Monday, April 15, 2013

Aloha to Lehua Parker, ONE BOY NO WATER, and the Niuhi Shark Saga

Aloha!  I discovered Hawaiian author Lehua Parker via Twitter.  She is the creator of the Niuhi Shark Saga ... and she joins me today for a cozy chat!  

Kim:  You are a graduate of The Kamehameha Schools. My three years here in Hawaii has given me an appreciation for the school and its legacy. Can you share a special moment from The Kamehameha Schools?

(Founded in 1887, Kamehameha Schools is a statewide educational system endowed by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, last living descendant of King Kamehemeha).

Lehua:  A couple of things stand out from my time at Kamehameha. The first is being constantly told that we were lucky to be there and that if we didn’t work hard, there were twenty more kids lined up to take our place. Ai ka pressah! But more importantly, we were told that because we had been given an incredible opportunity, it was our kuleana, our responsibility, to take the gift of our education and use it to make a positive difference in the world. Reconnecting with classmates 29 years later, it’s obvious that the message of giving back really stuck with us. We all seem to be highly active in donating our time and talents to various charities and causes wherever we live.

It’s also impossible to think of Kamehameha without thinking about the annual high school-wide Song Contest. It’s hard work to learn to sing, really sing, in eight to twelve part harmony. You can’t fake it; no one is ever allowed to not sing. Regardless of natural ability everyone in your grade, about 350 students, has to learn to work together to create a polished sound in a few short months. It’s crazy. But at the end of all the early morning rehearsals you stand with your classmates under bright lights in your dress whites and perform for a packed house at the Neil S. Blaisedell Center and millions of people via live tv and the internet. I’ll never forget the music and the way it ran through my bones, especially when the guys hit a deep bass note or when a twelve part harmony rang true. There’s nothing like it.

Kamehameha Schools Song Contest One Voice

Kim:  You currently live in Utah - what is your favorite sight, smell, and sound of the Beehive State?

Lehua:  I love summer twilight. The light never looks quite like that in Hawaii and even after all this time, I’m still amazed that it’s light at 9 pm at night. My favorite Utah smells would be bayberry and cedar. My mother’s family was from Utah and when we’d visit them, the scents of the bayberry and cedar bushes would creep in through the windows at night. My favorite sound would probably be a water sound, like the waves on shore at a lake or water in a stream or hard rain on the roof because those sounds remind me of Hawaii.

Kim:  What do you miss from the Aloha State?

Lehua:  The people. The food. The music. The beach. The weather. I could create a list much longer than anyone would care to read. Every time I go home I’m reminded that I’m living in a foreign country, especially when I see my mainland-raised kids’ reaction to simple things like purple taro rolls and jellyfish. I forget I need to teach them things like leaving your slippahs upside down when you go swimming at the beach so you don’t burn your feet when you put them back on.

Kim:  Tell us about ONE BOY, NO  WATER and the Niuhi Shark Saga - what inspired it?

Lehua:  It’s a fish out of water tale. In many ways Zader is a typical 6th grade island kid. He’s trying to fit in with his peers, keep up with his more popular brother, and get into a good prep school which is a big deal in Hawaii. But no matter how hard he tries, Zader’s anything but typical. He was found abandoned on a reef as an infant by Uncle Kahana and ‘Ilima, a poi dog, and adopted by the Westin family. He’s allergic to water—one drop is like acid on his skin—absolutely ridiculous on a tropical island—and he can’t eat rare meat. When Zader’s surf-crazed brother is scared out of the ocean by a shark sighting, it’s up to Zader to help him get back in the water. The whole series about finding yourself, defining family, and living in modern Hawaii, things I think will interest readers.

The inspiration for the series goes back to when I was seven years old, sitting on the cool concrete floor of the Kahului Elementary School cafeteria in the dark, watching a 16mm film projected on a white bed sheet. The movie was about ancient Hawaiian legends, and it was the first time I saw people on the screen who look like my friends and neighbors who weren’t tending bar or shaking grass skirts on the original Hawaii 5-O. Act one: villagers are disappearing and it’s feared a man-eating shark is on the prowl. Act two: villagers rip the cape off a young boy to reveal a huge gaping shark’s mouth where his back should be! Ai-yah! The boy was actually a shark! And his family knew! And he was eating people he knew! Talk about a nightmare inspiring moment, right up there with the night swim scene in Jaws. Act three: I think about it for too many years and finally write my thoughts into a novel or five. The Niuhi Shark Saga is not a retelling of this Hawaiian legend, but that certainly was the genesis.

Kim:  What's next for Lehua Parker?

Lehua:  Book two in the series, One Shark, No Swim, is in editorial review right now. All of the artwork is in production and I’ll soon be doing a final version of the manuscript for advanced reader copies which will go out to reviewers in late May. The book will be published by Jolly Fish Press on August 10, 2013. In Hawaii, bookstores can carry it on their shelves, but it’s easiest to find online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. In the fall I’m speaking at a few writers’ conferences on the mainland and doing workshops at schools both in person and via the internet. I’m also working on book three, One Fight, No Fist, which will come out in 2014 and some shorter companion pieces to the series that will come out this year. For free reader discussion and classroom activities, excepts, and short stories set in Zader’s world, please see my blog at I also blog about living on the mainland, write book reviews, and share publishing tips. I love to hear from readers, so please stop by my Facebook account (Lehua Parker, author at this link) and drop me a line. If you like my author page, my publicist gives me a gold star. I wish I were kidding. Aloha, no!

Mahalo, Lehua, for your virtual visit to SOS Aloha!  In honor of Lehua, I am giving away a "Aloha" prize package to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment a local legend from your part of the world.  My favorite legend of Hawaii are the Menehune - the first Polynesians to settle the islands.  They were smaller than the second wave of Polynesians, so they moved upland.   The Menehune avoided contact with the new arrivals but were renowned for their building skills.  Ali'i often hired Menehune to build heiau (temples) which they did at night, in one night, to maintain their privacy.  

2.  This giveaway is open to all readers.  Comments are open through Saturday, April 20, 10 pm in Hawaii.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, April 21, on The Reading Reviewer (at this link).


Kim in Hawaii

According to legend, the Menehune built Ulupo Heiau.


  1. We do have the Legend of The Leatherman. He roamed the countryside in a circle rotating back around. He always dressed in leather.

  2. I am from Toronto and the city is so 'new' that there is no legend really! Unless you talk about haunted houses and there are a few of those apparently...

  3. The only one I can think of right now is that supposedly there are alligators in the sewer system.

  4. The "Poe Toaster" who, until this year, paid homage at Edgar Allan Poe's grave annually on January 19, with a toast of cognac and three roses.

  5. I'm at a total blank and can't think of any local legends - at least not here in the suburbs.

  6. I have no legends, other than the one everyone has heard about Blackbeard and other pirates. This was a lovely post. Congratulations on your book. I tweeted.

  7. I'm not aware of any legends in my little corner of the world, either.

  8. Hmmm...can't think of any legends right off hand. But, my favorite ghost story is that of Kate Morgan, who visited the Hotel Del Coronado in 1892, died there mysteriously, and perhaps has never checked out!

  9. Oh we have a big one here in Vegas. Area 51!

    The top-secret Air Force facility located 110 miles northwest of Vegas always has been, well, a secret. It wasn't until about 20 years ago that the U.S. government finally acknowledged the base even existed.

    Many people think that we have UFO's there and we are doing testing on Aliens but the Pentagon says there are no aliens in Area 51.

    However, this shouldn't stop you from driving the Extraterrestrial Highway (Highway 375) just in case the government is lying. Or visiting the Little A'Le'Inn is Rachel Nevada, they even have a small table with tiny Alien sized chairs set up in there, you know, just in case the Aliens decide to pop in for a visit.

  10. I am not aware of any legends in the area where I live!

  11. don't have any local legends