Monday, June 17, 2013

Interview with YA Mystery Author Cheryl Linn Martin

FAST FORWARD interviews focus on an author’s second novel in a mystery series. Today’s guest is author Cheryl Linn Martin who sets her Young Adult/Middle Grade novels in the tropical state of Hawaii. One book reviewer says, “Cheryl Martin has a divine gift for writing wholesome fiction for young people."

Author Cheryl Linn Martin

Cheryl grew up in Southern Oregon and earned a BA with honors in Recreation and Park Management from the University of Oregon. After years of working with and teaching kids, she is now writing for Middle Grades. Her childhood love of Nancy Drew sparked a never-ending appreciation for mysteries, and her sun-worshipping spirit led her to the Hawaiian Islands for a year while she attended The University of Hawaii.

Fast Forward: Thank you for participating in this interview, Cheryl. As you know, a story’s protagonist often reflects an author’s personality, or displays characteristics the author has chosen to explore. Your YA series protagonist is Leilani Akamai, of The Hawaiian Island Detective Club. Can you please share with us some of the back story that defines your protagonist but isn’t included in the published novels, and also give a description of Menehunes? 

Cheryl Linn Martin: Leilani Akamai is 13 years old and a bit unsure of herself. I think that’s the way most new teenagers feel! She may appear confident when it comes to investigating and water sports (especially surfing), but she has her doubts. 

She’s very proud of her heritage and loves that she takes after her Hawaiian father. He was involved in law enforcement and hopes to someday follow in his footsteps. She misses him very much. 

Menehunes Missing is about a town event, The Menehune Hunt where statues of Hawaii’s treasured little people are hidden around the area. Participants pay an entry fee to get clues and participate in the hunt as a fundraiser for the schools. The kids of the HIDC decide to participate because they figure they’re pretty good at solving mysteries. Soon they discover that the statues are actually being taken from their hiding places—a new mystery for the HIDC! 

Fast Forward: After writing the first novel in a series, it seems that subsequent novels would flow out fully formed. The author has the basics down: format for the storyline; a feel for the proper number of plot lines and chapters; techniques for creating a charismatic protagonist and supporting characters; secrets to making the antagonist likeable; and guidelines for adding conflict right up to and through the denouement. How has writing become easier for you; and what remains as difficult now as when you wrote the first novel? 

Cheryl Linn Martin: I know the characters fairly well now, which makes writing them much easier, although, like all of us, characters can be full of surprises—no one knows someone totally. My characters do surprise me at times! 

The most difficult part of continuing a series (especially in a mystery) is coming up with new ways of spying on people, getting clues, getting from place to place as they need to and new predicaments for the kids! 

Fast Forward: To hold a reader’s attention, a series protagonist must continue to grow or change in each novel. In Sue Grafton’s ABC series, her protagonist does not age (much), or get married, but she expands her knowledge of the job and discovers family relatives who are woven into the storyline. Without revealing any spoilers, how has your protagonist developed or changed from Book #1? 

Cheryl Linn Martin: In Pineapples in Peril (book one of the HIDC), Leilani does not want her little brother, Kimo, tagging along with her and her friends. But she discovers some wonderful things about him, and even though Kimo will always be her annoying little brother, she realizes by book two, how much help he’s been. He helps with the clues in The Menehune Hunt and is “in training” to become part of the detective club! 

Fast Forward: A series requires the presence of a continuing main character. Often, however, there is another recurring character. The almost infinite pairings of protagonists with guy/girl Fridays or wingmen could claim its own category on Jeopardy. In your series, Cheryl, who are the other members of The Hawaiian Island Detective Club and what are their main roles within the plot of Menehunes Missing? 

Cheryl Linn Martin: Kimo is huge in Menehunes Missing, helping figure out clues and even providing a diversion when the kids need to get to some evidence. Maile and Sam are Leilani’s best friends (since kindergarten sand-box days) and support her in her schemes—diversions, spying, interrogations and stake-outs. When Leilani doubts herself, Maile and Sam come to her rescue in support! 

Fast Forward: Researching a new novel takes the author on a journey to many new places, whether through books, movies, newspapers, or physical travel. What did you most enjoy about the research process of your second novel, Menehunes Missing, and where did your research take you? 

Cheryl Linn Martin: My research involves mostly Hawaiian things—even though I knew about The Menehune, I still did some research to learn more. I also did research on foods, a few Hawaii locations, and casts (Leilani gets her cast removed in this book.) I always do a lot of observing of some very special people in my life to put together some supporting characters—my favorite part of research and developing characters! 

And then there was my trip to Maui to do some research on some of the areas on the island—now that’s fun research!!

Where can fans of your novels find you and your books on the Internet? 

Amazon (Pineapples in Peril, Menehunes Missing and for Kindle)


Barnes and Noble (Pineapples in Peril and for Nook)

Barnes and Noble (Menehunes Missing)

Order Signed Copies Through Me

Book Three, Ukuleles Undercover, releases on August 6, 2013


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