ROSEMARY AND LARRY MILD, cheerful partners in crime, coauthor mystery, suspense, and fantasy fiction. Their popular Hawaii novels, Cry Ohana and its sequel Honolulu Heat, vibrate with island color, local customs, and exquisite scenery. Also by the Milds: The Paco and Molly Murder Mysteries: Locks and Cream Cheese, Hot Grudge Sunday, and Boston Scream Pie. And the Dan and Rivka Sherman Mysteries: Death Goes Postal, Death Takes A Mistress, and Death Steals A Holy Book. Plus: Unto the Third Generation, A Novella of the Future, and three collections of wickedly entertaining mystery stories—Murder, Fantasy, and Weird Tales; The Misadventures of Slim O. Wittz, Soft-Boiled Detective; and Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i.

THE MILDS are active members of Sisters in Crime where Larry is a Mister in Crime; Mystery Writers of America; and Hawaii Fiction Writers. In 2013 they waved goodbye to Severna Park, Maryland and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they cherish quality time with their daughters and grandchildren. When Honolulu hosted Left Coast Crime in 2017, Rosemary and Larry were the program co-chairs for “Honolulu Havoc.”

Over a dozen worldwide trips to Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Great Britain, France, Italy, Israel, Egypt, and more have wormed their way into their amazing stories. In their limited spare time, they are active members of the Honolulu Jewish Film Festival committee, where Larry is the statistician and recordkeeper for their film ratings.

Congratulations on the release of your book, Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i. When did you start writing and what got you into detective mystery short story collections?

LARRY: As senior digital design engineer for major defense contractors, I’ve always had to write proposals, manuals, and peer papers. I started writing those in 1956. I assume the real question is: When did I start writing fiction, and that would be shortly after I retired in 1993, although we didn’t publish our first joint book until 2001. I wrote mostly essays during the interim. Oddly enough, it was a series of malaprops that steered us into the detective mystery genre. Rosemary’s dad had collected them from his housekeeper/cook’s random expressions with an eye toward submitting them to Reader’s Digest. They were too good to waste that way, and so we created Molly Mesta with her malaprops in Locks and Cream Cheese. In fact, we started calling them Mollyprops. Together with Inspector Paco LeSoto, Molly solves several crimes in Black Rain Corners on the Chesapeake Bay. Soon it became a three-book series.

We got into short stories when the chosen story material didn’t support a novel’s length.

What is your book about?

LARRY: Copper and Goldie is about Sam Nahoe, a native Hawaiian whose career as a Honolulu police detective is interrupted when he take a bullet in his spine. His sudden medical termination affects his marriage. Divorced and lonely, Sam takes up a new career as the independent driver of a Checker Cab. He takes on a canine partner, a rescue golden retriever named Goldie, and together they cruise the streets of Oahu for fares. Each of the thirteen short stories features a crime they encounter and solve. As a result of their encounters, Sam gets his PI license. Many of the stories include help from his young daughter, Peggy, during their Sunday visitations. Sam and Peggy still hope to reunite the family.

What was your inspiration for it?

LARRY: We wrote the original Copper and Goldie stories for an online e-zine. Each story appeared only once. And poof! They were relegated to the archives and gone from view. We wanted to give them permanence in a collection. Looking back to the first story, we wanted an ex-cop to become a private investigator. Our move to Hawaii not only gave us an interesting setting, but the need for a local name, which became Sam Nahoe. Resolving why Sam became an ex-cop, we gave him my spinal infirmities—his from a gunshot wound and mine from calcification and deterioration. Together we ski-walk around on two canes called Cane and Able—no, not the biblical spellings. One of our characters calls them giant chopsticks.

What type of challenge did you face while writing this book?

LARRY: You always try to make the next book better than the last book, omitting all the usual mistakes, using better images, evolving sharper plots, creating whole characters, and satisfying more fans and critics. Keeping the plot on track sometimes presents a problem. Perhaps the toughest challenge was putting the cover and blurb together. Getting the right words, images, and colors are unique for every new book.

Did your book require a lot of research?

LARRY: Not really, just a few police procedures, a couple of Googles, lots of photographs, and an Oahu map. The rest came from our personal knowledge of Hawaii and human nature. Our Dan and Rivka mysteries required tons of research in the Gutenberg era, printing terms, relics, etc. Research for those same mysteries also took me to the streets of Bath and London, England, plus Scotland Yard.

What do you do when your muse refuses to collaborate?

LARRY: I leave her alone, skip over that part, get out of town, and return when it’s not that time of the month anymore. Good muses are hard to find, so I have to treat this one right. Confrontation and insistence will only put me in the doghouse.

Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to (right?) write. Can you relate to this?

LARRY: Shame on them. Writing ain’t sex, so if writing is giving them a headache, they are in the wrong profession. Seriously, if you think about what you are going to write before you sit down at the keyboard, you should be at one with what you are writing. I can’t get the stuff out of my head. If you write even a little every day, why would you feel any anxiety?

ROSEMARY: No.

Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?

 LARRY: Yes, I write five to six hours a day, five to six days a week, and if that ain’t discipline I don’t know what is. Cutting hours or skipping a day only makes it harder to get started again.

ROSEMARY: Larry and I do have another life—big time! We’re active in our wonderful synagogue; participate in writers’ meetings; meet friends for lunch; and obsessively watch NFL football. We have six loving, delightful family members here in Honolulu and we get together for dinner once a week. I also go to Jazzercise, which satisfies my suppressed desire to be a Rockette. And with our writing life, we’re busier now than when we had demanding full-time jobs.

What’s your publishing process like?

LARRY: We both prefer writing in Microsoft Works (.wps) word processor, because we don’t have to change screens quite so often as in MS Word. When a story or book is text-ready, I format it with Adobe’s InDesign software which governs strict margins, headers, footers, pagination, images, and justification in accordance with a specific book’s trim size. The .wps output is transferred into this software; the pdf interior text output is what we send to the printer. Using the page count, we obtain a cover template with the correct spine size from the printer, and the bar code image is purchased from Bowker Identifier Services. We send the cover template, the bar code image, and our preliminary cover design and blurb off to our cover designer. After several proof exchanges we wind up with a pdf of our new cover. We then upload this and the interior text pdf to our printer, Lightning Source, Inc., a division of Ingram, the largest distributor of English language books in the world. After at least one exchange of proofs we order copies to sell locally. Others are sold through Ingram, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. I also use InDesign’s html output to format two types of e-books, Kindle and Nook, through Amazon Kindle Create and Nook Press.

ROSEMARY: I have no idea how Larry does it. The formatting software is all in code, and it’s different for the paperback, the Kindle, and the Nook versions. His formatting skill is awesome!

How do you celebrate the completion of a book?

LARRY: It’s not the completion of the book, but the arrival of the perfect product, a final book that we can hold in our hands, or a quantity of books that we can sell that is worthy of a celebration. It’s always fun to show off our book to friends and family at dinners and meetings.

How do you define success?

LARRY: We realize that it is hardly likely that a traditional imprint will encounter one of our books and turn it into a blockbuster sensation. So we can define our success in a smaller way: we have created a book that entertains, stirs the mind, and satisfies our group of reading fans. That’s what we started out to do, so isn’t that a form of success? If we had the energy to ply the social media more, I’m sure we would grow our group of fans greatly.

What do you love most about the writer’s life?

LARRY:  It’s the people you meet and exchange words with. That includes both our fans and our fellow authors. It also includes the national conventions and conferences, where you can rub elbows with all the big-name authors. I like learning in general, the research, and the human nature that comes along with the writing. Most of all, Rosemary and I are rewarded with a tangible result that we can be proud of.

ROSEMARY: I love it when a reader of our books rushes up to us at a signing to buy the next one. And I’m exhilarated by enthusiastic reviews! It’s such a pleasure to be appreciated.

What is your advice for aspiring authors?

LARRY: I’ve been suggesting the following seven thoughts to authors ever since we taught mystery and suspense writing at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland.

  1. Be a reader in your chosen genre first and learn how it’s done.
  2. Good or bad—put all your pertinent thoughts to paper. Edit later.
  3. Have a reasonable grasp of where your plot is going before you start.
  4. Choose a comfortable point of view (POV) and writing attitude.
  5. Create your characters complete inside and out, neither all good nor all bad. Keep a good record of their traits.
  6. Put a lot of extra effort into crafting your first page.
  7. Make your climax and ending worthy and relevant.

George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Thoughts?

LARRY: I suppose everyone has a demon or two creeping around in their lives—but one so terrible as to drive him ill? Ooooh! The man was a great author, but I think he had to have made a choice along the way: the bottle or his writing. Perhaps he abused his muse and mistook her for a demon. I personally look forward to facing the keyboard every day, so I really can’t identify with George.

ROSEMARY: George Orwell is in a class by himself with his novels 1984 and Animal Farm, both triggered by twentieth-century oppressive governments: the demon of dictatorship crushing idealism. His aim was to combine politics and art, and no author has done it better.

What’s on the horizon for you?

LARRY: Right now I’m pursuing a bunch of short stories that will constitute another collection in the manner of our Murder, Fantasy, and Weird Tales. It’ll be a genre mix of any stories that come into my head. But who knows? There may be a story that refuses to stay short and will blossom into a book on its own. That’s the fun of writing—you never know.

ROSEMARY: And I’m pursuing a collection of my personal essays.

Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

ROSEMARY and LARRY: We’d like to borrow any of your readers long enough to read just one of our books. There’s something for everyone in our repertoire. We’re sure we can make fans and friends of them. In any case, we wish them well on their journey through the world of books. We will even mail one free book to the first of your readers to send their address to us.

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