Local Author Promotes New Anthology at Waiakea
Tuesday, during period 5, Waiakea High’s library hosted two very special guests: Darien Gee (also known as Mia King), a Big-Island novelist, and her editor, Christine Thomas. The two came to Waiakea to share Gee’s new anthology, Don’t Look Back: Hawaiian Myths Made New. Their presentation covered a variety of subjects, including information about the book, some excerpts, advice for aspiring writers, and a concluding Q&A session.
The anthology is a collection of stories from various writers who took ancient Hawaiian myths and rewrote them in modern situations. For example, a story that Gee wrote is called, “Pele in Therapy.” Thomas asked the audience what they thought about reinventing ancient myths and received a mixed response. Some students thought that the stories should be left alone, while others approved, saying that the modern interpretation is a good thing. Gee went on to say that the stories were not necessarily rewritten, but that the old characters had merely been put into different situations. “Who they are never changes,” Gee said in response to those concerned with the alterations. Thomas then chimed in, saying that every culture changes its stories. She noted that many of today’s films and books are based on Shakespeare or the Bible; even though the plots are different, the key elements and points remain unaltered.
Gee was very interested in inspiring her audience to write. She said, “If you have a story, real or fiction, you’re a writer.” Both Gee and Thomas pointed out that one shouldn’t be concerned about grammar or spelling, since those errors are easily fixed; what’s important is getting the story down on paper. Even Facebook statuses count as writing, so people shouldn’t be afraid to write. “There are so many ways to tell your stories,” Thomas said, further encouraging the audience to write. Gee always kept a journal because she loved writing so much. “I was someone who loved to tell stories,” she recalled. Eventually, she became a well-known author. Although Gee had already written several books (including the nationally bestselling Friendship Bread), she had always wanted to see a strong Pele story. Thus, she and Thomas got together, and the anthology came into existence.
One audience member asked the pair to define “myth.” The question stirred a lengthy response from Thomas, who had strong feelings for the subject. She considers a myth to be, “Not just a frivolous story,” since myths are filled with life and values. She said that there is no single definition, “[There is] so much loaded into it… [They are] stories we tell that shape who we are.” Thomas’s reaction clearly showed her passion for myths, as well as a passion for the anthology she helped to create.
Gee and Thomas had a lot to offer Waiakea’s students, just as their book has a lot to offer readers. Don’t Look Back: Hawaiian Myths Made New is currently available in bookstores and the school library, and excerpts are available online.