Today, I've got Lehua Parker here with me to celebrate the release of the re-edited new editions of her Nene Award-nominated Niuhi Shark Saga!
Along with the new, island-y covers you see here, these new editions of her Middle-Grade-to-Young-Adult series have additional content and brand new discussion guides.
So, naturally, while she's here, I'm asking her my favorite question, "What scares you, and how does it influence your writing?"
Picking up The Niuhi Shark Saga, you’d think I was afraid of sharks. It’s right there in the title of the series. In the books people get stalked by sharks, bit by sharks, and die because of sharks. As an island kid growing up in the ocean during the 1970s—the premier Jaws era—it would make a lot of sense.
But sharks don’t scare me.
Being alone and misunderstood does.
You don’t have to be Sigmund Freud to figure out the sub-text of The Niuhi Shark Saga. I grew up a part-Hawaiian, but perpetually sunburned haole-looking girl in Kahului, Maui. From kindergarten through fourth grade, I was the only person with blond hair and blue-eyes in the entire school district, including the staff.
This didn’t change until my family moved to Kalama Valley on Oahu, where in 5th grade at Kamiloiki Elementary there were more kids who looked like me. But nobody spoke Pidgin, which I thought was the language of school. You can imagine my surprise when my teacher, nose in the air, told my mother I needed remedial English lessons and she was recommending me for Resource, which was code for special ed and not in her classroom. I didn’t need English lessons. I just needed to speak as I spoke at home at school.
The shock on Mrs. Goo’s face when I switched mid-sentence from Pidgin to perfect English was almost worth the hell of being in her class.
Almost. I won’t say more, except that when you’re a kid, being good at sports is crucial to overcoming prejudice. That, and a great right hook.
Consequently, a lot of my fiction involves a character that is isolated from others, usually for a reason he or she has no control over. In The Niuhi Shark Saga, Zader is isolated because he’s allergic to water. He’s the weird kid that others put up with because of his popular surfing star brother, Jay.
In One Boy, No Water, Zader fears being left behind if Jay and Char Siu get accepted into Ridgemont Academy for ninth grade. Without Jay around, there’s the real possibility that Zader will be the Blalah’s perpetual punching bag. But as the story progresses, Zader discovers that Jay needs him too, and that being different can be a source of strength.
In One Shark, No Swim and One Truth, No Lie, Zader and Jay learn that anything they love can be taken away. Because of love, Zader sacrifices himself and travels the world alone, wary that he will turn into the monster everyone thinks he is. Jay becomes consumed with revenge, loses his golden boy status, and has to humble himself and learn from others before he can find peace in the ocean again. Both Zader and Jay reject what others think are their destinies, and prove that family are people you choose and not necessarily related by blood.
The Niuhi Shark Saga takes place in modern Hawaii where all the Hawaiian myths, legends, and gods are real, but under the radar of most humans. It’s my hope that readers come away with a deeper understanding of island life than what’s reflected in Hollywood movies and shows like Hawaii 5-0.
And there are sharks. Did I mention the sharks? Monster-sized Niuhi sharks, with mouthfuls of teeth, all-consuming hunger, and extra-sensory perception. They are apex predators without a lick of human remorse or conscience.
Oh, and Niuhi sharks? They can appear in human form. Unlike Jaws, if a Niuhi shark is interested in you, even on land, you’re not safe. There is no bigger boat.
About the Niuhi Shark Saga:
In Hawaii, thirteen-year-old adopted Zader Kaonakai Westin is living in his brother Jay’s shadow.
Jay Kapono Westin is popular—a good student and a surfing star, almost guaranteed a spot at prestigious Ridgemont Academy next year. Zader, on the other hand, is the weird kid allergic to water who sits above the beach and sketches all day.
A favorite target of the bully Blalahs, Zader relies on Jay to keep him safe. But Zader has secrets, like the frightening Man with Too Many Teeth and his friendship with Dream Girl, a mysterious girl who haunts his nights. Uncle Kahana seems to know more about Zader’s past than he’s sharing, especially about his water allergy and inability to eat rare meat or seafood.
When Jay has a shark scare that keeps him out of the ocean, things are set in motion that forever change their destiny. It’s going to push Zader, Jay, and their friend Char Siu beyond their limits to solve the Niuhi Shark Saga.
In a world where Pacific myths and legends come to life, fans of Disney’s Moana and Lilo & Stitch, The Karate Kid, and the Percy Jackson series will love The Niuhi Shark Saga trilogy.
This newly revised third edition contains new content and a discussion guide.
In Hawaii, things are looking up for adopted fourteen-year-old Zader Koanakai Westin. He’s headed to Ridgemont Academy in the fall with his brother Jay and friend Char Siu. The Blalahs have moved onto new targets, Jay’s surfing again, and with Uncle Kahana’s help, they’ve figured out how Zader can join them on the beach and on the reef at Piko Point.
Not bad for the weird kid with the water allergy.
But Zader has questions he can’t let go. Like who his birth parents are, who is The Man with Too Many Teeth, and how did Dream Girl’s imaginary lei end up in his bed? Who are the Niuhi, and if the Uncle Kahana’s Hawaiian legends are true, even out of the water, is anyone ever safe?
It’s going to push Zader, Jay, and Char Siu beyond their limits to solve the Niuhi Shark Saga.
This newly revised second edition contains new content and a discussion guide.
After jumping into the ocean at Piko Point, life will never be the same for fourteen-year-old Zader Kaonakai Westin, the adopted boy allergic to water.
Zader’s answers to who his birth parents are only leave him with more questions. When confronted by The Man With Too Many Teeth, he’s given an ultimatum: take away what’s most important to his brother Jay and live in exile from his Hawaiian family or watch as The Man with Too Many Teeth murders Jay.
Zader’s decision leads him on an adventure to discover his Niuhi family, how his art can change the world, and how family is defined by more than blood.
Devastated by his loss, Jay’s anger burns white-hot. This time it’s going to take Uncle Kahana, Nili-boy, and the Na Koa Wounded Warriors to get Jay back into the water.
Their alliance fractured, Jay, Zader, and Char Siu must work to reunite their family. After all, when Hawaiian gods are involved, destiny is not always what it appears.
This edition contains additional content and a discussion guide.
About Lehua Parker
Lehua Parker is the award-winning author of the MG/YA Pacific literature magic realism series, The Niuhi Shark Saga: One Boy, No Water; One Shark, No Swim; and One Truth, No Lie.
Originally from Hawaii and a graduate of The Kamehameha Schools, Lehua is an author, book doctor, public speaker, and business consultant. Trained in literary criticism and an advocate of indigenous cultural narratives, Lehua is a frequent speaker at conferences and symposiums.
Now living in exile on the mainland with her family and assorted dogs, cats, and horses, during snowy winters she dreams about the beach.
You can find her on her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter, and learn more about The Niuhi Shark Saga here.