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 

If “tweeters” would like to comment on The Hawaiian Island Detective Club, they can add the hashtag: #HIDC


  1. Hello! So nice to meet you Cheryl. I enjoyed the interview and learning about island life. Your series sounds great. I like the cover of Pineapples in Peril. I'll have to add these to my TBR book list.

  2. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting, Susanne! The artist at Comfort Publishing did an amazing job with the cover art, didn't he?

    I hope you'll spread the word to kids, parents and teachers you know! Aloha! --Cheryl

  3. Thank you, Gail, for this wonderful "Fast Five" interview! Mahalo and Aloha! --Cheryl

  4. Another great interview, Gail! Mahalo for letting us get to know one of our newer Sisters In Crime Hawaii members. Cheryl, congratulations on your trilogy. Much success to you.

  5. Thanks for your visit, Lara, and for commenting! Your support is very appreciated as I take this exciting publishing journey! The official release date is right in front of me--Oct 2, 2012! Yaaay! Aloha! --Cheryl


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