Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guest Bloggers: Larry K. and Lorna Collins, Authors of Murder in Paradise

On an early morning paddle, Agapé Jones' outrigger team finds a body in the water off Maui, thrusting him into unexpected danger.

Agapé Jones, retired NYPD detective, is asked to act as special investigator in the murder of famous surfer Philip Fowler, the son of Hawaii State Senator Thomas Fowler. The assignment takes Agapé to the North Shore of Oahu where he discovers that he’s investigating more than just a murder. The young man had no enemies, and Agapé is frustrated by little evidence and few possible suspects.

Agapé enjoys exercising his old skills, but he misses his wife, Gerry. He encounters several people who become more than acquaintances, and in the end, discovers the truth. Murder in Paradise allows readers to discover the answers along with the detective while experiencing a virtual trip to the real Paradise that is Hawaii.

Murder…We Wrote?
by Larry and Lorna Collins

We never intended to write mysteries. In fact, we only meant to finish our memoir about living in Osaka, Japan to build the Universal Studios Japan theme park, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park.

On Labor Day weekend of 2005, the year our book was published, we attended the now-defunct Maui Writers Conference. We learned a lot there, but we were also launched on the adventure of mystery writing.

Lorna had already started her still-incomplete romance novel, but Larry wasn’t writing anything. We attended a workshop called “You’re Published, Now What?” The first question asked by the speaker was, “So now that you have your first book published, what’s your next one?” He went on to explain that publishing your first book is like giving your teenager the keys to the car and watching them pull out of the driveway. They’re now on their own. Your job as a writer is done.

At the end of the same session, the conference director announced that the poet had fallen on the stairs, and although he’d be fine, his classes had been cancelled. Larry suddenly thought, What if the poet was found dead at the bottom of the stairs? During the weekend, we’d met quite a few quirky authors, so there was plenty of fodder for suspects. He had the idea for his next book.

The next day, we met a man we’d seen managing security for the conference. We stopped to chat with him for about ten minutes. As we walked away, Lorna turned to Larry and said, “We have to write that guy.” Thus Agapé Jones, retired NYPD detective, and our mystery collaboration were born.

After the third rewrite of our memoir, we’d figured out how to work together as a team. But this was a whole new venture.

The nice thing about two authors is that the characters can also have separate and distinct voices. Larry writes the macho hero types. But he also writes most of the little old ladies. He covers the factual stuff, and Lorna handles the emotions. Somehow, it works.

We’ve always loved to read cozy mysteries, but we discovered writing them was a huge challenge. Your suspects have to be credible with believable motives. They also have to appear to have opportunity. And all the red herrings and false storylines must be wrapped up by the end.

When we finished the first book, Murder…They Wrote, set at a fictional writers’ conference on Maui, we asked our proofreader to have a look at the manuscript before we submitted it. When she’d finished, we asked if she’d figured it out. She said she had. Then we asked her when. She replied, “At the same time as the protagonist.” That’s the best answer we could have received.

Even though we left no question about the solution, at least three people have told us, “I know the answer, but I still wonder if [character X] wasn’t involved.” Each of them named a different character!

We thought we were finished with mysteries, but our protagonist just wouldn’t stay retired. So we wrote Murder in Paradise to pull him out of retirement. And he keeps telling us he has at least two more stories to tell.

By the way, the fellow who inspired Agapé Jones is now a good friend. Strangely enough, when we’ve talked to him about what we’ve written, we quite often discover he is doing the same things as Agapé! We must have a telepathic connection.

The best thing about writing the series is that we have to visit Hawaii from time to time for ‘research.’ We were in Oahu at the time we received the edits for Murder in Paradise. Fortunately we’d discovered that a restaurant we’d mentioned in the manuscript had moved. We were able to change the manuscript before it was published to include its current location.

After our most recent trip to Maui, we’re back to work on the next one, Murder on Maui. We already know the basic plotline. Now if we can just decide what our perpetrator can add to a glass of wine to imitate a heart attack…

Lorna Lund and Larry Collins were both raised in Alhambra, California. They attended grammar and high school together. Larry went to California Polytechnic College in Pomona, and Lorna attended California State College at Los Angeles. They have been married for over forty-seven years.

Larry’s job as an engineer involved him in various projects throughout the United States and around the world. Lorna was employed in Document Control, Data Management, IT Change Management, Editing, and Technical Writing.

They both worked in Osaka on the Universal Studios Japan theme park. Larry was a Project Engineer, responsible for the Jurassic Park, JAWS and WaterWorld attractions. Lorna was the Document Control Supervisor in Osaka.

Their memoir of that experience, 31 Months in Japan: TheBuilding of a Theme Park was a 2006 EPPIE finalist and named as one of Rebeccas Reads Best Nonfiction books of 2005.

Their mysteries, Murder…They Wrote and Murder in Paradise were published by Whiskey Creek Press in ebook and paperback formats. They plan several more in this series.

In addition, Lorna has written four romance anthologies and a fantasy/mystery/romance called Ghost Writer. Larry has also published a collection of short stories entitled Lakeview Park.

All their books are available from the publishers, on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Nook, their website (www.lornalarry.com), and other online book outlets. Follow Lorna’s blog at http://lornacollins-author.blogspot.com. And follow her on Twitter @LornaCollins.

Lorna & Larry now reside in Dana Point, CA where Larry enjoys surfing nearly every day and Lorna spends time with family and friends. They have several more books in the queue.


Janet Lane Walters said...

Enjoyed the interview and must soon get busy reading.

Lorna Collins - said...

Thanks for having us! We had fun doing this one with you.

Lorna Collins - said...

thanks for stopping by!

Sally Carpenter said...

Interesting story of how you ended up writign mysteries. The best things in life are the unexpected twists. Best success with your new book!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Though I knew this before, I love reading anything you write. It's like having a little visit.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. So nice to have you stop by.

Great to host you, Lorna.