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Interview with Dee DeTarsio, author of Haole Wood


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Tell us about Haole Wood

When San Diego weathercaster, Jaswinder Park, is mysteriously summoned to the island of Maui in Hawaii to help her grandmother (who was in jail for selling pakalolo), she ends up losing her job. This fair-haired, light-skinned foreigner, called ‘haole’ by the natives, drowns her sorrows in a local bar, doing shots with a charming land developer — who ends up dead. Jaswinder needs to find the killer and prove it’s not her grandmother. A blistering sunburn leads her to a surfing dermatologist, as well as a whole new career: designing protective resort clothing for sensitive skin. From launching her clothing line, Haole Wood, to keeping her grandmother out of trouble, Jaswinder tries to embrace the island way of life. Where’s a guardian angel when you need one? Aloha!

We know what aloha means, but what’s pakalolo and what’s haole? Are we going to need a new dictionary to read this book?
Pakalolo is marijuana, and via context will be made clear!

I hope the same goes for ‘haole’ which is a not very politically correct term that Hawaiians use to describe foreigners. (It also plays a part in the book plot itself, as Jaswinder starts her sun protection designer clothing line and wants to call it Hollywood, her Hawaiian co-workers misunderstand and thus, Haole Wood is born.)

You will not need a new dictionary to read this, I promise! There are a few Hawaiian phrases scattered for (hopefully) ambiance, that are always described with the English translation. (For example: Light streamed through fronds of a big palm tree as birds greeted each other. It sounded like they chirped, “kokua, kokua.” Help, help. I sure needed help.)

What genre is your book?
Haole Wood had a lot of fun crossing genres—and ended up as a hybrid of Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit/Mystery/Romantic Suspense. If that’s too long, I’ve started a new genre: Hopefully-ever-after!

And what kind of readers will hopefully-ever-after appeal to?
Readers who like goddess Marian Keyes will hopefully like my books. I fangirl double-heart Marian Keyes because her books shine with the magic of laughing at the sadness of life.

How long did Haole Wood take to write?
Haole Wood took just shy of a year to write, including the editing process. I worked with a professional editor, who happened to be a guy, (Dave Malone!), which made it a lot of fun! Side note: I am starting an underground campaign to encourage more guys to read women’s fiction.

The XY in my life complains that ‘women sure do think a lot.’ That’s right, we do, live and learn, hombres. For example: Women think it’s sexier for guys to fill up our cars with gas, than to play bongos on our ass. (See what I did there, I made it sing-songy so it can be remembered easier.)

We haven’t got a clue how to respond to that! Which of your other books should we read next?
Oh, I would love it if readers would take a look, just give it a few pages, at my poor-deprived middle child, Ros. My heretofore marketing plan is “Stephen King would hate it,” which has been remarkably unsuccessful. Yet, I have a soft spot for our Ros.  Based on the description, I wouldn’t even read it: “If you are looking for something different to read, Ros is a chick-lit buddy-book hybrid, a little Starman meets ET, filled with adventure, love and friendship.”  What’s that, you ask? Okay, she is an alien.

What’s the most challenging part of being a writer?
Sore butt!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a TV writer living in southern California. After growing up in Ennui, Ohio, and graduating from The Ohio State University I vowed never to be cold again (in a tantrum more worthy of Suellen than Scarlett) and ended up in Tucson, Arizona, producing the news for the CBS affiliate, oddly enough called KOLD-TV. I moved to San Diego where I worked in the SeaWorld entertainment department as a producer/writer. (Penguins are mean!) I then became a producer/writer for the NBC affiliate. Though my mother never beat me (that hard) and my father is not a celebrity, I suspect one of my four sisters is a vampire.

How can we stalk you on the internet?
Twitter: @DeeDeTarsio

Where can we buy Haole Wood?
Amazon ( US, UK).

What’s next?
Seeking: Blurb from intergalactic bestselling goddess of the Universe, Marian Keyes. (I’ve even taken the liberty of writing it for her myself: Those three little magic words that any author would love to hear, ten little letters, she doesn’t even have to waste energy on an exclamation point!) “I read worse.”

Oh, I have another hopefully-ever-after coming down the pike this Spring: Life is a soap opera in All My Restless Life To Live, especially for Elle Miller, who writes for one. When her laptop crashes, she borrows her dead dad’s computer and faces mysterious communications. From dealing with her mom, who has decided to give internet dating a try, to trying to save her career at I’d Rather Be Loved with a storyline featuring a trip through Atlantis, to a trip to the Emmys, Elle also finds herself in the middle of a romance between a real doctor and a hunk who just plays one on TV.

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Enjoyed this interview? Then check out our conversation with Jess Riley

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  1. Thank you, David and Indie Author Land! (Why did I not self-edit what the hardest part about writing is?!) Sad, but true!

  2. Most challenging part of reading anything by Dee DeTarsio (besides figuring out the freakin’ genre): Sore sides (from laughing, of course). Having already read both Ros and Haole Wood, I’m ‘Hopefully ever after’ awaiting the next chance at sore sides reading (or to play butt bongos, whichever comes first).

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