Talofa lava,

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.







  1. I really enjoyed all of your telesa stories–this last one, “Bone Bearer”, especially. You have a remarkable gift. Are you telasa? Hahaha. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to more…

  2. I’m so blessed to have come by Telesa series by accident. I enjoy reading very much and would like to thank you for writing this amazing trilogy. Your truly an inspiration. Your storytelling accounts and gift of sharing brings more meaning and dimensions to inspire Samoan traditional storytelling toGod Bless lu

  3. I read “Your blog is disgusting and has brought shame on our family” today! You are brave/blessed, it reminded me of a very true story ~~”Waking up in Heaven” by Crystal McVae: If you can obtain and read, it will help understand how Our Father God answers and helps every single one that has been sexually abused: God Bless in Jesus Almighty Name …. xo

  4. I just read your response blog to an article you wrote in reference to sexual abuse. I for one am not surprised by the negative reactions you have received. Our people, are so adamant about “not shaming the family name”, that they voluntarily choose not to speak of such things in public and even within the confines of their homes. Teenage pregnancy and suicide are in such high numbers in both Samoas because there is no dialoque in regards to intercourse, sexual abuse, rape, and sexually transmitted diseases. Where is the “family name” when a child is being molested or sexually abused by a family member? Where is the “faaaloalo” when a teen is hanging from a ulu tree? Silence at times is golden, but when one is silenced by their own family and society, the result is usually tragic….. thanks for being an inspiration….thank you for being a voice for the afraid, the battered wife, the pregnant teen, the molested young boy/ girl, the faafafine(yayyyy), the lost adult……thank you!

  5. apparently Telesa is the first book about Samoa that i was ever interested into reading. i felt in love with the book just when i started reading the first one. there was never a moment in the book where i felt like falling to sleep. reading Telesa made me determine to finish the first book in one day so i can just move on to the other. i was super anxious to read more. i love TELESA ❤ i love how the author brought out the best stories about Samoa. Lani, your writings are amazingly beautiful. keep it coming 🙂

  6. I am a young samoan/maori writer currently residing in Sydney – you spoke at my school James Meehan High – but I never had the opportunity to meet you personally as I was heavily pregnant with my first son 17 at the time but, now I have been given the opportunity to publish my first book! (Oosing with excitement) I was just wondering what was it like at first? Was it easy to get noticed or publicity? Were there any downsides?

    If you could reply that’d mean a lot. Thank you

  7. This was such a great series. I enjoyed the fusion of the different polynesian characters. I loved that Daniel’s character was heavy on the fa’asamoa and the emphasis/big impact on fa’aaloalo. Great great great job! Thank you very much. Im sad it ended, or maybe not?! Lol… Manuia.

  8. Hey Lani! I heard you speak at Tupu Library a few years ago and I was inpsired by your story. I was wondering whether you would be available to speak to teens in Mangere, hopefully during Pasifika Month, but would consider a time that suits your busy schedule. It would be great opportunity for you to share about your writing journey with teens over this side of South Auckland? Look forward to hearing from you soon! Sonia – Mangere Town Centre Library

  9. Hey Lani, wow I’m such a big fan of your Telesa series! Ever since the first book came out, my eyes were locked in it every day and every night… It actually got me away from all the social media!
    And I just had to miss out on the day you had book signing in Mangere last year, while I was on holiday in NZ. However, I just want to thank you for such an imaginative and amazing series. Your writing inspires me so much. I look forward to read many other series/books to come.
    I’ve read all the books to the Telesa series now and I was just wondering, is there another book after The Bone Bearer? I would greatly appreciate it if you could get back to me 🙂

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