My Uncle Dave Hopkins was a master of the green flash, that split-second when the sun dips below the horizon and a brilliant green flash lights the sky at sunset. It’s thanks to him that I saw it as often as I did growing up in Kalama Valley. We’d all be piled into his car coming around Hanauma Bay on our way to volleyball or back from the beach and he say, “Today’s the day!” and whip the car into the overlook turnout above Koko Marina. From there you can watch the sun set into the ocean, and we’d sprawl over the rock walls, relaxing in the tradewinds, waiting sometimes half an hour or more, and end up late to wherever we were supposed to be. Time was a flexible concept in Uncle Dave’s world. But it was worth it. Most times he was right. Long before anyone scientifically analyzed this phenomenon, Uncle Dave knew it was a matter of location, horizon, and atmospheric clarity. He’d watched a lot of sunsets.
Uncle Dave always had time to smell the roses, sample the kim chee, or teach kids how to catch crabs, boogie board, or the best way to set the volleyball just off the net for the perfect spike. Our families used to go beach camping and that’s where he taught me how to cook fried rice for breakfast using leftover rice we’d made with ocean water the night before. Uncle Dave loved to eat and knew all the best places around the island to eat anything—crackseed, shave ice, guri guri, teri chicken—he was better than a restaurant guide.
Like many people with big hearts and even bigger opus, Uncle Dave died young, too young, when I was a sophomore in college. I miss him. I’m sure he’s up in heaven yelling down at us to slow down, relax, and enjoy the journey. A hui hou, Uncle Dave!
Tips to Spot A Green Flash at Sunset
Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to see a green flash at sunset. But be careful; there’s a true green flash and a false green flash. The false green flash isn’t as spectacular; it’s more of a green haze over everything and lasts too long; it comes from staring directly at the sun as it sets and damaging your retinas.
- You need a clear, distinct, and distant horizon. A sun setting into the ocean’s the best bet.
- The sky has to be perfectly clear; no clouds, vog, or haze on the horizon.
- Position yourself so you’re looking right into the setting sun, but keep your eyes off the sun itself until just the barest hint is above the horizon.
- Don’t blink! A true green flash only lasts a fraction of a second. Watch for a green flash, flicker, or glow about the setting sun. If you look away and everything has a green cast to it, it’s a false flash.
- Have patience. Like my Uncle Dave and Uncle Kahana in One Boy, No Water say, you many see a green flash only a handful of times in a lifetime, but once you’ve seen it, you’ll never doubt again!
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.
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.
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.
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!
My part-Hawaiian grandmother makes wonderful rice pilaf. It’s a recipe she learned from her Portuguese mother and she made it often when we came to dinner, usually with a ham. Buttery and full of mushrooms, light brown with beef stock and slightly sticky, to my sister Heidi and me the rice was something special we looked forward to whenever we made the rare trip from Maui to Oahu.
But six or more months can feel like a lifetime to a kid, and with so many new words in so many languages rattling around in a head, it’s easy to get confused.
Once when I was about six and Heidi three, our grandparents met our family at the airport. Heidi and I were jumping around like two puppies newly freed from a kennel: sitting on the baggage carousel, running around and around Grandpa’s legs, climbing up the short rock wall and walking along it—I’m sure we were driving the adults nuts. That’s when Grammie said the magic word: dinner.
“Grammie! Grammie! You going make rice?” I danced.
“Yeah, Grammie! Rice!” Heidi sang.
“Rice? What’re you talking about, rice?” Grammie said.
“You know, the kind you make,” I said.
“What are you kids talking about?”
Heidi and I looked at each other. It starts with a p… “You know, that pilau rice!”
“Pilau rice!” Heidi crowed. “Pilau rice!”
My non-Pidgin speaking mother looked confused. The blood drained from my father’s face. My grandfather looked nonplussed. And Grammie went nuclear.
“PILAU rice! Pilau RICE! I do NOT cook PILAU RICE!”
Heidi and I were puzzled. We knew we were in trouble, but didn’t know why. “But we love your pilau rice, Grammie!”
“Yeah,” said Heidi, “We love it! We love pilau rice.”
The penny dropped. “Pilaf,” Grandpa said. “It’s rice pilaf.”
“Yeah, that’s what we said! Pilau rice!”
“No,” he corrected. “Not pilau, pilaf! Rice pilaf! Say it.”
“Pilau, I mean pilaf, rice pilaf,” we repeated.
But to this day, in my head, I still think of it as pilau rice!
Pilau: (nvs) Hawaiian for rot, stench, rottenness; to stink; putrid, spoiled, rotten, foul, decomposed. We couldn’t have come up with a worse insult if we tried.
Ancient Hawaiians loved word play, riddles, and puns. Songs, stories, poems, and even ordinary conversations could be interpreted on many levels—the more, the merrier—resulting in the ultimate inside joke. Fortunately for us, eminent Hawaiiana scholars Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel Elbert wrote down many once common expressions and their kaona or hidden meanings. Called ‘ōlelo no‘eau, wise poetical sayings, reading through some of their collections is one of the best ways I’ve found to really see and understand the world as ancient Hawaiians did.
Here’s one I read the other day: A la‘a kō kū i ke a‘u literal meaning so, you got stabbed by a swordfish. Just ponder that for a moment. I mean, really, what do you have to do to get stabbed by a swordfish? And how common must this be for everybody to know about it?
Here’s the kaona: you got into trouble. Stabbed by a swordfish? Yeah, that’d spell trouble!
But I don’t think the whole picture develops until you consider this other ‘ōlelo no‘eau about the perils of swordfish: ‘Olo ‘olo aku nō i hope, kū i ke a’u; literally lagging behind, struck by a swordfish. Working hard and not shirking was an cultural expectation; it was the pono or right thing to do. Lagging behind implies not doing what you’re supposed to with the result of getting yourself into the trouble you’re in, the Hawaiian equivalent of Shakespeare’s ‘hoist with his own petard.’
In my imagination I see a lanky kid in old Hawai‘i. He’s come home from the missionaries’ school, kicking dust and pulling at his too-tight, too-hot collar with a note in his pocket from his teacher. His parents discover he hasn’t been turning in his homework and anything even remotely fun like surfing or fishing is pau, over, no way, José. When little Iosepa’s lip starts to quiver, his parents exclaim, “So, you got stabbed by swordfish. Why are you the only one surprised?”
Which begs the question, “Where did that swordfish stab?”
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.
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.
As I write this, I am sitting on a lanai in Kaanapali, Maui, sipping a watery Coke and trying to hide behind a plumeria tree, some torch ginger, and a couple of ti plants so I can see my computer screen. Tonight is the last night I will be in Hawaii; tomorrow it’s airplanes, luggage, and a rush to get the kids ready for the new school year.
I’ve had a lot of time to think on this trip. It’s been five years since I was last on Oahu and Maui. Every time I come home–and it is home, even after so many years–I see the islands with new eyes, and I remember lessons I learned as a child and better understand how they apply in my life.
A big one this week is about how we are all brave in our own way. My daughter loves horses and the faster the better. I think I like horses, but every time I get close to something a flashy like a Ferrari or even a reliable Honda I quickly jump back to my old faithful tricycle with training wheels. After a few bad falls, I figure a couple of sedate family rides a year in the mountains is good enough for me. I’m not going to run barrels or do reining horse patterns. Just getting on and staying on is enough of an e-ticket ride for me.
But the ocean’s a different story. I could spend all day every day in or on the water, SCUBA diving, boogie boarding, on a boat, on a reef, or just floating in the shallows. I know the ocean, at least the waters around Maui and Oahu, and know when there’s a problem and when there’s not.
Not so much my daughter. She swims well, but the ocean’s not a pool or a lake. There are critters in it and all of them want to take a bite out of her, she’s certain. The first day we were off Waimanalo, one of the best beaches to take kids who want to learn to boogie board or learn to be comfortable in the ocean. The water is usually very clear, it’s got a soft, sandy bottom, the waves are rolling and gentle, and it’s shallow for a long, long time. The only thing you have to watch out for are the occasional, very occasional Portuguese-Man-O-War jellyfish. I’ve been wrapped in their tentacles too many times to count. It does sting and it can leave a line of welts, but a little wet sand, some meat tenderizer, and you get back in the water. No big deal.
My daughter, of course, is looking for sharks.
“Cheryl, knock it off. There are no sharks here.”
“How do you know?”
“I know. You’re in more danger from a jellyfish than a shark any day of the week.”
“Relax. Breathe. You’re fine.”
“What do jellyfish look like?”
“They look like a bubble, floating.” I looked around and spotted what I knew was really just a bubble. “See that over there?” I splashed at it and it popped. By the time I turned back around she was halfway up the beach, screaming bloody murder. “Wait! That wasn’t a jellyfish! It popped when I splashed it. That’s how you know!”
“Cheryl! You’re more likely to get stung running up the beach through the foam than hanging out here past the shore break with me!”
“I got it,” said my husband. He went ashore with her and they walked up and down the beach until they found a jellyfish, long blue streamers broken off, just a sad little bubble sitting above the tide line. A few minutes later, she was swimming next to me, all smiles, but still keeping an eye out for sharks.
“Good news, Mom! We don’t have to worry about jellyfish anymore!”
“No! Dad says they’re territorial and that one way over there had all this beach as his territory!”
“Huh.” I cut my eyes at her father and he shrugged. It was starting to sound a lot like some of the things he’s told me about horses, cougars, and mountain trails.
It’s not the thing that makes us afraid, it’s our reaction to it. Watching my kids tackle all things ocean and foreign this past week, I’ve been amazed at the courage they’ve shown and understand a little more about how much of my adult life has been spent facing what’s foreign to me. No matter how long we’ve lived elsewhere, we’re formed by our childhood experiences which shape the way we view the world. When everyone around you takes horses or jellyfish as a matter of course, you forget that feeling uncomfortable around them is natural and not something weird or subpar about you or your character.
Cheryl summed it up best at the Maui Ocean Center when we were looking at some of my favorite sea creatures, moon jellies. She said, “If seahorses were big enough to ride, you’d ride them all day long, wouldn’t you, Mom?”
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 may have stretched the truth just a little bit. Here’s the real scoop about customizing a surfboard using paint pens.
In One Boy, No Water…
You can customize a surfboard with paint pens, a few basic supplies, and a little imagination.
The real scoop…
It really is that easy to create your own works of art on a surfboard! There are many sites on the internet that give step by step instructions on how to repair and customize surfboards using paint pens and spray guns. Check ‘em out.