Diving into the deep end now! Congratulations on becoming a part of the Lei Crime Series family. Aloha!

    • AJ Llewellyn

      Aloha Patty! Thank you sweetie. I am a big fan of yours too and excited that you are part of the Lei Crime Series family too! Aloha!

  12. Terry Ambrose

    Hi AJ,
    I’ll echo Holly’s reaction. Wow, 200 novels. That’s a lot of writing. I’m interested in Pono as one of the characters, so I’ll have to check this out.