Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am so happy to have Terry Ambrose drop by for a visit!
Kai Palakiko’s smile captivated me the moment I met her. It happened on a flight from San Diego to Honolulu in May 2014. She was ten years old, precocious, and determined to prove her nanny wasn’t a killer. Okay, I didn’t know the last part until long after the flight. But, isn’t that the way it goes with some people? The more we discover, the deeper we want to dig.
Kai isn’t a real person. She’s one of the main characters in “North Shore Nanny,” my sixth Trouble in Paradise McKenna Mystery. Her inspiration was a photo on the cover of Hawaiian Airlines in-flight magazine, Hana Hou. The real subject of the cover photo was a girl standing in front of her purple, red, and white surfboard. She stood about half the height of the board. And, from the moment I saw this “little shredder’s” picture, I knew I had to write about her.
Little shredder is the term used to describe a young surfing sensation in Hawaii. The term came into use because it often looks like these kids are literally shredding the waves. To be truthful, I’m more of a splasher than a shredder.
You see, I’ve only been on a board once in my life and that was because my wife signed me up for a paddleboarding lesson. Paddleboarding involves standing on a surfboard and propelling yourself forward with a paddle. The lesson ended in a minor disaster and some rather embarrassing photos.
The lesson started out well enough—we were on the docks. I was holding my own as three of us knelt on our boards and navigated out into the calm water. Then came the tough part. The instructor wanted us to stand.
“Don’t worry,” he told us, “nobody’s ever fallen in during one of my lessons.”
Emboldened by his success record, I stood. Sort of. I made it up, shaky knees and all. Then, after a few seconds, disaster struck. Splish, splash, that’s me, taking a bath in the Oceanside Marina. Okay, I can’t quite check surfing off my bucket list. And yes, I did ruin our instructor’s perfect record.
So, what’s a non-surfing mystery writer going to do with a precocious, ten-year-old, little shredder? Write a cozy thriller, of course. Laura Childs calls them thrillzies. Whatever we call this type of story, it’s a delicate blend of cozy mystery and elements designed to ramp up the tension.
I knew Kai couldn’t be directly involved with a murder, but she could use her traits to save someone who was. I returned back to an issue that had bothered me from the moment I heard about it—veteran’s benefit scams and shoddy medical care.
What? How’d we go from a kid who surfs to VA benefit scams? Her name is Juliana Rollins and I envisioned her as Kai’s nanny. Juliana is a forty-something, ex-army nurse who was fired after she blew the whistle on abuses in an Army hospital. Juliana grew out of a conversation I’d had while researching a previous book. Here’s the description for “North Shore Nanny,” which shows how a precocious ten-year-old, an army nurse, and a reluctant amateur sleuth all tie together.
McKenna and his friends are taking a sunset cruise off the coast of Honolulu when they discover a stowaway. The stowaway turns out to be ten-year-old Kai Palakiko, one of Oahu’s best young surfers.
Kai insists she needs to hire a private investigator so she can prove her nanny isn’t a murderer. McKenna reminds everyone he’s only an amateur sleuth, not a PI. Kai’s determination and charm endear her to his friends on the cruise and, despite his better judgment, McKenna agrees to help.
Almost immediately, McKenna realizes Kai will be the worst possible client. She’s precocious, strong-willed, and has a nasty habit of interfering in the investigation. He also discovers the woman he’s trying to help appears to be lying about her involvement in the murder. The worst part is she’s somehow involved in a government cover-up involving the US Army and secrets nobody wants unearthed.
The deeper McKenna digs, the more he realizes his fearless client’s commitment to saving her nanny is only the beginning of his trouble in paradise.
So how about you?
Do you like to know the story behind a book? Why the author wrote what he did?
Leave a comment to be entered into the drawing to win your choice an electronic copy of any of my books. You can find all of the books at terryambrose.com/books/. If your mailing address is in the continental US, you could also choose a soft-cover copy of “Kauai Temptations,” my second Trouble in Paradise McKenna Mystery.
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Comments on “Cozy Wednesday with Terry Ambrose – Author of North Shore Nanny – #GuestPost / #Giveaway”
This book looks so good and I have been waiting for a contest with the paperback give away of yours so I would love to win and want to review at a few sites. It ‘s such a neat thing that you will try almost anything over there it is so pretty and such fun things to do for the big and small!
Thanks Peggy! Best of luck in the contest.
I am just starting to read Terry’s books & this sounds like another wonderful read. Thanks for a great post.
Hey Doward, thanks for reading. This one was great fun! Hope you enjoy.
I haven’t read any of Terry’s books yet and this sounds like a good one to start with!
It’s definitely a fun read, LuAnn. Thanks for being here!
I do like knowing the story behind why an author writes what they do. I haven’t tried any of Terry’s books yet, but I like the sound of this one!
Thanks Cynthia, I hope you enjoy!
Great backstory, and another McKenna is always great. Thanks for the chance to win.
Did the teacher say how many students he’d had before you showed up? His record might not have been that great. Love the story. I wouldn’t have even gotten on the board to
start with – let alone try to stand up. thanks.
He’d been in business for a few years, Mary. I kind of think he’d just been lucky—or maybe he just wanted to reassure us since he said that before I ended up in the water!
I always find it interesting on how an author arrives at the story he/she writes. It is also amazing the amount of research an author usually does to write a great story!
Research is like underwear…no matter how good it is, it still shouldn’t show! I guess that shows my age, doesn’t it? Sigh…
Terry, your latest book in the McKenna mystery series is just as great as your others. North Shore Nanny broadens McKenna and Chase’s interest when they take on their young client. I loved following their attempts to solve the case as well as the help from their young client.
Thanks Robin! And thank you for reading 🙂
I really appreciate your role in promoting literacy in Hawaii, and enjoy your books (and your paddle board experience!)
Terry, I’m excited to start reading your books. You’ve grabbed my attention.
Thanks Carole, I hope you enjoy!
I love the setting of these books. Delightful stories and characters.
Love the sound of the this book. I like that the book is set in Hawaii, and I can’t wait to read. Thanks for the chance.
Hawaii is a place I have always wanted to visit (loved the original Hawaii 5-0 series) and would love to take a cruise of the islands. Will some day, so when I find a series that takes place in Hawaii I must read it. Thanks.
I enjoy knowing the story behind a book. I have never had the chance to visit Hawaii so I will do so vicariously through your writing. Thanks for the opportunity to win..
Hi Amy, a cruise is a wonderful way to see the islands. You get a little taste of each and never have to pack or unpack. Nice way to do it!
Hey Terry! You look mighty good out there in the water! I loved your first McKenna book & would love to win a soft cover of your second. Yes, I do like to know what the backstory of someone’s writings. Thanks for a chance to win!
Hey Sandy, best of luck in the contest!
Your stories always sound exciting and I keep trying to win them. I will probably never get to Hawaii again so I have to read about it. (I always thought you’d be good at board sports. Probably because of your Hawaiian-themed books)
LOL, fooled you on the board sports, didn’t I? Good luck in the contest, LInda.
Love this back story! I enjoy being able to connect with my favorite authors and learn more about them. Often the back story for their books is fascinating and offers a glimpse into their lives. I guess what I’m saying is “I’m all ears for a story behind a book!” Thanks for the giveaway! Will be looking for book 1 at the library this week.
Airline magazines can provide good inspiration. I saw a picture in one that I made into a striking painting.
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