Kapaa author sets signing session for his latest book

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    “Gods, Ghosts, and Kahuna on Kauai” is the latest book by Kapaa author Bill Fernandez.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Bill Fernandez

LIHUE — One of Kauai’s most prolific authors will be telling stories Monday. Maybe even some ghost stories.

To find out what Bill Fernandez has to say, you’ll have to be there. Or, as he says, you can read his latest book, “Gods, Ghosts, and Kahuna on Kauai.”

“This is all stuff I learned growing up on the island,” Fernandez said.

The Kapaa man will be at the Kauai Museum from 5 to 7 p.m. He’ll give a presentation, then sell and sign copies of the second of his John Tana novels.

There will be light refreshments, but more important, you’ll get to hear from a man raised on Kauai, who knows well its history, culture and people, and enjoys sharing what he knows, which is quite a bit.

Fernandez, a retired judge and attorney, graduated from Kamehameha Schools and Stanford University. He has written three memoirs, “Rainbows Over Kapaa,” “Kauai Kids in Peace and War,” and “Hawaii in War and Peace.”

His three novels include “John Tana: An Adventure Tale of Old Hawaii,” “Cult of Ku: A Hawaiian Murder Mystery,” and “Crime &Punishment in Hawaii.”

The next John Tana book, “Rebellion,” is expected out later this year.

“Gods, Ghosts, and Kahuna on Kauai” tells the story of Tana, who settles on Kauai in the late 19th century. It’s an adventure that involves danger, the greed of sugar plantations, a boar hunt, omens and old beliefs in gods and kahunas that “are slow to die.”

Tana is a Hawaiian who tries to make his life better, and that doesn’t mean always fighting the system, but in ways, becoming part of it and improving it.

“It’s the education of an orphan Hawaiian and how he grows,” Fernandez said.

The 210-page book has already earned strong reviews. Kirkus Reviews wrote that Fernandez “is an authentic voice for John and the Pacific archipelago’s turbulent history. Plots twists come thick and fast … undercurrent of John’s love of Leinani … vivid and intriguing details of Hawaiian daily life ring true.”

The 86-year-old Fernandez and his wife, Judie, live in the old plantation cottage he grew up in. He writes his stories from Hawaii’s common man’s point of view and how the new world changed life on Kauai.

“Gods, Ghosts, and Kahuna on Kauai” covers a lot of ground, from sovereignty issues to religion and capitalism. Conflicts in beliefs of gods and ghosts come into play, as well.

“Of all the islands, this is one of the most mystical places,” Fernandez said.

He wants to do more than entertainment with his writing. Fernandez notes that many of people come to Kauai to see the sights and enjoy the beaches.

But they are missing out if they don’t learn about the history, the culture, the places and the people.

“As Don Ho, my classmate, would say, they leave without knowing anything about us, Hawaiian people,” said Fernandez, who is half-Native Hawaiian.

He wants to help others get a sense of what life used to be like on Kauai, and perhaps come to understand more about “why there is this conflict that continues to occur between Hawaii and the Western culture.”

His writing talks of the sharing and caring ways of the Hawaiian philosophy, and treating all people with kindness.

And, he adds, you will hear about “the difference between the belief in one god, Christianity, and the belief in the kahuna and the spirit world that existed on Kauai” in his youth.

Fernandez has found that the more he writes, the better he becomes and the easier the words flow. Everybody, he says, has a story to tell. He writes because it keeps his mind sharp and active, and he has stories he wants to tell about a place, Kauai, that is dear to his heart.

“I hope I can keep writing,” he said.

“Gods, Ghosts, and Kahuna on Kauai” is $20. Twenty percent of sales will go to the museum.

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