Author Darien Gee

Author Darien Gee. Courtesy photo

Kaua’i Backstory Offers Treat May 16

Nationally known author to speak at Kaua`i Backstory Event

Writers’ Open Mic Follows

Q&A with Rogers & Ell Below


What’s Happening May 16

“Fairy Tales, Fables & Myth; Using Classic Archetypes and Mythic Construction in Writing” will be the topic of a presentation by Darien Gee, a nationally known best-selling author from Hawai`i Island. Gee is giving a presentation to Kaua`i writers at Small Town Coffee in Kapa`a on Wednesday, May 16, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The evening also includes the organization’s annual open mic for writers to read their works.

Darien Gee

Darien Gee is here to introduce the new anthology, Don’t Look Back: Hawaiian Myths Made New. We’ll spend an hour talking about how mythic construction, the hero’s journey and archetypes, infuse writing of all types. Think Grimm — “Once Upon A Time…,” “Mirror Mirror…” Notice how popular fairy tales appear all the time in movies and on television? And novelists have long turned to mythology to tell their stories — Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. A.S. Byatt’s Possession. Eowyn Ivey’s Snow Child…the list goes on.

Gee resides with her family in Kamuela on Hawai`i Island. Her most recent novel, Friendship Bread, came out in 2011. She published previous novels Sweet Life and Table Manners under her pen name, Mia King. Read more about her online at

Kim Rogers, Lois Ann Ell

Kaua`i Backstory organizers Kim Rogers (l),and Lois Ann Ell (r)

Kaua`i Writers

In the second half of our night, Kaua`i Backstory invites writers to share their work. As usual, writers will be given up to five minutes to read on a first-come, sign-up basis. Please arrive on time to sign up. Read more about Kaua`i Backstory and its literary outreach to the community in the following Q&A with Kim Rogers and Lois Ann Ell.

 Q&A With Kim and Lois

Q       What is Kaua`i Backstory?

 A.       Kaua`i Backstory is a venue for rigorous writing with a view about Kaua`i. We look for writing that builds understanding, not walls. We encourage writing (and imagery) that engenders respectful dialogue for we believe one way to build community is through conversation, the time-honored tradition of kama’ilio — talk story.

Q       Are you a founder?

Kim: I am one of the founders, along with Pam Woolway and Gae Rusk. We invited Lois Ann to join us after she was one of our winners in our very first creative competition.

Lois Anne: No, I was one of the winners of the 1st competition (for an essay I wrote) and was asked to join shortly after. I have been a co-editor since.

Q       How did this organization come about?

Kim: Seven years ago, the writing coming out of our writing group was powerful and strong and deserved to be read by others, but it was too edgy for traditional media outlets. We wanted to give writers an outlet for sharing their work, so we started Kaua`i Backstory, an online writing journal with an annual creative competition.

Q        Why did you think people would want to share their writing?

Lois Ann:  People share their writing to participate in the creative process that is life.

Q       What inspired you to invite Darien Gee? Were people asking for her? Or for something she represents?

Kim: For the past few years, we’ve invited a local Hawai`i author to make a guest appearance to talk about various aspects of writing. A short story of Darien’s was recently published in a new anthology–Don’t Look Back: Hawaiian Myths Made New. That inspired this Wednesday’s theme.

Q       Does it cost something to bring a speaker? How do you fund such a thing?

Kim: Published authors are incredibly generous people. Darien didn’t hesitate to offer her time to come to Kaua`i from her home on Big Island. As for expenses, the three editors are covering those.

Lois Ann: Our guest speakers have all graciously participated because they are writers themselves, they share the same love of writing and of the spoken word, they understand the importance of an audience and of a writing community. We at Kaua’i Backstory incur costs of the events.

Q       About what kind of attendance do you have at gatherings?

Kim: Over the years, we’ve had anywhere from 20 to 50 people attend our events.

Q       Tell about a particularly favorite event or comment someone made or perhaps someone’s writing you heard at an event that moved you.

Lois Ann: One of my favorite events was when we had Kealoha, a slam poet who lives on O’ahu — and who was just named Hawai’i’s first Poet Laureate — as one of our guest speakers. He performed a poem called “Recess” about the transition from childhood to adulthood. His delivery was flawless, and his message connected with everyone in the audience.

Q       What do you get from keeping the organization alive and online?

Kim: Writing is a solitary endeavor. Yet when a group of writers get together, there’s an energy that amps up everyone’s individual writing pursuits. It’s great to witness, and it’s great to experience. That’s what keeps this project going.

Q       You are a successful writer yourself. Describe how you arrange your life to have time for writing. Is it a fulltime job? A hobby?

Kim: I write full-time and then some. It’s what I do. I’ll be writing when I’m 95 years old.

Lois Ann: Writing and editing is a full time job for me, and so is being a mother to three young children. If I have three hours or 10 minutes, I take it as an opportunity to work.

Q       What made you decide to invite this speaker? What do you think is the relevancy of her topic to writers here?

Kim: Writers have turned to mythology, fairy tales and fables to inspire storytelling for generations. And yet there seems to be a resurgence in novels, TV shows and movies today that tap elements of such. This probably waxes and wanes through time. Hawaii’s ready and rich mythology  can provide inspiration for writers of all types–in poetry, short story and nonfiction narrative.

Lois Ann: Not only is Gee a successful published author from Hawai’i, this anthology is based on Hawai’i myths and legends brought to the modern day, featuring a handful of Hawai’i writers. I suspect most writing is related in some way to our collective myths, fables and stories of the past. It is a subject well worth exploring.

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