Monday, March 29, 2010

This Week At The Tiki Hut - J. K. Maze

This week's special guest is mystery author Joan K. Maze to talk about heroes.

Meet J.K. Maze:

I've always been involved in the arts, music, writing and painting, beginning with studying voice at Northwestern University. I interrupted this endeavor for a family, but finally finished my degree at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota. The emphasis, this time, was in subjects related to writing.

My first attempt at fiction was at the age of eight when my mother taught me how to use her turn-of-the-century typewriter. It was so heavy I couldn't lift it, but that didn't stop me from spending hours learning to type and, supposedly, write. As far as the story is concerned, it contained every mistake known to the publishing world, but it sparked my interest, which grew from that point on.

After spending years learning the craft of writing and producing stories, I joined Romance Writers of America, then KOD, the mystery and suspense group, and subsequently others. While I've received help from a local non-RWA writers' group, I credit RWA for bringing my writing to the point where it was considered publishable. Red Rose Publishing is a great organization to work with, and I'm delighted and honored to be one of their authors.

My first published novel, MURDER BY MISTAKE, is a cozy and the first in the Mollie Fenwick Mystery Series, it was followed by FRAMED IN FEAR, a single title romantic suspense. The second Mollie Fenwick mystery is almost ready to present to Red Rose Publishing, and is entitled MURDER FOR KICKS.


How does a writer choose between two heroes? by Joan Maze

I’ve been asking that question ever since working on Murder By Mistake, the first in a cozy mystery series (also Chicklit). When I originally planned this book, it was to be a stand-alone mystery. That quickly changed when I realized I wanted to keep this protagonist, and thirty-something widow. She’s also an artist and works part-time for a bus company, transporting seniors and the disabled.

She’s also psychic, and when she sees a vision of a murder in her apartment, she decides not to inform the police of the clues. Who would believe a psychic?

The hero I originally planned for this mystery is her next door neighbor, a hunky homicide cop. Below is her first impression:

I couldn’t help grinning at the memory of the hunk. He had stood there, glaring at me, his arms folded across a broad chest, his legs slightly apart. Despite my agitation, I’d been unable to resist looking him over, my eyes going from the top of his head to his feet. His hair was a sort of russet brown with an errant lock tumbling over his forehead. He wore jeans molded to powerful looking thighs.

Then the unexpected happened. Another man walked onto the set and absolutely refused to leave, at times overshadowing Hero #1. How could this happen? I hadn’t planned him at all.
To discover why I didn’t want to get rid of him, check out the following excerpt, where she meets him for the first time.

Knowing Gladys’s penchant for the unusual, I thought I was prepared, but when we walked into Jack Wolf’s studio, I damned near fainted. The man out-intimidated Bartholomew by a mile. Wolf’s black hair was long and loose, Indian style, his short-sleeved white shirt hung open, revealing the bronzed skin of his heritage and a six-pack I simply gaped at. He wore his jean shorts low, and his muscles made it obvious he still worked out regularly. He was tall, maybe six foot three or four, and his eyes were black. The room was lined with shelves containing art supplies, and three easels contained paintings in various stages of completion. The whole scene before me suggested emotions and feelings in a big way. There was also strength, as evidenced not only by the paintings themselves, but by the man.

Wolf has become a very important part of the series; in the second book, Murder For Kicks, he becomes the heroine’s kickboxing instructor, and the heat index goes up about fifty degrees, maybe more.

So, how does a writer choose between two heroes? I still don’t have an answer. Not only is my protagonist, Mollie, unable to choose, neither is this writer. And guess what, there’s a third hero waiting in the wings, anxious to take a larger role in the next book, Murder By Spook. (That’s spook as in spy, not ghost.)

The first time a character took over, I tried to fix it. It didn’t work. Now, after many such occurrences, I’ve decided it’s logic taking over.

Either that or my characters are smarter than I am.

WIN - Leave Joan a question or comment here at the AuthorIsland Tiki Hut this week and your name goes in the hat for a free download of her book MURDER BY MISTAKE. Please leave your email address so we can contact you if you're our winner! Good luck!


  1. Welcome to the Tiki Hut Joan!

    I loved how you talk about the characters taking over...that seems to be so true with writers. And everytime I've heard the writer say it worked out better because of it!

    And dang, don't Wolf sound oh so hot!

    Thanks for the great post!

  2. I love mysteries and enjoyed learning about your newest release over on the cyber launch party. I love series, so I'll probably be checking this out first.

    Interesting post and excerpts. Is this series more romance than mystery or more mystery than romance? Not that it matters, because I like a bit of romance in everything I read, even horror. It does make the world go around ;-)

  3. I've read several great mysteries with paranormal elements like this, I'll have to check it out. I like the psychic twist.

    Do you believe in psychic abilities and how did you go about rehearsing it for your book?

    I enjoyed your post, it's funny to hear that you haven't decided on Mollie's hero and neither has she. That's great!

    Tracey H

  4. LOL...I meant RESEARCHING it for your book.

    Tracey H

  5. I love mysteries. What's the heat level on your books Joan? The excerpt with Wolf sounded like it could really had some heat to the mystery for sure.

    Great cover also. I'll have to check it out. Any idea if it'll go to print?

    Best of luck.

  6. Murder By Mistake is more mystery thn romance, but there's a fair amount of romance in it. What was fun was giving Mollie lots of "missed opportunities." There'll be another hunk added to the second book, which will come out this year.

    Rehearsing? LOL. I wish I could have. Just think of all the fun I could have - and I'm not talking about the mystery part. Actually, I got books from the library about the Mohawk Indians, from the children's section, but have to admit there's little in my book that really relates to that, maybe a comment or two. As far as the pychic is concerned, I've had a couple experiences myself, but can't say I like them. It's fun to write about, though. I'm working now on a book involving ghosts and timetravel, and who knows what's next. Some of my friends want to know where I got the ideas for my heroes and I've got to say they're all in my imagination, with one exception.


  7. Thanks for the insight behind the story.

    kolists a/t gmail d\t com

  8. Ohh with one exception, huh? Sounds

    I love this kind of book, reluctant psychic and hot copy. I like that you've added several other heroes in the series to give her a choice. I mean that's more like real life, right? Especially the missed opportunities ;-)

    How many more books do you see for this series?

  9. Hi,

    The heat level in Murder By Mistake is mild, except that there's a lot of innuendo. They almost, but not quite get together. I've had one reader friend "order" me to put in a sex scene. Can't do that until I decide which one - and that might not happen soon. You'll just have to keep reading them until you find out. LOL


  10. Hi, Joan-

    I'm looking forward to reading your work. I really enjoy cozy mysteries with a dash of romance. I read the harder stuff too, but I enjoy the lighter read of a cozy.

    acm05 at

  11. Thank you. I like cozies too, along with everything else. There are times I simply like to read something tht's fun. Right now I'm reading a Clive Cussler adventure novel that boggles the mind - and sometimes turns the stomach. After that, I'll go to the lightest book I have.


  12. I'm glad I saw this interview nad found a new author to read. I like entertaining light reads to help relieve stess.

  13. I love a good mystery. Who do you enjoy reading? And how gory are your books? Sometimes mysteries can get rather dark.

    Do you enjoy the tv show Castle? I was wondering what read authors thought of it.

    Good luck with the books they sound really good and I've put you on my "to try" list.

  14. Hi Sue and Andrea. Thanks for posting a comment.

    I actually love many different types of books, from the light all the way down to those like Clive Cussler's adventure novels. Mine are not gory and the Mollie Fenwick series is a humorous one. Even the thriller I'm working on now has no on-scene gory stuff. As far as TV is concerned, yes, I like Castle, as well as many of the shows like CSI, NCIS (love that one) and others. I know they're not authentic, but I can accept that as being for entertainment. Having said that, I don't watch a lot of TV because I'm working on more than one book - plus, I love to read. I recently discovered an author (new to me) that I'm crazy about. She writes the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries in which the main character teams up with the ghost of a man who was killed there in 1949. They're unputdownable and I suppose that's the type that is my favorite.

    You might not have wanted this much info, but, as you can guess, I like to talk.


  15. Hello Joan,

    We meet again. I stopped by your cyber launch and heard about your other mystery. You have two books out currently? Both mysteries and both have paranormal elements. Do they both have romantic elements too? And is your other book part of a series too?

    Which book would you say a new to your reader should try first?

    I wish you the best of luck in your new career.

  16. Hi C.J.

    Yes, both books have romantic elements, though in Murder By Mistake, the first in a series,the hero and heroine do not end up together, partly because there's more than one hero. This will be a situation throughout the series, with a 3rd hunk added in the second book, coming this year, Murder For Kicks. Framed In Fear, however, is a romantic suspense and has one hero, one heroine, and they do end up together. Since doing this blog, and because of a question, I now have decided to do a 2nd and 3rd book for a trilogy in Colorado (where Framed is set). I've thought of the plot and the characters and am toying with a title of Hunted In Fear or Lost In Fear. But I still have to do the 3rd Mollie Fenwick first, Murder By Spook.

    Thanks for commenting.


  17. I have just discovered the AuthorIsland Tike Hut, but am making a note to visit often. I enjoyed you discussion of your characters. They must seem real to you.