It was only after I began the coming out process-- acknowledging to myself and the rest of the world that I was gay-- that I started to understand Kimo. I realized he'd left the force because he was gay, and started his own p.i. agency.
Then I realized that I still couldn't go back to that book-- I had to write the book in which Kimo came out, and eventually left the force. At least that's what I thought when I started writing Mahu.
The title then was still Death in Waikiki-- a very generic title. But I had this image of a body being dumped behind a gay bar, and a cop finding it who shouldn't have been there. That was Kimo, and that became the genesis for the book.
Writing and revising was a long process. When I finally thought I was finished, I approached an agent I had met at a writer's conference. He liked the sample chapters enough to request the whole book, and then gave me extensive notes toward revision. I went back to the computer and did what he asked.
Then he asked someone else at the agency to do some line edits, and she gave me pages of suggestions, including pointing out that people gave up the information to my detective very easily. She asked me to go back over those scenes and make things tougher for him-- make him actually work at detecting. This agent also suggested Mahu as a title for the book, which I thought was a great choice.
They were great comments, and the book improved tremendously because of them. Unfortunately, on a third read, the agent decided he didn't think the book worked, because so much of it was focused around Kimo's struggles to come out. This agent, who lived in NYC, thought being a gay cop was no big deal-- even though the organization of gay cops weren't allowed to march in the police-controlled St. Patrick's Day parade.
It took me another year of sending out sample chapters and outlines to agents before I got another who was interested. She called me months after getting the manuscript, long after I'd wiped her off. She said the book had stayed with her for months, and that was a sign that she should represent it.
I was delighted; she was a lesbian and got the book. I was sure she would sell it and my long-awaited career as a writer would be launched.