Friday, June 15, 2012

A guest post - Hawaiian Culture is about so much more than Tiki lamps and hula dancing.

Good morning from a very rainy England.

Today, my thoughts are straying longingly to Hawaii. No surprise given that the guest post is written by Violetta Vane and Heidi Belleau, authors of 'Hawaiian Gothic', which was released this week by Loose Id. I am blown away by these authors who really are a much-needed breath of fresh air for the M/M genre so I was more than happy to offer them my blog as part of their Hawaiian Gothic blog tour.

If you haven't read any of their work, I suggest you do!


Hawaiian Pidgin - Language of the Heart

“Today my teacher said we got to learn ‘proper’ English, so we can study things like math and science. Ho, man! Kids got plenty angry. Everybody yelling. “How we going talk to parents widdout Pidgin? Pidgin same as English.’”
She played with her fork, slightly embarrassed. “I raised my hand and said Pidgin is not the same as English. It’s not an inferior kind of English. It’s a different language from English. Like French, or Spanish. Like Hawaiian Mother Tongue...”
(House of Many Gods by Kiana Davenport, p. 52)

English is a pretty amazing language, when you think about it: a strange hybrid bastard beast of a language that now thrives all over the world in thousands of forms, all unique to the people who speak it and the places they come from. And it’s changing and evolving every single day.

It’s more than just accents that set one form of English apart from another: it’s grammatical constructions and even vocabulary. Sometimes these divisions happen along race lines, ethnic lines, lines of class and country. Sometimes these differences are celebrated (think our love for Hugh Jackman’s Aussie accent!), and sometimes (especially when a particular dialect is associated with poor non-white people) they’re denigrated. What’s merely different and what’s “incorrect”? Some of us are told not to speak our own particular version of English. Some of us voluntarily leave it behind in order to assimilate or hide our origins.

In Hawaii, the language of Pidgin developed on the plantations as workers struggled to speak to other across their many language barriers. There were native Hawaiians, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos. The non-Hawaiians had come across vast oceans, leaving everything behind to start a new life on the island, prepared to spend the best years of their lives as indentured workers doing backbreaking labor so that their children would have a better chance in life. And these children lived together, played together, worked together, and invented a common tongue in the process.

So today, if you go to Hawaii, you might talk to people whose heritage, let’s say, is 100% ethnic Japanese, but their family hasn’t spoken Japanese for four generations. Their languages are English and pidgin. They can switch between the two easily, like Ana in Kiana Davenport’s House of the Gods, but pidgin is closest to their hearts. Watch the people in this introduction smile when they talk about that...

Hawaiian Pidgin

When we wrote Hawaiian Gothic, we did a lot of research to make sure the pidgin was as accurate as possible. It’s not just a matter of dropping “be” and adding in a lot of “da kine”. Ultimately, though there’s really not a lot of pidgin dialogue in the book, because both our characters are code switchers. They speak in “proper” English, occasionally in pidgin-inflected English, and only sometimes in this language of the heart...

“Aloha, sleepyhead.” Kalani’s warm breath in his ear. Heavenly.

“How did you do it?” Ori twisted to raise himself on an elbow for a better view of Kalani’s beaming smile. Ori’s other hand brushed against Kalani’s, and their fingers slipped together easily. “You look amazing. Like you were never in a coma. Did you have to sneak out of the hospital?”

Kalani’s smile fell at one corner, and there was a sudden tightness to his eyes. “Ori, I’m still there. My body…”

Ori jerked away from him like he was scalding hot. “So this isn’t real? Am I…are you…are you like a figment of my imagination or something?”

“Would a figment of your imagination be able to tell you—fuck, I guess a figment could tell you anything you wanted to hear.” Kalani hissed. “Scratch that. But I’m real. I’m an ‘uhane, a wandering spirit. I don’t know how it happened. I’m sorry. I should have told you last night. You know, before you got your hopes up.”

“You’re a ghost!” Ori scrambled off the edge of the bed, hit the floor, and crab-walked backward until he crashed into the wall and jumped to his feet. This couldn’t be happening. A rush of terror had his skin crawling and Kalani’s form wavering at the edges. He thought about praying. Thought about the rich, gory tapestry of ghost stories his grandmother would spin in Tagalog, like the one of the multo who had to kill to live again.

“Don’t be scared. Please. Look, the worst I could do was rattle some blinds. I can only stay solid for you. I don’t know why. Maybe because you never gave up on me. Not that I blame Anela. And Julie, maybe I could stay solid for her, but she’d be so afraid, she’d try to cast me out.” His lips twitched and his eyes shone, not with ghostlight but with the onset of tears. “Eh, no make like dat, brah. All hamajang, dis.”


Where to Buy: Hawaiian Gothic - Loose Id
Website with First Chapter Excerpt & Multimedia Extras: Hawaiian Gothic
The Writers: &

Blurb: For Ori Reyes, coming home to Hawaii is hell. His Army Ranger career ended in dishonorable discharge, a prison term and disgrace in the eyes of his family. As for his childhood friend Kalani—well, Kalani could never love him back, not the way Ori wanted to be loved. And it’s too late for Ori to tell Kalani how he really feels, because Kalani’s in a coma that all the doctors say is terminal.

Then Kalani shows up to welcome him home.

Even though Kalani's body is unresponsive, his spirit roams free, and for the first time he's able to reveal the true depth of his feelings for Ori. They set out to solve the mystery of Kalani’s dark family history, a journey of redemption that leads deep into the ancient Hawaiian spirit world. For Ori, taking on monstrous ghost-guardians is easier than facing the hardest choice of all: that he might have to let Kalani go.

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