Bestseller Toby Neal has just launched her sixth Lei Crime novel. I asked her how she has changed as an author since she launched the first novel, Blood Orchids, in 2011.
I know my characters so well now that dialogue really flows—banter between Lei and her partner, Pono, interdepartmental meetings with Captain Omura, therapeutic phone calls with Dr. Wilson, Lei's therapist, interviewing and depositions in different settings that are part of the investigation, and most of all, scenes between my protagonist, Lei, and her fiance Michael Stevens. Their bumpy romance began in book one and culminates with a possible wedding in this book!
I also have the steps and "rules" of a police investigation fairly well memorized, so plotting the scenes of the book is easy compared to when I first started writing police procedural and had no idea how police actually went about investigating. Now, hundreds of hours later, with friends and fans in police circles training, coaching, and reviewing my work, I actually think I could be a helpful addition to a homicide investigation, with my psychology background.
I also have confidence now that I didn't have then. Confidence that, even though I don't know what the "twist" at the end of my book will be, my brain will come up with one by the time I need it. Confidence that, whether everyone "gets" it or not, I'm doing a good thing with these books by shining an entertaining light on current society and Hawaii issues. Confidence that I can write a first draft within three months and get four books out in a year. Confidence that I can breathe life into even small characters, like the hippie lady with dreadlocks in the lime green Prius who helps Lei in Shattered Palms.
I have confidence I can give readers what they want, leave them satisfied and yet hungry for more—and to me, that's successful storytelling.
Thanks for the friendship and support, Scott!Aloha
So, what's Shattered Palms about?
Maui is lush mountains, cloud forest and exquisite birdsong—but for Detective Lei Texeira, arrows break that peace.
Someone is stalking poachers that are capturing Maui’s rarest birds, and Lei pursues the case with her usual leap-first, look-later style—but will she be able to catch a killer, save the birds, and still make it to her own wedding? Shattered Palms is a roller coaster ride from the top of Haleakala to the beach and back again, with extinction at stake.
“Toby Neal creates a captivating balance of the beauty of the islands contrasted with the ugliness of murder, and complicated by the trials of Lei’s personal life. A must-read for Neal fans.” — Thomas K. Matthews, author of Rejection.
You can get it NOW on Amazon.
Best-selling author Toby Neal was raised on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where she lives today after “stretches of exile” to pursue education. A mental health therapist, Toby credits that career with adding depth to the characters in the Lei Crime Series. She is a member of BestSelling Reads.