I am presently moving A Way with Water beyond its current stage as an MA thesis and into a state of publication. I am also working on a piece of fiction, Stone, which focuses on mother-daughter relationships in the presence of substance abuse and abandonment. It is set on the Big Island.
Where did the idea come from and does it fall under a specific genre?
A Way with Water, a dual narrative, traces my mother’s journey from England to the United States and from California to Hawai‘i with three children in tow to escape a physically abusive relationship; and my stepfather’s journey from Black Bottom, Detroit, to the Air Force, and finally to Hawai‘i island, as one of the first black men and jazz musicians there. The narrative examines notions of identity within a counter-cultural lifestyle often interacting with Hawaiian and local cultures—a dynamic that requires not only respect for the host culture, but also an awareness of how my narrative is in dialogue with other Hawai‘i writers. A Way with Water explores non-fiction, poetry, and prose to create hybrid and evolving forms within the field of memoir and biography.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. I felt inspired to read it this summer when I came across a news article online about Ferguson, MO. The woman in the article said something along the lines of, “We don’t matter. We are invisible.” Her words struck me as particularly powerful.
What are some upcoming titles in your reading list?
• This is Paradise: Stories by Kristina Kahakauwila
• Milk and Filth (Camino del Sol) by Carmen Giménez Smith
Who/what inspires your writing?
Other writers. Ideas. Images. Memories. People. Passing phrases. Nature.
What does your writing process entail?
I write the story extensively in my mind before I put it on paper. I write while gardening, sleeping, walking—everywhere and at all times possible. Once I’ve created it in my mind—to a place where it won’t let up—I put it on paper. I listen to music while I write. I’ve found that music without lyrics works best. It doesn’t interfere with my words, my lyrical sense, my rhythm in writing.
Who would you like to give a shout out to in the writing community and why?
Craig Santos Perez for his generosity and guidance.