Monday, July 25, 2011

"CANNIBAL NIGHTS, PACIFIC STORIES." THANK YOU, READERS!

Hello World,

This posting is a  heartfelt  thank you (Mahalo!)  to the readers who have  so generously purchased  my latest ebook,   CANNIBAL NIGHTS, Pacific Stories Volume II,  a  sequel to my  first collection,  HOUSE OF SKIN PRIZE-WINNING STORIES.  Since so  many of you are  curious about the genesis of these  stories,  I  hope  to give you a little insight into how I researched and wrote them.

CANNIBAL NIGHTS is a darker collection than HOUSE OF SKIN.  The stories range from Navy SEALS  (and the women who love them)  and Al Qaeda terrorists,  to a father's  adultery,  to slave-ships roaming  the Pacific in the 18th and 19th centuries, kidnapping and enslaving hundreds of  thousands of natives. A story set in the Marquesas Islands deals with Paul Gauguin in his last days, riddled with syphilis and morphine addiction.  In other stories,  a  modern-day Tahitian girl searches for her biological father,  a French Foreign Legionnaire.  An Australian Aborigine  exacts payback from  white men who gang-raped her.  And a brother and sister struggle to find normalcy and even happiness, while burdened with life-long affects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Do I create these tales  from scratch?  No.  But I build,  I construct one story out of maybe three or five that I have heard,  or  personally experienced.  My cousins in Honolulu know several retired Navy SEALS.  Sometimes we sit and listen,  stunned,  to  the stories they tell  of their  combat experiences.  I knew the parents of several college students  killed  in the Al Qaeda  nightclub bombings in Bali in 2003.  I  tried to merge  all these  stories until 'ASSASSIN ORDERS PEKING DUCK' evolved,  a tale that is  tragic but somehow ends hopefully.  The narrator is  a young woman forever searching for her father who abandoned her.  Readers have pointed out to me  that this is a theme that runs through  earlier stories.  Even my novels.  I was not aware of it  during the writing.  But in fact,  I never knew my father  well.  After my Hawaiian mother died at a young age,  my father  left our islands. Growing up, I saw him only intermittently.  Perhaps it is what we most long for that circumscribes our lives,  and  ultimately  becomes the  running subtext of our work.

For three months  I lived in Tonga,  setting of 'GEORGE BUSH AND PAPA AT THE PARADISE.'  During that time one of the maids at the  Paradise hotel  discovered her father was having an affair with a tourist.  It broke her heart  and she spent months thinking of how she could make her father pay. (There really was a life-size portrait of George Bush in the lobby!)  I left Tonga before the story resolved itself,  so I orchestrated an ending. Tongans are such a warm and beautiful people, so  deeply dedicated to their children,  that I wanted to ennoble both the wife,  and husband. I wanted them to have  a happy ending.  And I wanted the young girl to mature and learn to forgive,  and  come to understand the imperishability of  love.  That it can be tested and survive.

'MYSTERIES OF RAPA NUI' is based on the tragic history of Easter Island.  The ecological devastation  and the unspeakable  tragedy  of how their male population was nearly wiped out by slave-ships roaming the Pacific.  I have visited Easter Island and  heard stories of  huge sacrifices the women made, attempting to hide their men from the  notorious Blackbirder  slave ships.  This 18th and 19th century practise of kidnapping and slave-trading was rampant in the Pacific, coinciding with the  slave-trade flourishing  in the Atlantic,  yet so little has been written about it.

'CANNIBAL NIGHTS, COLONIAL AFTERNOONS' is based on the last year of Gauguin's life in the  Marquesas Islands  after he had been deported out of Tahiti,  a French colony,  as a drug-addled rake and libertine.  In that period he was in a morphine-induced stupor,  yet he managed to paint some of the most magnificent  portraits of his life.  There has always been the question of who helped him  complete the last canvases as he began to fail and death approached.  I took 'authorial license' in portraying these last days and who might have  helped him and even,  in some instances,  repainted his portraits completely.  More importantly, I wanted to portray how in the colonialist period of that time - when the Church over-ran the islands and taxed the natives to near-starvation - a young clergyman befriends Gauguin,  sees  through his eyes the bigotry of the Church,  and learns how Art, true Art, goes deeper than religion.  

We come to 'THE FRENCH FOREIGN LEGIONNAIRE'S BATARD,'  and  again, it is a story comprised of several stories.  During my many trips  to Tahiti (culturally,  they are very close cousins to Hawaiians)  I met several 'fatherless'  women  born to  mothers  who had had affairs with French Foreign Legionnaire's  during their  military duty in Tahiti.  Several women  had actually lived in France and spent years trying to locate their Legionnaire fathers.  I began to wonder what would happen if one of them found her father.  How the  drama would unfold.  My biggest challenge  was the ending of the story.  I struggled to make the characters sympathetic,  but was the ending  plausible?  Only, you, the reader can tell me.  I am anxious to know from  your  responses if this story works.  I hope so!  For, during the writing, I fell in love with both characters.  They are  each damaged, and lonely,  and searching.

' FLASHNESS,' set in Australia,  is based on a story I heard while traveling there a few years back.  It happened  after  the  Columbine High School tragedy in the U.S.  I knew the background of how Aborigines were massacred when England  deposited boatloads of  its convicts on their shores,  and so the story automatically fell into place in my mind.   It is a dark, harsh tale of payback,  but I hope readers will also remember the suffering and wholesale slaughter  of Australia's Aborigines by white convict-settlers,  that continued for two hundred years

The last story, 'CELL FATIGUE, '  was very difficult to write.  Like Native Americans,  and many other under-represented  minorities,  Native Hawaiians have an  extremely  high percentage of alcoholism,  and  thus, their children suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  I have seen people struggling all their lives with this condition.  The story was initially so dark and potentially hopeless,  I  revised it  least 20-30 times.  It began to depress  and defeat me,  and I put it aside for weeks.  Then one day,  epiphany! I began to see it as a love story between a  brother and sister trying to save each other's life. Then it became  instantly deeper,  more meaningful to me.  The characters  slowly transcending from victims to survivors.  I now saw  them as heroes, and  when I finally wrote the  last page,  I was overtaken with emotion.  (Only when I completed this  story did I realize it was also a kind of memorial to my dear brother, Braxton Rowan,  a soldier and  hero,  who died too young. )

Looking over the entire body of CANNIBAL NIGHTS,  I see that  what I  have written is  a collection of love stories.  Though dark,  and often violent,  they are tales of people  searching for the  love of a father,  or brother,  or the love of women sacrificing their lives for their husbands.  There is the love of a clergyman for an artist,  and the love  of that  artist for his Art.  The love of an Aborigine  for her tribe, and for  her  ancestor,  cold-bloodedly murdered.  Finally, the deep love of a brother and sister, trying to survive.  

I hope these  stories  will speak to anyone who has  suffered the confusion of being a mixed-blood,  or to  anyone,  male or female,  who has served in the military and suffered Post-Traumatic Stress.  I hope they will speak to anyone who has ever lost a child,  or betrayed  or abandoned a child,  or,  conversely,  anyone who has ever searched for  a parent who abandoned them.  Lastly,  I hope they will remind you  that our fate is not determined,  that we each have choices.  And that, after all,  especially in these cataclysmic times,  love is still the basic need that drives us,  that renders us still-noble,  still-supremely human.

Again,  thank you, mahalo,  for  your support.  I  sincerely hope you enjoyed CANNIBAL NIGHTS, and  I look forward to your questions and comments.

With aloha,   Kiana

  

9 comments:

  1. I haven't read Cannibal Nights YET but the background of where you got the material--as well as your own heritage--and upbringing make them sound fab!

    I can't wait!

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  2. Lorraine, I just finished the book for the first time. I say the first time because this is a book you will want to revist from time to time for the rest of your life. These stories are that good, and better. Simply put this is great literature for the 21st centrury.

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  3. Hey! I read your post on Joe's blog and I was disgusted that your publisher cancelled your contract because you self-published a short story collection. You know what? Screw them. You're better off.

    To help you out, I just bought CANNIBAL NIGHTS on BN. I'm looking forward to reading it.

    -S.M.
    www.TheGrimoireBooks.com

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  4. Dear S.M. Thanks so much for your support! I really mean that from the bottom of my heart. My posting on Joe's site yesterday was really not a story of woe as much as a WARNING TO WRITERS. Amazon is a huge threat to them, the writing is on the wall. I have now heard of other writers being terminated for self-publishing. Its a form of Fascism, and the last desperate move of a dying industry.

    But again I love your support, and I'm now going to your website to see
    what your books are so I can download. Keep in touch. We e writers are the new pioneers and its going to be a long exciting journey into the
    stratosphere! Thanks so much for subscribing here, my blog is rather new so I'm still learning the ropes. I will look for yours.

    Next blog in couple days is about my new neighbor here in Hawaii, Roseanne Barr. She too got kicked around by the bigwigs (in TV industry) and survived. Here's to Women! We're The ultimate survivors!
    aloha for now, and thanks so much for your support! Kiana

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  5. Dear S.M. Ok I see the first book is not out on Amazon for couple weeks.
    I will buy! Kiana

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  7. I want to thank you so much for your writing. I am of mixed heritage too. My father is Native Hawaiian, and my mother is Mexican-American. Your books helped to awaken in me a renewed cultural pride that I had lost. Being raised away from the 'Aina, I found it difficult to associate myself to the history and struggles of my people. A professor of mine, Dr. Verastique from Our Lady of the Lake University, gave me "Shark Dialogues" with a note that simply said, "Open your eyes, and go swim with the sharks." I fell in love with your writing from that point. That book, and all of your others, have been passed around our family from aunt to niece to mother to son. Thank you. Thank you for restoring my culture to me. Thank you for awakening in me my love of writing and story telling. Thank you for sharing your gift with us all.

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  8. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!




    Morphine Addiction

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    Replies
    1. Ranjini, thanx so much for your support! Stay tuned for my new blog posting up in a few days: "MARRIED TO THE HIT MAN..." A sequel to 'SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY' (Posted August 24, 2011)

      Joy and success to you, alohas from Hawaii....Kiana

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