Author Interview and Spotlight: Mary Keliikoa

Good morning everyone. Today I have an author interview with Mary Keliikoa to share.  First a bit about her latest book, Derailed. How cool is the cover? I have not read this one yet but it sounds like a great start to a new series.

By Mary Keliikoa
Camel Press; May 12, 2020
Trade paperback: $15.95
Pages: 236
You haven’t heard of private detective Kelly Pruett yet, but she’s about to join ranks of
mystery’s most clever and crafty female sleuths, such as Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum or Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe.
Pruett reflects the real dilemmas of modern women in DERAILED: A P.I. Kelly Pruett
Mystery (Camel Press; May 12, 2020). Pruett must balance between being a single mother to her deaf daughter and following in her father’s footsteps as a private investigator.
After years of being her father’s apprentice, Pruett has inherited the family private detective agency. Dad never trained her for a major murder investigation; serving divorce papers and long stakeouts with her basset hound are more her speed. Her ex-husband—and his mother—think her work is too risky. But detective work is in her blood; puzzles are her passion. When a grieving mother begs her to investigate her daughter’s death, how can she refuse?
As Kelly sets out to prove herself, and find something to call her own outside of marriage and motherhood, she realizes she’s being stalked. Taking a frying pan to the face jars her into the realization that she’s stronger than anyone believes—even herself. Dad wasn’t the only Pruett with pit bull tendencies when it comes to solving a case, including one with ties to Portland’s BDSM subculture. As sordid secrets emerge, she must decide: is justice worth it?

Here’s what readers are saying:

“It’s that perfect blend of personal and professional that makes Derailed a welcome addition to the genre. I can’t wait to follow both Kelly and Keliikoa’s careers.”—Kellye Garrett, Anthony, Agatha, and Lefty Award-winning author, Hollywood Homicide

“Derailed has it all: an engaging heroine, a twisty, twisted crime, and plenty of food for thought about families and their secrets. I loved this debut and can’t wait to read about Kelly Pruett’s next case.”— Kristen Lepionka, Shamus Award-winning author, the Roxane Weary mystery series

“Mary Keliikoa’s debut novel is an important addition to the PI genre – strong with voice, a compelling protagonist in KellyPruett, and unforgettable family secrets. Derailed was hard to put down – and I can’t wait to read the next book in this crackling new series.” — Alex Segura, author, Blackout and Miami Midnight

Onto the author interview….(these questions were provided by the publisher for this post, I have not read the book yet myself) 

Q. You have owned several businesses in the past. Do you keep a finger in business or is writing now your full-time occupation?
A. I am the VP of a distribution company my husband and I have owned for 19 years, and I continue to work a few hours most week days. I enjoy the connection with our staff, we employ nearly 40 people. But I’m also very blessed to set my own schedule and writing is a big part of every day.

Q. Growing up, what kind of books did you like to read?
A. I actually loved fantasy. Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bears was one of my favorites, and I’ve been a longtime fan of The Hobbit, and the entire J.R.R. Tolkien series

Q. Is the crime itself something that had happened in the news?
A. It is not anything that I’d ever personally heard about…although I’m sure it’s happened. But I spent years working in downtown Portland, where this fictional crime occurs. I used to ride public transportation and it always amazed me and still does how easy it would be to fall in front of a bus or a train. Or perhaps even pushed?

Q. Kelly’s ex-husband is overprotective of her and her daughter and seems very old-fashioned in many ways. How has Kelly’s life changed since her divorce from him?
A. Kelly had worked with her dad in his agency, and then she’d known Jeff since she was five. The divorce, and the death of her father where she inherits the agency, leave her in a new and unchartered place of making all the decisions for herself.
As welcoming as that is, she still feels lost and questions everything, including who she is in this world. Of course she’s a mom, and she wants to be the best at that, but she also wants to do her dad proud by not losing his agency. When that opportunity arrives to do more than just the process serving her father had entrusted her with, she embraces it as an opportunity to step out from under the thumb of her ex and out of the shadow of her dad, all the while fighting the belief she’ll never be free of her insecurities.

Q. Kelly’s new love interest is Kyle, a very cute cop. Will we be seeing more of him in the series?
A. Absolutely. Although nothing will ever be easy for Kelly. The girl has some trust issues, and she doesn’t want to feel that boxed in feeling that she did with Jeff.

Q. How will Kelly evolve in the rest of the series?
A. Kelly will be coming more into her own as I mentioned, and more importantly, she’s going to learn that she doesn’t have to be the spitting image of her father. She really can have it all, and she can have it differently than he did…which includes embracing being a mom and letting people in to help her.

About the author:

Mary Keliikoa is a former legal secretary who uses the legal system as a lens to discover what makes people tick. From the first petition filed to preparation for trial, she takes legal maneuverings to a new level as her characters overcome obstacles to find meaning and purpose in a crazy world.

Special thanks to Meryl Moss Media and Book Trib for making this possible.

13 thoughts on “Author Interview and Spotlight: Mary Keliikoa

  1. This is as n interesting interview and the book sounds good. If is best how the author digs into the characters here. I get some sense how, in the case if better writers, authors begin to come alive.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Naida,

    Just lately I have been reading plenty of books well outside of my usual comfort zone, which has been fun, but I could do with getting back to my staple diet of mystery/thrillers.

    As if I don’t already have enough books to be going on with on my TBR mountain, you come up with another great title!

    I just missed out on a NetGalley copy, so I’ll add it to my wish list.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  3. How interesting that her first love in books weren’t mysteries. I think it’s always fun to see characters try to re-invent themselves and sounds like Kelly is up to the task. Thank you for the author Q&A will definitely add this one to my radar.

    Liked by 1 person

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