By Kia Dennis
CAPTURED ON KAUAI—the latest from prolific author R. Barri Flowers—is a fantastic read with thrills, chills, and just the right amount of romance.
In it, Dex Adair goes undercover at a luxurious Hawaiian resort looking for answers in the murder of a fellow DEA agent. Of course, when the resort’s owner, Katrina Sizemore, finds herself in danger, Dex steps up to help her figure out who is after her and why. This Intrigue release delivers on the promise of suspense and action mixed with a healthy dose of romance.
The Big Thrill recently spoke to Flowers to find out how he writes so much, his thoughts on being a prolific author, and so much more.
I appreciate the opportunity to read CAPTURED ON KAUAI. The book was great. This is the second book in the Hawaii CI series, but you’ve written several books set in the Hawaiian Islands, and in all of them the islands become an integral part of the story. What makes Hawaii such a great setting for mystery and suspense stories?
I am happy to hear that you enjoyed CAPTURED ON KAUAI. Yes, this is the second book in the Hawaii CI series, following The Big Island Killer, and I have written a number of other Hawaii-based crime thrillers, such as Murder on Kaanapali Beach (Leila Kahana Mysteries). Having grown up watching the excellent television crime series Hawaii Five-O, I was fascinated by the crafty mix of an island setting and all types of criminal activity that the Hawaii State Police unit had to solve.
Hawaii is an ideal location for romantic suspense and crime thriller fiction because the picturesque environment of swaying palm trees, pristine beaches, waterfalls, and other breathtaking scenery, along with a host of island and water activities and a welcoming vibe, is in stark contrast to the realities of homicides, muggings, kidnappings, drug trafficking, sex trafficking, financial crimes, and other types of danger and uncomfortable situations encountered by locals and visitors alike. This fascinating confluence makes for a great atmosphere for storytellers who can use all the elements to create riveting Hawaii-based crime fiction with a romantic dynamic that also is apropos for finding love in a gorgeous Hawaiian setting.
What can you tell your readers about CAPTURED ON KAUAI that they won’t find on the back cover?
CAPTURED ON KAUAI was a labor of love in crafting. According to Library Journal, “Flowers’s love of Hawai’i and background as a criminologist make an impact.” In this regard, I use the time I have spent on the Hawaiian Islands and my knowledge of the dynamics of criminality to create a plot that combines these elements to give readers a paradise setting with a dark side that lies beneath the surface that will keep one turning the pages until the very end of the book.
One of your main characters in the book is a DEA agent, and your other main character owns a resort. What kind of research did you do in order to write these characters?
Great question. Well, for the DEA agent, as a former criminologist who has written nonfiction books and articles on drug trafficking, drug use, substance abuse, and law enforcement efforts to combat these, I was well acquainted with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and its role in dealing with drug-related criminality and was able to tap into that knowledge in creating the perfect hero in CAPTURED ON KAUAI: DEA special agent Dex Adair.
As to the heroine and resort owner, Katrina Sizemore, having spent a lot of time at resorts in Hawaii gave me ample time to study and ask questions to get a handle on how they operate. This served me well in creating this wonderful character and the complexities of her world with danger seemingly lurking around every corner.
You are a prolific writer across several genres both in fiction and nonfiction areas. Is there one genre in particular that you really enjoy? Is there a genre that you haven’t written in yet that you’d like to try someday?
I have been fortunate to be able to write books in multiple genres over my lifetime. I would have to say that I enjoy most writing crime thrillers, which allows me to combine creativity and a criminology background to create realistic and heart-pounding novels of mystery and suspense.
True crime books have also been intriguing to write, as narrative nonfiction on real crimes has a large audience out there—readers can’t seem to get enough of hard-hitting material in this genre, to go with the numerous true crime documentaries on television and streaming services these days.
As for a genre I have yet to tackle, I would like to try my hand at saga fiction someday, if the opportunity presents itself. Beyond that, I would love to write a memoir, which I believe would make for a fascinating read as well as inspire others in reading about my amazing journey through life and as an author.
CAPTURED ON KAUAI is a romantic suspense novel, as are several of your past novels. This genre can be difficult for authors because there are multiple threads that have to be balanced. How do you go about balancing the mystery plot with the romance plot in your books?
Another great question. It is, indeed, a challenging genre in getting just the right balance between the mystery and romance elements. In writing for Intrigue, as the crime story is the main emphasis of the line, I tend to focus on the dynamics of a complex mystery thriller, while building the romantic relationship between the hero and heroine accordingly. Because I have written both crime thrillers and romance novels, combining these for Intrigue books has been a natural process and enjoyable in writing romantic suspense.
As the only male writer currently publishing with the Harlequin Intrigue line, do you have any advice for other male writers who are interested in publishing in the romantic suspense genre?
Well, let me first say that I am indeed honored to be the only male author currently writing for Harlequin Intrigue and, according to my editor, the first in many years to do so while using my real name. In beating the long odds against such, I certainly encourage other male authors who would like to write romantic suspense to go for it. On its website, Harlequin’s guidelines define ideal Intrigue novels as “high stakes thrillers and procedurals,” such as those depicted in the Robert Ludlum-authored Bourne spy series and the CSI, SWAT, or Justified television crime series, while describing readers as fans of James Patterson’s crime fiction, among other great thriller authors.
As such, this gives other male authors a wide-open lane to pursue writing for Intrigue. My advice would be to read novels by Ludlum and Patterson, as well as current Intrigue novels, along with following the guidelines for the romantic suspense line. This would certainly increase the chances of success for male and female authors alike who aspire to become Intrigue novelists.
What are you working on? What can your readers expect to see from you next?
Thanks for asking. I am currently working on Book 3 of my latest Intrigue miniseries, The Lynleys of Law Enforcement, with the crime thriller entitled Murder in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’m having fun with the storyline involving a cold case and current homicide that may be connected. This follows the first two books in series, The Hitman’s Target and The Christmas Lights Killer.
As to what readers can expect from me next, fortunately, I have several titles forthcoming. A psychological thriller, Till She Was Done, will be released from Level Best Books in December 2022. Then Books 3 and 4 of my Intrigue Hawaii CI romantic thriller miniseries, Honolulu Cold Homicide and Danger on Maui, will be published in February 2023 and March 2023, respectively, with Intrigue titles from the Lynleys series slated for release later in 2023. Can’t wait!
R. Barri Flowers is an award-winning criminologist and the bestselling author of more than 100 titles, including gripping mystery, suspense, and thriller fiction and teen mystery thrillers. His work includes The Big Island Killer, Murder in Hawaii Mysteries, Fractured Trust, Exposed Evidence, Dark Streets of Whitechapel, Teen Ghost at Dead Lake, and State’s Evidence.
Flowers is the bestselling author of many true crime titles as well, including Murder Chronicles, The Sex Slave Murders, Serial Killer Couples, and Murder at the Pencil Factory.
He has appeared on the Biography Channel, Investigation Discovery, and Oxygen television documentary true crime series. The author is a graduate of Michigan State University’s renowned School of Criminal Justice and a recipient of its esteemed Wall of Fame Award.
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Learn more about the author on his website.