Good Morning Everyone! Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing A.J. Llewellyn, author of A Wizard in Waikiki.
Hi A.J., thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Thanks for having me here! Well I was born in Australia and moved here in 1984. I’ve been here ever since but traveled around quite a bit, always happy to return to California. I write M/M novels in all kinds of categories and I love what I do. I’ve had over 200 books published and there are more to come.
What were you like at school?
My teachers and classmates apparently had low expectations of me since I was voted the least likely to succeed. The other girl who won the same dubious extinction went on to be a superstar model. Ha! We are still close friends and stay in touch, but I guess I feel I still have something to prove because I work hard each and every day.
Were you good at English?
Yes. It was my favorite subject. I wrote stories from the time I was a little girl. It was, and is, my passion.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?
Konu is a three-hundred-year old Tahitian Wizard who comes back to Hawaii after a long absence and an enforced banishment to the spiritual wilderness. Now he’s returned, he is fulfilling his destiny to heal people. Some people believe he is who he says he is, others think he’s a homeless nut. He has the power to cure many diseases but soon learns that some people are resistant.
If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?
Yes! Book Two, Peridot Dreams reveals more about Konu’s new lover Jason. Konu is still adjusting to life in Hawaii and I am working on book 3, Luau Feet, right now. Konu works on his toughest case yet – and finds himself falling deeper and deeper in love with Jason.
How much research do you do?
A lot! I did a lot of homework on the Wizard Stones and just returned from Waikiki yesterday. I went to repay my respects to the four stones and took a flower lei to the ancient spirits guarding them. I was shocked how few people notice them or know anything about the stones! Yet they are massive and have a wrought iron enclosure around them.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.
Oh, yes. Reading is my refuge. I am amazed when authors tell me they don’t read. I don’t understand that at all. In his book, On Writing, (which is my bivble, by the way) Stephen King states that authors who don’t read have no business writing. I actually agree with him.
What books are you reading at present?
I am reading Eucalyptus, by Murray Bail. It’s an Australian novel that was supposed to be made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe. It’s a wonderful book! It’s very quirky, and a kind of Sleeping Beauty story about a young woman who is so beautiful, all men want her, but her father, a tree expert with a passion for eucalyptus trees, organizes a contest. Whoever can correctly name a rare specimen of the tree gets to marry his daughter. I’m loving it so far.
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
I haven’t asked for reviews in a very long time. I don’t think it’s good for authors to do that. I did when I started out but I think they should come organically.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Well to be honest I’ve had both and I sure prefer the good ones! Having said that, a publicist told me many years ago never to read reviews good or bad because they mess with the muse. I learned the hard way that she was right. I’ll tell you something I learned too. Good reviews don’t mean you’ll get huge sales. Bad reviews don’t mean you won’t either. I find that really interesting.
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
Oh it’s very necessary and I do something every day in relation to promoting my books.
Which social network worked best for you?
I love Facebook and think some of the reader/author groups are so awesome.
Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
Yes! Don’t post endless excerpts or the same blurb and promo on every single yahoo group/FB group etc. every single day. You get a bad reputation and it puts people off.
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
Of course I made mistakes. I’m human! LOL!
I hired a PR person who over-promoted a book for me and she got me banned from several Yahoo groups. She ran around posting my blurb and except on all the wrong days and even went to the same groups over and over again. She did the same thing to a few other authors. We sorted it out eventually but it was horrible. Don’t rely on marketing gurus to promote your brand. Know who you are working with, but also take some responsibility and do your own thing. I think blogging works and book trailers. I have a couple out there, but honestly, connecting with readers and writers through social networking sites is your best sales tool ever.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
A.J. Llewellyn is an author of M/M romantic fiction who 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.
Being marooned once on Wedding Cake Island in Australia cured her of a passion for fishing, but led to a plotline for a novel. A.J.’s friends live in fear because even the smallest details of their lives usually wind up in her stories. A.J. has a desire to paint, draw, juggle, work for the FBI, walk a tightrope with an elephant, be a chess champion, a steeplejack, master chef, and a world-class surfer. She can’t do any of these things so she writes about them instead.
A.J. I 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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TITLE: A Wizard in Waikiki
AUTHOR: A.J. Llewellyn
PUBLISHER: Ai Press
COVER ARTIST: Sid Love
LENGTH: 62 Pages
RELEASE DATE: April 25, 2016
BLURB: Summoned from the past, Konu rises naked from the sea to reclaim his power for the freedom to live—and love. If the forces of evil don’t get to him first!
On a hot day in Waikiki, beachgoers are stunned when a tall, handsome man rises from the ocean. Striding naked to a small, ringed enclosure containing four huge stones most tourists never even notice, he becomes visibly upset. These are Wizard Stones, positioned between the beach and the foot traffic on Kalakaua Avenue. Konu, the naked man, is agitated by a young Asian girl draping her beach towel over the stones. He's come a long way, from Tahiti, and is one of the ancient wizards whose power was infused into these sacred stones four hundred years ago.
With the invisible battle between good and evil raging, Konu has been dispatched to help balance the power. Landing in modern-day Waikiki, he's stunned by the changes – and to find he is alone. A cop tries to arrest him for indecent exposure but the young girl's grandfather – who thinks Konu's a homeless lunatic offers him refuge. Will the ancient forces of evil beat this wizard in Waikiki? Or can Konu find his power again, and perhaps…even love?
Publisher’s note: This book was previously published. It has been edited and re-released with Ai Press.
He rose from the cold, dark depths of the ocean, pain and fear eating at him as his human form slowly molded and emerged, begging for air. Precious, sweet air. He needed to breathe. As he stumbled onto the hot sand at last, the heat seared his feet, but the pain in his body vanished as he took deep, gulping breaths. His human form was so astonishing, it struck him as being perfect, even though his feet hurt.
It wasn't ego. He had been forbidden to enjoy his physical, earthly body for five hundred years.
I am alive. I am human. I am here!
He longed to stand and just… be, to absorb the moment he'd waited for, but Konu sensed the stares of people at the beach. His long, wet black hair clung to his face and shoulders as his gaze took in the mass of bodies… the colorful strips of fabric they wore. He had come a long way. Under cover of darkness, using only the stars for guidance, Konu arrived at the place they called Waikiki. Now, in the late afternoon light, his strength sapped, he'd been forced to leave the sanctity of the sea. He'd tried to wait for night, but he was tired… so tired.
For five hundred years, his soul and those of the four sorcerers he'd worked with, watched and waited.
In the distance, at the edges of the sand, he saw the flash of large beasts… loud sounds, flickering tiki torches, the flashes of smiles. He heard laughter and the jarring sound of a dozen different languages. Then he saw them. All of the sights and sounds stilled. His heart gave a lurch at the sight of the stones.
Konu flushed with anger as a woman draped a thick, brightly colored towel over the iron gate and onto one of the four boulders representing the sacred mana of the ancient, fifteenth century wizards—Kapaemahu, Kahaloa, Kapuni and… Kinohi, Konu's grandfather. Konu had been the fifth wizard, the sacred protector of the stones… until he'd been banished.
“Hey!” the woman shouted as he pulled her wet towel from the iron gate surrounding the stones and tossed it onto the ground.
The word Aloha flashed up at him from the pooled fabric.
Konu narrowed his eyes as his gaze shifted to the woman. Was she the sign he'd been seeking?
He reached in through the bars to touch the boulders. It wasn't easy. The gate kept a distance between the stones and prying human hands. He glanced at the white pigeons sitting vigil on the rocks. The tiny bird heads turned in his direction. These miniature keepers of the fire looked as exhausted as he felt. They were dirty, unkempt, very sick birds. Konu read their energies. His mind flashed on mass, migratory deaths. These were the survivors. They had flocked to the stones as creatures in trouble always had. They needed his help.
The gate had a small lock that in his normal strength, he could have removed, but he was weakened by the journey. He was relieved that the four wizard stones seemed intact. His heart almost broke at the sight of one very scrawny bird that looked near death as it lay on his grandfather's rock. The bird kept pecking at itself, biting at a raw wound in its wing. Konu held his hand near the bird, unable to reach it. The bird scuttled a little closer. It tucked its head under its wing and Konu worked his magic. He tried to sense if the bird wanted to live or die, but people were jostling him now, and he had to work fast.
He gave the creature life and with a flap of his hand, produced a few worms on top of the rock face. The bird gobbled quickly. The stone's supernatural power would restore the bird's fire-core. Konu grappled to touch the rock. He saw now that people had brought offerings. Purple orchid leis dangled along the gateposts. Somebody had left a shell lei, too. He gingerly stroked it. A recent addition.
Two bronze plaques stood before them. He scanned the writing. He recognized it as English. He had to retrain his mind to read the words.
The voices around him grew loud again as his hand crackled like lightning against the sensing power of the stones. Ah, magic still dwells here. He felt the separate, yet unified, energies of each wizard infused inside the stones. He took a deep breath as his hand came to the last stone, which represented his grandfather. Konu, long exiled from his family, yearned for this sincere connection with Kinohi. His hand neared the stone, but fell on a yellow lei. Ilima, flower of the gods.
He bent his head and wept.
They haven't forgotten us.
So long he'd waited and now he was here, his emotions had gotten the better of him. He gripped the iron bars for a moment, blinking away the hot tears on his face. He reached out once again, this time touching his grandfather's stone. A dim stirring from within. The mana was still there. Polluted, but it was there. Sleeping. The stone had sought to protect itself. He understood now why his family had sent him here.
The bird he'd healed stood on wobbly legs. Konu saw that one of them was broken. With another flick of his wrist, he restored the injured foot. The bird glanced at him with one beady eye, hopped to the tallest rock, and settled down to watch him.
“Fly,” Konu said, but the bird remained with its companions.
“He threw my towel down!” the woman beside him shouted. “Somebody get the police. This guy is lolo…he's crazy!”
A.J. Llewellyn lives in California, but dreams of living in Hawaii. Frequent trips to all the islands, bags of Kona coffee in the fridge and a healthy collection of Hawaiian records keep this writer refueled.
A.J’s passion for the islands led to writing a play about the last ruling monarch of Hawaii, Queen Lili’uokalani as well as a non-erotic novel about the overthrow of her kingdom written in diary form from her maid’s point of view.
A.J. never lacks inspiritation for male/male erotic romances and on the rare occasion this happens, pursues other passions such as collecting books on Hawaiiana, surfing and spending time with friends and animal companions.
A.J. Llewellyn believes that love is a song best sung out loud.
Winner’s Prize: 5 E-copies of A Wizard in Waikiki
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