Hawaiian Pidgin, as a language, is raw. It communicates on a visceral, no shibai level, cutting to the heart of the matter with a few quick words in an inflection that can leave you bloody on the floor. There’s a reason my kids don’t worry if I’m scolding in English; they know when I’m really mad the Pidgin comes out.
Significant Moments in da Life of Oriental Faddah and Son, One Hawai‘i Okinawan Journal by Lee A. Tonouchi is a powerful collection of epic poems written in Hawaiian Pidgin that tell the complicated story of multigenerational family relationships. It’s a semi-autobiographical journey from childhood into adulthood that made me laugh out loud, cry, and shake my head at Tonouchi’s very personal experiences that are on many levels so universal.
Tonouchi’s mastery of Pidgin rings true to the ear and heart with an eye for the significant detail that conveys pages of meaning in a few well-chosen phrases. I’ve never met Tonouchi, but I know his voice. I’m sure we hung out at the swings at Kahului Elementary, played shambattle at Summer Fun, and hid behind the oleander bushes at neighborhood backyard kanikapila jam sessions talking story, playing trumps, and swapping Diamond Head strawberry sodas.
Fo’real. His poetry is that good. If you’re a native Pidgin speaker, this book is a treasure.
Oriental Faddah and Son by Lee A. Tonouchi, published by Bess Press is available as a trade paperback directly from the publisher, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble and most stores where books are sold in Hawai‘i.
Imagine you wake up in Las Vegas to discover you’re missing hours in a blackout that you fear is the result of a drugged assault. Now imagine that a few months later, just when you’re finding your groove, you get attacked again, but this time you’re rescued by a mysterious stranger who takes you to a remote location and tells you that he’s from the future.
Yeah, Maggie had a tough time with that one, too.
Past, present, and future blend a little in this series and a good portion of the beginning of the novel is taken up with explaining it all. Maggie was scooped from her original timeline and taken to the future where she was part of a rebellion fighting against the big collectives, hive-like mind control groups who have mastered time travel and want to enslave all humans throughout history. She lived and fought with the rebels for a year developing strong bonds as friends, family, and even the love of her life. Maggie got captured during a mission and had her mind erased, so she has no memories of her year with the rebels. Once rescued, the rebels decided that this was the perfect time to return her to her original timeline, resulting in the missing hours and bruises she couldn’t explain back in Las Vegas. Now for her own safety and to protect the ultimate destiny of mankind, she’s been scooped back into the rebel’s timeline. She’s surrounded by people who know her intimately who she doesn’t remember at all, fighting against the collectives in a highly specialized team.
There’s a lot to chew on in this book. There are elements in this series that echo some of the deeper mythologies in classic science fiction series like Dune. Readers who like to get into the nuances of how things work and what makes people tick will enjoy it—it’s an intellectually satisfying read. Once the backstory comes out, the pace picks up substantially and the pay-off’s good.
Persistence of Vision, Book 1 of Interchron, written by Liesel K. Hill and published by Tate Publishing is available in paperback and eBook. Click here for the link. http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-62024-796-9
This week’s blog is an interview with debut author Adrienne Monson whose book Dissension, Book 1 in The Blood Inheritance Trilogy, was published by Jolly Fish Press on Feb. 23, 2013. It’s available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and other fine bookstores.
Okay, Adrienne, let’s start with the tough questions. If you knew you were going to be stranded on a tropical island a la Survivor, which five books would you sneak in your backpack and which five essentials would you kick out to bring them?
This is a tough one, because I’d want to take five different series with me, not just five books. So after thoughtful consideration, I guess I’d go with the following:
- Ender’s Shadow, by Orson Scott Card
- Ransom, by Julie Garwood
- Pale Demon, by Kim Harrison
- The China Bride, by Mary Jo Putney
- Knife of Dreams, by Robert Jordan
As for essentials I’d replace them with, that’s also tough because it depends on what you consider essentials. So here’s what I consider essentials I could live without in order to enjoy a great book:
- Makeup (Who cares if you’re stranded on an island anyway, right?)
- Floss (I’m sure I can figure out a way to make leaves into string or something.)
- Hair accessories (As long as I have a brush, I don’t need anything else.)
- Phone (I doubt I’ll get reception anyway)
- Extra shirts (I’ll just wash the one I’m wearing.)
Yeah, make-up would be the first thing to go for me, too. It’s a great day when I don’t have to put mascara on! Also, thanks for recommendations; there are a couple of books on your list I haven’t read yet that must be awesome. Now if I could only get stranded somewhere with books and chocolate and no cell phone…
With all the many hats you wear—Mom and wife being just two of them—how do you find the time to write?
Don’t remind me! It’s definitely something you have to MAKE time for. If you’re waiting for free time to fall into your lap, it won’t. But I utilize sleeping time. My kids have an early bed time, so I do most of my work then. I also have a fabulous husband that’s more than willing to take the kids out for an hour or two while I’m trying to meet deadlines. But mostly, I just stay up later than the rest of my family to write. Yes, I lose sleep and am looking forward to the day when my youngest will go to school, but I make it work. 🙂
I’m a night owl, too. Do you work on one writing project at a time or do you have several irons in the fire?
I try (try!) to stay focused on the one that needs to be turned into the publisher next, but if I get ideas for my next WIP, I will definitely take the time to write notes on that novel so I don’t forget.
Gotta say vampires, here, Lehua! But I am biased. 😉 This question is ironic to me because I am a fun, upbeat kind of woman. I am good at thinking positively and don’t really like watching gory movies. However, I obviously have a dark side that emerges when I’m writing. If you’ve read my short stories on my website, you would think I’m seriously twisted. And, I guess I am – my darkness just comes out in an artistic way. As far as how I tap into that, I don’t really. It just rises to the surface as I write. Sometimes, I even disturb myself to the point that I need to watch a comedy after I’ve written a particularly dark scene. (Don’t worry readers, I’m not graphic in my writing or anything, but in my head, I see all the gory details.)
Reminds me of a story I once read about a man who made gruesome art, but was kind. Villagers complained about his art, so he starting making cherubs and became really mean. Maybe we’re letting our inner demons out through our books!
Dissension, Book 1 of the Blood Inheritance Trilogy, was published Feb. 23, 2013. Books 2 and 3 are titled Defiance and Deliverance. What can we look forward to in book 2?
I really don’t want to give much away. I will tell you that both Leisha and Samantha experience a little bit of romance and that they figure out where the prophecy child is. There’s still plenty of action scenes that I hope will keep you turning the pages. That’s all I will give. The rest, you must find out yourself. 🙂
Arrgh! And for me patience is not a virtue! Sure you won’t take a bribe? No? You’re really going to make me wait for book 2? Sigh.
Thanks for stopping by, Adrienne. Now get back to writing!
Adrienne Monson, winner of the 2009 Oquirrh’s Writer’s Contest and the Utah RWA’s Great Beginnings, has immersed herself in different kinds of fiction since a young age. She lives in Utah with her husband and two kids, whom she loves with all her heart. She loves Zumba, kickboxing, and weightlifting. She also enjoys yummy foods, so she won’t look like a workout guru.
Keep up to date with Adrienne’s events and writing:
To read my review of Dissension, click here.
What do you do when your very existence is an anathema to you, the love of your life has wanted to kill you for 2,000 years, your stalker ex is back, and you’ve a teenage girl dumped into your lap that can’t go home?
When you’re Leisha, one of the original vampires, you do the most logical thing—foment dissension in the ranks of vampire-dom in the hope of getting your mundane life back.
Dissension, written by debut author Adrienne Monson, takes the reader on a thrill ride spanning kidnapping, torture, murder, blood lust, slavery, government conspiracy, psychic abilities, and hints about a mysterious child—all in Book One of The Blood Inheritance Trilogy.
Fans of vampire lit will find much to like here from an origin mythology to hints of a final destiny. Most interesting is the developing relationships between the characters as they uncover miscommunications and misconceptions about each other that have ruled their actions for 2000 years. With all the conspiracies and chess pieces swirling around, what I really want to know is can Leisha ever get back to being a wife and mother and what’s going to happen to teenage Samantha, Leisha’s thinly veiled substitute for the family she lost?
Guess I’ll have to read book 2 to find out!
Dissension, Book 1 in The Blood Inheritance Trilogy, written by Adrienne Monson and published by Jolly Fish Press is available in hardback and eBook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other purveyors of fine literature.
It’s no false crack; Hawaiian author Chris McKinney’s latest novel Boi No Good takes an unflinching look at a Hawaii that locals live in every day and tourists never see. It’s gritty, real, and not for the faint of heart.
McKinney’s characters are people I feel I know and grew up with, from the welfare ice queens to the keep Hawaiian lands in Hawaiian hands revolutionists, to the wanna be good but no can boyz to the Kahala private school we can make a difference politicians, he’s nailed them all.
I’m always amazed at the difference between the real Hawaii and Hollywood’s version. McKinney is an insider’s insider. He knows that beneath the tourist hula shows, pink manapua boxes, and Reyns Aloha shirts a rage simmers, Pele’s lava looking for a steam vent, an anger that wants to make a mark, a difference, to change the status quo. In some island circles these feelings are shoveled in and swallowed daily at the breakfast table right along with the shoyu rice, ketchup covered scrambled eggs, and fried spam. Eventually, the bitterness starts to choke, and it can be do or die, especially in the it’s all about who you know climate of Hawaii. There is an underground attitude in the islands that violence is the universal language, a no push me or I going snap cock of the walk. And snap Boi does.
What I liked about this book is that there are no easy answers and most characters have redeeming qualities mixed with spectacular faults and myopic vision.
Boi No Good is raw, true, engaging, and sure to make you think. It’s the kind of story that stays with you long after you read the final page. But I gotta warn you, it’s graphic and in my opinion, for adults only.
Boi No Good is McKinney’s fourth book. All of his titles, Tatoo, Mililani Mauka, Bolohead Row, and Boi No Good can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and local Hawaiian bookstores.
Today’s blog is courtesy of Jennifer Griffith, author of Big in Japan and member of the Jolly Fish Press ‘ohana. Her newest novel is a fish out of water story about a plus-sized Texan who goes to Japan on a quick business trip, but ends up living in a sumo stable fighting for his life and chasing after the girl of his dreams. At turns sweet, thrilling, and always hilarious, it’s a great read.
Thank you, Lehua, for allowing me to guest blog today. It’s an honor.
My latest novel, Big in Japan, has been out for just over a month now, and it’s amazing to see the reactions to it. The funniest one might be, “How the heck did you write that?”
Maybe they’re asking how a short, mom-type person wrote from the perspective of a … well, a giant. Who’s a 24 year-old man. That’s a valid question. I guess I channeled my inner sumo wrestler.
It’s been a lot of years since I lived in Japan. Like, almost 20. I wanted Big in Japan to be as authentic as possible—as much of a virtual trip to Tokyo as I could muster with the little details of sights and smells and the kitchy things that are Japan. Unfortunately, I’ve given birth five times since then, which is a veritable mind-wipe each time. So the most legitimate meaning of that question should actually be, “How did you write that and remember all that stuff?”
To which I reply, duh! In Japan you take your camera with you everywhere and you photodocument every single aspect of your day.
Cases in point: I have pictures of my bathtub; of my lunch of sliced cucumbers and barbecued squid and a pile of Kewpie mayonnaise; of mugi (wheat bran) muffins boiling over in my toaster-oven sized oven; of my clothes drying on the line; of myself going off a jump on my hot pink mountain bike wearing the kind of helmet only the mentally challenged Japanese people (and the American girls) wear; of my feet turned green and blue from the dyed leather in my blue oxford shoes after walking through the ankle-deep water after the August typhoon in Tokyo. I have pictures I took in the grocery store of bags of tiny round mochi balls in pink and green and white and of the narrowest house I’ve ever seen—just barely wider than my armspan from fingertip to fingertip.
But as a writer, the pics are not my only “external hard drive” source to remember details about beautiful Japan. I’ll be forever grateful I kept an almost-daily journal of my experiences.
I’ve got a record of “funny.” I have daily lists of the wacky English-language text on t-shirts, like the one with the tortoise at the top and the caption, “His mustache is so proud of him.” I’ve got stories about someone we lovingly referred to as “underwear man,” and the time I had to eat a stir-fried cricket on a dare. I also kept a record of the high cost of fresh fruit. Like the fact that a single watermelon cost upwards of $100!
Beyond that, when I was writing about Buck’s difficult transition into the Japanese culture, I had my own rocky emotional mess all bleeding out in hot pink pen all over my journal to draw from. And to write Buck’s final settling in, his acceptance of the country after some pretty significant culture shock, I had the feelings of catharsis I’d recorded as well.
Best of all, I’ve also got a whole cast of interesting and amazing people I met while I was there, and the heroine of the story is a conglomerate of the best of the Japanese women I met during my year and a half on the island.
When I first received my assignment to go to Japan, I was scared spitless. Then I told my grandpa, and he about jumped out of his skin. He’d lived there with my grandma and their six-or-so kids in the 1950s. He insisted I drive the half hour to his house because he was pulling out his slides. There were hundreds of pictures of the forests of Matsushima and the gardens at Nikko, and the ocean and houses and smiling people. His photodocumentation went great lengths toward calming my fears, and his love for Japan oozed its way into my heart, where it has lodged ever since.
I hope that love oozes into the hearts of the readers of Big in Japan.
Jennifer Griffith lives in Arizona with her husband and five kids. She lived in Japan for a year and a half during college and at 5’1” she is far too short to ever consider sumo as a career. This is her fourth published novel. Big in Japan is available as a hardback and ebook nationwide at purveyors of fine books such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Click here to see the book trailer. Trust me, you wanna see it.
Follow Jennifer’s adventures in writing at:
- Website: http://www.authorjennifergriffith.com/
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJenniferGriffith
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/GriffithJen
To read my review of Big in Japan, click here.
Jennifer Griffith’s newest novel, Big in Japan, tells the story of Buck Cooper, a Texas gentleman with a heart as large his home state and a body and self-esteem problem to match. What starts as a supporting role in a family business trip to Tokyo ends with Buck staying in Japan training to be a sumo wrestler as the kohai to the Kawaguchi Stable’s star ozeki, Torakiba. Torakiba is the senpai from hell, subjecting Buck as his kohai to humiliating tasks including foot washing and warm watermelon spit. There’s also a love interest, Cho-cho san, who like the butterfly she’s named for flits in and out of Buck’s life, motivating him to prove to himself and the sumo world that he’s got what it takes.
Buck may be big in Japan, but in Hawaii sumo is huge. The first foreign-born non-Japanese sumo champion was Jesse Kuhaulua, fighting name Takamiyama Daigoro. He was born on Maui and his career spanned twenty years from 1964-1984. Growing up in Kahului, we all knew Jesse and followed his career avidly. When he came home to visit family, the whole town came out to greet him. I can still see him in his traditional Japanese attire as he majestically strolled across our school’s parking lot, smiling and waving at us as we peeked out from behind the monkey pod tree. Other Hawaiian-born sekitori followed including Konishiki who earned the rank of ozeki, Akebono who earned the grand champion rank of yokozuna, and my cousin William Tyler Hopkins, fighting name Sunahama Shoji, who earned the rank of juryo 5 before retiring in 1997 at age 25 due to injury.
Since I knew a little about sumo and what it takes to succeed in Japan as a foreign-born wrestler, I was intrigued by Griffith’s premise. While Big in Japan does touch on some of the modern criticisms and controversies in sumo wrestling, at its heart it’s a love story with coming of age themes told with a humorous, light touch. It’s Buck’s story of leaving home in order to find his true self. Westerners will get a taste of some of the cultural differences and an idea of what it takes to be a sumo wrestler, but it’s Buck’s inner and outer transformation combined with his hilarious inner monologue that’s the draw here. Griffith sometimes compares her books to cotton candy—something sweet, light, frothy, enjoyed, and gone, but I think this novel has more weight behind it, more like a makizushi meal than a simple sweet treat.
Big in Japan, written by Jennifer Griffith and published by Jolly Fish Press is available in hardback, trade paperback, and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other purveyors of fine literature.
Griffith’s blog can be found at: http://www.authorjennifergriffith.com/
For more information about Jolly Fish Press and its titles, please visit: http://www.jollyfishpress.com/
So, you have a story you are writing, and it is set in an exotic setting with foreign cultures, and you’re scratching your head, asking yourself: How do I go about telling my readers about this place or culture that they may not understand or know? The answer is simple: Show, don’t tell.
One of the biggest mistakes that writers do when they write a story based on a foreign setting is telling the reader everything–much of this mistake comes from a legitimate concern: I’m afraid my readers will be lost if I don’t tell them what’s going on. Well, not quite. As writers, we cannot underestimate our readers’ ability to comprehend. Now, that’s if we write clearly, and well enough to not confuse them. Ultimately, it is up to us.
Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club dwells heavily in the traditions and cultures of China, old and new. But not once in the entire book does she tell us any textbook-facts regarding her setting and the traditional practices of her characters. But yet we, as readers, understand every single aspect of the book. At the end of the book, her readers will have lived and experienced life as Chinese in China and America. How does Tan masterfully explain a foreign culture without explaining? Well, she doesn’t. Her characters do what they need to do to move the plot along. They say what they are supposed to say. They wear what they should be appropriately wearing.
By painting her setting with words, Tan’s narrative takes off beautifully without effort. There is no need to explain. Tan merely shows you how Chinese eat, how they talk, what they think, and how they react to things. And before long, we, as readers, will have learned a culture without being explained to.
The same can be said of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings volumes. He does not need to explain a culture to us, he merely shows us how things are done, from Gollum’s speech patterns to the Hobbits’s eating habits. He does not need to explain what elevenses are or the fact that the Hobbits’s calendar starts on a Saturday and ends on a Friday. But readers know this culture as much as they know their own. Why? Because Tolkien describes everything through dialogues and idiosyncrasies.
Perhaps the biggest example of the perfect explaining of cultures without explaining is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Believe it or not, this series is heavy on British culture and traditions, from school regulations to casual conversations. For example, Rowling throws out the word prefects without having to explain what they are. She doesn’t tell you, she shows you.
As writers we should let our readers discover and explore everything themselves. The correct way is to show our readers the world and culture in our books and let them find out for themselves. Give them the opportunity to ask important questions, and let them answer those questions themselves. Don’t worry about explaining everything; focus on telling your story instead, and trust me, your story will be 110% much stronger and powerful if you do.
Christopher Loke, Executive Editor for Jolly Fish Press, has made a splash in the writing world with his powerful and touching novel, The Housekeeper’s Son. This novel explores how far a mother can go for love. The answer? Murder. The Housekeeper’s Son is available as a hardcover and e-book through all major online retailers near you. Follow Chris on Twitter and Facebook for updates on his signings and events.
This book opens with a recurring fantasy of mine. A matronly woman comes to the door wanting to cook and clean for the family. All she wants in return is a place to stay and a little petty cash. Not only is she willing and able, she’s fantastic at all things domestic, her attention to detail exquisite, her emotional radar attuned to the slightest nuance of every member of the family.
The biggest drawback? She’s a murder, of course. But that was 42 years ago. Have you tasted her apple pie? Seriously, the whole murder thing seems so passé in comparison.
Meet Eleanor Ethel Rose, a complex women of simple tastes and pleasures and epic doses of motherly love. In Christopher Loke’s debut novel, The Housekeeper’s Son, we meet Eleanor and slowly strip away the layers of her story, much like peeling an apple and removing the flesh to make a pie. Eventually you’re left with the once hidden core of motives and facts lying naked on the cutting board, revealing ideas and planting seeds that challenge the reader’s understanding of what it means to be a good mother—and son. There’s no O. Henryish gimmick in the twist; the whole apple is there from the beginning. The reveal is a matter of what’s not said as much as what is—but to tell more would only spoil it. If you like mysteries and thrillers, you’re sure to find it entertaining.
Set in rural Utah, The Housekeeper’s Son, touches on but doesn’t fully explore some of the hot button issues in modern LDS culture/Mormonism today: homosexuality, child abuse, incest, neglect, depression, and, of course, murder. It’s an adult book with adult themes handled in oblique, non-graphic ways. While I enjoyed it thoroughly, I want to stress that it’s not for middle grade readers of One Boy, No Water or The Niuhi Shark Saga.
After reading The Housekeeper’s Son and then wandering through my kitchen filled with dusty light fixtures and uninspired ingredients, I still think I’d hire Eleanor Ethel Rose. After all, as the saying goes: if good friends bail you out of jail, but great friends help bury the body, then Eleanor’s in a class of her own.
The Housekeeper’s Son, written by Christopher Loke and published by Jolly Fish Press is available in hardback and eBook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other purveyors of fine literature.
Chris’s blog can be found at: A Writer’s Notebook, http://www.chrislokenotes.blogspot.com/
For more information about Jolly Fish Press and its titles, please visit: http://www.jollyfishpress.com/