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A.J. Llewellyn On Where the Research leads

I am so glad to have A.J. Llewellyn on my blog today. She’s been a buddy of mine from Sisters in Crime for several years now, and she constantly surprises me with her output.

We’ve all done it. We’ve started researching something and ended up clicking links to other stories or posts. It can take us way off course, or not.

For me, it started with researching the late mystery author, the Queen of Suspense herself, Mary Higgins Clark. She has been a big influence in my life and I’ve never forgotten the single class I took with her in New York City. It was a great class, even if my whole experience of sleeping on somebody’s floor and finding mice running across my feet in the middle of the night wasn’t so fantastic. 

I was willing to do anything to meet her and hear her talk.

She taught me everything I use to this day.

I read even small newspaper items and think, like she did, Who? What? Where? How? Why? Her tips and tricks have stood the test of time and thanks to her, my research is usually focused and beneficial.

Anyway, I knew she’d been one of Pan Am’s original flight attendants in the late 1940s (they called them stewardesses in those days!) and I read an article about her with a clickable link to the history of Pan Am flying to the Hawaiian Islands.

I was astonished to see photos of the first Pan Am Clippers, that took 17 hours to fly from California to Honolulu. 

This gave me an idea since I was interested in writing a book about Hawaii after World War II. I’d written, Pearl Harbor, a four-part series set in Honolulu right before the war and during it, but I was always fascinated by what happened to Hawaii’s Japanese residents after the war ended. 

Slowly the story came together and Mating Tomeo was born. Set in 1956, it is a love story and all my research is detailed, and accurate.

The snippet I read about the long trip to Hawaii made it into the book.

When Ellora’s Cave first contracted the book in 2011, I had no idea how well it would sell or that it would win me an award (I was the Male/Male Author of the year for EC in 2012). Nor did I realize how obsessed I would become with the era and this tragic chapter of Hawaii’s history.

I still smile remembering how the editor highlighted the part about the long trip to the islands. She sent me reams of information about how it would only take five to six hours.

I had to send her my research so she would know I’d done my homework.

Yes, it’s astonishing to think how long it took to fly to Hawaii in those days. 

A.J.’s lastest book is Mating Tomeo, about two men in a clandestine affair in 1950’s Hawaii, torn by their cultures and their illicit love. She is the author of over 300 published romance novels. She was born in Australia, and lives in Los Angeles. An early obsession with Robinson Crusoe led to a lifelong love affair with islands, particularly Hawaii and Easter Island.

A.J. started life as a journalist and boxing columnist, and still enjoys interrogating, er, interviewing people to find out what makes them tick.

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3 thoughts on “A.J. Llewellyn On Where the Research leads”

    1. Thanks, Saralyn. I mentioned to A.J. that I hear Clark speak a couple times in the late 1980s, and she said both times that the writer’s job is to ask, “What if..?” So, I did a couple times and got some great plots.

  1. I have always enjoyed your stories AJ and commend your extensive research in all your works of art. It does t surprise me the lengths you will go to too not only learn from someone but the. Research you put into a story. Mahalo. Always Andi hope Pele will keep blessing you and your fur babies always and forever.



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