Talking Story

One Shark No Swim

Excerpt from One Shark, No Swim available Sept. 21, 2013


full_2_bigJay and I were putting the finishing touches on our awesomest project ever: a cardboard sled shaped from Hari’s tv box. It was huge. We were sure we’d break land speed records racing down grass hills. We might even catch air.

Char Siu pranced over the curb and struck a pose, hands on her hips and one shoe delicately balanced on its point. “What do you think?”

Jay didn’t glance up. “We’re busy, Char Siu.”

She thrust her lip out. “You never even looked.”

“You’re wearing your Mom’s old church shoes. Why? Did ‘Ilima eat one of your slippahs?” Jay yawned.

“I gotta practice, Jay. Lisa Ling told me all the girls wear heels at Ridgemont.”

Jay turned to me. “You ever see Lili wear heels to school?”

I shook my head. “No.” Our sister Lili was going to be a junior at Ridgemont next year.

“Her friends?”


“Sounds like Lisa-kine shibai to me,” Jay said.

“You just don’t know, Jay,” Char Siu said. “We’re not in elementary any more. All the girls our age wear ‘em. You’ll see.”

“Good thing we’re not girls,” I said. “I wouldn’t last a minute walking around in those shoes. Pohō, that.”

“Hard for run li’dat,” Jay said. He looked up at her. “Hard for see li’dat, too.”

“It’s called make-up,” she said.

“I’ve seen make-up. My Mom wears make-up. Lili, too. Her stuff is all over the bathroom. But make-up doesn’t make mempachi eyes li’dat. That’s something else.”

I looked a little closer. Char Siu’s eyes did look bigger, rounder, like she’d opened the door and giant spiders jumped out. One eye twitched and then stuck half open-half closed.

“What’s wrong with your eye?” I asked.


“Then why is it sticking to your face like that?”

“Ho!” Char Siu reached up and peeled something off her eyelid. “The stupid Scotch tape won’t stay. I told Lisa it wasn’t right.”

One eyelid looked normal now and the other still looked like it was keeping track of a man-eating bug. She reached up and peeled something off the other eyelid and suddenly she looked normal.

Well, normal for Char Siu.

All excerpts and short stories copyright © 2012 by Lehua Parker. Excerpts from the Niuhi Shark Saga by permission of Jolly Fish Press, LLC. All rights reserved. Illustration by Corey Egbert. No part of these excerpts may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. No part of these short stories may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.

The wind-blown look.

The wind-blown look.

Photo-bombed by the horses.

Photo-bombed by the horses.

The Producer

The Producer

Even the cats wondered what the fuss was all about.

Even the cats wondered what the fuss was all about.

I hate getting my picture taken. The photos never look like me, the image of myself that lives inside my head. Frankly, I probably never looked liked the image in my head. I’m a writer. I have a great imagination.

As a writer, I spend most of my days in yoga pants and tee-shirts in front of my computer. It’s a big day if I have to buy groceries and talk to a cashier. Heaven help me if I actually have to walk into the school to pick up a kid.

But occasionally I do have to comb my hair, put some make-up on, find clothes without pukas or stains, and submit to being photographed. Book 2, One Shark, No Swim is about to be launched, so new photos were in order.

The photographer said, “I want to capture you in your natural environment.”

Looking down at my Will Work for Books sweatshirt, ratty stretch pants, hair stuffed in a messy pony, lying on the couch guzzling Diet Coke, I didn’t think he knew what he was getting into. “You mean you want to shoot at the house?” I asked.

“I want the readers to see the real you!”

Personally, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the fantasy. Reality always includes too many dishes, kids with sticky hands, and things that make you go ewww.

As we headed out the door to take some shots, my daughter the rodeo princess looked up. “Your make-up’s nice, Mom. Not too over-the-top. I mean, it’s not a like a Rodeo Clown or anything. Not-too-Momish either.”

“Great,” I said, “glad to know I hit the sweet-spot between hobo and whore.”

“I was going to say New York chic, but now that I look at you, it’s kinda more New York-Mom chic.

I don’t even know what that means. But the fun didn’t stop there. The whole barnyard had to get into the act.

“Let’s try some shots by the aspens” was an invitation to the free-range chickens and guinea hens to peck at my feet, hopeful some old grapes or stale bread would come their way. “How about we try something with your arm on a fence rail” turned into a group photo. “Come here and we’ll sit and review what we’ve taken” was the cue for one of the cats to jump on the photographer’s lap and check out the photos. No, really. You’d have thought the cat was the producer if you’d seen the way he pushed us aside to see the viewfinder.

At one point I realized I was the center of attention for fifteen chickens, two guinea hens, three horses, two dogs, and two cats–and one poor photographer standing on a wrought iron lawn chair to get the right angle. No wonder all the critters were staring.

And wondering where the food was.

Probably should’ve gone with photos of them instead.

The following is an excerpt from One Shark, No Swim available everywhere September 21, 2013.


When Kalei’s shark head broke the surface of the large saltwater pool at Piko Point, all he was thinking about was raw ahi tuna sliced thinly and spread like a fan on a bed of green cabbage. He smacked his lips remembering the last time—how the hot wasabi paste and shoyu burned his tongue and how the flavor of wood from the chopsticks lingered in the back of his throat long after he’d swallowed each morsel of fish.

Remember to chew, he thought. Humans chew.

For Kalei, eating fresh ahi was no big deal, but having someone else catch, clean, and serve it sashimi-style on a platter was once in a blue moon special. When a spicy sashimi craving hit, there was only one place to go: Hari’s in Lauele Town, Hawai‘i.

So really, how big could Hari’s new tv be? Kalei thought. Last night, Pua kept raving about how it’s just like being in the picture. Right. As if that’s even possible sitting at my table way off the lānai in the shadows of the oleander bushes. But with Pua, you never know. She’s so fascinated with humans, she’s becoming one. He scowled, annoyed that his sister Pua planned to live as human when her daughter Lē‘ia started school in the fall. Even if I thought Father would agree, I’d be against it. Whatever. No matter how she pleads, Pua can’t make me visit or stay, and I won’t, even if she promises to keep shoyu and wasabi in the boathouse and gets a big screen tv with premium sports channels. I’d still have to catch my own fish. And no way Pua’s ever gonna slice it and serve it to me on a platter. He nodded to himself. Regardless of what Pua does, I’m keeping my special table at Hari’s. It’s the only place I’ll ever be able to watch a football game or sumo match in peace.

Sumo! If that new tv of Hari’s is as big as Pua claims, I’ll have to make sure I’ve got more than a sashimi platter of fish in my gut before watching, something like a couple of monk seals or a huge chunk of pilot whale. All that sumo meat in slow motion is like catnip if I’m not careful and with Pua and Lē‘ia living in Lauele, we can’t afford another missing tourist rumor.

With only the moon as his witness, Kalei gracefully shifted from Niuhi shark to human form and started treading water, working his way to the edge of the tide pool. Pausing to wipe newly human eyes, Kalei inhaled his first breath of air, pulling the oxygen deep into his lungs. Forcing the last tang of seawater from his body, he paused.


All excerpts and short stories copyright © 2012 by Lehua Parker. Excerpts from the Niuhi Shark Saga by permission of Jolly Fish Press, LLC. All rights reserved. Illustration by Corey Egbert. No part of these excerpts may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. No part of these short stories may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.


Today I’m part of a blog hop, officially known as The Next Big Thing. Many thanks to Elsie Park for inviting me to hop in after her.  You can check out her website here. Her debut book is called Shadows of Valor and will be available everywhere July 27, 2013! It is going to be great! Can’t wait.

If you’ve never heard of a blog hop, it’s a bit like a game of tag. Writers post about their works and link to other authors ahead and behind them in the chain. So, without further ado–

What is the working title of your next book? 

One Shark, No Swim, Book 2 in the Niuhi Shark Saga. It’s currently in editorial review at Jolly Fish Press and will come out late summer/fall 2013. It follows One Boy, No Water.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The genesis for the series was a scene from Legends of Hawaii that I saw when I was seven years old. In the film a young Hawaiian boy’s shirt is ripped off to reveal gaping shark’s jaws where his back should be—it’s the kind of image that tends to stick with you if you have an overactive imagination.

What genre does your book fall under?

It straddles the line between Middle Grade and Young Adult. Technically, it’s fantasy, but it’s set in modern, every day Hawai’i. Supernatural things happen, but it’s all rather matter of fact. While Zader and his friends are twelve in One Shark, No Swim, the themes developed in the series are universal. It’s PG in content and language, making it appropriate for MG readers, but it wasn’t written specifically for an MG/YA audience. It’s an adventure series that appeals to adults, too, particularly if they’ve lived in Hawai’i.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Jackie Chan. Uncle Kahana, Zader, ‘Ilima, Jay, Char Siu—it doesn’t matter which character; the answer to this question is always Jackie Chan. (Call me!)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Adopted twelve year old suspects there’s more to his birth family than he ever dreamed and the truth changes everything.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The Niuhi Shark Saga is published by Jolly Fish Press.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About six weeks split over nine months. Bursts of writing punctuated by life and lots of dust gathering.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

In book 2, Zader discovers a way he can take a shower without blistering, he meets both his biological parents (although he doesn’t know it), learns Filipino Kali-style knife fighting from a master, and Uncle Kahana and ‘Ilima don’t see eye to eye on what to tell Zader, Jay, and Char Siu about what’s really going on. And niuhi sharks! Lots of sharks.

And that’s my Next Big Thing! Now here are the fabulous authors I’ve tagged to tell you about their Next Big Thing!  They will be posting on 1/30/2013.   Enjoy!

Christine Haggerty

Emily Younker

Jennifer Griffith

Johnny Worthen


Great authors who’ve already posted their Next Big Thing that you shouldn’t miss!

Jo Ann Schneider

Ann Marie Meyers

Eric Bishop

Adrienne Monson

Elsie Park

Jenniffer Wardell

The Brothers Washburn

Teri Harman

Amie Borst


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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.