Tell us about your upcoming release!

DECEIVED will be out on May 10, 2022 and is the third book in my multi-award nominated PI Kelly Pruett mystery series.

PI Kelly Pruett finally feels like she’s coming into her own. With her personal life well on track, a gig uncovering what drove a client’s granddaughter underground could be good for business. But after her undercover operation at the homeless shelter reveals rampant drug dealing, she’s suddenly kicked off the case… just as another girl goes missing.


Vowing to expose the truth even if it means pro-bono work, Kelly is taken aback when her estranged half-sister helps her hunt down answers in a tent city brimming with distrust. But she’s distraught when her investigation isn’t quick enough to save a second woman from being viciously murdered.


Can Kelly stop a brutal killer in their tracks before the body count rises?

Please tell us a little about yourself!

Gosh, what is there to tell, lol. I write! I’m a step-mom to two grown daughters, and have 10 grandchildren. I’m “mom” to a feisty golden retriever named Bella, and our kitty, August. I have a thing for pineapples, coffee and gnomes—and not necessarily in that order. Coffee always comes first! When I’m not writing, I’m making plans to get away to far away locales. My favorite so far was spending a few weeks in Australia and New Zealand. Paris and Spain are this year, Covid willing! And we live in Hawaii part time, so when I’m not planning international travel, you can find me on a beach there!

What was your journey to publication like with this title?

This title was easy as I had a 3-book contract and this is book 3 in the series. But the journey to get the series published was long and winding. I wrote Book 1, DERAILED, in 1999, set it aside, and picked it back up in 2016. (In the meantime, I was starting a company, and creative juices were assigned to that.) I entered the manuscript into Pitch Wars, which is a mentoring program/contest, and was chosen by 2 mentors. We tore it apart and revised it, and then I went out to query. 100 rejections later, and a few more rewrites, I landed my agent in 2017. Got the book deal in 2018, and the series launched in May 2020—you know during a pandemic, which is an entirely different story!

Do you have any must-do writing habits?

As I mentioned, I love coffee, so that’s a must have. And I need quiet. I’m not one to enjoy music or background noise while I’m in the writing process. I like the silence so I can hear my thoughts. As for a habit, I always re-read what I wrote the day before to warm myself up into the next scene, and I will often do writing sprints if I’m feeling stuck on an idea. Five minutes, no stopping, no thinking, go. By the time I get through that, if I was stuck, I’m not anymore.

What’s your favorite book that you’ve read in the past year?

Asking that is like asking me to tell you which grandchild is my favorite! I LOVE THEM ALL and I’ve read so many. I was a judge for Shamus Awards last year, and there was plenty of goodness there. My friend and CP, Dianne Freeman, had her fourth book come out, A FIANCEE’S GUIDE TO FIRST WIVES AND MURDER and it was fabulous. My CP partner, Jaime Lynne Hendricks, had FINDING TESSA out last May –another fabulous book! I also really enjoyed Shari Lapena’s NOT A HAPPY FAMILY, and David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s WINTER COUNTS.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t compare. Don’t compare your book, your journey, or anything else in writing. There will always be people further ahead on the path. Some will get there without near the rejection or heartache that you’ve had, they might go higher on the charts, in the advances, etc. Truth is, you have zero control on the publishing aspect of this journey if you traditionally publish. But keep enjoying the writing part, and that is what you always have control over.

And if I could have a second – find your writing community and become involved in it. On those days when you’re feeling low, there’s always another writer out there that totally gets it. And there are those days that you get the chance to uplift someone else and those are even better. It’s such a gift to be understanding and to be understood.

How can people learn more about your book and follow you?

Best way to stay in touch is to sign up for my newsletter! My subscribers get chances at monthly giveaways, and always know about what new and upcoming first!

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About Mary Keliikoa:

Mary Keliikoa is the author of the Shamus finalist and Lefty, Agatha and Anthony award nominated PI Kelly Pruett mystery series and the upcoming Misty Pines mystery series featuring Portland homicide detective turned small town sheriff slated for release in September 2022. Her short stories have appeared in Woman’s World and in the anthology Peace, Love and Crime: Crime Fiction Inspired by Music of the ‘60s. She is the Vice President of her local Sisters in Crime, and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, as well as Private Eye Writers of America.

A Pacific NW native, she spent a part of her life working around lawyers. Combining her love of legal and books, she weaves murderous tales where justice prevails. When not in Washington, you can find Mary on the beach in Hawaii. But even under the palm trees and blazing sun, she’s plotting her next murder—novel that is.