KAPA‘A — Bill Fernandez, a retired California judge born and raised in Kapa‘a, has just published his 11th book: “Conquest,” a historical novel of Kamehameha the Great.
Set in 1793, this historical novel tells the saga of Kamehameha as he continues his conquest to unite the chain of the Hawaiian islands. Meanwhile, the main characters, Kalani and his wife, have settled onto his farmland on Maui, seeking a peaceful life.
Fernandez said his new novel is great for readers ages 16 and up, and can be found at the Talk Story Bookstore in Hanapepe, the Kaua‘i Store in Kapa‘a, online at Amazon, Kindle and Good Reads, and at Hawai‘i public libraries after July 28.
Fernandez took inspiration from his culture, and has a passion for teaching through his stories.
“My desire (is) to teach people about Hawaiian history from a Native Hawaiian point of view and make history interesting by creating a novel to tell the story,” said Fernandez.
Fernandez is part Native Hawaiian and grew up in the old Roxy Theater in Kapa‘a, which his parents built in 1939 before Hurricane ‘Iniki destroyed it in 1992.
“I was raised around storytelling in the movies and local talk story,” said Fernandez.
Fernandez said at the age of 14, he was sent to Kamehameha Schools, and graduated in 1949. In 2019, he was honored to be the named a most distinguished alumnus of the school.
After graduating from high school, he attended Stanford University and its law school, which led him to serve in Silicon Valley.
“I settled in what turned into Silicon Valley, practicing law, and then (was) appointed to the Santa Clara County, California courts as a judge,” said Fernandez.
Fernandez said that, after 20 years, he retired as a judge, traveled, and eventually started writing books at home while sitting in front of the ocean.
Fernandez also serves on the Hawai‘i Juvenile Justice State Advisory Commission, and on the boards of Hale ‘Opi‘o in Lihu‘e and the Kaua‘i Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the Kapa‘a High School Foundation.
Fernandez adds that the history of the Hawaiian islands is usually not written from the Native Hawaiian point of view.
“As a Native Hawaiian who grew up when the language was almost dead, the history of the loss of our land never taught, and Hawaiians were disappearing, I have a strong desire to tell the story and use Native Hawaiian men as heroes to make history more personal.”
Fernandez said all of his books are heavily researched, and some feature personal family stories, such as the lawsuit his Hawaiian great-grandfather endured while trying to stop the plantation from diverting the water to his farm.
Fernandez said he recently got a compliment from a kupuna, who told his wife: “Tell him to keep writing about Hawaiians. He gets it.”
If Fernandez is not volunteering his time or making generous donations to the Kapa‘a High School Foundation, he is busy researching, writing, enjoying life near the ocean where he grew up, and traveling with his wife prior to the pandemic.
Fernandez expects his first copies of “Conquest” by July 28. A book-signing will be announced at a later date.
Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.