An interview with author AJ Llewellyn

coffee and kalua nutsI haven’t read AJ Llewellyn’s latest Lei Crime KW novella yet, but I’ll tell you why I’m looking forward to it. My first Lei Crime KW story, Hidden Poppies, was about Ken Yamada, one of Toby Neal’s characters in the Lei Crime world. Ken Yamada, is an FBI Special Agent, a former partner to the series main character, Lei Texeira. Ken Yamada is also gay.

In my story, I link Ken up with someone he knew and loved from years past – a soldier, Major Charles Mathews, who because of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, could have been discharged from the service if anyone found out that he was carrying on a homosexual affair.

Hidden Poppies was the first book I’d ever written that explored a gay love story and I frankly fell in love with Ken and Chuck’s relationship because they are both such interesting men and deserve the love they share. My next Lei Crime story … right now with the working title UNDERTOW, I hope to have out in October and it will feature Ken and Chuck again.

But with all that, AJ Llewellyn has written more than 200 books, all of which explore gay relationships. I had to talk to her about it.

How did you come to be interested in the Lei Crime Kindle World? I love Toby Neal’s Lei Crime series and to be honest I thought Toby was doing such a wonderful thing to share her World with other authors I wanted to be a part of it. She is not only talented and successful but very generous and supportive with other authors. Really quite rare in our industry.

Tell us how your story links to the Lei Crime Series. Characters, setting, specific event? Is there any crossover or meetings between your characters and any of the original characters? When I chose Toby’s big loveable Tongan detective and explosives expert Abe Torufu as my World character, I read every single cannon book and made notes of everything she told us about Abe. I used everything including his penchant for chewing toothpicks, and his Sudoku habit. I loved that he and Lei failed an IED test in the field and used that as a basis for my story. The reality is that in Hawaii they don’t get many bombs and Abe references this is one of Toby’s stories. So I gave him a bomb. Two in fact. I brought in characters he dealt with in the cannon stories. I mention Lei of course, but also Pono and his wife and Lt. Omura. Gerry Bunuelos who has been Abe’s partner and Lieutenant Guttierez from Honolulu Police Department are also in the story. Lt. Guttierez was one of the people who trained Abe so he features heavily in my story, Coffee and Kukui Nuts.

The Lei Crime Series are police procedural mysteries with a twist of romance. What genres do you explore in your story? I have a gay character in the U.S. Marshal, Tony McCracken who is assigned to protect Abe. I write predominantly gay erotic romances and many of them are mysteries set in Hawaii. I was thrilled that Toby was open to a gay character, very welcoming to the idea actually. But she also stipulated no sex and I was happy to comply. It was quite freeing actually. After having over 200 books published I’ve started to run out of imaginative sexual positions!

There is no romance in the story but I wanted a kind of “bromance” between Abe and Tony. A little nod to McGarrett and Danno in Hawaii Five-O. Again, Toby was very supportive when I gave her an extended outline of the story.

The Lei Crime Series is set in Hawaii, but these novels/novellas could be set anywhere. Tell us about where you set your story, and why? I set mine in Oahu because I love it there and the story I came up with happened when I went to a wedding cake shop in Honolulu. I always think of stories and then ask myself, “What if?” Abe is based in Maui but when I worked on his story I created a family for him. His parents, a brother who is a Coast Guard in Maui, and his sister who is a former boxing champion. Abe comes to Oahu to pick out wedding cakes for a traditional Tongan wedding. I really love Tongan tradition and I based my story on one that I attended. Hundreds of people were there and I was surprised how much was involved in making one happen.

I also created a bit of drama because when Lei got married Pono’s wife organized her wedding and she and Pono are hurt when Abe’s sister, Meleny doesn’t hire her to help her.

That was fun! Tongan brides, by tradition, must do everything themselves, so that was a nice bit of character detail to put in the story.

What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works? Oh, yes. My consistent theme in my most prominent series is family loyalty, love, and the pursuit of criminal justice. And food. I’m a foodie. One of my most popular series is Mingo McCloud Honolulu Mysteries. So far there are six with more to come.

Mingo is a happily married man raising his teenage son and gets into a lot of trouble with some very twisty cases. He is a forensic accountant working mostly criminal cases. He often teams up with his husband Francois Aumary, a Honolulu security expert.

I love doing research for my books and worked with a forensic accountant on the Mingo series and with a U.S. Marshal for Coffee and Kukui Nuts.

Share some of your story about becoming a writer? Long version or short version. You decide. I have been writing since I was seven years old. My mother died when I was six and it was a painful time for me. We weren’t allowed to talk about her and so I wrote about her. She became a super hero in my mind. I explained her shocking absence in my life as her being Super Woman. She was gone because she was helping people in trouble. I am crying writing this. I’ve never told anyone before.

I was also obsessed with horses and I wrote my first book when I was eight. I was also obsessed with death. Everyone died at the end of the story. Including the horses!

What are you working on next, aside from the novella in the Lei Crime Series Kindle World? I have many ongoing series. I just this morning completed book five in my Honeybone: U.S. Marshal Series and I am working on Book seven in the Mingo McCloud Series. I co-author books with the amazing D.J. Manly. We’ve had about eighty books published together and we have many more coming up. I urge people to check out my website www.ajllewellyn.com.

I have many free books, free blog stories and all my published works listed with purchase links.

Thanks so much for your time. This was fun!

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