Friday, November 09, 2012

Meet Lehua Parker, Author of One Boy No Water

Today I am featuring author Lehua Parker, who is here to guest blog about her new book One Boy No Water, a middle grade fantasy that even adults will enjoy. You can read more about this amazing book in the review I gave in September.

And -- drum rolls please -- Lehua has kindly offered to give away a copy of One Boy No Water. To win, enter below:  

AMM:  Welcome Lehua.

LP:  Aloha, Ann Marie! Thanks for letting me drop by to answer a few of your questions about my MG/YA novel One Boy, No Water, book one in the Niuhi Shark Saga. It’s available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon in hardback, trade paperback, and ebook.

AMM: Does the story come from some mythology in Hawaii?

LP:  Most cultures have stories about shape-shifters. Throughout the Pacific there are many indigenous tales and legends about people who can turn into sharks, so I guess it’s loosely based on some of these ideas.

AMM: What inspired you to write One Boy One Water?

LP:  When I was in second grade we watched a film from the Legends of Hawaii series. In the film, villagers kept disappearing and it was feared they were eaten by a large shark. There’s a moment when the man-eater is discovered when they rip the cloak off the shoulders of a young man to reveal a gapping shark’s mouth where his back should be! I’ve carried that image in my head since I was seven, trying to wrap my head around the idea that his parents kept this secret hidden his entire life and that he was eating people he knew. All the answers to the why, how, and what if questions I asked myself eventually turned into the Niuhi Shark Saga.

AMM: Do you speak Hawaiian Pidgin English daily? With your family?

LP:  Unfortunately, I rarely speak Pidgin. It’s in my head, not my mouth anymore. Although when my kids were little I once overhead this conversation:

Daughter: Is Mom really mad at us? Are we in serious trouble?
Son: I think we’re okay. She yelled at us in English. When she’s really mad she yells in Pidgin.

AMM: So Lehua, were you born in Hawaii?  

LP:  I’m the eldest kid in my family and my parents were in college on the mainland when I was born. My Mom and her family are from the mainland and my Dad and his family are from Hawaii. When I was six weeks old, my parents went to Hawaii to show me off to my paternal grandparents and ended up staying to raise a family, which was probably my father’s plan all along!

AMM: How long did it take you to write One Boy, No Water?

LP:   Once I figured out who the audience was and how I was going to handle the Pidgin, it went very quickly. I took about 20,000 words from a manuscript I’d worked on about six years earlier, tweaked them and added another 30,000 words in five marathon days over two weeks. But I’d been thinking about the story for years, so it’s not quite accurate to say I wrote the whole book about 100 hours.

AMM: Is there a message in the story you would like your readers to grasp?

LP:   One Boy, No Water is about Zader understanding that he can’t run from trouble. When you’re in the ocean and a big wave is coming, you have to swim as fast as you can toward it. That way you can control what happens to you, whether you go over, under, ride it for a while, or power through it. If you try to run to shore, the wave will pick you up and you’ll have no control as it spins you like you’re in a washing machine and tosses you up on the beach, spitting out sand if you’re lucky. In Zader’s life, the trouble is coming like a tsunami and it’s pointless for him to try to hide anymore.

AMM: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

LP:  Initially it was figuring out who I was writing for and how I was going to handle all the foreign language and culture I wanted to use without explaining too much or too little. To keep kids familiar with the culture engaged, I wrote a lot of inside jokes that add but don’t detract from the main story if they’re missed.

AMM: Can you give a hint to the sequel?

LP:  Remember the tsunami I mentioned earlier? In book two the troubles get bigger and the stakes get higher. Zader learns for certain what he is and a little bit about why his mother hid him with the Westin family. Kalei finds out about Zader and it’s a cat and mouse game as Kalei pursues him. There’s more about lua and hula and surfing and art and mud sliding and Uncle Kahana’s mysterious friends. Stay tuned!

AMM: What is the best part about being a children’s writer?

LP:  After imagining how a kid might react to something I’ve written, I love talking to kids about books and writing. Their imaginations are so much bigger than mine.

AMM:  What are you working on now?

LP:  Book two in The Niuhi Shark Saga. It’s due to Jolly Fish Press in early December and will be published in August 2013. The working title is One Truth, No Lie.

AMM: What are some fun facts about you?

1.     I don’t have any cavities.
2.     My favorite treats when I was a kid were squid jerky, pickled and salted plum pits, and soy sauce and seaweed flavoured rice crackers, otherwise known as dried cuttlefish, crackseed, and kakimochi.
3.     I didn’t learn to SCUBA dive until I lived in a desert thousands of miles from the nearest ocean. Highly ironic since some of the best diving spots in the world were my childhood backyard.

AMM: What is your favorite holiday?

LP:  It’s really hard to pick just one, but if I had to it would be Halloween, although I don’t like gore or horror. Zombies seriously creep me out. But when our kids were very little our house was out in the country. None of the local kids could trick or treat easily, so we’d host a big neighbourhood tailgate party. Even though a lot of the surrounding fields are now subdivisions and our kids are too old to trick or treat, families still come with their jack-o-lanterns, candy, and lawn chairs. The adults hangout and joke around as kids in costumes swarm like bees, begging for candy. Over the years it’s grown to include a kind of potluck dinner of soups, breads, and hot apple cider. To me, Halloween kicks off the holiday season, not Thanksgiving.

AMM: And finally, Lehua, if you could choose another passion, what would it be?

LP:  If I were smart, I would choose exercising or housekeeping because my life would be easier if I really enjoyed those kinds of things. The reality is more like reading good books, eating ice cream, and going to the beach. The ultimate would be reading a good book while eating chocolate ice cream at the beach, especially if the book was waterproof and I could be in—or under—the water at the same time!

Brief Bio:

Lehua Parker is originally from Hawaii and a graduate of The Kamehameha Schools and Brigham Young University. So far she has been a live television director, a school teacher, a courseware manager, an instructional designer, a sports coach, a theater critic, a SCUBA instructor, a poet, a web designer, a mother, and a wife. Her debut novel, One Boy, No Water is the first book in her MG/YA series the Niuhi Shark Saga. She currently lives in Utah with her husband, two children, four cats, two dogs, six horses, and assorted chickens. During the snowy Utah winters she dreams about the beach.

To find out more about Lehua:

Facebook author page:
Twitter: @LehuaParker
Goodreads: Lehua Parker

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