Donovan Kūhiō Colleps answers these questions for "The Net Big Thing"!
1. What is your working title of your book (or story)?
Sun In My Mouth (from an e.e. cummings poem I really like, and also a Bjork song) or Funeral(s), we can’t decide.
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
It came, and is still coming, from everywhere, Donovan. You know better than to ask that kind of question to yourself! But we guess, mainly, from personal experiences, real and imagined. Also from the fragmented narratives in As I Lay Dying (Faulkner) and Midnight’s Children (Rushdie); early 20th century cubism; Tobias Wolff’s short story “Bullet In The Brain;” the works of Albert Wendt; and the Kanaka Maoli concept of makawalu (multiple perspectives, lit., eight eyes).
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Not too sure, but we cling to the idea of that being a good thing. Some of it unfolds into verse, and then folds back into prose. We’d probably shelve it right where the fiction section ends and the poetry begins. After working in many bookstores, and never understanding the reasons why they categorize books the way they do, you’re the wrong person to ask yourself that question.
4. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Haven’t thought that much ahead, but since it’s set in Hawai’i, it would be cool to have everyday people playing the everyday characters in the book. Maybe a big casting call for residents of Hawai’i, only!
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Told from five perspectives at a funeral service, Sun In My Mouth/Funeral(s) tells the story of the man in the coffin (he’s one of the five!) covered in floral arrangements, as his descendants cry, scream, laugh, and spit their way(s) toward defining who he was, and who they are (hopefully).
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Whichever small press would have me.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It started in 2007, I think, so…math!…6 years, but I never think my projects are really “done.” Hopefully I will with this one.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Probably any of those stories where time isn’t linear, or recognizable, until you realize which objects in the narrative(s) are triggering those shifts.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
A lineage of dogs, a shark god, a searching for the first breadfruit tree, and the typical “I love you/I hate you” family dynamic. All in one (narrative) day!
Mahalo nui loa to Jaimie Gusman for tagging me! It was fun, and surprisingly productive to talk to myself!
Two amazing poets are next!
Lyz Soto: Besides having one of the most infectious laughs around, Lyz is also one of the most amazing slam poets, ever. Her work, on and off the page, constantly changes the ways I see, and react to the world. Lyz is the Executive Director of Youth Speaks Hawaiʻi, a program of Hawaiʻi nonprofit Pacific Tongues. Her incredible chapbook, Eulogies, is available from Tinfish Press. She also makes an amazing brioche. I'm pretty sure she can do everything.
David Kealiʻi Mackenzie: I met one of Kealiʻi's slam poems before I ever met him in person. The poem was a performed love letter to the comic book character Wolverine, and it blew my mind. Keali'i is an activist, a poet, a scholar, and a librarian. But most of all, he is one of the most beautiful people I have the privilege of knowing!