Monday, May 25, 2020

Robert McCaw Interview - Fire and Vengeance

Photo Credit: Calli P. McCaw

Robert McCaw is the author of Fire and Vengeance, Off the Grid, and Death of a Messenger. McCaw grew up in a military family, traveling the world. He is a graduate of Georgetown University, served as a U.S. Army lieutenant, and earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. He was a partner in a major international law firm in Washington, D.C. and New York City, representing major Wall Street clients in complex civil and criminal cases. Having lived on the Big Island of Hawaii, McCaw imbues his writing of the Islands with his more than 2-year love affair with this Pacific paradise. He now ives in New York City with his wife, Calli.


What inspired you to pen your first novel?
From my initial visits to the Big Island of Hawaii, I found myself awed by the primitive natural and human forces that formed and continue to shape the island. The history of the Hawaiian archipelago's rise from the sea intrigued me. Stories of Polynesians navigating across thousands of miles of hostile ocean from Tahiti, and the saga of a society that advanced from human sacrifice to environmentally sound aquaculture and agriculture, transfixed me. As I learned about these unique and diverse islands, my first thoughts of writing about it grew into a compulsion. That irresistible drive and my love of mystery stories led to my first book, Death of a Messenger.

Tell us your latest news.
Oceanview Publishing will release an ebook version of Fire and Vengeance, the third novel in the Koa Kāne mystery series, in May 2020, an audiobook shortly thereafter, and a hardcover in September 2020. They will also republish the first book in the series, Death of a Messenger, in 2021.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
My mother, a voracious reader with an intense curiosity about the world around her, instilled similar passions in me. Growing up in a military family, I traveled extensively, attending twelve schools in twelve grades and meeting people from around the world as well as those from different places in the US. What I couldn’t experience for myself, books by authors like James Mitchener enabled me to enjoy vicariously. Thus, the nature of my youth made me appreciate the world’s diversity, increasing the breadth of my imagination. It also taught me about the complex relationships between a place and its inhabitants.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I love engaging with readers. Few things prompt a smile like a fan popping up when least expected. Readers who have been to the Big Island often comment on the way my novels capture aspects of the real Hawaii, rather than the tourist Hawaii of palm trees and Waikiki. We all like to be acknowledged, and finding a reader who truly appreciates the thousands of hours that go into creating a novel is a treat.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
I’ve encountered many distractions in writing the Koa Kāne Hawaiian Mystery series. For example, I started writing the first book, Death of a Messenger, while I was actively practicing law, and it took me 20+ years to complete the project. By comparison, Fire and Vengeance, written after I retired, practically wrote itself. I had been thinking about the plot for quite some time. I'd researched the history of Hualalai Mountain, where the story begins, and knew how the story would end before I put pen to paper.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
First and foremost, I want readers to dive into and get caught up in the story. I want them to bond with the characters, follow the clues, and try to identify the perps and their motives yet be surprised by the twists and turns of the story. I’d like readers to feel immersed in the story’s setting, learning a little of the geography, history, culture, and language of Big Island of Hawaii. Hopefully, they will appreciate its diversity and unique beauty. On a deeper level, I hope readers will see how significant events shape lives for good and evil. I've succeeded if readers see my characters as prisoners of the past but with opportunities to escape from what history tries to preordain.

In your new book; FIRE AND VENGEANCE, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
Fire and Vengeance is a mystery story that explores the connection between the past and the present. Koa Kāne, the protagonist, is a killer turned cop. As a teenager, he killed his father's nemesis and escaped punishment. Guilt drives him to join the police force and devote himself to finding justice for murder victims. Long-buried secrets drive the perps in Fire and Vengeance, who conspire to commit a hideous crime. The co-conspirators’ secrets shape their lives and govern the dynamics among them. The book is also a tale of two estranged brothers, both with a criminal past, who reinvent their relationship.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
This question makes me smile. I’d introduce Chief Detective Koa Kāne to Michael Connolly’s Harry Bosch. It would be fun to invite Harry Bosch to Hawaii or to send Koa Kāne to LA. Together they could solve the crime of the century. I could also introduce Zeke Brown, my prosecutor, who wears black buffalo hide Lucchese cowboy boots, to Connolly's Mickie Haller. They could both work out of the back seat of Haller's Lincoln. That pair could cook up one tasty legal stew.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Don't be afraid to reinvent yourself. In college, I was a mathematician, then became a soldier, a law clerk for a supreme court justice, a Washington lawyer, a New York lawyer, and now a novelist. Who knows what’s next!

What part of Koa did you enjoy writing the most?
In both Off the Grid and Fire and Vengeance, Chief Detective Koa Kāne follows clues to the point where the mystery is mostly solved. Yet, he lacks the evidence for a conviction. In each case, he devises and executes a trap to nail the perps. I had great fun in creating those scenes. 

  • Fire and Vengeance starts with a bang.
  • As a killer turned cop, Chief Detective Koa Kāne, the protagonist, is an engaging character.
  • Koa Kāne makes an astounding discovery about his convict brother.
  • Cheryl Makela and Francine Na‘auao are strong women characters.
  • At one point, Koa Kāne believes that he has forfeited his integrity only to recover it.
  • Reading Fire and Vengeance is like a trip to Hawaii.
  • The story is fictional, but it could happen.
  • Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, plays a significant role in the novel.
  • The past shapes the characters of Fire and Vengeance in unique ways.
  • There is a surprise twist to the ending of Fire and Vengeance.
Best date you've ever had?
In 2008, my bride to be and I were enjoying a glass of wine at the ocean bar at the Hualalai Resort on Hawaii's Kona coast. As the sun began to set over the Pacific Ocean, I led her down onto the rocks, where I proposed and slipped an engagement ring over her finger. Hard to top that!

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
I am a warm weather person, so my wife was more than a little surprised when I suggested that we take a cruise to Antarctica. We sailed through the Chilean fjords, through the Straits of Magellan, past Tierra del Fuego, and ultimately across the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. The land, sea, and icescapes were beyond anything I had ever imagined. The petrels and albatross were magical, and the whales, penguins, sea lions, and fur and elephant seals were abundant beyond measure. "Life-changing" is not one of my favorite phrases, but Antarctica is a place like no other and profoundly changes one’s perspective on our world. 

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
During 2018, the Kilauea volcano erupted roughly 1 billion cubic yards of lava. That’s enough to fill 320,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. Who knew?

What’s the most memorable job you’ve had?
Of my many assignments, my service as a law clerk to Mr. Justice Hugo L. Black of the Supreme Court of the United States was the most memorable. Few people have the opportunity at a young age to observe first-hand the intimate workings of one of the three branches of our government. Working with one of the longest-serving justices in our history only made the experience richer. It was an honor and an unforgettable experience.

Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
I traveled a lot growing up and as an adult. Heidelberg, Germany, Sagamihara, Japan, Chuncheon, Korea, and Lacoste, Provence were all formative places for me. The Big Island of Hawaii was one of the most stimulating and rewarding of all. It was rich in culture, history, language, and friendships. It's where I first imagined Chief Detective Koa Kāne and reinvented myself as an author. 

What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
That time is now--in the time of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m not scared for myself, but for the hundreds of thousands of people who will die and for the oblivious society that allowed this disaster to happen. We have known for years, if not decades, that a pandemic was inevitable. Yet, we did nothing to prepare. Similarly, we know without any doubt that climate change will wreak havoc on our planet and our way of life, but do virtually nothing to prepare. We should all be scared enough to demand action.

Having killed his father’s nemesis and gotten away with it, Hilo, Hawai`i Chief Detective Koa Kane, is not your ordinary cop. Estranged from his younger brother who has been convicted of multiple crimes, he is not from a typical law enforcement family. Yet, Koa’s secret demons fuel his unwavering drive to pursue justice. Never has Koa’s motivation been greater than when he learns that an elementary school was placed atop a volcanic vent, which has now exploded. The subsequent murders of the school’s contractor and architect only add urgency to his search for the truth. As Koa’s investigation heats up, his brother collapses in jail from a previously undiagnosed brain tumor. Using his connections, Koa devises a risky plan to win his brother’s freedom. As Koa gradually unravels the obscure connections between multiple suspects, he uncovers a 40 year-old conspiracy. When he is about to apprehend the perpetrators, his investigation suddenly becomes entwined with his brother’s future, forcing Koa to choose between justice for the victims and his brother’s freedom.


"McCaw has again cooked up a tasty stew with ingredients from a mix of staples from the crimefiction pantry…makes for fine reading.” —Booklist

"interesting local details and a crackling pace” —Kirkus Reviews

"Moves with volcanic force to a heartfelt, gripping conclusion." —Rick Mofina USA Today Bestselling Author of Their Last Secret
You can purchase Fire and Vengeance at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ROBERT MCCAW for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Fire and Vengeance (Koa Kāne Hawaiian Mystery #3) by Robert B. McCaw.


  1. "Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?" London!

  2. The best place in the World I have been is the Isle of Capri.

  3. My favorite place to have ever been is Grand Cayman Island!

  4. I think my ancestral homeland Norway.

  5. Cape Cod is the best place with the sun setting over the dunes along the beach and the quietness that enveloped my family.

  6. The best place I've been in the world is Bonaire