East Hawaii News

Novel by Volcano Author Peek Garners Award

May 9, 2013, 2:38 PM HST
* Updated May 9, 2:40 PM
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A novel by a Volcano author has been named a finalist in the Benjamin Franklin Awards.

“Daughters of Fire,” by Tom Peek, on Friday was awarded a silver finalist award, making it one of three in the running for a gold award in the category of popular fiction.

The gold award winners in 55 categories of editorial and design excellence will be announced in New York on May 29.

According to a statement from its publisher, Arnie Kotler of Koa Books of Hana, Maui, the book was more than a decade in research and writing.

Kotler said “Daughters of Fire” describes how the islands’ “transformation into a tourist mecca and developers’ gold mine sparked a Native Hawaiian movement to reclaim their culture, protect sacred land, and step into the future with wisdom and aloha.”

The book’s cover art is by noted a native Hawaiian artist and historian, the late Herb Kawainui Kane, and it contains pen-and-ink drawings by renowned nature artist John D. Dawson.

According to Kotler, the novel is about a visiting astronomer who falls in love with a Hawaiian anthropologist who guides him into a Polynesian world of volcanoes, gods and revered ancestors.

The lovers get caught up in murder and intrigue as developers and politicians try to conceal that a long-dormant volcano is rumbling back to life above the hotel-laden Kona coast.

The anthropologist joins forces with an aging seer and a young activist, and these three Hawaiian women summon their deepest traditions to confront Hawai’i’s latest, most extravagant resort as the eruption and murder expose deep rifts in paradise.

Volcano-based author Tom Peek. Courtesy photo.

Volcano-based author Tom Peek. Courtesy photo.

Peek is known on the Big Island for his writing workshops at the Volcano Art Center and University of Hawaii at Hilo. He has also been a mountain and astronomy guide on Mauna Kea, and a ranger, wildland firefighter and exhibit writer on Kilauea.

Those experiences, Kotler said, along with his work with Hawaiian elders and cultural practitioners on both volcanoes, provided Peek with much of the material for his book.

The book will be featured at the Hawaii Book and Music Festival in Honolulu on May 18-19 accompanied by a reading by Peek on Saturday, May 18, from 4 to 5 p.m.

The owner of a Honolulu book store specializing in literature about Hawaii nei described the book as a “terrific read for people who want more than a ‘fun in the sun’” novel.

“Tom Peek’s novel offers a window into the complex reality of life in contemporary Hawai’i,” said Maile Meyer, founder and owner of Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii in Honolulu. “His storyline moves between, in, and around native/western worlds with relative ease, creating an intriguing tension and discomfort that makes for great storytelling.

“Peek’s understanding of place, culture, and current issues is deep and respectful, without being heavy-handed,” Meyer said. “Locals and visitors will be swept into the world of Pele and life on Moku o Keawe.”

 Kotler said “Daughters of Fire” is available at bookstores and gift shops throughout Hawai‘i and the US, and from all online retailers. For more information, visit http://daughtersoffire.com. 

The Benjamin Franklin Awards are issued by the Independent Book Publishers Association, the largest association of independent publishers in the US with more than 3,000 members.

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