Since my husband and I were involved in youth ministry at the time I knew a bit about teens and began writing the still popular Christy Miller series. Over the years I've come to know what a gift it is to have close friendships and so I wrote about love and friendships in the Glenbrooke series and the SisterchicksR series.
Then three summers ago my husband and I were on the island of Maui celebrating our thirtieth wedding anniversary and I asked God, "What should I write about for the next twenty five years?" The answer floated to me on the gentle trade wind. Write about what you love.
At the top of my "What I Love" list are the Hawaiian Islands. Our honeymoon was on Oahu and our family lived on Maui for a year in the 1990s. Even though we've called Portland, Oregon, our home for many years, and love it here, our family returns to the islands every chance we get. Our aloha a'ina (love of the land) grows with each visit.
While we were living on Maui I picked up a Hawaiian history book in the reference section of the Lahaina library. Never would I have guessed how that book would ignite a passion in me for the people and places of Old Hawaii. I joined the Calabash Cousins of the Daughters of Hawai'i and began making trips to the Mission Houses Museum in Honolulu to research original documents held in the archives. What fascinates me the most is that everything the women on the islands felt and struggled with one hundred fifty years ago are still common issues for women today.
In my research of Ka'ahumanu, I found her to be a woman of great strength who used her influence and power to change the course of a nation. I love seeing women who get their strength back after a rough season. I call it "getting their heart back." I can relate. I've been through such seasons. I know my readers have, as well.
Do you have a character in this book that stands out to you?
As I was writing Under a Maui Moon I felt so sympathetic toward Carissa. Everything came at her at once and she could have made some decisions that would have changed the course of her life. But, as in real life, God had His hand on her. He was relentless in His pursuit of her and I think once she caught a glimpse of how Ka'ahumanu "made herself strong," Carissa began to get her heart back. That's what I pray will happen in the hearts of many readers when they read "Under a Maui Moon."
Will you have more books like Under a Maui Moon coming out with Howard Books?
Yes! Two more. The second one is set on the Canary Islands and the third one takes places on the Oregon Coast. These books are all stand-alone and not part of a series per se but the women in each book; Carissa, Carolyn and Erin, all go through difficult seasons of life and find that they need to come apart before they completely come apart.