No I’m not Rich and I haven’t met Ezra Taylor.

Wherever I go, I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about the writing and publishing of the TELESA book. Some of them serious, “How long did it take you to write?…Is the book about Ezra Taylor?…Are you rich now?” And some of them, not-so-serious, “Can I be Leila in the movie version of the book?…Are you afraid the real telesa is going to punish you for writing it?” Once and for all, this post is to answer the serious questions. Some Random TELESA Book Trivia.

1. All up, the book took me 6 months to write and rewrite. Another month for editing and another month for formatting. The toughest part was formatting it. I’m hopeless with Word document intricacies and there was a lot of cursing and general witchiness during my attempts to prep TELESA, first as an electronic book and then as a print book. I hope and pray that formatting the second book will be provoke far fewer curse words.

2. No. I did not base the character of ‘Daniel’ on rugby player Ezra Taylor. I had never heard of Ezra or seen any pictures of him until a few months ago when I was formatting the book and planning the TELESA promotional campaign. A sister-blogger ( who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty), pointed him out to me. He’s a great role model for our Pacific youth in many ways. I’m grateful that he accepted the invitation to be the cover model and he has generously ‘gone the extra mile’ and assisted with book/video trailers and more. No, I have never met Ezra in person. Photoshoots etc were arranged via phone, email and Twitter. (I’ve met his mum though and she’s super cool and an inspiring Pacifica woman – which probably explains why her son is kinda cool too.) When I  read the TELESA book and as I continue working on the second one, I do not envision Ezra when I’m writing Daniel and Leila’s story. It would really kill the creative process if a real person invaded my thoughts while I was writing! Daniel is completely fictional – although many of his qualities were inspired by a blend of characteristics from different boys/men I have met in my life.

3. I can’t point to one place or moment where I got the idea to write TELESA. I grew up with the telesa stories and warnings like most young Samoan girls but I found them fascinating rather than frightening because I don’t believe in ‘witchcraft’ or demons etc. It annoyed me that nobody could answer my questions about telesa. I wanted to know more about her and so I resorted to imagination to fill in the blanks. I have used several key names from our Samoan mythology eg. Nafanua, but I have deliberately mis-spelled others eg. Saumaeafe – because I’m NOT writing about the character from the legends and I do not want people to assume that I am. Read the disclaimer at the front of the book – I’m not an expert on Samoan legends/mythology, I’ve made up everything and anything in the book – so please don’t sue me or throw stones at me if the story doesn’t ‘match’ whatever legends you were told as a child. Another source of inspiration was the X-Men. I loved X-Men comics and the idea of mutants, people gifted/cursed with special abilities has always enthralled me.

4. Yes there are more TELESA books coming. I can say with 100% surety that there will be three books but I am also dabbling with the idea of several others after that. (They may not have Leila and Daniel as the key characters though because they will be taking up the storyline of other telesa.)

5. No I have not made lots of money on the TELESA book. Most people are illegally file sharing the e-book with gazillions of friends and relatives. I anticipated this though and so I didn’t run out and buy my Hummer dreamcar. I’m grateful that people want to read my book enough to steal it – share it because I’m a nobody writer with her first fiction novel – and even opening my book to the first page, is taking a risk on your part. At this point in the game, I’m thrilled people are reading it, never mind how they got it. I received my first royalties cheque from Amazon in the mail last week for the Sept sales of the e-book – a whopping total of $245 USD, which will allow me to get McDonalds for the Fab5…a couple of times. When someone buys a print book off Amazon for $12, I get $3.00 of that. This is still a better deal than that offered by a publishing company, because most of them will only offer 8 to 10% royalties. So if they sold my book for 12, I would only get $1.20…eek! I had to invest a big chunk of money into printing TELESA books here in NZ – but those sales are the ones that bring in the most return. Enough to pay off my book loan, fund launches, and then reassure me (and my bank) enough to get me a second loan to print another lot of books. Maybe by the time “When Water Burns” is out, I will be able to answer ‘yes’ to the money question. (When I tell you that the Hot Man has quit his night job as Head Security at an Auckland nightclub…then you will know that the TELESA book is finally making us some money!)

Hope that answered your questions as well..if you have more, please ask away! All comments / questions go in the draw to win one of TWO Telesa book t.shirts.  It’s been 3 months since the release of the TELESA e-book. To celebrate, and to thank you all for the awesome support on this journey,  I have TELESA t.shirts to give away.

T.shirts come in white with EITHER the Daniel book cover image OR the firegirl Amazon bookcover image. Sizes M, L, XL 

Leave a comment / question and I will randomly draw TWO winners at midnight on 30th Dec. If youre having trouble commenting on the blog, then please add it on the Facebook page, all quetions/comments there and here will be in the draw. There will be more T.Shirt giveaways as we welcome the New Year, so stay tuned. Good luck!

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19 comments

  1. X-Men? Oooh, looks like I need to move my legitimate copy of Telesa up my TBR list. I bought it loving your blog and expecting great writing but not really knowing a whole lot, just some minor details about the story. Now I'm even more intrigued. It's a shame it's getting pirated, but I guess that is still a good advertisement. I've struggled with the idea of people doing that and I usually end with the thought that those folks reading "shared" copies aren't going to buy it anyway, so if they read and enjoy it, they might buy a copy or buy the next in the series.

  2. As one of those boys to men who surely inspired one your characters, I want to give you some dinari for your coke habit. (diet coke that is, in case the IRB monitors your blog and fine Ezra Taylor by association) I would like to buy a Telesa shirt, I got the book already so it will totally kill at my local church BBQ. How does purchase of these said awesomTelesa merchandise

  3. I like the self-care question – I was wondering the same thing. I know that you have done a lot of work promoting your book online and at book launches, signings etc.. Do you promote your book to public libraries or library associations? I went to our local library yesterday and looked for your book and was absolutely shocked to find that they didn't have a copy! I asked them to purchase a copy asap of course.

  4. wow, your blogs are straight to the point & i enjoy every blog you put up. Still can't believe you haven't met Ezra. anyways, what inspired you to write your first fiction novel? . .-manuia le kerisimasi ma le tausaga fou .

  5. Talofa Lani! It's great to read your answers to the all SO serious questions AND I'd like to applaud you for being upfront about the realities of it all. To read about the file sharing does annoy me but like the others have pointed out from a positive perspective – gets your writing out there. Who knows? Might just land in Oprah's lap then millions of ice-cream money (dare to dream)! I'm so happy I waited to read the book when I bought my print copy & yes please would love to purchase t-shirts with the fire-girl cover please. Keep up the awesome writing & a Merry Christmas to you, hot man & fab5! 🙂

  6. You are a SUPERWOMAN Lani, to be able to juggle all this, yr writing, yr Hot Man, Kids, Sleeping, Living, etc, i am amazed by yr energy and inspired by yr imagination…… and by the way , your name is pretty cool… I know another Lani who inspires me too…..Merry Xmas

  7. I Luv X-Men! Also reminds me of Avatar The last airbender with the whole earth, air, fire and water abilities.. Hook me up with a volunteer promo job hahaha! so We can get these sales UP, UP AND AWAYYYY 😀 hehehe…

  8. Hey Lani, any chance on you launching Telesa here in Sydney? Me & the sister girls who have read it are doing our best to get it out there 😉 lol. Really appreciate your writing, work & honesty in this article!! Its as real as it gets :). Telesa had definitely taken me to my own alternate world that's the beauty of a book, this one is more beautiful because of the characters Daniel to name a few..well one lol & there's the description of places & only the best school in Samoa! Hehe SamCo hard. (cont') to the next installments with much anticipation & so believe that your BEST work is yet to come! Manuia le kirisimasi ma le tausaga fou to you, hot hubby & fab5! Stay blessed x

  9. I like your question Lina! To be honest, I don't do enough for 'self-care'. The first thing to get chucked out the window when Im full-on writing a book is my exercise and good eating habits. I gained 15 pounds writing the tsunami book and I don't even want to get on the scale to see how much weight has piled on since i started writing TELESA! Attending church is something i look forward to for 'uplifting and renewal'. I'm a movie addict and love love relaxing at the movies. And the best thing for de-stressing is to blast my iPod an go for a walk. I hope i can take better care of my self in the upcoming months.Lani

  10. I like it alot that you are so real and true and the more I read your blogs the more i realise that God gave everyone different dreams and passions that we all can share. You have found yours in writring and maybe it dont pay you enough in money as how we all hoped for…..yet, but you stayed true to what you love to do. And for that Lani you inspired me in getting to do what I love to do and will do it without a mindset on money or what i will get out of it but mainly because its my gift and passion God installed in my dna. I wish you and your family an awesome season and may God continue to bless you and what you are doing. He always rewards the hard workers and it will come in time. Blessings fr Souf Aukilani.:-)

  11. I like it alot that you are so real and true and the more I read your blogs the more i realise that God gave everyone different dreams and passions that we all can share. You have found yours in writring and maybe it dont pay you enough in money as how we all hoped for…..yet, but you stayed true to what you love to do. And for that Lani you inspired me in getting to do what I love to do and will do it without a mindset on money or what i will get out of it but mainly because its my gift and passion God installed in my dna. I wish you and your family an awesome season and may God continue to bless you and what you are doing. He always rewards the hard workers and it will come in time. Blessings fr Souf Aukilani.:-)

  12. was there a particular reason you chose the names Leila and Daniel? they are quite common…not that theres anything wrong with common but just wondering. your hard work is greatly appreciated. btw, im following you on twitter 😀 woohooo! keep up the awesome work, Lani!!

  13. Q1. What time of the day/night do you write the most? Are you a night owl or early bird?Q2. How do you get yourself 'in the right frame of mind' when you sit down to write?and lastly..Q3. Do you ever 'censor' your writing? 🙂

  14. TL Jeffcoat – thanks so much for the book and blog support TL. From one Xmen fan to another! lolSamasoni – love your comment, Im sure you are one of those 'boyz to men inspirations' lol. T.Shirt order details can be found on the 'Books Where to Buy' page on this blog. Thank you for the support.Readerwriter – great point about the libraries. Telesa is available in the Auck libraries but for it to be in other city libraries, people have to request it, so Im glad that you did that. I'm working on getting it into more libraries around the country here in NZ.Merci09 – No, me and Ezra have never managed to be in the same country at the same time.And now that he's taken up his contract in England, I don't think the face of Daniel will have a lot of time for Telesa book activities for a while! Thank goodness for the internet which has made all sorts of promo arrangements possible tho. What inspired me to write my first fiction novel? My frustration at the lack of fantasy fiction set in a contemporary Pacific setting – when I was a teenager and now that I have teenagers who love reading. I hope to see many more Pacific writers taking on the Young Adult genre.

  15. I thoroughly enjoyed Telesa, as I also find the our myths & legends exciting and linking it with X-Men just made it more fascinating 🙂 Also, i did alot of reminiscing to the time i attended Samoa College and those college years which you captured so nicely. You mentioned the royalties you received, I purchased my copy online at http://www.fishpond.co.nz and am planning on purchasing another for a gift. Do you recommend this site or would you rather I used another site that will benefit you more financially? Also, did u teach english at Samoa College?

  16. Thanks for the blog love Anather and for supporting the Telesa book. Im so glad that you were able to attend the launch and take so many great photos. Hi Samoan05 – yes…I know another Lani too! lolSarita – glad you enjoyed TELESA. I would love to bring Telesa to Sydney. Theres a group of awesome Telesa fans in Brisbane who are organizing some book activities there in April and so I will be in Australia then. If anyone can help organize something in Sydney – then yes, will defn stop there!Ronella – thank you for the encouragin feedback on the book. Yes i did teach english at SamCo. That was the first place I worked at and I got to know many inspiring students who were very patient with my mistakes as a very young, very new teacher! Fishpond NZ and Trademe are perfect sites to buy the book from because the books are supplied directly from me without a 'middleman'. Also, that way you can have books personalized and signed to whoever you would like. Thank you!

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