Giveaway Ends 8/1
IR– What does it mean to you to be called an author?
MK– Ever since I started down the journey of writing, I wanted to be published. And I was very specific that I wanted to be traditionally published, and to hold my own book in my hands. Preferably several. To date, I have three books on my shelf, an anthology I’m part of, and a new series starting in October. What also came with this that I hadn’t expected was connection to so many wonderful readers who enjoy my books and other authors. Opportunities to talk about writing, and a true writing community. So bottom line, being called an author is a dream come true.
IR– Which book are we talking about today?
MK– DECEIVED, which is the latest in the PI Kelly Pruett Mystery series.
DERAILED was actually the first in the series, and it was a Shamus finalist, and nominated for a Lefty, Agatha and Anthony award. Second was DENIED, which came out last year.
IR– Can you tell us a bit about the story and its main characters?
MK– PI Kelly Pruett is going undercover to find out what debauchery might be happening in a woman’s shelter. Her client’s granddaughter who had been living at the shelter seems to have gone underground, and another young woman goes missing. Kelly soon gets fired off the case, but she will not let that stop her from finding the missing women.
There are several recurring characters such as Kelly’s daughter, Mitz, her ex-mother-in-law, Arlene, and her ex-husband, Jeff. Kyle has been moved up to detective, and her sidekick, Floyd, is ever present. But I’m also bringing back Hannah, her half-sister, and she has been fun to have back. She offers a very young and new perspective, and a few challenges for Kelly.
IR– What inspired the idea for your book?
MK– Knowing this would likely be the last in the series, I wanted a case that would bring out Kelly’s maternal instincts. She’s a single mom to a deaf daughter, and Kelly lost her own mother when she was 14. Kelly’s avoided dealing with that loss in the series, and it was time she needed to. I figured, no better way than to surround her with women on the edge of society, who have suffered losses and many forced onto the streets because of home issues. Also, what I found as I dug into it, was that homelessness can be caused by so many issues. It is an issue that has touched people I love, and I think there is a lot of preconception about who being houseless effects. I wanted to shine some light on that subject as well.
IR– What was the most surprising thing you learned in writing this book?
MK– As mentioned above, just how homelessness can appear in so many forms, and touch people you would never expect. And for reasons you wouldn’t suspect either. It challenged my own view and it challenged Kelly Pruett’s ideas, which was so interesting to explore.
IR– Tell us about a favorite character from the book.
MK– Well, of course, I love Kelly Pruett. She is tenacious and driven, and while she is imperfect in so many ways—too driven sometimes—too bullheaded—she has a big heart and such a desire to get it right. I admire her characteristics, and I have enjoyed writing her.
IR– If you were friends with a character in this book, what kinds of things would you do together?
MK– I love dogs—so I would absolutely be friends with Floyd. Floyd and I would be hanging out at the park, snuggling on the couch, and he’d go everywhere with me! Luckily, I have my own Floyd (in the form of a golden retriever named Bella). So rest assured, Bella would be coming along too and she and Floyd would have a blast together!
IR– How do you define success as an author?
MK– In the beginning, I didn’t really know the answer to that question because I always had a higher goal that I was setting for myself. More books. More readers. More interactions. However, the answer has become clearer over time. The fact that I have books in the world that people connect with, that I have contracts to write more books, and have opportunities like this to talk on blogs, or to speak at events, or be part of panels with other authors I admire—that is success. And I’ve learned to celebrate each of them along the way.
IR– Can you share a day in the life of an author?
MK– It varies, depending on what’s happening as far as upcoming events, or deadlines. But generally, my day starts around 7 am and I re-read whatever I wrote the day before. Then I set out to get at least 2000 new words down. After that, I might switch to doing some social media stuff. Or work on any marketing materials that I need to. Overall though, I spend about 3-4 hours a day working on my writing in some form or another, and I do that five or six days a week.
IR– How do you avoid or defeat writer’s block?
MK– I simply show up. There are days that I don’t feel it, but showing up at the computer, putting my fingers on the keyboard, generally gets things moving. Even if I write junk that I know will probably be deleted the next day, it tends to help get the juices flowing.
IR– What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?
MK– Seek out supportive people and keep learning your craft. Go to classes, read craft books and tons of books in your genre, join a critique group, and network. Writing is often a solo endeavor, but that makes connecting with other writers even more important. Only another writer gets what you’re feeling, and having people to brainstorm with, talk to about character, and just about the ups and downs of writing, is crucial.
IR– What are you working on in the near future?
MK– I have a new series starting October 25, 2022. HIDDEN PIECES. It features a former homicide detective turned small town sheriff of Misty Pines. Jax Turner is on the case of a missing 14-year-old girl, and it was inspired by a true crime that happened in my hometown in 1979.
I also am currently working on a domestic suspense set on a Paris river boat. I came back recently from France and was inspired to set my next book there and I’m having lots of fun with it!
IR– Do you have any quirky writing rituals?
MK– I keep M&Ms in my drawer and my coffee cup full. Other than that, I just write.
IR– What comes first for you — the plot or the characters?
MK– Character generally comes first. Although I’ve been known to look out in an open field and think – what if there was a body out there?! That’s more of an inspiration though. The plot really comes as I write. I am a pantser. But the character and his or her voice usually helps me find that plot. And for me, the plot is so dependent on the main character. Knowing what their strengths and weaknesses are will determine the story.
IR– What has been your favorite reader feedback?
MK– When people write to tell me how much they can see themselves in Kelly, it makes my day. Her determination and her desire to be a good mom and a PI are such universal issues for women in that work/life balance. So it’s especially gratifying when a reader tells me how they loved Kelly’s tenacity to have it all.
IR– What is your all time favorite book or author?
MK– My all-time favorite author is Sue Grafton. I love Kinsey Milhone, and all of the characters that make up Kinsey’s world. As for influence, absolutely. I wrote the PI Kelly Pruett series because I fell in love with the genre. And Sue Grafton had everything to do with that.
IR– What do you look for in a story as a reader?
MK– Generally, I look for something I can connect to in the character or something I can root for. I don’t necessarily have to love or immediately understand the character’s motivations—but I have to relate to something in their voice or the way they view the world. I also like an intriguing plot. A new twist on an old idea is always fun!
IR– What are you reading now?
MK– I’m reading my friend Dianne Freeman’s book, A BRIDE’S GUIDE TO MARRIAGE AND MURDER.
IR– Aside from writing or reading, what are your hobbies or interests?
MK– I love to travel. I have a map that I’m keeping track of the places I’ve been and where I want to go and I really enjoy planning out the next trip. I also love to golf, and I enjoy finding and testing out new recipes in the kitchen.
IR– If you had your own talk show, what would the topic be and who would be your first guest(s)?
MK– Gosh, my own talk show! That would be fun. I would probably talk a lot about women’s issues. Empowerment. Domestic abuse. I was in an abusive marriage right out of high school and it formed a lot of how I view things and my determination not to be a victim. So I think that would be beneficial as a subject. In relation to that, there were many years I felt unseen and not taken seriously, so empowerment is important to me.
My first guest would be Goldie Hawn. I adore her and I love how she hasn’t always been seen as a powerhouse. I remember her on Laugh-In. Yes, I am dating myself. But I just love her energy, her laugh, and her relationship. And I think she would be fascinating to chat with.
IR– If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?
MK– Write a romantic comedy movie, along the lines of Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail or While You Were Sleeping. They were so full of heart and humor, and I’d love to pen my own someday.
About The Book
Deceived (A Kelly Pruett Mystery)
In the third thrilling book in the Kelly Pruett mystery series–Her world was falling into place. Then women started dropping off the map.
PI Kelly Pruett finally feels like she’s coming into her own. With her personal life well on track, a gig uncovering what drove a client’s granddaughter underground could be good for business. But after her undercover operation at the homeless shelter reveals rampant drug dealing, she’s suddenly kicked off the case… just as another girl goes missing.
Vowing to expose the truth even if it means pro-bono work, Kelly is taken aback when her half-sister helps her hunt down answers in a tent city brimming with distrust. When her investigation doesn’t move quickly enough to save a second woman from a vicious murder, Kelly doubles her efforts unwilling to accept defeat.
About the Author
Mary Keliikoa is the Shamus finalist and Lefty, Agatha and Anthony nominated author of the PI Kelly Pruett mystery series, and the Misty Pines mystery series featuring former Portland homicide detective turned small-town sheriff. Her short stories have appeared in Woman’s World and in the anthology Peace, Love and Crime.
A Pacific NW native, she spent years working around lawyers and admits to being that person who gets excited when called for jury duty. When not in Washington, you can find Mary on the beach in Hawaii. But even under the palm trees and blazing sun, she’s plotting her next murder—novel that is.
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