Talking Story

Pacific Literature

Corey Egbert, Illustrator for One Boy, No Water

Today’s post is an interview with Corey Egbert, illustrator for One Boy, No Water. Corey was gracious enough drop by to answer a few questions.

Did you always want to be an illustrator?

No. When I was 6 years old, I wanted to be a scientist/nature photographer. Then when I was about 9, I wanted to be a Lego master builder. Even now I secretly wish I could be a travel show host. But I knew I loved to draw since before I can remember, and I’ve always loved books. So I figured illustration would be a perfect job because it is a combination of both of those.

What’s your preferred medium? Would you rather sketch on paper or on a computer?

I wish I was patient enough to do all my work on paper. If I did though, I would have to erase far too much and it would take forever!

I always start out with a pencil drawing in my sketchbook and then I scan it into the computer. The computer lets me do so much in a short amount of time, and if I want to change something, I can do it really easily without having to start over. But even though it’s on the computer, it’s still drawing. I still have to know all the components of art like scale, value, line, perspective, etc. The computer is just a tool.

Northbridge Castle by Corey Egbert

One Boy, No Water is the first book you’ve illustrated. How is book illustration different from some of the other projects you’ve worked on?

Book illustration is different than doing other art because you have to create images based on someone else’s ideas instead of your own. The author created the characters, objects and world, and you have to draw them to be true to the story. I had to do a lot of research, ask a lot of questions, and sometimes revise my drawings multiple times to get them right. It really helped me grow as an artist because it pushed me to take my artwork farther than I would have on my own.

Which part of the process did you enjoy the most?

I really loved the challenge of taking characters that are only described in words and turning them into something that you can look at. The kids were very fun to draw because they each have different personalities. I enjoyed working on Zader because I felt like I could relate to him, especially since he is an artist too.

From One Boy, No Water, illustration by Corey Egbert

Which illustration from One Boy, No Water is your favorite?

I would have to say the one with Zader and Dream Girl and the castle. It was the hardest one for me to do. I worked on it forever and I really wasn’t pleased with what I was coming up with. I dreaded working on it and actually saved it for the night before my deadline! I ended up throwing my first version away and completely starting over. I am really pleased with how it eventually turned out. Castles have always been one of my favorite things to draw.

Now for the really important questions: Crayons or markers?

Haha. When I was a kid I thought crayons were for babies so I used markers. I like the deep, even colors and finer lines you get with markers. Crayons are too hard to control.

Favorite color?

Whenever I am asked this, I always say that I like all colors because I am an artist. I just can’t decide.

Who are some of the illustrators you admire?

Maurice Sendak who created Where the Wild Things Are is one of my very favorites and possibly the most influential children’s book illustrator ever. I also used to try to copy the style of Eyvind Earle who did the background art for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Pauline Baynes, who illustrated the original editions of The Chronicles of Narnia was a big influence, too. I also love Glen Keane, Richard Scarry, Edward Gorey, Mary Blair, Kali Ciesemier, Chris Van Allsburg, Paul O. Zelinsky and Carson Ellis, to just name a few.

When you were eleven did you have a favorite cartoon or tv show?

I really liked the show Recess. I love how the playground was a microcosmic empire ruled by kids. It was full of wars, politics, economics… everything, just on a kid scale. I’m still waiting for that show to come out in a DVD collection.

What’s your favorite middle grade book?

There are too many to pick just one! I love Narnia, Harry Potter, the Prydain books, Tuck Everlasting, My Side of the Mountain, The Phantom Tollbooth, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, A Wrinkle In Time, The Giver, The Little Prince… and more. I still read middle grade books, and I can’t wait until my son is old enough so I can read my favorites to him!

Any words of wisdom for burgeoning illustrators who are considering illustration as a career?

Doodle every day! Keep a sketchbook. Learn the fundamentals of art like shape, color, line, value, balance, rhythm, etc. Learn to draw the human figure. Draw your friends and family! Invent your own characters and draw them doing different things. Try to tell a story with your drawings. Observe the world around you. And keep challenging yourself!

Thanks for stopping by, Corey! One Boy, No Water is available in hardback, trade paperback, and ebook on September 29, 2012 wherever books are sold.

Follow Cory on his blog: http://stevencoreyart.blogspot.com/

With the launch party for One Boy, No Water just ten days away, I’ve been doing some publicity interviews. (I know!) One of the questions that keeps popping up is about the genesis of the story. People want to know which Hawaiian myth or legend it comes from and if it’s a myth or a legend. Here’s the real scoop.

Those that parse such distinctions define a legend as a story about actual events or people that sometimes include imaginative elements, or as I like to think of them, the stuff that makes the story good. Myths are defined as stories that are considered completely imaginary that attempt to explain the natural world through symbolism. Personally, I think it’s all a matter of cultural bias. One person’s myth is another’s legend. It all depends on world-view. Out of respect, I tend to call all these kinds of stories legends.

With One Boy, No Water and the rest of the Niuhi Shark Saga, there’s been some confusion, especially in the earliest press releases. I don’t think Jolly Fish Press, the publisher, got it initially. There isn’t a Niuhi shark legend in traditional Hawaiian literature, but Hawaiian culture, traditions, and legends do play an important role in the series.

Most cultures have stories about shape-shifters. Throughout the Pacific there are lots of stories about gods and demi-gods who could change form, including human to shark. Niuhi is the Hawaiian word for “shark large enough to eat a human” which I used to describe beings who are really sharks that are self-aware in their role as predators and can appear as people on land. In my imagination I created a backstory where at one point they lived side-by-side with ancient Hawaiians who knew and accepted what they were. After western contact and the fall of the kapu system, the Niuhi moved away and into hiding. In my books only a few people remember the stories and fewer believe, only the ones with ancestral family ties to Niuhi.

To be clear, there is a Hawaiian legend about a boy named Nanaue who is raised as a human but can turn into a shark. Nanaue eats unsuspecting villagers until they unmask and banish him. There are other Hawaiian legends about humans that can turn into sharks that help fishermen and those lost at sea, and even legends about deified ancestors appearing as sharks and protecting family members, all of which influenced the series, but do not define its story arc. The series is not a retelling of Nanaue. Promise.

Where I think the confusion crept in was when I told JFP that Uncle Kahana, the mentor character, would also bring in other Hawaiian legends into storyline, allowing me to share some Hawaiian culture and lore with the rest of the world. I’m talking about Menehunes, ghosts, and other supernatural beings. I think that got twisted a little to imply that the story itself is from a Hawaiian legend.

While it’s being marketed as middle grade and book one is appropriate for that age group, in my mind the whole series is more young adult coming of age and is about eventually choosing to define yourself and how you want to live your life despite what others want you to do. Unknown to Zader is his true nature and the reason he’s been hidden among Uncle Kahana’s family. In One Boy, No Water he gets some strong hints that things are not what he thought they were. After leaving him alone for 12 years, in book 2, his biological family begins to interact with him and more of his true nature rises to the surface. Above all the mystery is a more mundane story about a kid who doesn’t fit in and what choices he and his friends make as they grow up in modern Hawaii.

One Boy, No Water is at its heart a Hawaiian story and like most Hawaiian stories is full of hidden meanings called kaona. Nothing is what it appears to be on the surface. Even Zader’s Hawaiian name is a clue: Kaona-kai, a hidden or concealed sea. It’s my hope that the series is enjoyed by both kinds of readers: the careful readers who search for clues and the deeper kaona and those who would rather just enjoy the ride, taking the saga along the surface all the way to the beach.

Either way, it’s going to be a wild ride!

To tide you over until the release date, here’s an excerpt from chapter 1, The End of Summer Fun.

I was walking toward Jay when it happened.

‘Ālika threw a Dixie cup of water on me.

“Zader!” Jay shrieked.

The water hit my shoulder and upper left arm. Hot lava fingers oozed down, scalding, sizzling, burning everything in its path like acid. Like snake venom. Like death. On fire, I dropped to the ground and rolled.

“Holy crap,” said Chad. “Try look. J’like holy water on one devil!”

Wide-eyed with excitement, ‘Ālika crossed himself. “He’s possessed!” he shouted. “Everybody, Zader stay possessed!”

Through the pain, I felt Jay kneel down next to me, his hands ripping at the bottom of my t-shirt. “Zader, off! Get it off! Lift your arms so I can get it off.” As he threw the shirt over my head, I felt a final sting as a wet sleeve brushed against my face, raising another angry line of welts along my cheekbone.

More shadows ringed me. I opened my eyes through the pain to see Jerry Santos and Benji Chang looking down at me, mouths open and catching flies. I pushed Jay away and stood up, covering the weeping sores and broken blisters with my hands as best I could.

‘Ālika now stood on the picnic table bench, holding out his index fingers, making the sign of a cross, his utility knife blade forgotten in the dirt. “You stay away from me, you freak,” he yelled.

Excerpted from One Boy, No Water by Lehua Parker. Copyright © 2012 by Lehua Parker. Excerpted by permission of Jolly Fish Press, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

One Boy, No Water, Book 1 in the Niuhi Shark Saga, will be available in stores and online September 29, 2012. The series is set in Hawaii and tells the story of  Zader, an 11 year old boy, and his adventures as he discovers who—and what—he really is. Most of the descriptions of island life in the series are true. However, in some areas Aunty Lehua may have stretched the truth just a little bit. Here’s the real scoop about private schools.

Private Schools in Hawaii

In One Boy, No Water

6th grade is a big year for applying to private schools in Hawaii and the pressure to get in can be intense.

The real scoop…

Many private Hawaiian schools only accept new students certain grades, 7th grade the most common, putting the pressure on the 6th graders. Some schools are privately endowed and most offer scholarships, so top students can get an amazing education at a fraction of the real cost. Ridgemont Preparatory Academy and the HISA exams? Pure shibai!

One Boy, No Water, Book 1 in the Niuhi Shark Saga, will be available in stores and online September 29, 2012. The series is set in Hawaii and tells the story of  Zader, an 11 year old boy, and his adventures as he discovers who—and what—he really is. Most of the descriptions of island life in the series are true. However, in some areas Aunty Lehua stretched the truth just a little bit. Here’s the real scoop about Lua.

Lua

In One Boy, No Water

Lua is ancient form of Hawaiian hand-to-hand combat. It was taught in schools by Lua masters who could perform amazing feats of strength and agility.

The real scoop…

Lua is real! Known anciently as Kapu Ku‘ialua, Lua was traditionally taught to young Hawaiian nobles and warriors, both male and female. Lua ‘ai forms focus on breaking and dislocating bones, locking joints, performing nerve strikes, and using various weapons such as shark tooth clubs, spears, and slings. Lua students were also taught to heal using massage and herbal remedies and to use spiritual forces against their enemies.

In ancient times Lua warriors plucked all their hair (girls, too!) and put a thin layer of coconut oil all over their bodies so they could slip out of holds during battle. The word for Lua master,‘ōlohe, literally means hairless.

Kept secret, sacred, and hidden in legends and taught underground since the mid-1800s, Lua is experiencing a cultural re-birth. Like many martial art forms, Lua also embodies a philosophy. It teaches traditional Hawaiian ideas such as remaining pono in all one’s thoughts, actions, and feelings.

Because so much of Lua is still considered sacred and secret and is not shared outside Lua schools, be wary of websites or people claiming to know all about it. For more information about authentic Hawaiian Lua practices, check out this book:

 

Lua, Art of the Hawaiian Warrior

By Richard Paglinawan, Mitchell Eli, Moses Kalauokalani, and Jerry Walker

Bishop Museum Press, 2005

One Boy, No Water, Book 1 in the Niuhi Shark Saga, will be available in stores and online September 29, 2012. The series is set in Hawaii and tells the story of  Zader, an 11 year old boy, and his adventures as he discovers who—and what—he really is. Most of the descriptions of island life in the series are true. However, in some areas Aunty Lehua stretched the truth just a little bit. Here’s the real scoop about Niuhi Sharks.

Niuhi Sharks

In One Boy, No Water

Niuhi sharks are sharks that are aware of themselves as predators and can choose whether or not to bite humans. Niuhi sharks can appear as human.

The real scoop…

The Hawaiian word niuhi simply means big man-eating shark and is often translated as large tiger shark.

There are hundreds of legends, stories, and myths throughout the Pacific about sharks that can turn into humans, humans that can turn into sharks, guardian spirits of ancestors who assume the shape of a shark, and demi-god children born to a human and shark parent. Many of these stories can be found on the Internet.

In ancient Hawaiian legends sharks masquerading as humans had a secret: on their backs was the large, gaping mouth of a real shark! When in human form, shark men would hide their shark mouths under capes made of leaves, feathers, or kapa cloth. Usually shark men were discovered when someone removed the cape.

Since big predatory sharks tend to hunt and travel alone, most Hawaiian shark shape-shifter stories are about a particular individual and not about whole societies of shape-shifting sharks. The Niuhi Shark People of Hohonukai only exist in the novels.

In the Niuhi Shark Saga, Uncle Kahana and Nili-boy recommend wearing ti leaf leis or special tattoos to ward off sharks. While Hawaiian tattoo traditions do include patterns used to honor shark ‘aumakua as well as to identify and protect the wearers in shark infested waters, there really isn’t an anti-shark bite tattoo,  and while there are also many traditions about the healing and protective properties of ti leaves, ti leaves and ti leaf leis are not worn to ward off niuhi sharks.

In Hawaii, children are taught that the best way to avoid shark bites is to follow a few simple guidelines:

  • Don’t swim with an open wound.
  • Don’t swim in harbors or near the mouths of rivers.
  • Don’t swim in murky water.
  • Don’t swim at dusk, dawn, or at night
  • When spearfishing, keep your catch away from your body. Use a long tethering line or get things back in the boat quickly.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you feel uncomfortable, get out of the water.
  • If you see a shark, remain calm. Watch the shark’s body language. Exit the water slowly.

Sometimes people with ravenous appetites, particularly for meat, are called niuhi, so the next time someone says you’re pigging out, say no, you’re really eating like a niuhi shark!

Writing is a reiterative process and creating the cover for a book is no different. The very talented Corey Egbert is the illustrator for the Niuhi Shark Saga and along with myself and the Jolly Fish Press team developed what eventually became the fantastic cover for One Boy, No Water. Surprisingly, our largest creative disagreement was over footwear.

Originally, Zader was going to be portrayed as wearing over-sized old-fashioned hip waders, the kind pineapple pickers used to wear. It’s not as odd as it sounds; it’s actually a plot point in the book. But when we saw the first draft, Christopher Loke, Executive Editor, didn’t like it. He thought it too clunky and wanted something more sleek and modern.

Corey’s next version was what Chris asked for, but I hated it. To my eye it was too girly. After some discussion, we decided to scrap the hip waders and a few other elements in our original design because we felt they were getting in the way of the emotion we wanted a potential reader to feel when he saw the cover.

Excited about the new direction, Chris asked, “What’s on Zader’s feet?”

“Slippahs or bare feet,” I said.

“On a reef?” He looked at me like I was crazy.

“It’s what kids wear,” I said.

“No, not Zader. It’s too dangerous for him to wear that. He wouldn’t do it.”

“He does in one part of the book,” said Kirk Cunningham, Head Publicist for Jolly Fish Press.

“Yeah, he does,” I said. “It’s in the climax.”

“No, it’s not right,” said Chris. “It’s not believable.”

We thought for a minute. I mentally flipped through images, trying to think of the kinds of footwear I’d seen around lava outcrops.

“What about deck shoes?” I asked.

“I LOVE deck shoes,” Chris exclaimed. “You mean the canvas-type shoes?”

“Deck shoes?” Corey asked.

“The kind from places like Landsend and LL Bean. I’ll send you some pictures,” I said.

“It’s deck shoes!” pronounced Chris, and we moved on.

But something about it bugged me and when I saw next draft, I realized why.

In Hawaii, I’ve never seen a local wear deck shoes to the beach or anywhere near water. It’s exclusively a tourist thing. The reason is simple: no matter how carefully you walk around reef, lava rocks, and the ocean, you’re still guaranteed to get your feet wet by either a rogue wave, bigger than expected splash, or unseen tide pool. In Hawaii, deck shoes, even the canvas ones, get ruined if they get ocean water in them—they never really dry out in the humidity and, well, can stink to high heaven if they’re worn again. Since you never, ever wear your shoes in a house in Hawaii (it’s considered very rude) the last thing you want to wear is stinky shoes you’ll have to take off in public.

I’m not sure why so many tourists wear them to the beach–if it’s because tourists get used to seeing these kinds of images in catalogs or because they think these kinds of shoes will protect their feet better or if they just wear shoes more often than locals–but our house was near a blow hole you could access by walking along lava rocks and tide pools and there wasn’t a day we didn’t see a tourist limping back to his car to nurse the blisters he got where the sand and saltwater’d rubbed his feet raw in his deck shoes.

As a local kid, Zader would never wear deck shoes on  a reef.

My hunch was confirmed when I showed the latest image to my kids and husband individually. After “wow” then very next thing each of them said was, “What’s he wearing on his feet?”

I decided I needed to bring up the footwear issue. Again.

JFP’s initial response was no, the deck shoes are great. Slippahs or bare feet would not be as elegant, especially with the heel toward the audience. But then the point was raised that one of our goals for the series was to be true to the local Hawaiian culture, even if that was counter-intuitive to the rest of the world. Corey was green-lighted to change it to slippahs.

I knew it was the right decision when I showed the final version of the cover to my Dad, Mr. Aloha himself, who’d never seen any of the other versions. The first thing he said wasn’t wow or that’s amazing or you’re going to sell a bazillion books with that cover. He said, “Oh, good. He’s in slippers.”

“Really, Dad? That’s the first thing you see? Fo’real?”

“The ghost shark thing is cool. Very sci-fi fantasy. It’s just that when you told me it was a reef scene I was a afraid he’d be in god-awful deck shoes or something.”

New press release for One Boy, No Water

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Kirk Cunningham,
Head Publicist
kirk@jollyfishpress.com
(801) 380-4503

 

OF SHARKS AND MEN

When old Uncle Kahana and his poi dog ‘Ilima find a newborn with a funny birthmark abandoned on a reef in Hawaii, he soon finds out just how special the child is: the boy is allergic to water. One drop on his skin and it’s like water on a white hot skillet; his allergies also make eating anything raw from the sea or rare meat impossible, which is simply absurd for an island dweller. Strangely, the boy’s peculiar allergies lead Uncle Kahana to believe this child is ‘ohana—family—and doesn’t have to work too hard to convince his niece and her family to adopt and give him a name—Alexander Kanoakai Westin, or “Zader” for short.

If only the rest of Zader’s life were so easy!

On the surface, despite his unusual allergies, Zader is an average eleven year old boy with typical challenges of fitting in with his peers, getting into a good prep school, and maintaining his relationship with his surfing crazed brother. In reality, Zader is Niuhi, a shark with the ability to turn into a person. As he matures and begins to adapt to his “allergies” in ways that make it easier to live a normal life, Zader’s world begins to turn upside down—he will not only have to come to terms with who he is, but what he is.

One Boy, No Water, Lehua Parker’s debut novel, is the first exciting installment in The Niuhi Shark Saga and is set to release September 29, 2012. Utilizing both Pidgin and English in her narrative, Parker accurately paints the vibrant culture and lifestyle of Hawaii, transporting her reader to the heart of the island where legend and tradition is as much a part of life as eating and drinking.

Parker, aka “Aunty Lehua,” is originally from Hawaii and a graduate of The Kamehameha Schools and Brigham Young University. As an advocate of Hawaiian culture and literature, her writings often feature her island heritage and the unique Hawaiian Pidgin. So far, Parker has been a live television director, a school teacher, a courseware manager, a sports coach, a theater critic, a SCUBA instructor, an author, a web designer, a mother, and a wife. She currently lives in Utah with her husband, two children, five cats, two dogs, seven horses, and assorted chickens. During the snowy winters she dreams about the beach.

One Boy, No Water is illustrated by award-winning illustrator, Corey Egbert.

For more details on One Boy, No Water, or to review the novel, please contact Kirk Cunningham at kirk@jollyfishpress.com.

Click here to visit the official site.

Title: One Boy, No Water
Author: Lehua Parker
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press, LLC
Trim: 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.
Format: Hardcover, Trade Paperback
Pages: 185
(HC) ISBN-13: 978-0-9848801-2-6
(TPB) ISBN-13: 978-0-9848801-7-1
(E-Book) ISBN-13: 978-0-9848801-8-8
Retail Price:
(HC) $24.95
(TPB) $14.95
(E-Book) $7.99
Genre: Middle-Grade, Young Adult
Region: US, CAN, UK, AU
Distributor(s): Ingram
Publication Date: September 29, 2012

From One Boy, No Water

Book 1 of The Niuhi Shark Saga

“The shark,” said Uncle Kahana, finally blinking. “It wen come tangled in the net.” He shook his ice and looked in the bottom of the glass, seeing what we couldn’t imagine. “He jumped in to save the shark.” He gave his glass another shake. “Daddy knew the shark would make die dead if no cut free. He jumped in the lehua water with his long boning knife, grabbing the net through the bloody blossoms, sawing away. When Daddy left the boat, I leaned over the side and looked down into the water. Daddy stay so small and the shark so big! But he kept working, sliding his knife along the side of the shark, slicing through the net. When Daddy got to the last piece of netting trapping its tail, the shark turned, and his knife wen slip, just nicking the tip of the shark’s tail. I thought Daddy was make die dead. He’d freed the shark so it could feed on him more better. But the shark turned and paused. It looked him in the eye, with that fierce, cold Niuhi manō eye, jet black in the water.” Uncle Kahana shivered in the warm night. “Later, I saw that same eye, just one time that day, wen Daddy started for the surface. It looked up into my young eyes peering over the edge of the boat, and I saw its Niuhi heart. I no know what it saw in mines.”

Excerpted from One Boy, No Water by Lehua Parker. Copyright © 2012 by Lehua Parker. Excerpted by permission of Jolly Fish Press, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Jolly Fish Press to Swim with Sharks Fall 2012

PROVO, UT—Jolly Fish Press (JFP) has successfully acquired the North American distribution and publication rights to Lehua Parker’s debut children’s book, One Boy, No Water.

One Boy, No Water, the first of five books in the Niuhi Shark Adventure Series, is a fantasy based on an island folklore centered on the Niuhi shark people in Hawaii— imagine water people, angry teenagers, confused parents, a looming mystery, and man- eating sharks! The book is scheduled for a Fall 2012 release.

Originally from Hawaii and a graduate of The Kamehameha Schools, Parker—also known as “Aunty Lehua”—has always been an advocate of Hawaiian culture and literature. Her writings often feature her island heritage and the unique Hawaiian pidgin.

The Niuhi Shark Adventure Series will be JFP’s first middle grade series to be released in the Fall of 2012.

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When you’re allergic to water,
growing up in Hawaii
isn’t always paradise.

With Niuhi sharks,
even out of the water,
you’re not safe.

Everything you thought you knew
about Zader is a  lie.