Meg: Ooh, lovely, thanks for having me! **grin** Given we’re a couple of Australasians, I brought a bottle of New Zealand savvie blanc to sip while we chat. Would you like a cold glass of wine, Renae?
Renae: Okay. **whispers to Meg that she doesn’t drink alcohol, but will try it this once because it’s on a blog** Two secs. I’ll be back with some glasses...
Meg: Goodo. I’ll let you open that and pour us a glass.
Renae: Back! Here... **hands Meg her glass**
Meg: Thanks, Renae. Cheers! Lovely to be here. **grin**
Renae: **sips and hopes it doesn’t go to her head** Okay – let’s get into the interview. In March you released Hawaiian Lei, the story of a flight instructor in Hawaii meeting a man originally from New Zealand, who’d come to Hawaii via LA. Today you’ve come to talk about your next release on the same theme, Hawaiian Orchid. It released yesterday (the 15th). Let’s take a look at the blurb.
Kulani is “The Orchid,” a young, insecure, pro-surfer who comes from a rough background on the Big Island of Hawai’i. He’s Beau Toyama’s cousin from Hawaiian Lei. But he’s also a healer and has a heart as deep as the ocean he’s part of. Like the great Hawaiians, Duke Kahanamoku and Eddie Aikau, who have gone before him—waterman and warrior Kulani Mahikoa epitomizes the spirit of aloha and love. Kulani’s not only healing his own wounds, but “The Lost Boys”—young, homeless, abandoned and abused gay boys he’s taken under his wing.
He meets the lone and lonely New Zealand widower, Rob Masterson—a wounded psychologist who’s trying to come to terms with his husband Tony’s death. When he died, they were separated but still living together. Can Rob reconcile all the pieces of guilt and love, to heal and fall in love again?
When he drops anchor in Kona Harbor and meets the exotic islander—young, bolshie Kulani—explosive heat makes sparks fly between them.
Is the age difference between them a barrier or something they’ll get past? Kulani has more layers than Rob ever bargained for. And Rob’s tangled knot of responsibility, grief and guilt with his New Zealand heritage and past life is something he needs to untangle. Two wounded men have to learn to trust and love one another. Traveling between the South Sea Islands of beautiful New Zealand and the exotic Hawaiian Islands—they forge a sea change, finding a home for their shrapnel laced souls.
Meg: LOL. I do love writing in the old sweeping saga styles of old. I like the richness of them. The page count on this one is going to be around 324 I think, with the word count about 97,000.
Renae: I’m fascinated with the huge varieties of different backgrounds you are bringing into these books. You have Hawaiian, New Zealand, Maori, Japanese, Tahitian... Tell me about your background. Is this your heritage that you write about?
Meg: Thanks. **grins** Part of it is my heritage. I’m a New Zealander, born and bred but also a US citizen. My American home state is Hawai’i. I got my citizenship on the Big Island of Hawai’i over in the country courthouse in Hilo on the wet side of the island. My soul is very Polynesian, even though I’m not of that blood. Hawaiian is my soul’s home. It’s where I feel most at home in the world. I’m a real islander at heart and Hawai’i is the perfect combination between New Zealand’s own island heritage and American convenience which after living here 20 odd years, I’ve become a hybrid of the two places.
I’ve lived at home in Hawai’i twice on the Big Island and am working my way back then. My late husband Aaron was a New Zealand Maori. Much of the information for both Matt (in Hawaiian Lei) and Tony (in Hawaiian Orchid) comes from Aaron’s heritage. He really did come from the Ngati Raukawa and Tukorehe tribes. He was a Kuiti/Heremia and his family were Maori royalty. The Maori urupa or burial ground I mention, is where his mum Mereana is buried and his ashes are also. The marae I describe is his marae at Kikopiri near Ohau, Levin in the North Island of New Zealand.
I have a deep need to be connected to Polynesians and the heritage that goes with it. My best friend in NZ, is part Rarotongan and I had a Norfolk Island friend. All my life, I’ve been drawn to Polynesians. I resonate with their spirit and culture. My love of Tahiti though is something embedded in my soul. I think the Tahitians are the most beautiful of the South Sea Islands people.
And the Japanese heritage is honouring the many Hawaiians that have that in their ancestry.
Renae: Are you automatically drawn to writing about characters with Pacific Islander heritage? Does it come naturally?
Meg: Yes, as you can probably tell from my last answer. LOL. I’ve always had Polynesian people in my life, right from when I was a wee girl. Before I went to school, we lived out in the bays on Maori land. I used to go to the hangis--similar to a luau with mum and dad. I’d do my wee poi dance (badly) and someone would make me a wee flax headband to wear. I’d be the only Pakeha (white) girl there in my, then, blond hair and pale skin dancing with everyone else. I loved it. I felt right at home.
When I started school over in Christchurch city, my best friend was Tania Cleaver and she was a native Fijian New Zealander. My ‘Uncle’ Paul who lived with us for a while was Maori. My best friend who I sat next to the first day of high school when I was 12, is Rarotongan. My first real boyfriend was Maori. It just resonates with me. I think it’s because I’m essentially a cruiser myself. So, the easy island energy of Polynesians fits with my personality and way I like to live my life. I’m not a very formal person in many ways. At home in Hawai’i, despite my accent, most people assume I’m a local which is a huge compliment. I’m most at home close to the sea, like most islanders and I love the spiritual connection that Polynesians always seem to have.
Renae: So someone picking up your book who is not aware of anything about Hawaiian or New Zealander history, are they going to be lost, or are they going to learn a lot from your book?
Meg: Ooh, good question. Well, I hope they get to learn a lot. I like to include as much as I can about the culture, food, lifestyle, language and words as I can in my books, so people get a real sense of it. I want to take people for the ride, so they can feel it under their skin. Inhale it, live it for a while.
Meg: No, it’s not. The Polynesian cultures are much more accepting generally of same sex relationships and people. The attitude is different. They’re much more relaxed about it and don’t see it as ‘abnormal’ – more just another side of someone. It’s treated as much more fluid too, not like Western culture which insists on someone being one or the other.
From Peter Michaud: In modern New Zealand, a common label adopted by LGBT Māori is Takatāpui, a term that has been revived from pre-European times and popularised since Homosexual Law Reform in 1986. The term roughly translates into English as intimate partner of the same sex. I think that’s lovely. Same sex relationships of mostly male types have been well documented in Maori history.
From Wikipedia: In Hawaiian history, Aikāne relationships, whether homosexual or bi-sexual activity in the pre-colonial era, was an accepted tradition and is one of the best examples of a heterosexual community accepting the practice. It was considered a natural part of life.
They weren’t governed by western religion for a long time, so their sexuality was different. More natural, no guilt or fears. Just acceptance.
Renae: In Hawaiian Orchid you have Kulani who is a healer of the spirit, and Rob who is a psychologist. This is similar to your own background, is it not?
Meg: Yes, it is. **grin** Rob’s background is pretty much my own. I was counselling people when I was 12 years old and did some of the first psychotherapy in NZ at the time when I was 14. I trained in Natural Medicine in Australia but it didn’t give me enough of what I wanted to heal people. I could put a Band-Aid on an allergy situation and fix it for example. But it didn’t tell me WHY someone had gotten sick.
I then retrained in NLP – Neuro-Linguistic Programming so I could reset patterns in the subconscious for people. From there, I moved into emotional medicine and other modalities always creep in when you get involved with healing. I use a combination of all my training to facilitate healing with someone. I’m also a natural hands on healer like Kulani. But like Rob, I’m burnt out and now only take on the odd client. I heal through my books and stories. **grin** The lomi-lomi that is described in Hawaiian Lei is from my own Lomi practice I had at one point. Emotionally I want people to be able to heal so they can live full lives full of energy and joy.
Renae: Aren’t the two mutually exclusive? The modern medicine and the ancient?
Meg: It depends what you mean by ‘modern’ medicine. If you’re talking about allopathic medicine (Western) medicine. Then yes, I think they are mutually exclusive. I have very little time for allopathic medicine. I think it’s very good in emergency and trauma situations but generally I don’t place much store by it. I work in integrative medicine, that’s a combination of modalities. I’d call it holistic but that always suggests mung beans and alfalfa stuffed up your nose, along with huarache sandals, and these days it’s much more sophisticated and high end. Some of the most progressive medicine is coming from integrative medicine. Allopathic is always about 25 years behind everyone else and is quite closed off, not very open to different healing systems.
Obviously, this is NOT a subject you really want to get me into. LOL. I’m slightly rabid on it.
In short, I like to work with emotional medicine and energy medicine for the body and treat it as a whole unit, body, mind, soul and emotions. And that’s where you can easily combine integrative medicine and ancient medicine because they complement each other.
Renae: Do you think it is harder or easier to grow up gay in this new modern world?
Meg: Oh, much easier without a doubt. When I think about some of the barbaric things that were done to people because they were gay, even fifty years ago, it makes my skin crawl with horror. I think being gay now can be restrictive but it must have been stifling before.
Meg: Harder. It depends who you are as a psych. I’m involved in NLP, so by our very training, we HAVE to do our own work on ourselves. Although, I know some people who have trained in it and haven’t. And I think that’s appalling. You’re given this fabulous tool and you don’t use it?
Rob is struggling on so many levels that I think it’s always harder for pyschs to some degree. We know what we’re ‘supposed’ to be doing, feeling, etc. But sometimes we can get extremely caught up in our own heads and forget to just be human and real when it’s REALLY required. And we and other people can be hard on us. Expecting us to ‘cope’ better because we ‘know’ and have the training. But at the end of the day, we’re still people going through a human experience. We have more insight hopefully but we can get caught up in the should of a situation rather than just being in it and letting ourselves BE whatever we need to be at that time.
Renae: And Kulani is a healer – how does one become a healer? Is it born in you? Do you need to be trained?
Meg: Wow, you ask great, in-depth questions. **grin** Love this. Some people train for it but I think it’s something you’re born with. Some innate internal need or structure in the soul. You choose it on your soul’s path or it chooses you, if that makes sense.
There are so many different kinds of healers too. The type of healer that Kulani is, can be trained, but most of the healers I know with those skills are born with it. And it’s often discovered by accident. I was in a store one day, buying a string of opals and the lady had a badly swollen hand. She’d had it for about half a day and she was having trouble putting the clasps on the opal string for me because of it. I don’t know what made me do it, but I took her hand and held it in my mine, and just talked to her. When I let her hand go, ten minutes later, most of the swelling had gone down and she could move it properly.
And you pick up various modalities and things over the years. Someone taught me to run my hand over the body, looking for hot or cold spots. A lot of it is being more in tune with energy frequencies so you can feel where there are gaps in the energy. I was born with a ‘polygraph’ set of hearing too. When I’m listening to clients, I can hear ‘spikes’ in people’s speech. It lets me know where something is getting to someone but they’re not able to articulate it or say it out loud. Then I go in and keep pushing that spot gently with words until it ‘pops’ and we get to what is causing someone distress or trouble.
For me, it’s a lifetime of skills I’ve accumulated along the way. I think it is for most healers. Even though I’m a New Zealander, I have an Irish background and come from a family of healers in various ways. My Grandfather was an integrative medicine doc. He was able to see when a patient would die. It wasn’t very nice for him and he drank a lot. A perfectly healthy looking patient could come into his practice and he’d suddenly think, “Oh god, they’re going to die next week.” Most of the time he couldn’t stop it or do anything about it.
I’m able to read photographs and get the core essence of someone. And have some of my Grandfather’s stuff.
Renae: There is mention of an age difference. What is the gap, and do you really think it is an issue in our modern gay relationships?
Meg: I have gaps in both books and I have to admit, it’s a bit of a theme of mine. I’m not sure why but I do like unusual pairings in relationships. They have always fascinated me. My other series is about a 68 black man who falls in love with a white woman 30 years his junior but it’s not a ‘younger model’ or ‘eye candy’ type of love. Theirs is a deep and soulful, loving respectful relationship.
With Beau and Mattie from Hawaiian Lei, there is a 14 year age difference, but they barely notice it. With Kulani and Rob in Hawaiian Orchid, it’s more pronounced. There is a 25 year age gap and they have more problems with it. But it’s more imagined issues than any real ones at the end of the day.
I don’t think it’s an issue in gay or hetero relationships per se. But it’s very individualized for each couple. I think the ‘stigma’ has become less in some ways. At one time, it was unusual for women to go out with much younger men. Now, not so much. I did read a wonderful book called Older Man, Younger Man and that showed up some interesting thoughts on both sides. But it always seems to be ‘the outside world’s’ perceptions of what is okay, rather than with the people who are involved themselves.
Renae: Just checking – Hawaiian Lei and Hawaiian Orchid – are they HEA?
Meg: Yes. Definitely. **grin** I don’t like reading books that aren’t, so all of mine are HEA. **grin** I always feel a wee bit robbed otherwise. LOL.
Renae: Is there more planned for the series?
Meg: Yes, there is. Kulani has a tribe of ‘lost boys,’ he’s taken under his wing. And their stories are now also starting to emerge. We’ll get to hear the story of each boy, with the background of Kulani and Rob (Orchid), and Beau and Matt (Lei) being the backbone for each story.
Danny’s story, Hawaiian Fragrance is up next.
Danny Lucerno is mixed plate, part Portuguese from a wealthy, plumeria farm family. He’s a fourth generation Big Islander coming from the powerful and influential Lucerno family. His folks own substantial ranch land and are horse people up in wet, lush Waimea where the mighty Parker Ranch is. Not that the scent of his moneyed background supports him much. When he came out to his family at seventeen, they disowned him. Kulani found him living on the beach.
Now he’s got a bad boy attitude, smokes cigarettes and is the most hurt and angry of the boys. He was raised on a horse, but he’s also an expert waterman like Kulani—another departure from his families graces. He and Zane often go head to head but develop a deeper friendship when Danny falls in love an older man, Paolo Bastini, a wealthy, sophisticated Brazilian involved in the perfume industry.
Unbeknown to Danny, Paolo has a past that entwines Danny in a dangerous game. Twenty-five years earlier, Paolo was in love with another Lucerno—Daniel Sr.—Danny’s father. What happens when Paolo starts to resent Danny not being Daniel?
This story is still developing, but this is the main idea of it.
Zane’s story is Hawaiian Ginger after this one. He’s a partially deaf dancer from a deeply religious family.
Then the twins story – Hawaiian Cherry. They come from an old Japanese Kona coffee family and ran away from home when their druggie mother’s new boyfriend thought they’d be nice, fresh meat.
Kaleho is the last story in this series at the moment. He’s a complete mystery at this point. **grin** But his story will come, they always come and tell me the story they want the world to hear. That is Hawaiian Mac.
Renae: What are you working on now?
Meg: Too much. LOL. Obviously, we’ve just put Hawaiian Orchid ‘to bed.’ Next, I want to release a trilogy set in New Orleans. I’ll be self-publishing that one and it’s due out about a month after Orchid (apparently.) According to some schedule in my head, which may not come off yet. **grin** But that’s the plan. Henry and Isolde is the first book in the series and just needs another edit, then The Chi Circle is in full edit, and Flame is the last book, half written at this stage. I’m also trying to carve out some space to write Hawaiian Fragrance. I don’t plan on sleeping for about 6 months, give or take. :)
Renae: Where can people contact you?
Renae: Thank you ever so much for coming and visiting me today. I hope the release is going well and that you don’t stress out too much like me! I’ve really enjoyed this. Congrats on the new release, and good luck.
Meg: Thanks so much Renae for having me. I’ve loved being here. Such in-depth and interesting questions!! The release is going well, thanks. By the time I get to the release part, I’m on cruise mode. I enjoy the release of my baby out into the world. **grin**
It’s always lovely to sit down and have a wine and natter with a fellow Australasian. Slainte as they say in Ireland. And a big aloha and mahalo to everyone. Meg **grin**