#LeiCrimeKW Interview With Author Terry Ambrose


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

I love the islands and writing about them. I’ve enjoyed the Lei Crime series and, was thrilled when the opportunity to write for the series came along. I have two series of my own—one is set in Hawai’i—but this was a chance to tackle a new challenge, a world created by another writer. My goal was to stay true to the world, but put my own spin on it.

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

I write a blend of the mystery and thriller genres. I guess “adventures” is the most apt description because I blur the lines. I also like to incorporate an element of romance, but the real focus is on the whodunnit and the adventure the characters uncover as they dig themselves deeper into trouble.

Tough ChoicesThe 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 first story in the Lei Crime world, Tough Choices, is set in Honolulu. We’re not talking about the tourist-trap side of the city, but the seedier and darker side of paradise. The juxtaposition of paradise with the crimes that filter into our society lets me create a story filled with beauty, danger, and plenty of twists.

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

Marty Fitch is a brilliant inventor—he’s a whiz in the world of technology and creativity, but not a good judge of people. He moved to Hawai‘i after his wife stole the rights to his patents, divorced him, and ran off with a con man. He’s also a traceur, someone who practices parkour. For those not familiar with parkour, think of it as monkey meets military obstacle course. Yeah, it’s pretty wild.

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

Ah, the dreaded theme. It’s the question many authors are loathe to answer. But, in the end, don’t all stories explore a theme? Perhaps one reason I write in the mystery/thriller genres is I believe everyone deserves justice. Sadly, legal justice isn’t always possible. The second book in the McKenna Mystery series, Kauai Temptations, begins with McKenna learning a woman has stolen his identity and is bouncing checks under his name. McKenna flies to Kauai, determined to avenge his battered credit. But, the woman is dead. The deeper he digs, the more the woman’s death looks like murder, which makes McKenna more determined to expose the crime. That’s how I like to explore a theme—black, white, and many shades of gray.

Share some of your story about becoming a writer.

I wasn’t one of those kids who picked up a crayon and scratched out his first novel. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in a high-pressure situation at work that I decided to try a mystery. Being your basic chicken and unwilling to “do the time,” I decided to “do the crime” with my words. When I finished the story, I realized the plot was trite, the characters shallow, dialogue terrible, etc. To my dismay, my “great American novel” was a great American disaster. It was also the point when I decided I wanted—no, needed—to write fiction. Twenty-five years later, while working on my eighth novel, there was a moment when I stopped and thought, “I just passed the million-word mark.” I’ve never been one to keep a bucket list, but joining the Writer’s Million Word Club seems like it’s something that should be on the list. Besides, it’s probably far more doable these days than joining the Mile High Club.

Do you have a background related to your writing? Interests? Authors are often some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met!

Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m really pretty boring these days. When I was younger, I ran lots of road rallies and, on more than one occasion, a friend and I drove for thirty-six hours straight to map out the most indirect route possible via backroads from Santa Barbara, CA to Las Vegas, NV. As far as work goes, the bulk of my background was in dealing with the public. I started out skip tracing and collecting money from deadbeats. In fact, during my first week on the job, fifty people lied to me about making their payments. How do I know this? Well, out of the fifty loan cards my boss gave me to collect, not one of them paid by their deadline. The good news is, I get to pull on that experience to write novels about liars, cheats, and, of course, killers. Fortunately, I only had to repo one car from a killer—and that was after the FBI arrested him.

The Lei Crime Series uses mysteries to explore social issues of Hawaii. What social issues intrigue you, and why?

I’m one of those people who believes many of our social issues stem from ignorance. Whether we’re talking about drug abuse, prejudice, or job inequality, they all stem from an inability to improve one’s life. That’s why I really like stories of redemption and perseverance. In Tough Choices, I introduce Marty Fitch, a brilliant inventor who’s lost almost everything and has moved in with his Cousin Pono to get back on his feet. Marty is desperate to reinvent his life, but can he do that when he dives headfirst into a world filled with killers and drug dealers?

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

I’m launching a new series of novellas called the Trouble in Paradise, Inc. mysteries. As part of that series, “Mystery of the Lei Palaoa” is launching on Amazon. This series features McKenna, my perennially snarky protagonist, and his young protege with a Magnum, PI fetish, Chance Logan. The book opens with the murder of an arrogant troublemaker on the streets of Honolulu. The one clue is a precious necklace the dead man wore, but it’s missing. With no other clues and no witnesses, can McKenna and Chance keep an innocent man from being convicted of a crime he didn’t commit?

Connect With Terry:

Website & Blog
Twitter: @suspense_writer or
Amazon Author Page


Comment on this blog to be entered to win a print copy of  Kauai Temptations (US mainland only) or an eBook copy of Photo Finish, Kauai Temptations, Big Island Blues, License to Lie, or Con Game. Three winners to be chosen.

35 Responses to “#LeiCrimeKW Interview With Author Terry Ambrose”

  1. Sandie Keeble

    I’m really intrigued by the way other authors have taken minor characters from the original series and expanded what we “know” about them. This looks like it will be a great addition to the Lei World.

    • Terry Ambrose

      Hi Sandie, thanks for checking out the interview. I hope I’ve been true to the world, but added a new dimension. I look forward to hearing what you and other readers think. Aloha, Terry

  2. Terry Ambrose

    Thanks for asking me to join you on this journey. Tough Choices was loads of fun to write and I look forward to the next one.

  3. Dava Van Brunt

    Looking forward to Kauai Temptations your second book in the McKenna Mystery Series. I thoroughly enjoyed your first book too. Can’t get enough of your and Toby Neal’s writings.

  4. Tina Paley

    Cool…now I’ve another choice of Hawaiian bases crime-rance novels to read, explore and get lost in.

  5. Karin Stoil

    I also love the Islands.And have read most of the Lei Crime Series books,which I am in love with. Am so excited for the new novellas.Your adventures sound so interesting.Welcome and thanks for your new venture that we will all want to explore.

  6. JackieW

    Your book sounds interesting and one I would like to read nd report on to my mystery book club.

  7. Amy

    Love the article – Thanks Toby. This sounds like it’ll be a good add to the Lei KW novellas and sounds like a really good book. One I will look at getting.

  8. Joyce Taylor

    I love Toby’s books and am really looking forward to reading your novellas too, Terry.

  9. Julie McDonough

    I enjoyed the interview, it’s always interesting to read the authors take on things. Looking forward to reading this.

  10. Eli

    Glad to see some background characters get fleshed out. Hope to see some trans-inclusive characters who work in the field, too! 🙂

  11. Marissa Culp

    Great interview! Marty is a great hero – he’s a guy you live next door to, that you stand behind in the supermarket, or see running for the bus. In other words, he’s real. Can’t wait for more! And congratulations on the Million Word mark!

  12. M Ledin

    Have read all of Toby Neal’s books to date. Waiting for Bone Hook. Have also started reading the Kindle World Novellas and have not yet been disappointed with any of them. Would love to have a chance to win a copy of your book. Love the continuing stories of the characters in Toby’s books as well as the introduction of new characters and places.

  13. Joye

    I am always looking for new authors to read. This book sounds like the kind I really enjoy reading.

  14. Diane T

    I am looking forward to reading this and all the other new Kindle World books.

    It also looks like I found another new series set in Hawaii, that I must check out.

    • Terry Ambrose

      Hi Diane, I do hope you’ll check out the other series and would love to hear from you! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  15. sue hieber

    OMG, this sounds like a wonderful book. all i read are mysteries and this sounds a bit more twisty than most. for my way of thinking, the twistier the better

  16. Karen Dieffenbaugher

    I would love to win a copy of your book…Had one vacation in Hawaii and enjoyed it …My husband and I have a lot of relatives living there and not many chances of getting to know all of them… Three or four generations of 2 families since the 2nd world war…I am amazed at the ability of writers to come up with so many different ideas…But then what would avid readers like me have to do ????

  17. Malcolm

    Sweet interview Terry, my what an interesting career you’ve had! I dig the premise of Tough Choices, the seedy side of things has always fascinated me.

  18. Terry Ambrose

    Hey Malcolm, it didn’t seem so interesting at the time…but then, I’ve had a lot of years to reflect and realize how each experience in our lives changes us…whoa, that’s getting way too deep. Aloha!