Lehua Parker

Talking Story

birdOne of the big stumbling blocks to writing Hawaiian fiction in the “bird,” as I recently heard someone call Pidgin, is finding the audience. Native Hawaiian Pidgin English speakers like to talk story and certainly sing story; read story maybe not so much. At least that’s the argument Hawaiian writers have heard for decades, along with it’s too low-brow, too stylized, and since Pidgin spelling isn’t officially standardized, just too much work for the reader, who, the naysayers claim, would rather be surfing or talking story or doing the laundry–anything–instead of reading or buying books.

Having spent a lot of time over many years trying to find other authors publishing in Pidgin and finding something resembling a desert atoll,  I think it’s less about whether or not Pidgin speakers are book readers, but about traditional publishing models. The Hawaiian writers are there with the stories, and I think the readers are too, but not on the scale that attracts the big print boys. What Pidgin literature exists is generally sanitized and stripped of most of the rhythm and flow of Pidgin and really just tosses in a phrase or two for flavor–trying to hit the largest audience possible and unfortunately missing the heart of Hawaii.

Traditional publishing models believe there is no significant market for this kind of literature and therefore have found it too risky to promote. But eBooks are changing the way books are published and marketed. Niche markets take time to develop, and eBooks have virtually no expiration date–literally. EBooks allow authors to build audiences and demand over time without the immediate need for high returns to pay back the large investments traditional publishers make upfront in printing and promoting a book.

So maybe with eBooks, we’ll all read a little more da kine. Nice, yeah?

From One Boy, No Water

Book 1 of The Niuhi Shark Saga

“Jay,” said Nili-boy softly, “What’s the haps?”

“I saw…I think I saw a shark,” said Jay.

“Who’s a pretty girl, hah?” Nili-boy gave ‘Ilima a final ear ruffle and stood with a shrug.

“Probably. Get plenny sharks out there. Probably more than one.”

Jay bit his lip and nodded. “I think might have been two. One was big.” He looked at the Nili-boy, taking his eyes off the water for the first time. “Really, really big.”

“You seen sharks out there before?” asked Uncle Kahana.

Jay shrugged his shoulders. “Sometimes.”

“Big ones?”

“Yeah, but this one was…different.”

“Different how?” ask Nili-boy. “Different color, different fins?”

Jay looked at the ground, pushing sand with his toes. “I dunno how. I saw ‘em and I got chicken skin and I knew.”

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.

From One Boy, No Water

Book 1 of The Niuhi Shark Saga

I sensed it first, some motion out of the corner of my eye, color darting too fast against the sun. I flipped off my jacket’s hood and whipped my head toward the Nalupūkī shoreline in time to see someone scrambling out of the ocean, surfboard under one arm, the other waving wildly. “Shark!” he yelled, “shark, shark, shark!”

“Jay,” I said, and then I was gone, running full tilt over the rocks and to the beach, ‘Ilima at my heels.

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.

From One Boy, No Water

Book 1 in The Niuhi Shark Saga

Climbing over the first slippery finger, out the corner of his eye Kahana saw movement, a quick, angry flick of a tail near the far edge of the reef. Moving his hand to block the sun, he spotted the dark bullet shape cruising along the palm of the lava hand. He grinned and called, “Eh, Manō, I spak you! What? Hungry? Try off Waikiki beach, get choke white meat there! Ha! No way you going kaukau one skinny old man today!”

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.

Originally from Hawaii and a Kamehameha Schools graduate, Lehua writes fiction set in the imaginary town of Lauele, Oahu. Her newest book, One Boy, No Water, Book 1 of The Niuhi Shark Saga, is scheduled for hardback and eBook publication on Sept. 22, 2012 by Jolly Fish Press.

The Niuhi Shark Saga books are written in American English with lots of dialogue in Hawaiian Pidgin. Hawaiian Pidgin, or just Pidgin as it is called in Hawaii, is a polyglot language with its roots in Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, English, and Filipino. Hawaiian Pidgin developed as people from all over the world came to Hawaii in the 1800s looking for a better life. Over time, Pidgin has evolved into a heavily English-based language while retaining its original syntax, grammar, and lilt. While almost everyone in Hawaii today speaks, reads, and writes standard American English, true communication, the kind that speaks from the heart is in Pidgin.

This blog is dedicated to all Pidgin speakers and the stories we tell.

Click here to go to
The Niuhi Shark Website.

Get the Books

One Boy, No Water

Zader's living like a fish out of water.

One Shark, No Swim

Because even out of the water Zader's not safe.

One Truth, No Lie

Zader's greatest fear walks the shore.