#LeiCrimeKW Interview – J. Gilbert, A.J. Llewellyn & J.L. Oakley


You are returning to the Lei Crime Kindle World. How is your storyline continuing with your new novella?

RMIS v 2 coverJulie: Revenge Makes it Sweeter is my third Lei Crime Kindle World entry. Although it picks up right after the events of Money Makes it Deadlier, I think you can read it as a standalone as well. In the first story that features FBI Special Agent Marcella Scott, you get to see her caught up in a bank robbery set in motion by greed and more sinister motives on the part of a powerful man. This story features a little of the emotional cleanup from those events, but it also goes further. Revenge can be a very powerful motivator, and it can take many different forms. To say much more might spoil things, so let’s leave it at the sense that this story takes Agent Scott a little out of her comfort zone.

A.J.: In Ti Leaves and Moon Cakes, the sequel to Coffee and Kukui Nuts, Abe Torufu is getting ti leaves KINDLEready to do all the cooking for 800 people at his sister’s traditional Tongan wedding on the beach at Queen’s Surf. Of course, it is never a straightforward day in paradise for Abe. He manages to find another bomb! He is a bomb and bullet magnet as his frequent partner, Detective Gerry Bunuelos points out to him. I had so much fun with this book!

My Abe Torufu stories are set after Lei is married and she and Abe failed their bomb test in the field. Although Abe has now passed and is a certified bomb expert, it stills bothers him that he had a problem at all. He’s very hard on himself. He also wishes he could get to detonate a few bombs but it never seems to go his way.

J.L. Ever since I left the Big Island where I lived years ago, I have been haunted by two things: the 1946 tsunami that wiped out Hilo and the “club” on Coconut Island my husband’s uncle talked about when he came for our wedding. When we moved down from Honolulu to Hilo in the early 1970s, people kept pointing how far back downtown Hilo sat from the edge of the water. A great tsunami was the cause of it. For a story starter, before I even finished my first novella, Saddle Road, I was thinking of ways to bring the tsunami and Coconut Island_v12-2 FINALthe mysterious club on the island together. Happily, I found a way in Coconut Island.

For this novella, I chose investigative TV reporter Wendy Watanabe. I was told in a thriller class taught by best-selling author Robert Dugoni that a crime should be personal to the one solving it. For Wendy, the crime she is investigating is personal. When her great aunt Bee Watanabe, a survivor of the 1946 tsunami, starts to recall details surrounding the death of her big sister Hillary in that tsunami, Wendy is led to a group of friends who met during WWII and passed the time at a USO Center on Coconut Island. One is a hero. Another is a murderer. Someone is trying to prevent findings about Hillary and another murder victim from that time from coming public. Wendy will do anything to find the truth and protect Auntie Bee.

As an author, what have you learned writing for the Lei Crime Kindle World?

Julie: The Lei Crime Kindle World experience has been a lot of fun. It’s taught me to work within an already established world. On the personal front, I found out that I can actually write during a school year. Previously, I’d not even tried. Working with other authors is a privilege. Everybody brings a unique perspective.

I love how Toby’s got a very long list of deep side characters just waiting for their own stories to be told. Novellas are a slightly different beast than full novels. Each genre differs too. Suspense takes a bit of a new skill set.

A.J.: I feel so privileged to be a part of the series. Toby Neal has provided a unique platform for other authors. I am fascinated by everybody’s stories in the Lei Crime Series. We all have our own take on the world Toby created. For me, it’s a pleasure to return to characters I love and give them my own spin. I’ve even created a romance for Abe with Lieutenant C.J. Omura. That was huge fun!

JL: Well, first off, I’ve learned to write in a new genre—mystery and police procedure. I normally write historical fiction, though one novel qualifies as a historical thriller, so learning the structure of suspense and mystery was a learning curve. I don’t write in a strict structure, but now know the flow of how a good story in this genre should go. I’ve also learned to write in a short form.

Secondly, I am now part of an active and supportive group of gifted writers. We all share a passion for Toby Neal’s world and Hawaii. It’s been an amazing experience that has affected the sales of my other work. I’m looking at doing a third for next summer.

What advice do you have for authors who are considering writing in a Kindle World?

Julie: Join the private Facebook group, ask questions, and become familiar with both the Lei Crime series and the kindle world entries that are out there. Don’t be afraid to jump right in even if you haven’t read everything yet. I’d read only Blood Orchids at the time of writing Never Again. I’ve read more by this point, but I’m still not caught up in the series. The recent novellas were just set slightly before Black Jasmine, so I didn’t want to know too much or I’d risk putting in things the characters aren’t supposed to know yet.

If you want something, go for it. Don’t put it off until “later” because life will just get in the way.

A.J.: Read the books in the cannon series! It shows in your work if you haven’t done your due diligence. I would suggest also reading the other Kindle Worlds stories in a series for a feel of what else is out there. Most importantly though, if you pick a character make sure you’ve read the original stories so you’re not completely changing him/her from the creating author’s perspective. Part of the reason I picked Abe was that there was very little information given about him in the original series but he still managed to make an impact on readers. I know he did with me. I’ve retained the quirks he had and I’ve given him a few more! I hope readers like what I did with him!

J.L. Writing in a Kindle World is a great opportunity to stretch a writer’s wings. But with that opportunity here are a few tips.

1) Read and understand the world you are writing in. The fans of the author whose work the Kindle World is based on will appreciate it. It will help your reviews.
2) Write your best work, then get an editor.
3) Create an engaging cover.
4) I can’t write fast, so I’d say be prepared for it to take longer than you think. A novella is 17,000 words minimum. Mine is a lot longer as I have historical elements in this story. I also wanted to learn details such as how do bodies break down in a tropical setting. I took the time to find a forensic anthropologist who turned out to have done work in the South Pacific with WW II remains. His input was invaluable. I’ve also talked to experts in news reporting and police records. Libarians were invaluable in running down out of print resources about the tsunami. All to make the story as real as I could make it.

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

A.J. I am planning book 3 for the Lei CrimeKindle World for the New Year 🙂 Abe seems to find trouble, or does it find him? I am excited to work on this third adventure in the life of Abe Torufu. I have such a crush on Abe. I think he is adorable.

Hmm, I have an idea stirring in my head for another Lei Crime, but I’ll have to put it on hold until next summer. I’m deep into my editor’s notes on my WW II novel set in Norway. My goal is to have it published this winter. In the wings, is another historical novel set in the Pacific NW in 1860. Military occupation of San Juan Island, love thwarted and Hawaiians. It’s ready for editing and workshopping. A third (I should take a breath here) is set in the Civil War, again in the Pacific NW, basing the character on my great-grandfather who was a Union surgeon at the Battle Of Gettysburg. It’s about a year out on the writing and research.


Email:  Contact me if you are interested in being a beta reader for upcoming projects
Amazon Author page
Twitter: @authorgilbert or @jilliananddeli
Facebook: Julie C. Gilbert
Blog: http://julie20201.blogspot.com/ OR https://juliecgilbertwriter.wordpress.com/
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Check out A.J.’s Tiki Time Author spotlight interviews on Lei Crime Kindle World authors this month. You will have eight chances to win more books!





Comment on this blog and you will be entered to win an eBook of the award-winning historical novel, Timber Rose, by J.L (one winner), Ti Leaves and Moon Cakes by A.J. (one winner),  or Revenge Makes it Sweeter by Julie (five winners).


9 Responses to “#LeiCrimeKW Interview – J. Gilbert, A.J. Llewellyn & J.L. Oakley”

  1. Toby Neal

    Wow, ladies! What incredibly good tips and ideas. I am still so amazed at how much fun and how well this whole experiment is going, and to have each of you do another story is so deeply satisfying, especially when your books are such fun and truly add to the Lei Crime Series as a whole. Thanks SO MUCH for your ongoing enthusiasm! We are truly becoming an “ohana” and I’m so honored.
    Much aloha

  2. AJ Llewellyn

    Thanks so much for having me here Toby. So wonderful to be here too with J.L. and Julie, two authors whose work I admire and who I’ve come to know via Facebook. This whole experience has been a joy, thanks to you and Lei!

  3. sharon

    I love reading about the LeCrime authors & what inspired them to write. I have become a born again reader since connecting to this series.

  4. Terry Ambrose

    Congrats to all three of you on your return! I think you all offered great advice for writers considering taking on a Kindle World.

  5. Amy

    Awesome interview. I’ve got one of Julies, but will see about getting these others too. They sound great and am enjoying the KW side of a series I love.

  6. Janet

    Always like reading about authors motivations and what makes them tick.

  7. Karin Stoil

    I love the Lei Crime Series and I have read a number of the related novellas.They are
    all great so far.I love the Hawaii setting, and all the characters in these adventures.I
    escape from all the daily stuff when I read;it’s a wonderful place to be.

  8. Marie Ledin

    Thoroughly enjoy the Lei Crime Series and Kindle World. It continues and broadens the lives of the original characters while adding new interesting characters and places.