Distant Echoes, Aloha Reef Series #1Distant Echoes, Aloha Reef Series #1
Colleen Coble
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Love blossoms in the warm Hawaiian sun, but something sinister lurks in the silent sea. When a missile test goes off-course, destroying a tourist boat and killing several passengers, dolphin researcher Kaia Ohana is called upon by Navy security head Jesse Matthews to help in the stalled investigation. Is sloppy science at fault---or sabotage and terrorism? 304 pages, softcover from WestBow.

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Our Interview with Colleen Coble
Favorite Bible Verse: Romans 8:28 - "For we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."(I saw this verse in action when the whole family was injured in a bad car accident in 1980 and we became Christians as a result)
Is Nani, the dolphin, a character in Black Sands, Aloha Reef Series #2?

Yes she is! Isnít she precious? Sheís going to be tooling along a bit from island to island. Black Sands will be out in October, and itís set at the volcanoes on the Big Island, but Nani shows up to assist in underwater research.

I noticed Bree, from the Rock Harbor Series, made a cameo appearance in Distant Echoes. Will she show up in the other books in the Aloha Reef series?

No, she isnít in Black Sands. But donít despair! Right now Iím working on a Woman of Faith novel thatís set in Alaska called "Alaska Twilight." I have a bear biologist in it, and Iím also having a search so I can bring in Samson, [the rescue dog from the Rock Harbor series]. We are talking about doing some more books in the Rock Harbor Series since they were very well received. "Alaska Twilight" will be out next February.

Are you going to Alaska for research?

I love research! Iím going to Alaska the end of May. Weíll fly rather than take a cruise because I need to get to the areas with lots of bears since I have a bear in "Alaska Twilight," named Miki. I need to learn a little bit about the bears without getting eaten!

When will the other books in the Aloha Reef series be released? Who are they about?

Black Sands (about Kaiaís brother Mano) will release next October and "Dangerous Depths," (about Bane, the older brother) will be out next spring 2006. We may do more books, we havenít decided yet.

How did you get idea for the Aloha Reef series?

I was watching a show that showed the Navy using dolphins to monitor the sea for terrorist divers and bombs during the Iraqi war. I didnít realize dolphins could do something like that and was very intrigued. I was a big fan of Flipper in the 60ís. Whoops, I just showed my age!

All my life Iíd heard how smart dolphins are. Some researchers say their intelligence could be close to humans. Theyíre aware of themselves and can recognize themselves in a mirror. I began to investigate ongoing research into dolphin/human communication which led me to the theme of the book. Even if we could establish communication with dolphins, we could never totally be able to understand one another because our reference points are so different, just as we can never understand God. We canít understand who He really is because He is so much greater. . so much other. So, the more I studied communication, the more I became intrigued with the whole concept.

In Distant Echoes, Kaia teaches Nani to communicate with a device that emits clicks and whistles. Real researchers are trying to establish communication with dolphins like that and are having some success. Itís really fascinating to me that there is a possibility of real communication.

Did you swim with dolphins?

Yes! In fact we did that last November. I went to Dolphin Quest at the Hilton Waikoloa, on the Big Island. I didnít have any idea they had a dolphin named Nani. I think there were five of them. When I heard them refer to Nani, I told them about the book and asked if I could have my picture taken with her. Itís on my website. Their Nani is still a calf; she was only a year old.

I thought of Helen Keller when I was writing the book. Again that was a different frame of referenceÖthey were in two different worlds. And then there was a sudden leap of communication with the cold water.

What are the challenges you face as an author?

I love writing so much that sometimes itís easy for me, if I donít keep my focus, to let it become more important to me than anything. I have to watch myself to make sure God stays forefront. If I let my devotions slip a few days, itís easy to let writing get too important. When you love something as much as I do with the writing you really have to make sure God stays the focus of your life and is the most important thing.

How long did it take you to write Distant Echoes?

About six months. I was obsessed with it when I was doing the writing.

How much research did you do for Distant Echoes?

I had been to Hawaii one time, over 20 years ago so I knew I had some research to do. We went to Kauai when I was in the middle of writing Distant Echoes and went back again last November. I did a lot of research online and in books. I found a fabulous travel book that had a lot of stuff about the culture and about the different things that you see. When I went to Kauai, I was surprised to find it so different than Oahu. Each of the islands have their own different flavor. I was really glad that I had gone, because if I hadnít, I wouldnít have known there were wild chickens running around everywhere! Brightly colored and gorgeous. Hey, you know when a wild chicken is finished cooking? You put the chicken in water in one pot and some lava rock in the other. When the lava rock is soft enough to stick a fork in, the chicken is done!

How did you get to understand the Hawaiian Culture so well?

I did a lot of reading on the history of the islands and there were quite a few of the books that talked about the culture. There has been a resurgence of cultural awareness of Hawaii. America is considered a melting pot, and the Hawaiians have felt theyíve lost some of their uniqueness. Theyíre trying to recover some of that. There are actually a lot of those sovereignty groups like I wrote about in Distant Echoes. (The Pele Agency in my book is not an actual organization but is based on many groups like that.) Most of them try to lobby through peaceful means. They basically want their islands back, although many of the other Hawaiians still want to be part of America. They want to keep their cultural distinction.

The Naval base is there. I couldnít get on the base, with the current climate security; the best I could do is to drive past it by boat and talk to some sailors.

How do you think up your characters?

Kaia was borne when I was doing research for the islands. I knew that I wanted a Hawaiian family to bring in the Hawaiian culture. I wanted her to be like a mermaid; always in the water.

Who is your favorite character?

Well I love Kaia. She is who I would be if I could do whatever I wanted. I used to wish I could swim with Flipper. I really identified with her because I was living my dream through her.

Why did you choose Kauai, Hawaii?

I figured more people had been on Oahu. I try to pick a setting that is a little different. I like to come at it from a different direction than what people expect or think about. There were so many elements I liked about the island. Itís more laid back like the old Hawaii, much like Iíd read before I went. I just made the decision thatís where we were going.

Who is the person who most influenced you with your writing?

My grandmother always told me I could do anything I wanted to do. Iíve been talking quite a bit to kids, and itís hit me again how important it is to encourage young people to live their dreams and not to settle for what society may be telling them they should be doing. God created each one of us uniquely and thereís something inside each one of us that will tell us the direction weíre supposed to go. I wrote my first story in first grade, and the teacher praised me. A little seed was planted that someday Iíd be a writer. That seed lay dormant for years until I was forty. And that trauma (brother killed by lightening) cracked the seed of that dream and allowed it to sprout. But all through my life, my grandmother was the stabilizing influence for me. She always told me that I could do whatever I wanted to do and that I had talent. She thought I was wonderful. Even though sheís gone now, her influence and her encouragement and her belief in me have affected my life forever.

What were your favorite books as a child?

I loved Bambi. Some of the earliest pictures that my parents have of me are fast asleep with a book in my hand. One of the books was Bambiís Children. I loved stories that had animals. I think that might have influenced what I chose to write when I grew up because all of my books have animal elements in them of some kind. My love of animals comes through.

What message would you like your readers to take from Distant Echoes?

That striving to understand God should be the most important thing in our lives. Just as Kaia and Nani struggled to overcome their differences and communicate, we have to struggle to understand what we can about God. Those little glimpses, the distant echoes that we catch, are so life changing and so wonderful that they keep us going through those hard times.

What is your goal or mission as a Christian writer?

To tell a really good story that lets people catch a glimpse of eternity in some way that lingers. I hope some small illumination of their own spirituality and the joy we have in our spiritual life comes a little clearer for them.

What is your favorite verse from the Bible?

My favorite verse is Romans 8:28. It relates to how I became a Christian. We were in a bad car accident. The first people that stopped were Christians and they rode to the hospital with my daughter who was three at the time. She had a broken jaw. Their church brought in food after we got out of the hospital. I was able to see what real Christianity was. I just fell in love with the Lord. One year after that accident, I looked back and I realized that because of that terrible night eleven people had come to know Him. That verse became very real to me. Even though the accident was a terrible thing and one boy in the other car died, we were able to look back and see that Godís hand was in everything. He had taken an evil event and turned it into good.

Don't miss the complete Aloha Reef Series!
  • Black Sands, Aloha Reef Series #2
  • Distant Echoes, Aloha Reef Series #1
  • More Titles by Colleen Coble
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