I live in Samoa and write books while reclining on golden beaches, sipping on freshly squeezed mango nectar (that’s served to me by tattooed Polynesian warriors.)
Okay, no I lie. I live in Samoa and when I’m not being pestered by my demon children, I write books AND swat away incessant mosquitos, sweat a lot on my laptop, complain loudly about the tropical heat, and throw things at gecko’s that poo on my desk. And take too many snack breaks…
I’ve loved getting lost in a story from a very early age. Growing up in Samoa meant contemporary books were difficult to come by and I spent many hours after school in the public library, reading dusty classics of English and American literature. Fantasy and elements of the supernatural/paranormal intrigued me (Narnia…The Faraway Tree…Twilight…Harry Potter freak right here!) and I always wished there were books like those set in a place and within a culture that I could relate to. My childhood dream then? To write such a book.
It was a dream that was put on hold for a very long while as I: went to university in New Zealand, studied English Literature and Feminist Theory, qualified to be an English teacher, got married (to the most patient man in the universe, Darren Young) and had five children. (See? Lots of busy good excuses for not writing that dream novel!) I did write lots of short fiction though, and also bits and pieces for the local newspaper. My stories for children were published by the NZ School Journal series and other stories won various awards in assorted places.
Our third child was a tiny preemie baby born amidst much emergency panic and so I quit teaching and became a full-time stay-at-home mother. Which is how I discovered the joys of baking three different kinds of cake (and eating them in one afternoon…) AND blogging. My blog ‘Sleepless in Samoa’ was my rant’n’rave outlet that allowed me to still be a halfway calm mother and not run screaming from the house every other day. In my first year of blogging, I was pretty much talking to myself. Now, Sleepless gets thousands of visitors. Which means I can’t say mean things about people anymore…*sigh* Or disclose terribly embarrassing details about my family…since my children’s friends read my blog. Or say bad words! Because I suspect my Dad reads my blog too…
A natural disaster was the catalyst that got me to reassess my priorities and question my decision to “write a book when I grow up…one day…when I’m not so busy…” In 2009, Samoa was hit by an earthquake and tsunami. I was commissioned to write a book about the disaster – Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi – which was published in 2010 and includes personal accounts from survivors, rescue workers, medical teams, tourists and disaster response personnel.
In 2011 I published the first book in my Telesa Series, followed by ‘When Water Burns’, ‘I am Daniel Tahi’, and ‘The Bone Bearer’. My collection of short fiction ‘Afakasi Woman’ was also published in 2011 and awarded the USP Press Fiction Prize. In between all that, I was a sometimes-columnist for the Samoa Observer.
Thanks to digital technology and truly amazing readers in lots of faraway places – my books are being read all over the world and studied in schools and universities. I’ve been featured in SUGA Magazine, SPASIFIK, Tagata Pasifika, the NZ Herald, Stella Magazine, Tautalatala Magazine, Samoa News, TV3 NZ Campbell Live, the Good Morning Show – and some others that I can’t remember right now.
One of my favourite things to do as an author – is speak to students and youth in schools, community groups, literary festivals and writing events – especially Pasifika youth. I feel blessed to have been able to visit with young people through my invites to places in NZ, Samoa, American Samoa, Hawaii, Sydney and Brisbane Australia. Connecting with readers of all ages continues to be the most enjoyable aspect of this writing journey. I love hearing from my readers and you can find my contact details here: Contact Me. Before you get in touch with me, please take the time to read through my FAQ’s page because you may find the answer to your questions there.
I continue to be grateful for everyone’s encouragement and support, Every time you buy one of my books or borrow it from a library, rave about it to a friend, lend it to a family member, post a review somewhere, talk about it on Facebook or Twitter, do a book report for school…you are helping to take these Samoan stories of Pasifika – to the world. You rock.
There’s more books coming out this year and I hope you will enjoy them! Follow this blog and sign up to subscribe via email so you can keep updated on story progress and book release dates.
Faafetai tele lava and thank you.