Thursday, July 26, 2012


Hello World.

 Depression and writers.  How true it is.  We seem to go hand in hand.  We're joined at the sterum, closer than lovers.  Whether we're  genetically predisposed to depression or not, I think the writing life seems, well...inauthentic, without  occasional periods of the deep, deep blues, the  Mood Indigos.

We feel morally bound to brood, because that's what 'serious' writers do. We  live by our wits, and sometimes live too close to the  poverty level.  And so we isolate, which deepens the blues.  We envy the thriller-writers who rake in  big royalties.  Sometimes  we  hate them.  We stop feeling attractive and lose our lovers, even our spouses.  We become loners because socializing, even conversation, has become an endurance test.  Oh, enough.

We chose this life.  No one drafted us.  Let's jolly up and admit we LOVE this writing-thing.  When we are creating, our juices are flowing, our brains are kicked into high gear...don't you feel the  rush? It's like a snort of cocaine. Two snorts. Doesn't your heart palpitate, and your very follicles sizzle?  Mine do. There is nothing that compares to it. Isn't that worth occasional depression?  (I'm not talking about clinical depression. That is more serious and calls for medical supervision.)

Perhaps the next time the 'blues' descend, we might want to sit back, take a breath and compare someone else's life.  I guarantee you, afterwards you'll feel extremely blessed.  You will feel grateful.  I'm talking about the life of Roald Dahl.  A genius who wrote thrilling and absurd and fabulous books for children.  Remember 'Willy Wonka?'  'James and The Giant Peach?'  Or 'The Sound Machine?' (In which a man could hear plants screaming.)  Or how about 'The BFG,' the giant who went around at night, blowing dreams through a tube into kid's bedrooms.  Dahl was a brilliant storyteller, a magician.  His books are still read around the world in many languages.

  He made $$millions from his books, and  died 20 years ago.  Finally, his personal history,  his private life, was made public.  It was horrendous.  Absolutely grisly. His father, as a child, had his arm amputated thanks to a drunk doctor.  At three, Dahl's older sister died, and shortly after,  his one-armed father died.  Several years later, still only a boy, Dahl's nose was completely severed from his face  in a car accident. A near-sighted doctor sewed it back on. Slightly off-center.

In WWII  Dahl  joined the RAF, became a pilot, and crashed on his first official day of flying, in the Libyan Desert.  His skull was fractured, spine broken, his  face burned, his poor nose driven back into his face. Stoked by the heat, his plane's machine-guns started shooting at him.  Miraculously, he managed to survive the crash, was somehow patched-up, fought others battles, and survived the war.  Then he was diagnosed with cancer. (Are you still with me?) During treatment,  his doctors recommended he have all his teeth pulled. Who knows why? So, he did. Dahl was only twenty-one!

After the war, he began writing stories to ward off depression. Thus began his illustrious and lifelong career. Then he married and had children. His 4 month-old son was hit by a taxi, shattering his skull. The child survived, but damaged. Two years later, Dahl's 7 year-old daughter contracted measles and died of a brain inflammation. Then his 39 year-old wife, the actress Patricia Neal, suffered an aneuryism and fell into a coma for weeks.  He coached her through months and years of grueling rehabilitation.

All his life he suffered pain from his war wounds. And all the while, he wrote.  He wrote magical and fabulous stories for children, that they still quote from as adults. Of course, Dahl was notoriously  impatient and rude to people (can you blame him?) He picked fights at book parties,  slugged editors, sold out friends, repeatedly and  publicly insulted his still-rehabilitating wife.  In the end he  proved to be a racist, an anti-semite, an all-around  stinker. No one liked him. No one. But he never stopped writing.  I think writing was how he had survived his life.

 Perhaps its best to forget the man, and remember the genius. But when we writers are feeling depressed, unloved, unpraised, it might be worth another look at Dahl's horrendous, nearly inconceivable life of tragedy.  By comparison, I think most of us are lucky.

So let's gather  our inspirations and energies - our mitochondria, and centrioles, and genomes, all those marvelous ecosystems that contain and define each of us - say a little mantra of thanks for what we have,  and then get back to work.

Happy Writing  and Imua! (Press On, no matter what.)



Monday, July 23, 2012


Hello, World.

 It's that time of year. Mid-summer, when  book sales generally take a dive.  To weather the market doldrums,  I'm offering my three Bestselling Pacific Story Collections on sale for .99 each on Kindle!

HOUSE OF SKIN, PRIZE-WINNING STORIES...  Volume I.  Stories of love, lust, obsession, runaway girls, drug addiction, family bonds,  racism,  and much more.   The stories are set across the Pacific islands in  Hawaii, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, and Vanuatu.

CANNIBAL NIGHTS, PACIFIC STORIES, VOLUME II... Stories of terrorism, al Queda, adultery, murder, rape, slavery, kidnapping, Paul Gauguin, the French Foreign Legion, Australian Aborigines,  foetal alcohol syndrome, and how the love of family saves us.  The stories are set in Hawaii, Tonga, Easter island, the Marquesas, Tahiti,  and Australia.

OPIUM DREAMS, PACIFIC STORIES, VOLUME III... Stories of  marriage,  adultery, vengeance,  opium addiction, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, soldiers in combat, prostitution, murder,   cancer,  AIDS, and more.  The stories and one novella are set in Western Samoa,  Kohala (Hawaii), Aotearoa, New Zealand, Honolulu ( Hawaii), and Georgia.

I hope you will  enjoy reading them,  and learning about  the fascinating traditions and people of the vast Pacific Islands.  Alohas from Hawaii!

And thanks!  Kiana

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Hello World.

A heartfelt mahalo! (thank you) to readers who have  purchased my new ebook collection, OPIUM DREAMS, PACIFIC STORIES, Volume III, a  sequel to my previous collections HOUSE OF SKIN PRIZE-WINNING STORIES,  and CANNIBAL NIGHTS, PACIFIC STORIES, Volume II.

First off,  Huge Olas! and Kudos to Kathleen Valentine, of Valentine Designs, for the extraordinary cover.  The author's voice is still the most important part of a book, but a beautiful book cover is what  first draws readers.  (If you're wondering why the peacock feather, you have to read the title story.)

 Like my earlier collections, OPIUM DREAMS comprises tales set in islands across the Pacific ocean,  portraits of men and women  struggling with the same universal issues as people around the globe: Survival, dignity, identity. This volume speaks more of love in all its dark, tragic and even hilarious manifestations. Three of the stories deal with adultery.

  Ah, ADULTERY...  How many of us marrieds or have-beens have feared it, confronted it, even indulged in it? It can turn betrayed wives into salivating she-jackals, or calm, cold-eyed killers. Still, betrayed husbands seem to fare much worse. An adulterous husband is usually only temporarily  reverting to the 'pack,' scatter-shooting his seed, and whooping it up. (80% of them come home, begging for forgiveness.)

 But an adulterous wife suggests the blunt force of a loose cannon,  an uncontrollable entity, her hormones and pheromones running amuck. And worse, it suggests an impotent husband, a man who can't  please his wife, can't get it up, or keep it up.  Women are erotic forces of nature. We embody sex all over - eyes,  lips, breasts, butts, vaginas - whereas male sexuality seems tied up in that one organ...and here is precisely where  a wife's adultery hits men.  Their sense of masculinity is shattered.

(Call me crazy, but that kind of vulnerability should make us love them  even more.)  In the end, sex is always trouble.  We are lost in the collision. Logic and conscience evaporate.  That's why sex often gets a  bad rap. It's too pleasurable,  too powerful.  And so we seek love, that milder form of lust.  It steers us away from our genitals. We ascend to a more spiritual level, and give our baser drives a break.

A few words about  love and lust  in my collection,  OPIUM DREAMS:

In the story "Night of the Worm," set in Western Samoa,  a philandering husband who annually trysts with white women tourists,  is suddenly threatened when his  ungainly wife  attracts the attentions of an     Englishman, who falls in love,  teaches her to waltz, and endows her with a 'majesty.'  Only with the threat of permanently losing her, does the husband finally see her beauty and her worth.  ***(A few years ago, I lived at the Vaisala Hotel in Western Samoa, and watched a similar story unfold.)

"Opium Dreams,"  a semi-novella, is set in an earlier century in Hawaii, and is a meditation on father-daughter love, or the lack of it, and how an unloved daughter plunges into opium addiction and suicide.  It is also a glimpse into the 19th century opium-dens of Chinatown in Honolulu, how immigrants fleeing starvation in China ended up as addicts whose bones were used for fodder in the canefields.
           A parallel story is that of  a paniolo, a Hawaiian cowboy who has killed  his  beautiful wife for committing adultery, not understanding that polygamy was part of her Cowichan culture. His life  is reduced to years of  grief and guilt, until he is redeemed by the love of a boy, and a stranger.

"Maoritanga" is set in Aotearoa (Maori word  for New Zealand). The portrait of a  Maori woman mired in grief for her brother who dies in combat in the Gulf War, and how that grief drags her into years of drift,  prostitution,  even murder. Only the love of her clan resurrects her,  and restores in her a sense of 'Maoritanga,"  Maori pride.

***(For several months while  visiting Maori friends,  I lived at a hotel in Auckland, New Zealand, patterned after Manners  in the story.  It was a  haunt for  young prostitutes from Asia and the Pacific Islands who had run away from home. The story is based on  events that occured while I was  living there: A Maori friend who lost a brother in the Gulf War,  the murder of a pimp,  the suicide of a young girl, and a playful shark that kept reappearing near the town of Te Kaha.)

"Bullets Over Hollywood" is another story of adultery.  A mix-blood Hawaiian discovers her husband's mistress, tries to burn down her home, shoots up her  teenage children's beds, and flees back to the islands, where she  hides out with a friend who  dwells on her  own ex-husband's adultery. This  is not just a story of  betrayal. It is also a tale of a woman who has lost her identity through marriage and motherhood.  Only a tragedy - a horror every woman dreads - saves her marriage, and helps her rediscover herself, and her ambitions. ***(Based on a true story, and the life of a dear  friend.)

"The Speed of Light" takes place, not in the Pacific, but in the  state of Georgia. A handsome mix-blood Hawaiian enters a small, bigotted  Southern town and, forced to live on charity,  infuses people's lives with poetry and magic.  As he begins to die, people come to understand who, and what, he is.  In that realization, they learn tolerance and acceptance. And a particularly bigotted and homophobic redneck learns what love is.  ***(This story is based on the life of my beloved cousin, Will.)

It is easy to write about love.  And very hard.  We search, and find it, and lose it, and search again. The human comedy.  Cliches abound.  Still, our stories are important, and unique. Because love, the search for it,  the failure of it,  and especially the loss of it,  is  how we progress and mature,  how we attain an inner nobility. An aristocracy of the heart.

As Elton John says in his new memoir: "Love Is The Cure."

 I hope you enjoy OPIUM DREAMS!

Thank you!