Q&A With Kerri Hakoda

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Q&A With Kerri Hakoda 

I have the pleasure of doing this next Q&A with Kerri Hakoda. Kerri Hakoda has released her debut mystery novel Cold To The Touch. 

Q: Kerri, would you like to give a brief description about your novel Cold To The Touch, & where the idea for the novel came from?

A: Here’s a brief synopsis of the story: Cold To The Touch is an Alaska-set mystery featuring Anchorage Homicide Detective DeHavilland Beans. When the body of a young woman is found on the snow, ravaged by predators, Beans is horrified to recognize the half-Yup’ik barista who served him coffee from a drive-through kiosk almost every day. Beans himself is an ethnic blend of Japanese, Athabascan and Irish, and grew up in a small bush village as she did, and considered her a kindred spirit. A second barista disappears, and reappears as a frozen corpse in Denali National Park, and the FBI is called in. When the third barista goes missing, Beans has to face the possibility that Anchorage might be facing its first serial killer in many years. 

The tragic murder of 18-year-old barista Samantha Koenig at the hands of serial killer Israel Keyes planted the seed of the story more than ten years ago. There the similarity ends, though. Unlike Samantha Koenig, the baristas in my story are “bikini baristas,” scantily clad in suggestive costumes, and the story goes in a completely different direction.

 I am very fond of Alaska, having worked and traveled there, and have always thought it would be a great setting for a murder mystery – long winter nights, bitter cold, snow, etc. Of course, I’m not the first writer to think this, nor will I be the last. And the idea of a multi-racial detective just came naturally. Alaska has an incredibly diverse population, and it only made sense that the cast of Cold To The Touch reflected that.

Q: What drew you into writing in the mystery thriller genre? 

A: I read SO many books in this genre that I guess it makes sense I would write in it as well. I’m very drawn to a well-paced plot, but really enjoy and respect authors who can find the sweet spot –  a riveting story populated with interesting and well-developed characters. 

Q: Are you currently writing your next novel? If so, is it a sequel to Cold To The Touch or is it a standalone this time?

A: I wish I could say I was further along with the sequel! The next installment of the Beans series is outlined, but not written. I’m a hybrid of plotter and pantser, so I’ve got the general idea of the story jotted down, leaving plenty of room for departures to the outline. The next novel I complete will probably be an almost-finished-but- way-too-long young adult sci-fi story that I wrote to give myself a break from the mystery genre. 

Q: If Hollywood were to get the rights to Cold To The Touch, (if they haven’t already) who would be your dream cast to play the characters you created? Would you rather they turn your book into a movie or a series?

A: Either a movie or series would be fantastic! I can definitely see it as a limited series, as the story tends to be kind of “episodic” in nature.

Casting my protagonist, DeHavilland Beans, would be no easy task, given his ethnic mix of Japanese, Athabascan and Irish. Closest I could get would probably be Simu Liu or Henry Golding, maybe a young Keanu Reeves type, but I think they’re probably too handsome for the role as I envision it. For Raisa Ingalls (Beans’ ex) I see someone like Kristen Stewart or Saoirse Ronan type. For Isabelle O’Reilly (FBI agent) – Emma Stone or Kate Mara type. For Edison Dodds (antagonist) – Jesse Plemons or his kid brother, if he has one – I think he’s his own type. I really like Paul Walter Hauser as Edison Dodds as well, but he is SO good at playing a serial killer (he was chilling in Black Bird) that he’s probably in danger of being typecast.

Q: Have you ever dealt with self-doubt as a writer? If so, how did you overcome that self-doubt that might help aspiring authors in the future? 

A: Oh God, yes. I live with self-doubt, and on the days I don’t, I live with imposter syndrome! I’m an (ahem) “older” debut author. I’ve lost track of the number of nice and not-so-nice rejection emails and letters (yes, in the mail – that’s how old I am) I’ve received from agents and publishers. 

My advice to aspiring authors: don’t give up your day job. Your life experience will enhance and flavor your writing. And don’t give up writing and submitting. Believe me, I know how demoralizing it can be, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. If you’re lucky enough to get a rejection with constructive criticism attached, consider it free editing advice that you can take or leave. Then keep writing.

Figure that self-doubt will be with you forever. But don’t let it stop you. 

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to converse with you, Bianca.