I am the absolute worst at self-promotion. But here goes.
If you ask me about it, though, I’ll likely change the subject or wave my hands and say, “It’s no big deal.” (Ask my co-workers.)
But the truth of it is that I really am excited about it. I’ve always wanted to pen a book—I’ve finished a young adult novel in four months (though it was never published) and I’m always writing some kind of fiction on the side (when I’m not busy writing for my real job). This is definitely a milestone for me. Like finishing a marathon (something I still haven’t done and, at least to me, a whole lot harder).
Here’s how it all began: My friend Mariko Merritt (@heybeachcake on Instagram) is a children’s book illustrator, among other talents. I’ve known her since she left for the Rhode Island School of Design way more than a decade ago. I surfed with her dad and I’d see her every summer when she came home from college.
She had dreams of illustrating a book filled with fruits and veggies. I had dreams of writing a book, period. So we both got together and did it. That’s really how it all happened.
The inspiration for this book, “Kai Goes to the Farmers Market,” was my son, of course. Since he doesn’t have a common Hawaiian name, we went with Kai, which happens to be my husband’s name. So it all worked out.
My kid loves to eat—and I love going to the farmers market. We’ve walked around a few in town. He reaches for anything on tables; I’m constantly apologizing and paying for things he puts into his mouth. My husband, who has worked at farms and helps farmers in his role as an ag instructor, has stressed the importance of growing our own food and supporting local agriculture. We have just about every kind of fruit tree you can think of in our backyard—and a hydroponics table to grow lettuce and an aquaponics system to grow everything else. The message in this book—that Hawaiʻi grows amazing fruits, veggies and other ag products, and we should support our local food producers—is close to my heart.
You know what’s interesting? I read a lot of children’s books. Like, I’ve probably read close to a hundred by now. And most are just OK. Some are amazing—funny, captivating and just long enough to keep the short attention spans of toddlers. Others are flat.
I thought, “Writing a kid’s book shouldn’t be that hard! I can rhyme!”
Oh, it’s a lot harder than I had anticipated.
Rhyming isn’t always easy, especially when you’re including exotic fruits like rambutan, pohā berries and jaboticaba. (I managed to do it, though!) And the storyline has to be compelling. My editor sent back the original copy and said, “This needs conflict.” Who knew a children’s book about fruits and veggies had to have conflict!
I’m eternally grateful for the Jane Gillespie and the folks at Beachhouse Publishing for taking a chance on a newbie like me. It was great fun to work on this book—and it was doubly awesome to see my words alongside the supremely creative work by a dear friend.
If you’re interested in getting a copy of the book or stopping by to say hi to Mariko and me, we’ll be signing books at noon, Nov. 16 at Barnes & Noble at Ala Moana Center. And we’re planning a farmers market-style pop-up on Nov. 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Da Shop in Kaimukī. You can also purchase a book here or message me for a copy.
Thanks for your support!