Interview: Amy Reade, author of Big Island mystery House of the Hanging Jade
A dark presence had invaded the Jorgensens’ house. On a spectacular bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, something evil is watching and waiting . . .
Tired of the cold winters in Washington, D.C. and disturbed by her increasingly obsessive boyfriend, Kailani Kanaka savors her move back to her native Big Island of Hawaii. She also finds a new job as personal chef for the Jorgensen family. The gentle caress of the Hawaiian trade winds, the soft sigh of the swaying palm trees, and the stunning blue waters of the Pacific lull her into a sense of calm at the House of Hanging Jade–an idyll that quickly fades as it becomes apparent that dark secrets lurk within her new home. Furtive whispers in the night, a terrifying shark attack, and the discovery of a dead body leave Kailani shaken and afraid. But it’s the unexpected appearance of her ex-boyfriend, tracking her every move and demanding she return to him, that has her fearing for her life . . .
Q: Amy, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential today. I think this is my first author interview with someone who’s written a Native Hawaiian protagonist. Can you tell us something about her?
A: My protagonist is Kailani Kanaka, a sous chef originally from the Island of Hawaii, commonly called the Big Island. As the story opens Kailani is working in Washington, DC, but she decides she’s had enough of the winter weather and decides to return to the tropics.
Q: How much of you is in Kailani? How would you feel about her if you met her in real life?
A: The part of me that is most recognizable in Kailani is my love of cooking and of the Big Island. She tries always to have the spirit of aloha, but there are circumstances in the book which make her angry and afraid. That aloha spirit wanes during those scenes, but she strives for overall balance and peace. I think we’re alike in that way, too.
Q: Do your characters change and evolve, or do they stay pretty much the same?
A: House of the Hanging Jade, like my first two novels, is a standalone book. Kailani and the other characters evolve over the span of the book. She emerges from her difficulties and challenges as a stronger woman, one who is well aware of the consequences of her decisions.
Q: Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
A: Great question! The answer is, quite simply, “most definitely.” You can read about it in one of my upcoming books! Of course, I can’t tell you which book and I can’t say who the person is or what that person did to make me mad enough to kill him (or her?) in the pages of a fictional story, but let’s just say I’m looking forward to writing it.
Q: When you wrote the Big Island setting, how true to life did you try to make it? (I’m particularly interested because I write a Big Island-ish setting, but I add many fanciful embellishments.)
A: My setting is as true to life as I could make it. Even the house in the book is based on one I toured on the Big Island a few years ago. The only things I made up were a few stores and a farm stand. And who knows? Those places might actually exist.
Q: When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?
A: What I love about this question is the phrasing: “When the movie… is made,” not if! Here are my casting choices:
Kailani: Tao Okamoto, a Japanese actress who appeared with Hugh Jackman in “Wolverine.”
Lars Jorgensen: Owen Wilson, because he’s got the look and the persona I imagine for Lars.
Barbie Merriweather-Jorgensen: Gillian Anderson, because she is intriguing and has played roles with just the right attitude necessary for the character.
Liko: Jason Momoa, a Hawaiian actor with the perfect physical qualities, with the exception of his height. Liko isn’t quite as tall as Momoa.
Marcus: Asa Butterfield, because he’s tall and thin, with the appropriate manifestation of seriousness.
Justine: Mackenzie Foy, about 5 years ago, because she was adorable. Not that she isn’t still adorable, but she’s really too old to play Justine now.
Q: What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
A: The best advice I ever received was to start promoting a book the day you decide to write it, not the day you decide to publish it. The worst advice I ever received was to put my children in my books (note: this advice came from my children).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amy M. Reade grew up in northern New York. After graduating from college and law school, she practiced law in New York City before moving to southern New Jersey, where she lives now with her husband, three children, dog, two cats, and a fish. She writes full time and is the author of Secrets of Hallstead House, a novel of romantic suspense set in the Thousand Islands region of New York, and The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, a novel in the same genre set outside Charleston, South Carolina. Her third novel, House of Hanging Jade, is set in Hawaii. She is currently working on the first book of a series set in the United Kingdom (expected release date in early 2017). She loves cooking, reading, and traveling.