Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fast Five Author Interview: Larissa Hoffman Reinhart

Today my guest is Larissa Hoffman Reinhart, author of PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY.
Larissa considers herself lucky to have taught English in Japan, escaped a ferocious monkey in Thailand, studied archaeology in Egypt, and survived teaching high school history in the US. 

Please join me in welcoming Larissa this morning.

FAST FIVE: Ohayo gozaimasu, Larissa. Irasshaimase. Rather than the 140 characters we’ve grown accustomed to on Twitter, can you share with us a more detailed account of the novel and your research for PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY?
LARISSA HOFFMAN REINHART: In tiny Halo, Georgia, everyone knows Cherry Tucker. She’s small, fierce, and loud. She’s also a talented artist. When the well-heeled Branson family wants to memorialize their murdered son in a coffin portrait, Cherry scrambles to win their patronage from her small town rival. Her rival wants to ruin Cherry’s reputation, and Cherry finds someone is also setting her up for a fall.
In a town where it seems impossible to have skeletons, Cherry finds some people have more to hide than others. Particularly the victim’s stepbrother, Cherry’s old flame, who is back in town after his stint in the army. He’s interested in Cherry, but she can’t tell if his interest is sincere or a ruse to learn more about the murder. Either way, she’s not eager to add more personal conflict in her life. She has a flaky family, issues with a goat, and a sort-of ex-husband she can’t shake. On top of this, she’s outraged to find an underground gambling ring run by a recent immigrant in her hometown. Cherry seeks justice and to clear her name while trying to get a portrait finished on time.
I have an art history and art background, so I enjoyed the research on portraiture and reacquainting myself with some of the art techniques. I grew up in a small town, so much of that life is well known to me. Most of my research was done on vehicles, goats, and guns. Which is pretty fun research, in my opinion.
FAST FIVE: Your comments about the goats and Cherry's “sort-of ex-husband” are sure to make any curious reader want to find out more about your protagonist. Is “the job” the most important part of your protagonist’s life?

LARISSA HOFFMAN REINHART: Cherry Tucker’s creativity is an essential part of her personality and that’s what makes her a good artist. She’s also ornery, stubborn, and a smart mouth. Combine that with a tenacious loyalty toward her family and hometown. However, her sense of duty and need for justice melds with this tangential creative thinking and sometimes outweighs common sense. Like thinking she can outsmart a killer. 

FAST FIVE: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out? 

LARISSA HOFFMAN REINHART:I believe readers would say the humor and the language makes this mystery stand out. I’m a character driven writer. I enjoy taking the plot down interesting roads, but I gain the most pleasure in creating memorable characters and putting them in odd circumstances. And the characters are Southern, so some readers would say they talk a little funny.

FAST FIVE: How does your main character’s profession draw her into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?) 

LARISSA HOFFMAN REINHART: Cherry Tucker is a portrait artist, struggling to live on an artist’s income in her small, Southern hometown. Her desperation drives her toward this odd portrait of a murdered man and leads her closer to the killer in this story. Her artist profession brings her into contact with a variety of people, but it’s her personality that gets her involved in murder. 

FAST FIVE: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel? 

LARISSA HOFFMAN REINHART: PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY is the first book in the Cherry Tucker Mystery series. I have written the sequel and if all goes well it should be out in the spring.

FAST FIVE: This isn’t a Fast Five question, more an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.

LARISSA HOFFMAN REINHART: Why isn’t Paris an option? Paris should always be an option. Or are you suggesting you’re not footing the bill to Paris? My laptop travels well. And I write better without internet access. So Paris sounds pretty good. Or my local coffee shop, which does not have wireless access. We used to live in Japan which also does not have a lot of wireless hot spots. I got a lot of writing done there, too! 

Thank you for visiting today, Larissa, and having fun with the FAST FIVE questions. I agree that Paris should always be an option!

Where readers can follow you:
My website is, but I’m very chatty on Facebook and Twitter (@RisWrites).
I’m also on Pinterest under Larissa Reinhart and Cherry Tucker1 and Goodreads.
And my friends and I do a book chat every Wednesday on Facebook at Join us!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Laurie's Non-paranormal Thoughts and Reviews: Deadly as Nature by Gail M Baugniet: Interview & E...

Today you can find me at Laurie's Non-paranormal Thoughts and Reviews blog where she interviews me about my latest Pepper Bibeau mystery and other topics!

You can sign up for a chance to win an ebook or print copy of the novel also!

Laurie's Non-paranormal Thoughts and Reviews: Deadly as Nature by Gail M Baugniet: Interview & E...:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Talking Story with Mystery Author Sandra Nikolai

Sandra Nikolai is the author of False Impressions, a Megan Scott/Michael Elliot mystery, that one reviewer describes as “. . .a tightly plotted mystery of betrayal and revenge that kept me guessing until the end. A sparkling debut from a promising crime writer.” Sandra was born in Montreal, Québec, and earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University. As a teen, she discovered her love of mysteries through the Nancy Drew series and was determined to write her own stories one day. Please join me in welcoming my guest today, Sandra Nikolai. 

GAIL: Thank you for joining us today for this interview, Sandra. One of many areas that intrigued me as I read your novel, False Impressions, was your portrayal of 3-Dimensional characters, especially your protagonist. Megan Scott tends to avoid conflict, preferring to reason out a situation. How do you usually deal with conflict in your life, Sandra, and did you use examples of personal experiences when writing this character trait for Megan? 

SANDRA NIKOLAI: I believe that a fair number of personal conflicts can be resolved through logic and compromise if we keep our emotions in check. The pen is mightier than the sword, as they say. This concept is reflected in Megan Scott’s outlook on life as well. As a ghostwriter who is logical and organized and works behind the scenes, my young protagonist isn’t used to conflict—especially in the physical sense. As long as everything runs smoothly, she’s okay. For the sake of the mystery novel, I dropped her into threatening situations to create internal and external conflicts, increase tension, and raise the stakes. Readers can find out more about the ordeals I put Megan through by visiting my blog and reading my interview with her. I also wanted to mention Michael Elliott, Megan’s friend and investigative reporter in the story. As one would expect, his search for the truth triggers dilemmas of a lethal kind and brings even more conflict into Megan’s life. How she deals with these conflicts ultimately decides her fate. Luckily, I never had to deal with such horrific events in my life. 

GAIL: Your debut novel, False Impressions, is set in Montreal. You live in Ottawa and graduated from McGill University in Montreal. My genealogy research took me to many websites concerning Quebec, and I had an opportunity to visit beautiful Montreal several decades ago. While I saw many sights there, one unfamiliar to me is Sunny Watering Hole, Bistro Hot Spot, Montreal, Quebec. Because Megan Scott had never heard of the place, either, I am wondering, is this an actual place or a wonderful figment of the author’s imagination? 

SANDRA NIKOLAI: Definitely a figment of my imagination! I thought I’d have a bit of fun by creating a fictitious name for a pub. I used fictitious names for several other places in and around Montreal in my story. To protect the innocent, of course. J

GAIL: One of the most frequently asked questions of authors is “Where do you get your ideas?” Answers vary, anywhere from newspaper articles to personal experiences to sheer imagination. Have you ever awakened from a dream with an idea that just had to be told, and were you able to remember enough of the details to actually write the story? 

SANDRA NIKOLAI: Ideas come to me from the three sources you mentioned, but most of the time they come from my imagination. If I draw from the news or personal experience, I’ll give the incident a twist or dramatize it to suit the scene. As for dreams, once in a while I’ll wake up the next morning with a solution to a problem I’d encountered in the story the day before. It’s one of those “Aha!” moments when all the pieces of the puzzle seem to have fallen into place while I was sleeping. If I’m sitting at my desk, struggling with a bit of prose, I’ll take a break and do something else. The change in focus often leads to an answer. If not, I’ll move on and work on another scene. A solution pops up when I least expect it. 

GAIL: When I read a novel, I look for strengths within the protagonist and imagine the backstory that led her to the point where she is capable of dealing with crisis situations. Megan Scott is suspected of murder in False Impressions. Having to deal with everything that confronts her, she also manages to focus on this accusation. Has she gained the strength to cope with disaster from events in her personal life or through the demands of her career? 

SANDRA NIKOLAI: Perhaps both. Megan is tougher than what she appears to be at first. As the story progresses, we learn she is an only child, which makes her independent. She lost her father to cancer at a young age, is helping her mother financially, and is saving money to buy a home—signs of responsibility. She works long hours, pays attention to detail, and meets stringent deadlines on the job. These habits spell resolve and diligence. When Megan learns of the murders and then becomes a prime suspect, she’s doubly astounded, but she doesn’t dwell on the gravity of the situation for long. Instead she draws on her strengths to help prove her innocence and find the real killer. She’s a survivor. 

GAIL: Research is one of the most important aspects of a writer’s work. No matter how knowledgeable the writer is, some research is inevitable. Seasoned authors (Stephen King comes to mind) may delegate this task, and one author I know says he does not farm out the research for his risqué scenes. As a debut novelist without the luxury of delegating, did you do your own research for scenes involving the Montreal nightlife, specifically the strip club Café Cleopatra? 

SANDRA NIKOLAI: I grew up in Montreal and am familiar with the nightlife there. That’s not to say I frequented the strip clubs or stood on street corners in the red light district. Heavens, I’m a wife and mother—I have a reputation to maintain! J Kidding aside, I try to ensure that my research information is as accurate as possible. I’ve taken a few liberties with names and places, but the police investigation and legalities—Canadian style—were verified through reliable sources. 

GAIL: The second novel in your mystery series, Fatal Whispers, is set in Portland, Maine. It is always fun to travel to the chosen venue of a new novel and absorb the atmosphere and outline pertinent logistics. When you sit down to record your stories, though, is there a special place where you would most like to write, such as inside your private office, on the beach, or in Rome? 

SANDRA NIKOLAI: Yes, traveling is fun! I visited Portland and knew right away that this quaint New England city would be the perfect setting for my next book. As for my special writing place, I have a home office with a lovely view of the trees outdoors. It’s a quiet place where my muse and I conspire to dream up mystery plots, create characters, and bring the guilty to justice. And I love every minute of it! 

 Where to find Sandra Nikolai on the Internet:

Book sale sites:

Monday, November 26, 2012

November: An Exciting Month for a Writer

Author's initial concept of
Book #3 Cover
This is the first year I chose to accept the National November Writers Month challenge to write 50,000 words of a new novel. Once I created a page on the NaNoWriMo internet site and signed up on Critique Circle to chart my progress, I had to make a decision about the setting of my next Pepper Bibeau Mystery. Then I started writing.

Thanks to the encouragement from a local NaNoWriMo writers’ group, which met each Saturday afternoon for a Write-In and word-wars, I was able to stay on track. In fact, I met my goal of reaching 50K words the day before Thanksgiving and on my page am labeled "WINNER!". The experience was exhilarating for me and in the process, I have made many new friends, discovered another writers’ critique group, and have the first draft of my next novel on paper. “They” say, you cannot edit until you have words on paper (or desktop). yippee (small letters intended) now I can edit.

During the month of November, I also held a four-book giveaway on Goodreads for my second Pepper Bibeau Mystery in the series, DEADLY AS NATURE Envy Spawns Grief.  
Copies of this novel are on the way to the winning readers in four states: Maryland, Florida, Minnesota, and New York. I thank the 610 people who entered the giveaway and congratulate the four people who won a copy of DEADLY AS NATURE.

Along with a five-day giveaway of my first novel, FOR EVERY ACTION, in eBook format on Amazon, I held a book review drawing for two “Pepper Dolls” as prizes. The winning names drawn are, for:

Reviewer: saniko (Canada)


Reviewer: M. Palmer (Florida)

Mahalo and Aloha to everyone who joined in my month-long birthday celebration from October 22 - November 22, 2012.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Long-Term Accomplishments Deserve Recognition

Every long-term accomplishment deserves recognition. Writing a full  length novel falls into that category. After completing  my second novel in the Pepper Bibeau Mystery series, DEADLY AS NATURE Envy Spawns Grief, it was time to break out the bubbly and serve up the fancy foods! Then I also decided to celebrate with a give-away and a drawing.

Details of the Goodreads giveaway of, DEADLY AS NATURE Envy Spawns Grief are in the column to the right. You can sign up between now and November 22, 2012. A total of four (4) Tradebook copies of the novel will be awarded. 

On November 22, 2012, I will also have a drawing to give away two special “Pepper Dolls”designed by my good friend Kristie who has a large variety of cuddly dolls and animals for sale on her Etsy site at:

How you can be entered into the drawing for a chance to win one of two Pepper Dolls:

A.) On or before November 22, 2012, submit your review of a Pepper Bibeau Mystery novel on the Amazon internet site for:

FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences
B.) Please give me a "heads-up" with a comment below and e-mail your Amazon Review Name to:
(If you submit a review for both novels, your name will be entered into both drawings)
The drawing will be held on Monday, November 26, 2012 at 8:00 a.m. Hawaiian time.
Winners will be announced on this blog site immediately following the drawing.


Dolls measure 9 inches from hand-to-hand and 14 inches from head-to-toe
Dresses are constructed of Hawaiian print fabric from Honolulu, HI

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Every day is a Celebration of Aloha! I am reminded of this most on the anniversary of my birth, which happens to be today, Monday, October 22. There was a time I didn’t read horoscopes, believing the predictions would somehow influence my thoughts and actions. Though not a control freak, I do not like being controlled.

In recent months, however, I have begun to read horoscopes for Libra and Scorpio as I am on the cusp of the two signs. One such prediction said: 

“Being secretive, mysterious and dedicated will

make you very intriguing to the people you deal with.”

Because I write murder mysteries, the enigmatic statement enticed me, especially the secretive and mysterious parts. Having already completed my second novel in the Pepper Bibeau Mystery series, secretive and mysterious in its own right, I decided to celebrate my birthday by sharing the first novel in the series, FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences, with as many people as possible by offering the eBook for free on Amazon for my birthday. This FREE offer runs for five (5) days, from October 22, 2012 through October 26, 2012.
After making this arrangement through Amazon, I decided it would also be fun to give away copies of my second novel, DEADLY AS NATURE Envy Spawns Grief, to some wonderful readers on the Goodreads site. See information at right >>>>> Sign-up for this giveaway is scheduled through November 22, 2012. A total of four (4) Tradebook copies of the novel will awarded and sent to Goodreads readers immediately after the winners are announced.
Finally, I figured it was time to hold a drawing to give away two special “Pepper Dolls” designed by my good friend Kristie who has a large variety of cuddly dolls and animals for sale on her Etsy site at:

>>>The limited-edition Pepper Dolls are not for sale, however<<<
How you can be entered into the drawing for a chance to win one of two Pepper Dolls:
            A.) On or before November 22, 2012, submit your review of a Pepper Bibeau Mystery novel on the Amazon internet site for:

                        1.) FOR EVERY ACTION There Are Consequences

            B.) AND
                        1.) Include your contact information and your Amazon review name in the comment section below,
                        2.) Email your contact information and your Amazon review name to
(If you submit a review for both novels, your name will be entered into both drawings)
The drawing will be held on Monday, November 26, 2012 at 8:00 a.m. Hawaiian time.
Winners will be announced on this blog site immediately following the drawing.


Dolls measure 9 inches from hand-to-hand and 14 inches from head-to-toe
Dresses are constructed of Hawaiian print fabric from Honolulu, HI

Thursday, October 11, 2012

SinC/Hawaii Interview with Author Laurie Hanan

My guest today is Laurie Hanan, author of the Louise Golden Mysteries and a personal friend of mine here in Honolulu. Laurie recently published her third novel in the series, Another Day in Paradise. Each novel is set in Hawaii, and more specifically, on the island of O’ahu. By the third novel, many of the questions have already been asked and answered, so I dug deep to ask more obscure but interesting questions of Laurie.

GAIL: Welcome, and thank you for joining us today, Laurie. Each of your novels offers the reader a closer look at your protagonist and an opportunity for you to showcase your evolution as a writer. One of the joys of reading an ongoing series is the anticipation of revisiting familiar characters and sharing another adventure with them. An added bonus with your series is for readers to also experience real-time life in Hawaii. While it may not be the same as that portrayed on Hawaii 5-0, that is mainly because Steve MacGarrett doesn’t pop up in our lives all that often! You do have one supporting character in particular, a polo player, who does offer that special dazzle in Another Day in Paradise. What’s the back story on him?

LAURIE HANAN: I assume you are referring to the blond Brazilian, Felipe. My method is to start with a tight outline, but stay open to allowing scenes and characters to detour from the original outline as I write. Felipe is a good example of how that happens. First, let me say Felipe is an entirely fictional character, created in my imagination. I intended for him to be a minor character. But as I wrote him into the story, he grew into a much more interesting and complicated fellow. I went with the flow and let Felipe develop. In fact, at the end of the story, Felipe caught me by surprise. Now I'm sure he'll have to come back as a regular.
GAIL: One of the top questions asked of authors is, “Where do you get your ideas?” It is also one of the most difficult to answer because of its broad scope, in the vein of “What do you want out of life?” To narrow the focus of the question, let me pick a specific area of your latest Louise Golden mystery. Louise takes the neighbor children to a polo match where she meets a rather sexy man. Why did you choose to set scenes at a polo match in Hawaii?

LAURIE HANAN: My sixteen-year-old daughter has been working as a groom's apprentice at the Mokulēia polo field on the North Shore for about two years now. She also takes polo lessons and plays in off-season skirmishes with the professional polo team members. Naturally, I've spent a good deal of my time at the polo field and have gotten to know many of the regulars there. I absolutely love horses, and Mokulēia is one of the most beautiful parts of O'ahu. It seemed natural to have part of my book take place in that setting. I also wanted to share with my readers who may not be aware that polo is a popular sport in Hawaii and very much a part of the culture and history of the islands. And I will reiterate, the sexy Brazilian polo player is purely a figment of my imagination--so girls, don't go out to the polo field hoping to find someone like Felipe.

GAIL: Your protagonist, Louise Golden, is a mail carrier. Ever since the term “going postal” surfaced, it is not so difficult to suspend disbelief that a mail carrier can become involved in a mystery of murder. You were a postal worker also, and while I don’t believe you have ever been involved in a murder, can you tell us some of the experiences you did have on the job?

LAURIE HANAN: For eighteen years I worked at the Honolulu Airport facility as a distribution clerk. That means I worked inside the building sorting letters, magazines, and parcels. Tempers flared from time to time. Supervisors were occasionally threatened with bodily harm. But as far as I know, nobody ever brought a gun to work. There was one stabbing while I worked there, but that was a lover's quarrel. Just like in my first book, Almost Paradise, there was said to be a ghost or two residing in the building. There were a few eerie occurrences. For the most part, the situations Louise encounters in my books are made up.

GAIL: One of my favorite subjects is food, an eclectic variation of foods such as chicken katsu, deep-fried lake perch, sashimi, and pie. What are some of the Hawaiian favorites that receive mention in Another Day in Paradise and why do they have enough importance in your life to warrant mention in the novel?

LAURIE HANAN: Like myself, Louise is an animal lover and therefore a vegetarian. This means her enjoyment of local foods is somewhat limited, as mine is. There is less focus on food in the third book in the series. She does have a lychee and li hing flavored shave ice at the polo field. This is one of my favorite indulgences. For lunch she stops to pick up sushi one time and vegetable manapua another time.

GAIL: Religious tolerance is a vital foundation of our “One nation under God.” Recently, I read a newspaper article stressing the idea that we do not have to believe the teachings of another’s faith to respect each other’s faith. Ideology is often an evolution of ideas that even President Obama and Governor Romney exhibit in their lives. In your novels, the protagonist reflects this tolerance. Were your personal ideas about religious tolerance formed early, or were they influenced by life experiences such as travel?

LAURIE HANAN: I grew up in Hawaii and the Mariana Islands. Especially here in Hawaii, we are surrounded by a wonderful smorgasbord of cultures and religions. All my life I've been exposed to people from all religious backgrounds. Only as an adult, though, I have opened my mind to the possibility that there is something to be learned from all religions. Maybe some of that understanding has come through my travels, but much of it I've discovered right here at home. While I practice a conservative form of the Jewish faith, I have come to believe that religion is merely man's attempt to explain the unexplainable, to grasp the untouchable. Religion is the proverbial finger pointing to the moon. Too many people, sadly, have mistaken the finger for the moon. I believe Truth resonates with our souls, if we would only pay attention. Truth can come to us from many sources. Each of us would do well to embrace Truth when we come across it, regardless of the source of that Truth. I intentionally created my protagonist, Louise, as someone who grew up with no religious background, and had little use for religion. In the first book, Almost Paradise, religion doesn't enter her thoughts. In the second book, How Far is Heaven?, Louise is forced to confront her Jewish heritage for the first time at her father's funeral. She discovers she was baptized in the Catholic church as an infant. She also gets to know Freddy, who is a Jew-Bu, a follower of both the Jewish and Buddhist faiths. It isn't until the third book, Another Day in Paradise, that Louise begins to explore her own religious path. I hope many readers will relate to Louise's search for Truth, and her quest to understand herself.
Look for Laurie Hanan on the Internet at these sites:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tuesday Thoughts at Dawn

Do you ever lie in bed, between sleep and wakefulness, and have these random thoughts running through your head? Nothing in particular and everything at once. Then you wake and can’t quite grasp any of it. But you know if you could write down those thoughts, you would have the most-fascinating invention, award-winning recipe, or best-selling novel of all time! 

My thoughts often rally around editing of a current WIP or planning upcoming activities. Often I am composing a reply to a question or the response to a letter. Yesterday, I received a postcard in the mail from a friend in Oregon. The card displays photographs of two Sultans on the front; is postmarked PORTLAND OR; and carries postage of the ALOHA Hawaiian shirt stamp. The postcard serves well as a metaphor for my eclectic morning thoughts: a potpourri of ideas, thoughts, and sights. 

Making use of these morning thoughts is a bit tricky because of their elusiveness. On sitting up, or opening my eyes, the bulk of a plan or the nucleus of an idea vanishes, never to return. Even now, having risen from bed to write this in hopes of capturing a recent sleep-wake thought, I draw a blank. I am left wondering if the thought was as utterly amazing as it appeared in my sleep state or if, like an alcohol-induced statement, was utter hogwash filtered through . . . well, through no filter at all. 

At dawn, the splendor of an idea is considered and dissected, warts and all. A beautiful opening line of a new novel suddenly takes on the amateurish (though brilliant) Snoopy-ness of “It was a dark and stormy night.” At that point the editing begins and any uniqueness is removed because it does not conform to the edicts of protocol. Spontaneity vanishes, along with the enticing invention, the mouthwatering meal, or the innovative novel. 

It isn’t always best to listen to your inner Archie Bunker and “stifle” your ideas. Do not edit the life out of your creations. Allow your ideas to flow in the brilliance of morning sunlight. Preserve the uniqueness you bring to a thought that is common around the world but, until now, has not received your personal and inimitable touch. 

Do you ever lie in bed, between sleep and wakefulness, with random thoughts running through your head?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Where Do Ideas Come From?

Interesting cemetery off a back road on Maui
that could conjure up an anthology of ideas.
The question most asked of writers is: “Where do you get your ideas?” 

Some authors say it is the most difficult interview question because they don’t have a satisfactory answer. During the course of the day, an idea pops up and a kernel of a story sprouts. Whatever triggered that idea is the source, or the WHERE. But the thought may be too fleeting for the conscious mind to grasp, and it is only the residual grain of sand left behind that begins to develop into a pearl. 

Triggers can be a song, a painting, an ocean breeze, the shape of a face, a 140-character tweet, a friend’s facebook post, or even the scent of a grilled cheese sandwich, chicken soup, or a root beer float. 

Once the idea begins to form, it is the fertile mind of a dedicated writer that designs, shapes, and accessorizes the story from opening line to climax and denouement. 

Ideas are a dime-a-dozen. Good ideas are worth a bit more. Maybe a better way to answer the question would be for the writer to tell what they do with the inspiration generated by an idea and how the author molds a seed of an idea into an intriguing story. 

Here is a blog post by author Kaye George giving her take on where ideas come from. Kaye George @KGeorgeMystery

Sunday, September 23, 2012

FAST FIVE Author Interview with Cheryl Linn Martin

Today’s guest is Cheryl Linn Martin. When I read the title of Cheryl’s first novel, Pineapples in Peril, my assumption that she must have ties to Hawaii was correct. “Do you recall what it was like to be 10-16 years old? What kinds of things made you excited, angry, challenged or confused? How did you relate to siblings and parents?” These are the questions Cheryl Linn Martin considers when developing characters for her middle reader mystery series, The Hawaiian Island Detective Club.

FAST FIVE: Welcome and thank you for taking time to share your writing background with us today, Cheryl. You have mapped out a trilogy of mysteries for The Hawaiian Island Detective Club. What inspired you to write stories set in Hawaii and what is the first novel in the series, Pineapples in Peril, about?

CHERYL LINN MARTIN: I have always loved Hawaii ever since I lived there while attending The University of Hawaii. I combined that with my interest in writing for ages 8-12 years and The Hawaiian Island Detective Club was born!

The three books in this series are entitled Pineapples in Peril, Menehunes Missing, and Ukuleles Undercover.
(Menehunes Missing has a tentative release date of February 5, 2013.
Ukuleles Undercover will probably be out in the summer or early fall of 2013.)

In Pineapples in Peril, Leilani Akamai and her two best friends, Maile and Sam decide to investigate the vandalism taking place in the pineapple fields near their homes. They’ve been The Hawaiian Island Detective Club for years, solving pretend mysteries. This is their chance to solve a real one. Unless, of course, Kimo, Leilani’s annoying ten-year-old brother ruins everything. And then there’s Maile’s 16-year-old brother who’s the love of Leilani’s life.

Ahh . . . the angst of adolescence!

FAST FIVE: Love your alliterative titles! Aside from the perils of prickly pineapples and missing mischievous menehunes, did you have other interesting experiences while living in Hawaii?

CHERYL LINN MARTIN: Yes, I did! I learned to surf, got scared by a pipefish while snorkeling (thought it was an eel!), nearly lost my suit while body surfing, ate every kind of island food I could—including poi, took hula classes, and performed at my dorm’s luau. I loved every moment of island life!

FAST FIVE: Body surfing, learning hula, eating poi - you were a true kama’aina living in Hawaii. Do you follow any specific writing process to complete the first draft of your novels and do you know at the beginning of the mystery who will be the culprit?

CHERYL LINN MARTIN: When I’m writing a new book, I mark my calendar for ten weeks of 5,000 words each week and dedicate several hours each weekday to reach that goal. I do any catch-up word count necessary over the weekends. My books are all around 50,000 words! I do very little editing when I’m in the “writing mode!”

I’m not a “plotter” so I don’t usually know at the beginning who will be the culprit, but I do need to know what the mystery is and also something about where I’m going. The in-between can take many unusual turns before the real culprit is revealed.

FAST FIVE: Which character in Pineapples in Peril is most like you, and why?

CHERYL LINN MARTIN: Probably Leilani. She is determined, yet in many ways has issues with her confidence. She also finds herself in trouble a lot, even though it always seems to be her brother’s fault.  

Leilani learns some wonderful things about her annoying younger brother. But then there’s reality—Kimo will always be her pain-in-the-pants younger brother! So, every book in the series has the wonderful moments involving family and siblings, along with the frustrating times. Kind of like real life, huh?

Yup, I have a younger brother!

FAST FIVE: What motivates you to write and what habits have you developed that would be beneficial to new writers?

CHERYL LINN MARTIN: Striving to do what God has placed in front of me motivates me to keep pressing forward. Sharing wholesome mysteries filled with fun, humor, mishaps and unexpected moments for kids to enjoy also motivates me to continue this amazing journey.

For new writers, if you are goal oriented try setting a reasonable word count goal that allows for you to get ahead at times and gives you make-up time as well. Also, set aside that time to simply sit down and write—don’t go to any e-mails, facebook pages, etc. It’s all about planting yourself in front of that computer and pounding out the words!

FAST FIVE: This last isn’t so much a question as riding a wave from the professional world of writing to your personal life. Please share a little about your family and what you do for fun and relaxation when you’re not writing.

CHERYL LINN MARTIN: I have a great husband, three amazing kids and Lilly, a Persian cat who’s definitely “The Queen.”

My oldest son, Ian, has his own home and works for Nautilus. My daughter, Ashley, is married to a wonderful man, Dave. She works for Portland State University and he is a lawyer for a Portland, Oregon firm. My youngest son, Shane, wants to be an artist for a Graphic Novel company. He’s busy working on projects and sending them off—not unlike being an author!

I love to grow veggies, and blueberries and raspberries on my deck. I also love to sing, and am part of my church’s drama team—challenging, yet rewarding. I swim with my son and do push-ups with the Oregon Duck (the U of O mascot) whenever Oregon scores—and, yes, they’re men’s push-ups! I’m practicing for this fall!

I worked for Portland Parks and Recreation for 31 years and still like to work with kids today! A week of church VBS is totally draining!

Where readers can connect with CHERYL LINN MARTIN:

Website address is

Blog site all about Hawaii at

Facebook author page at 

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