Book Trailer for Pilikia

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Why the picture of the canoes in the header? They are Hawaiian canoes and are one of the iconic images of Hawaii. But what do they have to do with mysteries? For me, a lot.

My first published mystery story, Wahine O Ka Hoe, took place during an open-ocean canoe race--the Wahine O Ke Kai, literally, Women of the Sea. It was published in Murderous Intent Mystery Magazine in 1998. You can download a copy from my website, The story was inspired by a story about the Wahine O Ke Kai in Sports Illustrated. The writer noted that the most dangerous part of the race is when the paddlers in the canoe are relieved by fresh paddlers. The relief paddlers wait in the water and as the canoe approaches, they duck under the outrigger spars and swing into the canoe while the person they replace flops over the other side. Now these canoes weigh 1600 pounds fully loaded. The channel between Molokai and Oahu, where the race takes place, is one of the most dangerous in the world. Large swells, strong winds, and fast currents make for huge, powerful waves, so a canoe might find itself surfing down the face of a monster wave like a runaway train heading straight for a paddler waiting in the water. The steerswoman has to get that canoe as close as possible to the swimmer with a margin of error so close the slightest deviation could mean death. That was the premise of the story. I won't reveal any more than that. I conceived it as being like a locked room mystery in that the murder, if in fact it was a murder, took place in a very confined space from which he/she could not escape.

I've gotten a lot of story ideas from Sports Illustrated over the years because Val is a sportswoman. Many of the ideas came from the swimsuit issue. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, models in bikinis. The fact is Sports Illustrated used to include articles about women athletes and sometimes lesser known women's sports in the swimsuit issue. They no longer do that, which is a shame because I always enjoyed the articles. And got story ideas from them.

Canoes figure tangentially in my latest novel, The Law of the Splintered Paddle, which my agent is trying to sell. Even though "paddle" is in the title, the book is not about canoeing except that the main character, Ava Rome, belongs to a canoe club.

My work in progress, tentatively titled Canoe, is about canoes. The story begins when someone vandalizes a precious koa wood canoe owned by Ava's canoe club. Ava is on a mission to find the vandal and runs into murder and international timber laundering.

I'll have more on the canoes and timber laundering in later posts.