Sunday, February 16, 2014

Get Lost in a Hawaiian Tiki Bar

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By Jill Marie Landis

Six months ago if anyone would have told Em Johnson she'd end up divorced, broke, and running the dilapidated Tiki Goddess Bar on the magical North Shore of Kauai she would have told them to shove a swizzle stick up their okole.

As if all that isn't bad enough, when an obnoxious neighbor with a grudge is found dead in the Goddess luau pit, suspicion falls on Em and the rest of the Goddess staff. With the help of a quirky dance troupe of over-the-hill Hula Maidens, Em and the cast of characters must band together to find the killer and solve the mystery before the next pupu party.

Book 1 of the Tiki Goddess Mystery Series from Bell Bridge Books. READ AN EXCERPT

Get Lost in the series that has NY Times Bestselling authors raving

"I want to be a Hula Maiden, too! Reading this fresh, funny mystery made me yearn to hang out at the Tiki Goddess, sip one of Uncle Louie's drinks and watch a certain super sexy fire dancing detective entertain the crowd. This is a story for anyone who's ever been to Hawaii, dreamed of going to Hawaii, or wondered what it would be like to live in our 50th State. I loved this book!"
Susan Elizabeth Phillips

MAI TAI ONE ON is that rarest of novels—one that is both emotionally satisfying and laugh out loud funny. As a part-time Hawaiian resident, I absolutely fell in love with Jill Marie Landis's spot on glimpse into a Hawaii that most tourists never see. Smart and sassy, fun and endearing, MAI TAI ONE ON will sweep you away. Once you meet the quirky, real-as-your-best-friend Hula Maidens, you'll wish the book would never end."
Kristin Hannah

"Jasmine scented jungle, jewel seas, white beaches; an irresistible glimpse at real life on the North Shore of Kauai. MAI TAI ONE ON is a fun and fabulous book."
Stella Cameron
Meet the original Tiki Goddess

JILL MARIE LANDIS writes novels that earn distinguished awards and slots on such national bestseller lists as the USA TODAY's Top 50 and the New York Times Best Sellers Plus. She is a seven-time finalist for Romance Writers of America's RITA Award in Single Title Historical and Contemporary Romance as well as a Golden Heart and RITA Award winner.

The self-proclaimed Tiki Goddess resides in Hawaii with her husband. When she's not writing or sitting on the beach reading, she enjoys visiting with family and friends, raising orchids, working in her garden, occasionally quilting, but most of all dancing the hula. Some of her recent releases include the Irish Angels Series, inspirational historical romance from Zondervan, and MAI TAI ONE ON, TWO TO MANGO, and THREE TO GET LEI’D, the first three titles in her hilarious “Tiki Goddess Mysteries” set in Hawaii from Belle Books.

E.E. Yesterday we found out you often get lost in a book on the beach. Now that you’re writing a cozy/amateur sleuth mystery series set on Kauai, do you get lost in your research?

JILL: Oh boy, do I ever get lost researching! The Tiki Goddess Mysteries are set on the North Shore of Kauai where we live and have owned a home for almost forty years. 
Storm Waterfalls
Anyone who saw the movie “The Descendants” with George Clooney has seen the beauty of our island and our little town. The Tahiti Nui Bar featured in the film is my inspiration for the fictional Tiki Goddess Bar in my series. Naturally I must spend time there taking notes and dancing with my hula sisters who are an endless source of comedic inspiration. Since I include recipes for tropical libations in the back of each book, a lot of research goes into blending frothy cocktails and taste testing them…mostly on my friends. (That’s what friends are for, right?) 

E.E. What's the difference between writing historical and mystery?

JILL: The pace is much different. I think my historical romances tend to be far more textured and character driven. While the characters in the Tiki Goddess series are hysterical, there is a whole cast in place for book after book, along with a taste-testing parrot! The historical romances involve a lot of research—the time period, the clothing, not to mention the layers of clothing, the food, the manners and mannerisms, moral codes, transportation—all of that must be researched. Writing shorter contemporary mysteries means just stepping out the door, being observant and exaggerating about the idiosyncrasies of life on the North Shore of Kauai. I have to plot by figuring out who is going to get murdered and plant clues along the way. The characters do the rest.

E.E. Anything about them the same?

JILL: The only similarity is that no matter what a writer writes, we work in isolation and have to call on great reserves of self-motivation and discipline in order to produce. Once I get started, if it’s a good writing day, I get lost in the work no matter what I’m writing.

E.E. What’s a Tiki Goddess anyway? I notice your website says you are a self-proclaimed Tiki Goddess. For those of us unfamiliar with the term can you let us in on what that means?

JILL: A Tiki Goddess is a gal who lives the Tiki culture lifestyle, which is hard to describe in a nutshell, but mystery writer Tiki Chris Pinto defines it best on his website.

“It’s all about living the good life the way the cocktail set did back in the day; listening to the sounds of Exotica music and waves crashing on an island shore while sipping an exotic cocktail under a palm tree, and taking it nice and easy, even if you’re a thousand miles away from the nearest tropical island.”

Wearing Retro 1950’s aloha clothing, sipping Singapore Slings and Mai Tais, collecting carved wooden Tiki sculptures and ceramic Tiki mugs, lighting tiki torches—all of that sets the mood for a swinging Tiki party. Setting my mysteries in my favorite place in all the world makes these crazy stories a joy to write.

Gotta Ask: What’s up next? Any romance involved in the mystery plots?

Gotta Answer: Right now I’m finishing up “Too Hot Four Hula,” Book four of the series. Books one through three have been so well received and so much fun to write that I happily signed a contract for another one. Just when I thought this might be it, of course I’m getting ideas for book five. Maybe I’ll even write a Christmas novella involving the madcap antics of the Hula Maidens.

Re: romance, there’s always a hint of romance involved. The lead character, Em Johnson, has two men interested in her. One is a tall dark and handsome fire dancing detective, the other is a screen writer who is working on a successful television series being filmed on Kauai. There are no hot and heavy romance scenes in these comic mysteries…but sparks definitely fly between Em and the fire dancing detective. Things may heat up before it’s all over.


MAI TAI as well have a giveaway...
Comment and enter today's drawing for one of three great prizes from Jill Marie Landis: an autographed historical romance, an autographed cozy mystery or an eBook release of her classic debut novel, Sunflower.

Have you ever gotten lost in a novel with a tropical setting, historical or contemporary? Tell us what you recall about it.

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  1. I grew up in South Florida, so "tropical" for me wasn't really unusual. I sought out books that took me places I hadn't been--like out West. That's what drew me to books like Sunflower and Come Spring. And I love to get lost in the past.

  2. Not really; don't really care about settings

  3. I've only found a few with tropical settings...I'm not too fussy about the setting, depends how it works with the story :)

  4. I can't remember the names, but I've read older historical books that take place in the Caribbean and had pirates/privateers. Good memories.

    Marcy Shuler

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