Today we have a guest blogger with us, author Lehua Parker. I hope you enjoy getting to know more about her and her latest book One Boy, No Water, book one in the Niuhi Shark Saga from Jolly Fish Press.
Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover? I like the convenience of eBooks, which makes me an anathema to most book lovers. But it’s hard to ignore the advantages of carrying a whole library in my purse and the ability to download a new book in 30 seconds at 2 am right after I finished the last one.
Agent or no agent? I don’t have an agent, but I do think the right one can make a big difference.
Where is one place in the world that you would really love to visit someday? I love to travel, so my bucket list is really long. China is near the top. If I could afford it, I’d stay a month or longer.
Do you buy a book for the cover? Nope. But if the cover is intriguing I’ll pick it up. If the blurb and first couple of paragraphs leave me wanting more, odds are good that I’m going to eventually buy it as an eBook. I seldom buy fun reads for myself in book form nowadays, but I do buy lots of books for research and gifts.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What would you like your readers to know about you? Like Zader, I’m a little bit of a fish out of water. Even though I’ve now lived longer outside of Hawaii than in it, I still forget that winter is cold and you have to wear shoes outside. Zippers on jackets drive me crazy—I can’t seem to figure out how they work—and I’m always shocked when restaurants think proper white rice should fall off a fork or adding pineapple to a dish makes it Hawaiian.
How did growing up in Hawaii influence the idea for your book One Boy, No Water? Where did the inspiration come from? When I was seven and living on Maui, school movie day came once a year and it was a big deal. Our school only had two movies, the French classic The Red Balloon and one called Legends of Hawaii. There’s a scene in Legends of Hawaii where a young boy gets his cape ripped off to reveal a gaping shark’s mouth where his back should be! It’s the kind of image that sticks in an overactive imagination.
Tell us about the language in your book? Is this spoken in Hawaii today? Hawaiian Creole English or Pidgin as it’s usually called, is a real language with a formal grammatical structure based on Hawaiian and a vocabulary that often combines words from different languages to make new ones. In the Niuhi Shark Saga I’ve toned it down and Anglicized it to make it more accessible to non-Pidgin speakers. Pidgin evolved as immigrants from Asia, America, and Europe came to work in Hawaii’s sugar and pineapple plantations. Seventy years ago Pidgin sounded more Hawaiian and less like the broken English people often mistake it for today. While most people in Hawaii speak, read, and write standard American English, conversations among friends and family are usually in Pidgin. On Maui, from kindergarten through fourth grade my teachers taught in Pidgin, not English. Tourists rarely hear what the real Hawaii sounds like.
Introduce us to your main character Zader. Zader is pretty typical of sixth grade boys living in modern Hawaii. He’s working hard in school to earn a scholarship to a good prep school for seventh grade, trying to maintain a close relationship with his popular almost twin brother, and flying under the radar with the local bullies. But Zader has some unique challenges: he’s allergic to water, one drop is like acid on his skin—absolutely crazy for an island boy surrounded by ocean and rainforests—and he has weird dreams about a flying girl and a man with too many teeth. As a newborn, Zader was found on a reef by Uncle Kahana and his dog, ‘Ilima, and adopted by the Westin family. The Niuhi Shark Saga is the story of Zader’s discovery of who he really is, what defines family, and how he ultimately chooses to live his life.
Describe your book in five words. Boy sees shark; changes everything.
What can we expect from the second book in the Niuhi Shark Saga? Book 2 is called One Shark, No Swim and continues where One Boy, No Water ended with Zader not wanting to believe what he saw at Piko Point. In One Shark, No Swim, Kalei, the man with too many teeth, begins to stalk Zader because he’s curious about him. As Zader’s true nature begins to emerge, he develops a fascination with knives. He also goes mud sliding and takes his very first shower. And sharks! Lots of sharks!
How do you deal with a bad review? It’s not realistic to believe this quirky series is going to be everyone’s favorite cup of tea. It can be confusing because it doesn’t explain things that people familiar with the island culture immediately get, things like Zader having to wear shoes all the time instead of slippahs (flip-flops) marks him as really weird, the kind of outsider-odd that makes kids uncomfortable. Readers who want to know what every word means as they read it can get a little frustrated with the Pidgin, even though the meaning is usually clear through context. If someone reads One Boy, No Water and doesn’t care for it, that’s okay. I sincerely thank people for taking the time to read and review my work, whatever their opinion. That in itself is huge.
What have you learned about the publishing world now that your first book is out? Good or bad. That there are a lot of authors out there with good books. It’s a great time to be a reader with easy access to so many new books and choices of how to read them. But as an author it’s tough sometimes to figure out how to capture the attention of your core market. Even when your book is on store shelves, it’s a slow process when most of your marketing is through social media, word of mouth, and book signings.
Any advice for aspiring writers? Read, read, read—the good, the blah, and the truly terrible. Learn to tell the difference. Understand that as a debut author you’ll spend 90% of your writing time creating a social media platform the first year. It’s best if you can get a jump on this and create a brand for yourself as an author with a blog, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and other social media accounts before submitting your work to publishers. Go to conferences and meet people. Those connections and shared experiences are priceless.
Description: 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.
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.