Let’s get to know Robert McCaw, author of Off the Grid.
Tell us about your main character.
Koa Kāne, the Chief of Detectives in Hilo, Hawaii, and protagonist of Off the Grid, cannot escape the shadows of his past. Growing up poor on the northern coast of the Big Island, he watched the plantation managers and overseers suck the life out of his father, a lowly sugar worker, who died in a premeditated mill accident. As a teenager in a rage filled outburst, Koa attacked and inadvertently killed the sugar mill manager who had harassed and arranged the “accident” that struck down Koa’s father. Koa camouflaged the manager’s death as a suicide and, although shocked at the consequences of his violence, escaped society’s punishment. Yet, his guilt drove him into the military where the death of his dearest friend, a future police recruit, prompted Koa to become a cop in his friend’s honor. Koa, you see, seeks redemption in the pursuit of justice.
As a killer turned cop who evaded the police, Koa knows human foibles and harbors suspicions of all he encounters. He is paranoid that he will be deceived as he himself once deceived. At the same time, he retains an unusual empathy for victims, peering deeply into their lives, passions, and faults in order to apprehend killers and others who cross the law.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
People are not who they seem to be. All of us harbor secrets. Many deceptions are small and insignificant, yet we still guard them jealously. Often though, there is at the core of a person a hidden dark place that fundamentally differentiates who they are from the superficial persona they exhibit. Koa Kāne, my police chief detective protagonist, is such a person, and my novels are filled with similar characters. Off the Grid, for example, is all about two loners living in rural Hawaii who are anything but what they appear.
Another of my favorite themes is our insignificance. When my characters stand under the night sky or next to the awesome gaping maw of the Kilauea volcano, they glimpse the speck of their lifespan in the context of the eons of our universe. It sucks the arrogance out of them.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
If Off the Grid, my latest mystery/thriller, were chocolate, it would be a dark chocolate Matryoshka doll (also known as a Russian nesting doll) and inside would be a grand progression of ever smaller dolls, each one of richer and deeper chocolate, until finally at the very center would be the tastiest chocolate truffle you have ever eaten. In that way, the evolving nature of the chocolate would mirror the panoply of characters and events that unfold throughout my books.
If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
In am going to take this question in a direction the interrogator may not have considered. I would include those people who have probed and pondered the deepest mysteries of space, time, and the human mind. My guests would be: Albert Einstein, Leo Tolstoy, Robert J. Oppenheimer, Sigmund Freud, Stephen Hawking, and Simone de Beauvoir.
What’s next for you?
I’ve been lucky. Mel Parker, my wonderful agent, and Oceanview Publishing, a terrific high-quality mystery/thriller publisher, have arranged to release my third book, Fire and Vengeance, in 2020. I’m hard at work on a fourth book (as yet untitled) in the Koa Kāne mystery series, one that will delve even more deeply into the chief detective’s sordid history. After that, time will tell.
Robert McCaw grew up in a military family traveling the world. After graduating from Georgetown University, he served as a lieutenant in the US Army before earning his law degree from the University of Virginia. Thereafter he practiced as a partner in a major international law firm in Washington, DC, and New York City—and maintained a home on the Big Island of Hawai’i. McCaw brings a unique authenticity to his Koa Kāne Hawaiian mystery novels in both his law enforcement expertise and his ability to portray the richness of Hawai’i’s history, culture, and people. McCaw lives in New York City and La Jolla, California, with his wife, Calli.