Monday, June 30, 2014

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Lehua Parker

Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

Growing up, my mother always told us stories. We lived in Hawaii near my father’s family, but her family was thousands of miles away. Her stories helped us to connect with people she missed and we seldom saw. Reading was another love she passed on to me. I realized very early on that stories had power and I could create my own.


How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or do you prefer writing freehand?

Most of my writing is done on a computer, usually at my desk with the display font set to something ridiculously large so I don’t have to wear my glasses. When I travel, I use a laptop. Writing by hand is too slow for me and I break the cardinal rule of editing as I write, so my handwritten pieces look like badly drawn maps with all the arrows, circles, and crossed out sections. My best creative writing happens very late at night from about 10 pm to 4 am. When I’m pushing a first draft deadline on a book, I go into that mode. Editing or revising is usually done in the early to late afternoon.

What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

Even with complicated novels, I seldom outline. I sit down with a general idea of what should happen next, but the characters always take over and surprise me. They are much smarter than I am, and I love discovering the story as they tell it. My least favorite things about being an author are all the bookkeeping and legal aspects like taxes and contracts.

How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?

I've worked as a theater and television director, so I see the action, characters, setting, and story roll out like a movie in my head. I just transcribe into book form what I see and hear. My characters arrive on the scene fully-formed. While some authors base characters on people they know, mine are all aspects of me. For example, in the Niuhi Shark Saga, a speculative fiction series set in Hawaii for MG/YA readers, the kid who was teased, the busy mom, the wise uncle, the superstar athlete, the girl who wants to be one of the guys but also wants the option to wear a little make-up, the smart-aleck dog who figures out how to get her way, and even the scary man with too many teeth are all roles I imagine myself playing.

Book One
People care about these characters because they demonstrate what life is like in a supportive, loving, and typical Hawaiian family—as opposed to the Hollywood version where the kids are uber smart, the adults dreadfully dull, and the locals all wear coconut bras and warn about tiki curses. My characters are often ordinary people placed in extraordinary situations who make choices for both noble and self-serving reasons.

What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I do a lot of appearances at writers’ conferences and bookstore signings, speak at schools, hold drama workshops for teens, and participate in interviews like this one. To keep in touch with readers between publications I've developed a strong social media platform that includes a blog, several websites, a Facebook author fan page, and Twitter account.

How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

Fortunately, I can write full-time. My kids are all teens who are fairly self-sufficient with laundry, feeding, and getting themselves to soccer practice, which frees me to write when the muse strikes. Unfortunately, I can write full-time. This has gotten me into the habit of writing, reading, editing, researching, marketing, and critiquing my work and the work of other authors anytime there’s something boring like housework to be done. I tend to binge with long hours in the afternoons and then again late at night for four or five days, then take a day or two off, rinse, repeat.

What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

Book 3 in the Niuhi Shark Saga, One Truth, No Lie is nearing completion and almost ready to turn over to the editorial team at Jolly Fish Press. I anticipate it hitting store shelves in late 2015. Meanwhile, I've several short stories slated for anthologies and a one-act play I’m writing for a spring 2015 high school drama competition. For the past 10 months or so, much of my writing time has been taken up with editing books and short stories for other authors. I also write articles for various blogs including a travel series about my adventures in the Caribbean, Greece, Turkey, and Spain in 2014.

Book Two
Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

Like most authors, I have to work a couple of years ahead of publication. I have a lot of ideas, but I've learned to write what you sell, not sell what you write. This means that I work with publishers to develop ideas and sell the work before it’s written. I have many ideas for stories that I’d like to explore, but I’m not ready to invest a lot of time in something that doesn't have a clear path to publication and market.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

The beauty about publishing today is that it is easier than ever to make your work available to readers. Learn your craft. Join a critique group. Query and submit if you want to go the traditional publishing route—you can’t get a yes if you don’t ask. Listen to reader feedback. If you love to write for writing’s sake, then self-publish your stories and send them out into the world to find their audience. But above all, ask yourself why you are writing. That answer will set you on the publishing path that’s right for you.

Connect with Lehua Parker
Blog & Free Short Stories: http://www.lehuaparker.com/   
All things Niuhi Shark Saga: http://www.niuhisharksaga.com/
Twitter: @LehuaParker

One Boy, No Water               

One Shark, No Swim
Barnes & Noble : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/one-shark-no-swim-lehua-parker/1114940697?ean=9781939967107
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