LIFE UNDER A SUGAR CANE ROOF INSPIRES MY WRITING
By Maureen Willett
Life under a sugar cane roof. Sounds like a Christmas story, doesn't it? It is sort of a fantasy living in Hawaii, but I actually do have a roof made out of compressed sugar cane over my 62-year-old house on Oahu.
It's called "kanek" roofing and was quite a popular building material in the islands back in the 1960s when sugar cane was the predominant crop and they needed to do something with all the by-products. It's like compressed wood, but about six inches thick. Hard to find now, though, since all the sugar cane plantations are gone from Hawaii. If ever we need a major repair to our roof, we're out of luck.
When it rains, as it often does in the tropics, the sound of the water beating against the roof can be deafening to the point it's difficult to have a conversation or listen to music. Our pets hide under tables. Fortunately, rainstorms never last long here.
The walls of our home are 5/8-inch redwood. With single-wall construction there's no insulation, but there's no need. It never gets below 60 degrees here. Our walls are so thin, if you hammer a nail to hang a picture too hard, the nail goes all the way through the wall, making a permanent hole to the outside. I've done that by mistake more than once. If the hole is too big, we cover it with wood filler so bugs can't get into the house. A true worry since cockroaches grow to the size of small rodents here.
This is just one example of life on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii is the most remote place on Earth, and for the most part we cherish that distance. Even though we are a part of the United States, we live a bit differently. I find these differences quite inspiring and often incorporate them into my writing.
Just by walking outside, I'm inspired by the beauty of my surroundings. Even listening to rain pound against my roof, or feeling the walls of my house shake with strong wind get my imagination churning. No wonder I write tales of fairies, and other magical creatures. And the stuff of Hawaiian folklore is enough to give me goosebumps, or chicken skin, as it's called in the islands.
I try to capture some of the mysterious enchantment of Hawaii in my novels. Malia, the main character in The Soul Stealer lives in a similar house as I actually do, and she commutes to work through the rainforest each day, which wreaks havoc on her car's windshield wipers--a true problem here. She lives on the edge of a banana tree patch and is chased by a wild boar while hiking. If you've ever been hiking on a trail in the jungle and hear a loud snort, it can be terrifying and make anyone run for their lives.
Of course, Malia has more extraordinary adventures, especially after she meets a mysterious stranger, Hunter. He proves to be both dangerous and protective, and since he’s wildly handsome, Malia can’t help but get involved. Then, the adventures really begin. Hunter takes her on a twisty, death-defying ride. Together they ward off assassins, menacing spirits, the police, and a 400-year-old fae who is masquerading as a rock star.
All in a typical day, when you live under a sugar cane roof.
The Soul Stealer
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Publish Green
Number of pages: 251
Word Count: 92,317
Hunter Blackthorne has almost all he needs: powerful magic and the seductive art of deception. Now, all he needs is her soul.
In the dark, twisting world of The Soul Stealer, half-human Hunter Blackthorne embarks on a quest to vanquish the heir of his father's enemy by stealing her soul. Though his father would settle for her mere death, Hunter is determined to pilfer Malia Smalls' very essence in hopes of obtaining supreme power. The Soul Stealer is a story of questioned loyalties, power struggles, and decidedly unconventional romance.
Since his target is a mere human, Hunter's mission seems laughably straightforward. However, upon meeting Malia, Hunter realizes that this task is anything but uncomplicated. Hunter starts to waver between commitment to his father's cause and an unshakable feeling of foreboding guilt over his mission. Hunter thought he knew everything there was to know about his identity and his family, but signs of a darker truth lurk below, threatening to overturn everything.
A story of alternate realities and twisting complications set in exotic Hawaii, The Soul Stealer is a story of fantasy, magic and mysticism, but also a story about humanity and the moral and emotional conflicts that we all face. The Soul Stealer transports the reader to an exciting, dangerous, and captivating world that won't be easily forgotten.
About the Author:
Since she was in grade school, Maureen Willett has been a writer of fiction that pushes the boundaries of what is and isn’t. At that time, she twisted class writing assignments into stories about witches, tricksters in the night, and sparkling faery dust. And, participating in the art of levitation every time her family gathered at holidays made Maureen feel more than qualified to write fantastic tales. Magic had always been a secret part of her family’s legacy--toyed with but never spoken about.
But life got in the way. A successful career in automotive journalism and public relations in Los Angeles took her places in the corporate world she had dreamed of while majoring in communications in college. Climbing the corporate ladder to vice president of a prestigious public relations agency was engrossing, but did she really want to spend her days writing about cars and monster trucks, and trying to break through the thick glass ceiling of the automotive world?
Then one day, she was offered a transfer to the Honolulu, Hawaii, office of her agency. She jumped at the chance to change her predictable and stressful existence for one of soaking up the sun on a white, sandy beach. Or so she thought.
Hawaii didn’t prove to be as stress free as Maureen had hoped, but it did offer a fresh perspective. After two uncertain years of trying to blend into the foreign island culture, Maureen fell in love with Oahu and vowed never to leave. The tropical paradise held a soft yet powerful mysticism that inspired her to set pen to paper once again.
Even the office buildings in downtown Honolulu were haunted. Maureen often saw ethereal beings in the halls of the radio station where she was the manager of local and national sales. These pesky pieces of grey mist didn’t bother her, though. Maureen thought of them more as interesting topics for urban fantasy tales than scary apparitions.
Magical creatures pop off the pages of her novels, but at the core of each story are great characters in very human conflicts that anyone will find compelling. Very often, Maureen writes about angels, faeries, and even leprechauns, but they are always woven through an authentic story.
As an avid reader herself, Maureen wants a page-turner that keeps her up until the wee hours of morning. She strives to create that same experience for her own readers. Each novel is carefully crafted as an exciting, mind-bending experience that will take readers beyond their day-to-day lives.
But don’t expect to think too hard, or contemplate the meaning of life. Pure fun and page-turning entertainment is what you’ll find in a novel by Maureen Willett. It’s almost a magical experience.
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