Last post from Maui (August 24-31, 2008)

September 1st, 2008  


For the remainder of this summer, these blogs are dedicated to the memory of Rick Dalton, brother-in-law but more important, friend. Aloha nui loa Rick.

Sometimes miracles do happen

Last spring, I booked our annual Maui trip for a month later than usual, swapping July out for September. We were anticipating the release of The Book of Honu, and the plan was to be on Maui when it happened. A few weeks later, however, our editor informed us that the schedule was for advance copies to be available in late September, and books wouldn’t be shipped to stores until October. Naturally, we were a little disappointed, and we switched our plans back to our traditional July and August trip.

Shortly after we arrived, I sent email to our editor to let him know our summer address, and to our delight he wrote back that there was a good chance that we would receive an advance copy while were still on Maui. My understanding is that it’s highly unusual for a publisher to be ahead of schedule, but I certainly appreciated that we were lucky enough for our book to be one of those rare exceptions.

Well, if you’ve been following along, you know what happened. Our great friend and mentor and the expert on honu, George Balazs, came to visit us in mid-July. While he was here, we got our advance copy! Based on its availability, Maui Ocean Center invited us to help them celebrate the honu during the last week of August, which is just over, and that brings us to…

Our first appearance as authors

On Monday, August 25, I presented a slideshow and talk at the Deep Reef Exhibit. I used a  number of pictures from the book, supplemented with some that had been excluded simply because of space limits. It was unrehearsed and I’d only finished putting it together that morning, which meant that it had some rough spots. At the end, however, one of the MOC staff asked if I’d be available to give one of their Ocean Talks, so it couldn’t have been awful. (I said yes, but it will have to wait until next July.)

Your author in the dark with the sharks

Your author makes his first public appearance as your author.

Click image to enlarge

Then came the awkward part: book signing.

I’ve always felt sorry for the guy who sits at a table with a pile of books in a bookstore and smiles hopefully at shoppers. Now I was that guy. It felt weird. Sure, people did buy the book and get us to sign it, but there was a lot of waiting and smiling too.

Yes, I said “us” because Ursula was there too, drawing little honu cartoons along with her signature. During the slack periods, however, she nonchalantly wandered around looking like just another shopper, leaving me to be That Guy. She says she wants me to have most of the glory. I’d rather share. She wins this round.

Your author is That Guy

Our first book signing, with me playing the part of That Guy.

Click image to enlarge

It really didn’t matter. All of the discomfort was worth it, because The Moment had finally arrived: our book was officially on the shelves! We started the summer with no hope of seeing the book in stores until we came back next July. (We don’t expect bookstores in Canada to stock it.) On Monday, however, the dream came true. There it was, and not only that, there we were actually signing them.

The latter was never really part of the dream, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. We owe it to University of Hawaii Press and in this case, Maui Ocean Center, because helping to promote the book comes with the territory. Maybe it gets easier with repetition. So on Thursday…

Our second appearance as authors

This time I read from the book down at the Turtle Lagoon. Reading is a lot easier than unrehearsed talking about slides. It was a lot more enjoyable and instead of sharks in the tank behind me, this time there were honu.

I love the Turtle Lagoon. This summer they’ve added a new attraction: the Sea Life Park captive breeding program provided six recently hatched honu. They’ve been given their own tank at the Turtle Lagoon, and their appearances are rotated in groups of three. Not quite hatchlings, but not yet grown to the size of the smallest honu that you’d see on the reef, or normally in the Turtle Lagoon either. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see honu at a stage of their lives that is almost never seen in the wild. They’re still wearing their hatchling colours: almost black carapaces and white plastrons. They are simply adorable.

Young honu admirer admires young honu

Zachary, already an ardent fan of the honu, gets the rare chance to see honu that are only a couple of months old.

Click image to enlarge

Following the reading, which went a lot smoother than the talk, we again retired to the MOC Retail Store to sign books. I didn’t feel quite so much like That Guy this time, partly because several people gathered round to chat for a while so we actually looked more like authors—or at least the way I think authors should look at a book signing. I might be able to get used to it, but then I don’t expect to have to do it much either. The book is really intended to be a regional book. I wanted to write a book primarily for the visitor to Hawaii who saw a honu and fell in love. I think we succeeded, but now it’s up to the market.

The Promise

The book begins with a promise to Clothahump: to tell her story and the story of the honu on her reef. At the end of 2002, after I’d had my angina scare and we realized that time could run out without warning, we renewed that promise by placing it on a dive slate underwater at Reef 2, near the honu. This week, on our aloha dive, I went back to that slate to pose for a fulfillment picture: thanks to UHP, we’ve kept our promise.

Your author and The Promise Renewed

The dive slate in my hand has our promise to write the book written on it. It’s been there since 2002. That’s a long gestation period.

Click image to enlarge

Ursula has written a lot more about this in her blog, so instead of duplicating her work, I’ll just direct you over there.

Aloha Maui!

…and we’re outta here! Pau, as the Hawaiians say. 10 months of Mississauga coming up.

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8 Responses to “Last post from Maui (August 24-31, 2008)”

  1. Your co-author on September 1st, 2008 2:33 pm

    Hi Peter, your co-author here. Nice up-beat Blog and plummeted like a lead balloon in the last sentence. “Sentence” –that’s what I’ve come to think of as Mississauga.

    The (soon *SIGH* to be) Mississauga Muse

  2. Tony Burns on September 1st, 2008 4:38 pm

    Though you say the book will not be in Canadian stores I was able to pre-order it at


  3. Peter on September 3rd, 2008 1:17 am

    Thanks, Tony. Nice to see you still keep track all these years. You were the first Turtle Trax fan.

    I meant that I don’t expect that it will be in bricks-and-mortar stores in Canada, or too many other places outside of Hawaii. It would be nice but that wasn’t the goal. It’s specifically written for a niche.

  4. Nancy Hines on September 20th, 2008 3:01 am

    I sit here in misery in Seattle – just back from Maui – only now realizing that I missed meeting you there because I lapsed in keeping track of your blog! I arrived there on the 27th and would have loved to meet and talk to “That Guy” and the “Muse.” I’ve been hoping to do so since 2001. (Sigh…) So I’ve ordered the book and will read it eagerly but with the sting of my own neglect rebuking me. Thanks SO much for your concern and perseverance. You’re a honu/ea’s best friends. And maybe one day, I WILL get to meet you!
    We found two – maybe three ea at Airport, and 4 or 5 honu at our other site: one with a rototooled number on her carapace: I think #959 or 159. Your example makes researches of us all…. Congratulations!

  5. dash on September 26th, 2008 3:24 pm

    hi I am your biggest fan i read all of your books like the
    turtles one i ordered that too and that i like that too i still
    got it

  6. Bo Blinski on September 29th, 2008 7:55 pm

    Aloha Ursula & Peter,
    The next time your on Maui please email me.
    I am enjoying reading your book thank you for my Honu friends.
    I have been researching Honu’s on the South Shore of Maui for 18 years and sending my sightings to George Balazs.
    It would be great to talk story with you both, all my research is on ocean surface as a snorkeler.
    Thanks again… Bo

  7. zoey10 on June 1st, 2009 10:16 pm

    HI i love turtles.and me and my bfs love to find turtles. we have one turtle now .but we do not no what turtle eat

  8. Alan on June 10th, 2009 6:26 am

    This is Zachary’s dad (from your picture on this page from Aug. 2008). We are back in Maui and today we were out on an outrigger canoe and saw several honu. Highlight of our trip so far. It reminded us of the fun time at your book reading last summer. Zachary still loves to talk about honu. Cheers!

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