Mary KeliikoaI write mystery and suspense stories, and am currently working on three novels: Denied, which is Book  2 of my tenacious PI Kelly Pruett series, Derailed, which is Book 1 and a winner of the 2016 Pitch Wars contest, and Deception’s Paradise, about a grieving sister who seeks justice, only to find her own life hanging in the balance. I have also had a story published in Woman’s World.

I grew up in Fort Stevens on the Oregon coast and spent my days exploring World War II gun batteries and bunkers, forests, and beaches with my big brother. That environment was rich with inspiration and we were always telling stories or trying to solve a mystery born out of our imagination. My love of storytelling and mystery definitely came from that period of my life.

I began writing novels at a time in life when everything became busy: just after getting married, as I raised two step-daughters, worked full time, and as my husband and I launched a new business. Through my writing, I found balance and a place where I could hear my own voice.

For years, I worked as a legal secretary, so I had a front row seat on the legal maneuverings that took place every day. I suppose this is another reason I gravitated to writing mystery and suspense, devouring books by Mary Higgins Clark, Janet Evanovich, Faye Kellerman, Patricia Cornwell, and Sue Grafton. In both the real world, and fictional worlds, I love the unfolding of a case from the first documents being run to the courthouse to preparing for trial.

Yes, I’m that person that actually gets excited when called for jury duty!

The legal system is an incredible lens by which to see what makes people tick. This is what I infused into my novels, along with characters striving to overcome significant odds to find meaning and purpose in this crazy world. I mean, aren’t we all?

That business my husband and I started? A couple of pet food stores quickly turned into a distribution company. I became an advocate for dogs and cats in need, helping raise funds and hosting adoption events.

Because animals are such an intrinsic part of my being, you will always find a furry creature in my books. Animals enrich the lives of everyone they touch, including my characters.

Mary KeliikoaI celebrated my 50th birthday not so long ago. Turning fifty was a pivot point. It’s also when I realized a big part of me had been missing — that puzzle solving, mystery loving writer was screaming to get back into the action. And that’s where this part of my story begins with my latest novels.

When I’m not writing, I’m enjoying time in our Hawaii home with my husband of 28 years, or back at home in Washington with the rest of the family including our two fur-kids, cooking up a gourmet meal, golfing, painting, playing with one or all of our ten grandchildren, strumming a tune on my ukulele, or fiddling on the piano that I’ve played since childhood. And loving life. What a wonderful and mysterious ride.

Bella