Interest in Mauna Kea continues to grow, creating a busy spring season of book events and television and social media interviews. These included an April 13 “Newsmaker luncheon” with the Big Island Press Club at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, a May 4 reading and book signing at Native Books in Honolulu, and three new author interviews.

Photos by Catherine Robbins unless otherwise attributed.

Tom reading from “Mauna Kea” at the Big Island Press Club on April 13.

Probing questions and lively discussion at the Big Island Press Club . . .

Since 1967, the Big Island Press Club has been the “watchdog for openness and credibility” in our local media, and a provider of journalism scholarships for over four decades. I felt honored to be the featured speaker at their April 13 “Newsmaker luncheon,” held at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, and was gratified when more than two dozen people attended—Press Club members, UH students, and other Big Island residents.

Here are a few photos from that lively two-hour event.

Three Hawaiʻi Island writers—former students of Tom’s, each with important published work—met Tom outside the UH-Hilo Campus Center before attending the luncheon. (From left to right: Karen Kuester, Tom, Gloria Blum, Barry Blum.)

Current Press Club President Michael Phillips opened the luncheon. An international journalist-meteorologist, now living on the Big Island, he had just returned from broadcasting live the April 8th total solar eclipse in Texas.

Being journalists, the Press Club’s questions about the novel and the Mauna Kea controversy were thoughtful and probing, so our discussion was complex and enlightening. And the local style lunch (kalua pig and cabbage, fried taro, mac salad, and haupia pudding) was ono (delicious). Mahalo to the Press Club for their interest in the novel and to their local journalists who’ve done a great job over the many years covering the complicated and controversial Mauna Kea controversy.

Former Press Club President John Burnett, a sharp, crackerjack reporter for the Hawaiʻi Tribune-Herald, introduced Tom, referring to both of his novels as “brilliant.” Tiffany Edwards-Hunt (right), a former investigative reporter and the club’s Vice President, also attended the luncheon.

Press Club Secretary Nancy Cook Lauer, a former West Hawaiʻi Today reporter who now publishes a daily state government news aggregate and community blog, All Hawaii News, discussed the Press Club’s efforts to encourage and support student journalists, including those working for UH-Hilo’s campus news magazine Ke Kalahea (The Herald).  Several Ke Kalahea staff also attended.

Basically Books owner Christine Reed (right) and bookstore intern Maddie Calaway (left) sold copies of Tom’s novels during the luncheon, as well as numerous other Hawaiʻi titles. Basically Books is Hilo’s oldest bookstore, specializing in Hawaiʻi literature and Hawaiiana. Photo by Nancy Cook Lauer.

After the luncheon, Tom signed numerous copies of both novels.

A warm reception at Native Books in Honolulu . . .

Native Books at 1164 Nuʻuanu Avenue in Honolulu’s Chinatown. Photo by Tom Peek.

Founded in 1990 by Maile Meyer, Native Books is one of Hawaiʻi’s most esteemed independent bookstores. As their website says, Native Books is “a place of pride and respect for Hawaiians and Hawaiian culture” and a tool to all who want to “deepen existing relationships to place, and to the essence of indigenous thinking as articulated by Kanaka ʻōiwi “(Native Hawaiians).

I felt honored to read at this renowned community institution which has played an important role in the ongoing Native Hawaiian Renaissance, as both a bookstore and a publisher with three imprints.

Native Books founder and owner Maile Meyer introduced Tom and guided the deep and lively discussion, often drawing out comments and questions from the audience and bookstore staff. Photo by Tom Coffman.

Photos by Tom Coffman.

Among the attendees was renowned and prolific author and filmmaker Tom Coffman whose works include the film Mauna Kea, Sacred Conduct/Sacred Mountain and one of the most important books about the overthrow and annexation of Hawaiʻi, Nation Within: The History of the American Occupation of Hawaiʻi.

Tom Coffman, Maile Meyer, and Tom at Native Books. Photo by Lehua Egan.

A morning news interview with KHON’s Chevy Chevalier . . .

The day before the Native Books reading, I was interviewed by Chevy Chevalier on the morning news program of Honolulu’s KHON television station, Wake Up 2Day. During the lively 6-minute interview, we discussed Mauna Kea and its current timeliness—in the world and in Hawaiʻi—as well as my earlier novel Daughters of Fire.

Two MIDLIFE DIALOGUES with Big Island author Leslie Lang . . .

On April 18 I did two interviews with Big Island author and video blogger Leslie Lang for her fascinating Midlife Dialogues series. Among Leslie’s many publications are Mauna Kea: A Guide to Hawaiʻi’s Sacred Mountain and Exploring Historic Hilo.

Part 1 of our wide-ranging—and meaty—conversations (posted on the web on April 23) discusses Mauna Kea, my unique background in Minnesota and Hawaiʻi which compelled and informed the novel’s writing, and the intuitive (naʻau) process I used to create it.

In Part 2 (posted on May 7), we explored how to tap years of experience—including from life’s challenges—to enhance and deepen one’s character and one’s life going forward.