Terence Clarke

Home » Fiction » A New Novel…The Guns of Lana’i…and a modest proposal.

A New Novel…The Guns of Lana’i…and a modest proposal.

Kānaka Maoli Woman, 19th century, photographer unknown.

The question in the novelist’s mind once he/she thinks it’s ready, is this: What now?

There are still many gates through which to pass: Wander through the medieval gauntlet of literary agents and publishing houses? Or publish it yourself and get on with it? Got to send it to your editor. Got to get it designed. Who does the cover? What about the marketing? Is there a movie in this? Will HBO go for it?

This too is a gauntlet, but one way worth going through. So…I hope you’ll consider assisting my effort by contributing to my GoFundMe account for this new book. You can find it here.

What’s The Guns of Lana’i about? In 1907, Kimo Severance completes a fifteen-year sentence in the Honolulu federal prison for his participation in a failed bank robbery. “Prison had taken the fired anger that had driven him as a boy and slowly, inexorably dampened it, so that now he hoped he could simply set up somewhere.”

With a fellow former convict, an Argentine gaucho named El Pituco, Kimo goes to the Hawaiian island of Lana’i, across the channel from Maui. His wish for personal peace encounters immediate difficulty as he discovers the extent to which the Hawaiians ( the Kānaka Maoli) on the island have been subjugated by its usurping white owner, Tom Morgan.

With the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy by white Americans, Morgan had taken this island as his own. The novel tells of the conflict between the Hawaiian descendants of the former rulers of Lana’i and the ruthless haole owner (i.e. white mainlander).  Violent conflict on the island is the result.

This is a story of a disenfranchised people attempting to regain their birthright…with the help of another haole (the ex-con Kimo), and Pituco…sometimes with disastrous results. An important contributing factor to the conflict among the Hawaiians themselves is the love between Kimo and Elizabeth Kailani Alaka’i, the sister of the island’s Hawaiian leader, Junior Alaka’i.

Here is a passage from the book. Anyone who knows the island of Lana’i will recognize the landscape. (If you don’t know the island, get thee hence to the nearest airport.):

“Benito ascended the trail from Kō‘ele toward Keahiakawelo, The Garden of The Gods. Kimo, holding the horse’s reins in one hand, searched for the mud-clogged trail. Because it had rained so heavily the afternoon and night before, the soft grazing lands had been inundated with runoff. Benito’s lower legs were striated with mud. Kimo had had to dismount at one place in the trail, where the trail itself had disappeared into a shallow pond of mud for a quarter of a mile. Brown, red, and black mud had clotted his pants, so that they fit him more like filth-laden slime, weighing more and more as he led Benito to the rise in the ground from which the trail re-emerged.

“The trail followed a steady climb up a ridge, the far northern end of what had survived the disintegration of the Lana’i volcano. It was unclear when this explosion had taken place. Junior had described it as ‘a big one, yeah. Million years ago, maybe. Nobody here when it happened. And for sure…’ He grinned. ‘Nobody here after it happened.’”

“Kimo had always pictured lava fields as black. He had read about them (Von Humboldt on Chimborazo…Fiorelli in Pompeii) imagining their vast obsidian tumblings down mountainsides and slopes in places like Sicily, Greece, and Chile. Smoke rose from them as they would from The Lakes of Perdition, filled with demonic, suffocating fire.

“But he did not understand what the full consequence of such explosions could be until he read The Eruption of Krakatoa, and Subsequent Phenomena, a book written in 1888 by members of The Royal Society of Great Britain. Kimo had just arrived in Los Angeles from Mexico, having read almost nothing in the two years he had spent in that country. He found the book at the public library and, first noting its heft and small print, he was reminded of the books that his father would leave on his desk, unsigned and without a note of any kind. It was expected that the boy would read the books, and soon.

“In the case of this book, sitting at a table in the shaded library building on a July afternoon, he was drawn to read it from the very first page.

“‘The extremely violent nature of the eruption of Krakatoa on August 26th – 27th, 1883, was known in England very shortly after it occurred, but it was not until a month later that the exceptional character of some of the attendant phenomena was reported. Blue and green suns were stated to have been seen in various tropical countries; then came records of peculiar haze; in November the extraordinary twilight glows in the British Isles commanded general attention, and their probable connection with Krakatoa was pointed out by various writers.’

“Kimo read on, about the great death-bearing tsunamis hurtling from the mountainous ruin, the blackened heavens, the barometric waves colliding with one another half a world away, bouncing back upon themselves, ricocheting, colliding again and bouncing back again, and the dead creatures strewn across oceans, what seemed like the end of the world, everywhere in the world.

“Now, this peak on Lana’i, which had been left behind when its own explosion came, was perhaps a quarter of the mountain that had previously existed. So when the mountain had disintegrated, Kimo mused, the blast must have broadcast itself for hundreds of miles directly to the west, south and north across the immensity of the sea itself. The sky would have been blocked out entirely, as it had been at Krakatoa, bludgeoning the air and making it not breathable. Kimo envisioned the tsunami moving so hurriedly beneath this darkness, with such force across the empty sea to whatever unfortunate shores awaited it, the animals on those shores, those threading their way toward becoming human, those that slunk, crawled and slid across the land, even those that attempted to fly from the surge…all destroyed by the arrival of the blistering air, the pumice dust, and the immense waters. 

“The Garden of The Gods formed an enormous pebbled runoff of volcanic blast waste and stone. It had been eroded by rain and wind for the million years since the blast, and covered the entirety of the ridge up which Kimo urged Benito.

“‘They say the gods used to dig up these rocks when they gardened the heavens, see?’ Junior had further explained. ‘And tossed them aside down here.’

“Benito passed from the grass slope into the beginnings of the Garden, continuing up the steep ridge. The entry itself was hidden by a few very large boulders ahead, so that the unknowing rider would not be prepared for the immensity of what he was about to see.

“The Garden, swept over by heavy gales, lay tinted in pinks, wine-reds, sea-blues and purples. Sand and boulders were everywhere, some gathered into great, deteriorated moraines, others alone, isolated and somber, a colored moon. Except for the ocean far below, the peak of Mount Lana’ihale to the right, and the islands of Maui and Moloka’i far across the strait, the Garden took up the entire field of view.

“Kimo rode slowly, alone, Benito negotiating the rock-strewn trail. He had traversed the Garden just once before, on the ride over with Junior, Herman Keala, and Pituco. But he knew already that he would seldom be so immersed in such extra-planetary beauty. Solitude here was violent and battered by winds. He had little imagined in prison that such a place as this even existed. Now, shocked by how riveting a beauty the volcano’s destruction had caused, Kimo felt that he was a fresh visitor at the demise of the world.  

“Benito rounded a partially crushed blue-purple boulder, and began a climb to a higher plain. Up ahead, another horse stood tethered to a large stone in the middle of a rise of pink and brown sand. Its rider stood next to the horse, adjusting the saddle. The wind scattered her black hair, and her long cotton skirt, also wrapped about her, became free, and then wrapped her again as the winds enveloped her.

“Surprised by the appearance of another rider, she turned and gathered her hair behind her head with both hands, the better to see clearly. She was the one person Kimo could have wished to see here…exposed, free, and alive….Elizabeth.”

The Guns of Lana’i is, by the way, my ninth book of fiction, along with three of non-fiction. For information about them, please click here.

I hope you’ll find this of interest. Once you’ve donated to the cause, you’ll hear from me with a very personal thank you, updates on how it’s publication is going, and more news. Once, again, here’s the GoFundMe.

And please…tell your friends!

© Copyright 2022. Terence Clarke. All rights reserved. 

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