These authors return to the Lei Crime Kindle World to chat about writing and their new novellas.
Which Lei Crime characters are you drawn to, and why?
AJ: I love them all but I’ve written four books now—my Coffee and Kukui Nuts series—featuring Detective Abe Torufu and I love him! I’ve had so much fun creating a back story for him and developing him more and more. And I am tickled that Toby Neal, who created him in the first place liked the storyline I developed giving him a love interest with his captain, Cherry Joy Omura. She continued it in her own book!
Shawn: The women! Despite their dark pasts, they’re all so strong and self-assured.
People say life can be stranger than fiction. Have you ever had an experience that you were able to include in a story?
AJ: All the time! I do a lot of research for my Lei Crime stories and sometimes things happen in my daily life that works for the story I am creating. For example, I was invited to a Tongan wedding and used much of it for Ti Leaves and Moon Cakes, book two in my Coffee and Kukui Nuts series. In my newest book, Bullets and Birthday Lūʻaus, I use a lot of material I got from an actual birthday lūʻau I attended. People on the mainland have no clue how important a baby’s first birthday celebration is in the Hawaiian Islands.
Shawn: Kind of. My dad is a fisherman, has been his entire life. He used to talk about this “huge” Northern Pike that he would sometimes get on the line but could never land. He swore it was four or five feet long and had a red fishing lure stuck in its back. The fish became known as Big Red. He never did land that fish, but I wrote a story for him about a boy and his grandpa and the magical fish named Big Red. So, yes, I wrote a story based on life, but it was never published.
You have published other books for the Lei Crime Kindle World. What makes you continue writing for the series?
AJ: I love Abe and I enjoy the characters Toby created and the ones I developed and really can’t stop thinking about them. They are very real to me.
Shawn: At first, I thought this would just be a fun little side trip from my other writing. Oh, how wrong I was! Not only did I fall in love with hanging out in Lei’s world, I fell madly in love with writing mysteries. Of course, the unique character I created for it, Gemi Kittredge, keeps poking at me to come see what kind of trouble she’s gotten herself into.
If you were stuck on a desert island with characters from the Lei Crime World, who would they be, and why?
AJ: Abe, of course. Like I said, I love him.
Shawn: Lei and Michael, I think. They’d do anything to save each other, so I could tag along and be rescued. 😊 Gemi could come along, too, because who wouldn’t want to spend time with their own characters?
What are your favorite themes to explore in your stories?
AJ: Family, crime, murder, family, love, and food. Abe and I are both foodies.
Shawn: No matter how my books start, they end up exploring relationships: family, friendships, neighbors, etc. It’s always interesting to me to see what rises to the surface in an author’s writing.
Tell me about your new book.
AJ: Bullets and Birthday Lūʻaus takes place after Bone Hook, Lei Crime 10. It’s time for a Baby Lūʻau in Maui. And not just any baby. Explosives expert, Detective Abe Torufu, and his lover, precinct Captain C. J. Omura are the proud godparents of Detective Gerry Bunuelos’ newly adopted daughter, Beatriz. Abe is already godfather to Gerry’s only other daughter, Ofélia, whom he adores, but his new duties seem to have inflamed C.J.’s desire for a family of her own. She’s suddenly obsessed with babysitting all seven little Bunueloses – when one is a handful and two are a nightmare. Is that her biological clock Abe hears ticking? Or something more sinister? Just as Abe and the gang prepare themselves for the all-important First Birthday Lūʻau, things run amok in paradise. Gerry’s new baby isn’t who she’s supposed to be. She might be stolen. That’s not all the pilfering going on. A cache of high-power military weapons has vanished from a Coast Guard facility near Abe’s home in Wailuku and his brother Kole, captain of the guard, is missing. Can Abe ever throw a party that goes right? As he, Gerry, and Lei Texeira hunt down clues and investigate what seems to be connected crimes, Abe’s lūʻau promises to be…explosive.
Shawn: My new book, Over Her Head takes place after Dark Lava, book 7 in the Lei Crime series. When women go missing in Maui, the island’s newest rookie cop is on the job.One year ago, after rescuing her abducted sister, Gemi Kittredge turned in her college textbooks for a Maui County Police Department uniform. Now, the last thing Gemi expects is a phone call from her friend and mentor, Detective Lei Texeira. Young women are disappearing and they suspect the Yakuza are involved. Lei doesn’t have to ask twice if Gemi is willing to go undercover to find them; taking down the organized crime group is the reason Gemi became a cop, after all. But when Gemi ends up in the Yakuza’s clutches, she’ll need her entire arsenal—badge, instincts, and mixed martial arts training—to get everyone out safe.
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