Plantation House

A Week in Samoa

I’m in Samoa – staying with my parents but otherwise completely alone. No Hot Man. No Fabulous Five. I was invited to attend the 2012 SPACLAL Pacific Literature Conference held at the National University of Samoa and I had to give a presentation thingamajig about electronic books and self-publishing and social media etc. It was a great opportunity to meet some amazing Pacific writers…like the Tongan poet Konai Helu Thaman, Samoan poet Rev. Ruperake Petaia, Cook Island poet Audrey Brown Pereira, Fijian poet Darren Kamali and his partner in life and poetry – Grace Taylor. And to re-connect with others who have mentored and inspired me…poet and academic Selina Tusitala Marsh and writer Emma Kruse-Vaai. I just wanted to absorb their creative wonderfulness by being in the same Samoan fale/house with them…but I even got to chat with them…have dinner with them…talk writing with them…fan the same flies away from our lunch…

This was my second SPACLAL conference. Dr Sina Vaai invited me to be on a Writer’s Panel at the SPACLAL conference in 2004. I was terrified because I hadnt written any books then and the short stories I HAD written – I was submitting to journals everywhere using different made-up names so nobody would know I’d written such rubbbish. In 2004, I felt like a big fat liar sitting next to REAL writers who were brave enough to write their REAL names on their writing. Fast forward to now. I didnt feel like such a big fat liar. And I even had some books with my REAL name on them. But – it didnt really help. Because I was still terrified. And freaked out about presenting. It didnt help that I wore a stunning puletasi which was so stunning it was a heat trap. And I was sweating in a puddle of humidity. And when I stood up to present, I was soooooo hot that my glasses fogged up. And I couldnt see anybody. And so I had to take them off. And then I REALLY couldnt see anybody. (which was maybe a good thing.) But talking about electronic books and self-publishing was kinda like setting off a bomb in that gathering because lots of the writers present hadnt heard of such stuff and had never considered there might be another way to get their stories out to the world. I left the conference with lots of requests from people wanting to  learn more about this publishing avenue.

Some of the highlights of the week for me?

*Meeting Konai Helu Thaman who knocked down many walls for Pacific women writers. Listening to  her explain the background inspiration for her poem, ‘You the Choice of my Parents’ – which tore at my 14yr old heart and fervent imagination when we studied it in English class.

*Hanging out with Selina Tusitala Marsh, the rockstar NZ/Samoan poet who is the coolest, funnest woman in literature. EVER. ( I mean, heck, the woman does kickboxing. And runs half-marathons. And can apppreciate fun, fantasy ‘trash’ fiction. Can’t get much cooler than that!) We bonded over Nalini Singh novels at the last Writers Festival we went to and I had to laugh at her presentation on ‘Afakasi Women in Pacific Lit’…because while she included an analysis of my TELESA book, she also livened up everyone’s day with lots of cover-pics from Singh’s romance/erotica books. Woohoo! (and you thought my book had a hot cover.)

*Listening to Tunumafono Apelu Aiavao, (a silver-haired, very distinguished gentleman) talk poetry. And tell us about ‘that night…back in 1970’s…when we were having a few drinks together with Konai Helu Thaman…and she danced for us…and I couldnt sleep that night thinking about her beauty…so I wrote a poem about her body and its sensual swaying in the night…’  And then reading that poem for us and others. The discussion that followed was a welcome reminder for me that I shouldn’t be as freaked out as I have been, about writing about sensuality as a Pacific woman. All these other groundbreaking Pacific writers have been doing it for ages. I don’t know if the rules are different for Pacific WOMEN…but be prepared for a lot more ‘freedom of expression’ in my next books.

*Performing a reading of my blog at the Poetry Evening. I’m a rule breaker who doesnt write poetry so instead I go to a poetry recital and read blog extracts instead. And tell everyone about Skanky Ho’s in West Auckland and the sad fact that no, they are not serving Diet coke and Doritos at the gym. It was my first time to do a reading from my blog and it was a blast. I had so much fun with it and the audience seemed to enjoy it as well. Although Rev. Ruperake Petaia was on next after me and he had to say, “I feel like the severe grandfather figure who must tell you all to stop laughing and screaming hysterically and attempt to inject some sombreness and gravity to the occasion” Performing did give me an idea though – I’m going to video more of my blog pieces and get them up on YouTube. (that should really embarass the Fab5. Which of course is always my goal in life.)

*The food. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I’m superficial like that. But you know me well enough by now to know that everything is about food. The conference was catered by Taro King and they make the bestest refreshments. They even put lolisaiga powder on their fresh pineapple. (Which makes them worthy of celestial honors in my estimation.) My week in Samoa would not have been complete without oka and fried breadfruit from Paddles Restaurant. Sashimi and pok’e from Amanaki Restaurant. Octopus in coconut cream (faiai fe’e) from Netties MiniMart. Cream puffs from PlantationHouse High Tea. Lychee, mangoes and papaya from the trees outside. Bananas in coconut cream (fa’alifu fa’i) from Siaosi’s shop. Hunks of hot bread and slabs of melting butter. And keke pua’a. And pineapple pie.  Everything tastes better in Samoa. I’m not sure why…

*The creative battery recharge. I savored sunsets on the Apia Harbor seawall. Delighted in sand and sun and the lilting sounds of the ocean. Mused on all the colors of a tropical garden – fiery fuschia, pert pinks, raging reds, solemn greens, velvet purples… Chickens nestled in a cozy cluster on the doorstep. Even the busy heat, dust and dirt of a crowded day in Apia. All of it refreshed and rejuvenated my writing fire. I’m so ready to write write write now…

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Virtual Online Love

My mother is a powerhouse of creativity and I owe much of who I am – to her. It’s no accident that my Telesa series centers around beautiful, strong, vibrant and powerful women because that’s the kind of mother I’ve been blessed with. Both my parents are incredibly supportive of my writing efforts… in their own ways. My Dad tells me everything I do and everything I write – is wonderful. My Mum tells me what’s wrong with everything I do and everything I write and then works hard out to help me “fix” things. (I’m always glad when she tries to ‘fix’ me because that usually involves her giving me something stunning to wear so I won’t look so bedraggled.)

So yes, in their own unique ways, my parents are a great support for my writing. Even if the technological mysteries of the electronic book world make no sense to them. My mum only recently discovered how to use Facebook and I still get trans-Pacific-Ocean phonecalls from her, asking me how to upload a photo to her Facebook page…E-books are an enigma to my mother. “They are not ‘really real’ books, are they?” Case in point:

When I launched my first book, “Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi”, my mum gave me a stunning set of silver jewelery that she had designed herself for her Pacific design store, Plantation House.

See here, the bracelet and ring? at the Auckland launch hosted by Auck University. (and ohmigosh, check out the perfectly manicured fingernails – that is a cataclysmic, universe-imploding thing. Rare…so rare.)

And the necklace! (and my beautiful cousin Sina Wendt Moore, President of Auckland PACIFICA.)
 I love my  silver accessories and wear them to death everywhere. Which is really saying a lot because I hate wearing jewelry of any kind. They are a sparkly reminder of my parent’s encouragement and support.

When I launched my second book “Telesa: The Covenant Keeper”, my mum gave me a pearl shell neckpiece.  Also from Plantation House.

You can kinda see it here with some lovely Telesa readers, at the Wellington launch hosted by the Pacific Studies Dept at Victoria Univ.

I released my third book last week as an electronic book on Amazon: ‘Afakasi Woman’, a collection of 24 short stories. I don’t think my mother was counting on books getting released so quickly. She would probably prefer the more traditional approach where writing a book takes seven years and getting it published takes another seven…That would certainly save money where gifts of expensive Pacific jewelry are concerned.

My mum’s response to my book launch news?””Well I’m not giving you any new jewelry for this one because it’s not a REAL book, is it?”
Me – “Yes it is. It’s got 120 pages and a cover and everything. I’ll send you a link and a picture of it.”

Her response, “Fine. And then I’ll send you an e-picture of a new necklace from Plantation House.”

Or maybe an electronic picture of some new rings and bangles. Like this. 

E-pictures of “virtual jewelry gifts.” My mum may be new to the world of internet technology – but she’s catching on pretty fast.

Sleepless in Samoa hit a record 30,000 visits this month. Thanks for keeping me company! If you’re looking for a Fantasy Romance read about strong, fierce and proud Pacific women – check out the free sample of TELESA:The Covenant Keeper available on Amazon.

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!

Christmas Tree Killer

My Xmas tree is dead. Or at least its dying a whimpering, withering death. This is our first Christmas in NZ. I’m an island girl who grew up with sweltering rainy season Christmases. But I also grew up on Enid Blyton and Swiss Chalet girls books, so I wanted a real Xmas tree. I wanted the house redolent with the fragrance of fresh pine. I figured drinking eggnog and eating hot gingerbread in front of a roaring fire was out of the question since it’s summer here…but at least, we could have a real tree. The Hot Man questioned my desire. ‘What the heck do we want a real tree for? Isn’t that a waste of money when a fake tree will last forever?’ Clearly he did not grow up reading Secret Seven, Famous Five or daydreaming about being a schoolgirl in the Swiss Alps. So I ignored him. (You just know how this is going to end, don’t you!?)

I even went one step further and got our tree set up early this year. On December 1st to be exact. We had our tree. And I was inspired by Plantation House ‘From Our House to Yours’ Xmas photoshoot.

I made a pine wreath using leaves from the trees in our yard. I meandered pine all over my mantlepiece, my living room. Artfully strewn with Xmas baubles. My niece was awestruck with my creativity. ‘Wow aunty, you’re so clever. How do you know how to do that?!’ I waved off the applause nonchalantly. I was Xmas woman personified. A bottle of ginger beer – and Enid Blyton and me would have totally been best buddies. I just know it.

And then the stupid tree started dying. It’s sitting in water so I don’t know what the heck its problem is. It’s getting brown. Withered looking. It’s shedding everyday. My living room looks like the place where Xmas goes to die. My brother remarked (sneeringly) ‘Well what did you expect? You can’t even keep potplants alive, how did you think you were going to sustain an entire tree?”  I hate it. Every rotting pine needle screams ‘Lani is a Xmas tree killer!’ I want to take it down and replace it with a lovely fake tree bu the Hot Man is  shaking his head at me and I already spent the alloted Xmas Tree budget on a tree. That’s now a dead tree.

He hasn’t said ‘I told you so’ yet. (what a nice man) He has helpfully suggested that we wrap the fossilizing monstrosity in layers of tinsel. Kind of like applying makeup to a cadaver and sending it to a party in a Lady Gaga dress. No, nothing can save it.

The Christmas tree is dead. Bring on the bonfire.
              I’m going Gaga-tree-style  for Christmas.

Screaming Mothers. And Humming Daughters.

Me and my Beautiful Mum.

Dear Big Daughter Sade,

This morning I was helping your grandmother prepare for a night of literature and dessert at her design store cafe – Plantation House. She had invited forty guests and was getting rather stressed about the upcoming event. She’d asked me to drive her to the grocery store early in the  morning to help buy supplies for the marathon of baking she would be doing. Of course I was happy to oblige. I was up at 5am working on a speech, then walked next door and greeted her with a smile at 7.30am.

She was not happy. “I told you I wanted to go to the store EARLY. I told you I have lots of work to do today. If you don’t want to be helpful then you shouldn’t have said that you would drive me.”

Huh? I smiled. Reassured her that yes, of course I wanted to be helpful. After all, the event was an advance Launch nite for my Telesa book. I was at her complete disposal. My every waking breath would have her name on it.

She still wasn’t happy. “I can’t be waiting around for you while you take your time waking up. I have places to go. Do you know how any things I have to get done today? You have no idea how much work is required for today. And I have a shop to run. And I have workers to supervise. And I have…blah blah blah.”

Huh? I smiled. Again. Told her, I’m ready to go. I’ve been ready to go since 5am. Here I am. The shops don’t open until 8am which is why I didn’t walk down here sooner.

She wasn’t interested in my story. She huffed. Ignored me. Stalked out the door and started walking up the driveway. Muttering to the flowers and trees about rotten, useless, lazy, selfish daughters.

Huh? I didn’t want to smile anymore. But. I took a deep breath. My mum had a lot on her plate. I would be patient. Helpful. Kind. Supportive. Be nice Lani. I started humming a little happy song under my breath as I got in the car and chased after her. She got in my car. “I should have gotten a taxi to town. Much more reliable and more helpful than you are.”

I smiled. At the trees. The flowers. And I hummed my little happy song under my breath. She snarled. “What are you looking like that for? Why are you humming that song for?! Are you being rude now?!You better stop that.”

I had no more smiles left in me. I was ready to explode. Self-combust in a telesa induced flame attack. And then? I had a vision. A flashback. Of you, my daughter, humming a little song the last time I was snappy and stressed and aggravated. The last time I was barking out orders and perhaps being just the teensiest bit unreasonable. Yes, you hummed a little song. Bravely. And you had a faraway smile on your face. And I had mistaken it for defiance. And yelled at you more. ‘Don’t you try to ignore me when I’m speaking to you girl! And stop humming that song – I know what you’re trying to do, you’re deliberately trying to annoy me! Stop it.’
I had a rare, precious moment of clarity. I looked at my mother and saw myself. In all her creative fury and impatient energy. And I understood her so much better.

And then I thought of you Sade, and I saw myself –  in your efforts to be more patient and more understanding of a mother who often defies definition because she’s furiously creative and energetically impatient. (translation: MEAN.)  Right there and then, I resolved – to come home a nicer, more patient mother to you. And to tell you that I’m sorry. For the times I’ve been so mean. I’m going to try harder. Be better. I promise.

Right after I first make it through this day with my mother. Without exploding.

With love from,
Your Mum.

P.S The Telesa Advance Launch at Plantation House was a beautiful event. All thanks to my mother. She’s 70 yrs old and still can work harder and envision brighter than anyone else I know. What do we learn from this experience? Every adult woman with daughters should return home and spend some time with her mother. So they can remember what it feels like to be a daughter. And learn anew, what their mother endured to raise them.

From Me to You.

In a few hours I will fly out to Samoa where I will spend a week in various TELESA book launch activities. I will do things like – chat to media at a press conference, visit a school or two, bake furiously for a Literary Evening at Plantation House, sign books at some local bookshops, do a couple of tv interviews, launch my book at a gathering of 200  invited guests,,,and generally try not to sound like a dork.I’m getting more and more apprehensive as the countdown continues. Why?

* I’m already missing my family and I haven’t even left yet. I bought them all chocolate donuts for breakfast. (Assuaging my guilt with sugar.) And I had tears in my eyes when I kissed them goodbye for school. I wish, I wish that they were all going with me but it’s exam time. And I’m not rich enough, not unless I squirrel them away in my suitcase.

*I’m worried about the ‘traditional’ generation who might think that I have ripped off their ‘telesa’ geneaology and ancestral family legends. They might get mad and throw rocks at me. Or tell everyone not to buy my book. Both of which would be really bad… Im hoping the media will alert them to the fact that no, my book is not a historical account of myth and legend but rather, a romance-laden, thriller with hints of the supernatural. And an overabundance of rippling muscle and gleaming abs…

*I love my hermit cave. I love my online friends. I love my blogging buddies. The thought of getting out into the real world, talking to real people, organizing real functions for masses of those real people, giving speeches, smiling, answering questions about my book, possibly dodging missiles of criticism about my book…well, lets just say that its kinda freaking me out. For me, this is the most challenging and difficult part of being  a writer. The social interaction that’s required to promote my writing and get my book out there. I can’t wait to be back in my cave. Writing book two.

So I may not be able to blog regularly in the next week – but if you’re a Sleepless in Samoa blog reader who lives in Samoa? Pleeease, I have a favor to ask of you… if you see me skulking about, could you please  be nice, say “Hi”, reassure me that nobody is waiting to throw rocks at me, remind me that life will go on even if I make a mistake in my launch speech…and generally make life outside the Hermit Cave a less scary place to be! Thank you.

Sincerely, Me.

And the Winner is…

ML2ENAY. Thank you to everyone who uploaded a review of TELESA:The Covenant Keeper on either Amazon or Smashwords by the Monday deadline. You rock! I appreciate your ongoing support and encouragement. Today we put all your names into this very special magic box. ( Otherwise known as Bella’s Toy Blocks Box)

If you posted a review on BOTH Amazon and Smashwords, then your name was entered twice. Then we shook it all up and asked the Princess Bella Beast Fairy to please take a break from her ballet dancing…Pretty Please!

Bella picked out a name and the winner of the Pacific Design bed set from Plantation House ( you choose the color) is….

Amazon Reviewer: ML2ENAY ! Yaaay! Please email me at LaniWendtYoung@hotmail.com within 48 hrs or else I will ask Bella to choose another name from the magic toy box.

Book reviews are the life’s blood for an author – and they dont have to be five star ones either! The more reviews a book gets on Amazon etc, then the more other browsing readers are encouraged to try it. As a first time fiction novelist, I know that buying my book is like taking a leap of faith on your part – I mean, heck what if it totally sucks right?! Every time someone takes that leap and purchases my book, I am humbled by your willingness to give my fiction writing a chance. Thank you. And then when you make the time to write a review? I am thrilled with your support. Thank you again. I hope you will continue to spread the word about the TELESA series and we will be hosting another reviewer giveaway very soon…

Thank you for helping this blog hit a record 18,000 visits last month. My YA urban fantasy romance Telesa:The Covenant Keeper is  avail. from Amazon. I invite you to check out the reviews and see if this is a fire you want to get in on…
                                               EBook – $5.99      Print Book – $14.95

Why do YOU Love Samoa?



Telesā:The Covenant Keeper is set in present day Samoa. An island nation in the South Pacific where I was born and educated, and where until recently, I was raising my five children. We’ve been living in New Zealand for 9 months now and while we like our new Kiwi home, being away from Samoa has made me appreciate my homeland so much more. As we celebrate the launch of the Telesā book, we pay tribute to Samoa, the “Treasured Islands of the Pacific” with an I LOVE SAMOA day.

Tell us one reason why YOU love Samoa and you could win one of many stunning gifts from the Pacific’s leading design store, Plantation House that are up for grabs in the next 24 hrs. The more people who join the fun with their LOVE SAMOA feedback, the more prizes I will give away. How to enter?

1. Leave a comment on this blog. Tell us ONE thing you love about Samoa. = + 1 entry
2. Click LIKE and leave a comment on the LaniWYoung FaceBook page, telling ONE thing you love abt Samoa = +1entry
3. Follow me on Twitter  and tweet ONE reason using hashtag #ILoveSamoa  = +1 entry
4. Leave a comment AND a link to an example of what you love about Samoa on any of the above and you get a DOUBLE entry. (Eg can be a photo or a website link.) = 2 entries
And in case you’ve never been to Plantation House, here’s a peek at the kinds of gifts they have to offer.

What did you Read and LOVE in High School English?

“Are your stories based on real experiences that have happened in your own life?” This is a question that I get a lot, and one that I’m sure a lot of writers get. I’ve been writing short fiction for a lot longer than I’ve been writing my (trashy) books and it’s been rewarding to see it published internationally. The first stories I wrote for publication were written because as a high school English teacher – I was frustrated by the lack of Pacific ‘flavored’ short fiction that could be used in the classroom. As a teacher of senior levels, I was looking for specific things when choosing material that I could study with my students. It had to :
• Be short – teenagers have short attention spans. Also an Eng period is usually only 45min long.
• Be set in an environment that my students could relate to, with characters that they could identify with and have situations that they themselves were familiar with.
• Have some of those “literary thingamajigs” that we Eng.Lit freaks love, like imagery, figurative language, and blah blah blah.
• Not suck. Not be boring or lame. Not be fake. Not be too simple or too complex or “fia deep”.
And yeah, that last one is the toughest requirement to meet because if there’s one thing I have learned from teaching teenagers? They have high standards when it comes to what they want to read, view and listen to. They have no patience with stuff that sucks. Oh and I gotta say that my 2 teens are the meanest readers ever. I give them something to test it, they will skim it for five seconds, make a face, roll their eyes and say, “Ugh, this is kind of awful.” And another one of my SUCK writing ideas gets relegated to the trash. Readers hate stuff that’s fake as well. Which is why most of my short fiction is inspired my own experiences in some way or another – or the experiences of people close to me. Here’s a breakdown of three of them,

*High School is a Jungle – Classic Lani. An English teacher’s first day on the job. Did I really drive a very loud V8 to school? Yes. Did I really wear stupid high heels to school? Yes, very stupid, very painful but daaayum I thought I was very hot. Did students confide their alien abductions and love dramas to me? Yes. Did boys really leave condoms on my windscreen and write BITCH on my car? Yes. Did I really tell them what they could do with the condoms in such a wickedly satisfying way? No. But I wish I had.

*Sina the Snake Killer – Sina confronts her phobias and fears and thus is able to right the imbalance of power in her (crappy) marriage. Am I married to a horrible chauvinistic pig like Sina? No. Am I terrified of snakes? Yes. Do I feel them slither all over me whenever I see one on TV? Yes. Do I go to extreme measures to make sure centipedes can’t get me? Yes. Do I find the whole afakasi girl vs. real Samoan girl conversation really funny? Hell yes. Do I know lots of women who endure crappy marriages and can surely use a little bit of Snake Killer confidence and power? Most definitely, yes.

*A True Samoan Woman – A NZ born Samoan has her idealized Samoa rocked to the core when she marries a ‘real’ Samoan and gets down with REAL life in Samoa. Do I get really irritated by overseas born Samoans who talk glowingly about how ‘precious and amazing and wonderful’ the culture and life is in Samoa when they havent ever lived it? Yes, I want to throw rocks at them. Do I really know someone who called their baby Peiosepua’a (looks like a pig)? Yes.

So yes, my fiction is based on fragments of my reality. And if you’re really close to me, you just might catch glimpses of yourself in my characters. Which reminds me of that quote –“Dont make a writer mad. Or else she might write you into one of her books and then kill you off. In the most painful way possible.”

Either way, I hope more P.I youth everywhere find my fiction worth being subjected to the next time they have to study short stories in a dreadfully dull English class. And I hope it doesnt get the dreaded eye-rolling, make a face because-this-sucks reaction.

Now, for this week’s question and giveaway: What book/story that you were forced to study in high school – did you REALLY enjoy? Why? How and why did it rock your world?

Everyone who gets in on this conversation with a comment goes into the draw to win ONE of the following prizes:
1. A copy of “Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi” By moi.
2. A luscious Frangipani coconut oil body indulgence set. (body oil, lotion, soap- all handmade from all organic Samoa ingredients.) Made by me, Ohmigosh can i get anymore clever
3. A beautiful gift from the legendary design store Plantation House. A handblocked elei travel purse like the one below.

Leave a comment and be in to enjoy some great Samoan gifts.Winners announced on the 31st of August and given their choice of gift!