Wednesday, July 20, 2016

#WriterWednesday Author Interview with SinC/Hawaii member: A K Gunn

Our guest today is SinC member, A K Gunn. Mr. Gunn is the author of the crime fiction novel, The Honey Bee and the recently published political mystery, The Death of Aloha. The setting for this story is a place first thought of as "paradise", the Hawaiian Island of O'ahu.

This is the author's synopsis of the novel:

Kimo Silva, Honolulu’s incoming mayor, inherits a city that faces hard times. Economic decline, Asian conflict, and internal ethnic strife threaten to unravel the Aloha Spirit that keeps Honolulu’s diverse population at peace.

His own son, Luke, becomes a victim of ethnic intolerance when he is “hijacked” and threatened on his way to school. A series of related confrontations and crimes divides Honolulu’s ethnic groups and enflames people who feel victimized by social forces they cannot control. Honolulu has been a model city for ethnic tranquility for decades, but Kimo knows that the peace Honolulu enjoys is both fragile and critical. He is determined to preserve Honolulu’s Aloha Spirit. But what can he do to reverse the trend? And what must he sacrifice in order to do it?

Two Author Interview Questions Relating to
The Death of Aloha
Author A K Gunn lives in Honolulu where the plot of this novel unfolds, beginning with the protagonist's young son experiencing taunting behavior by older boys from his school. Writers are often told to "write what you know," or to "write from experience."
Sisters in Crime/Hawaii: Mr. Gunn, thank you for taking time for this interview today. The story you tell in The Death of Aloha is not your typical cozy mystery set in paradise. Are the scenes involving young Luke Silva created from imagination like the boy's after-school fantasies of laser blasters and aliens, or are some scenes based on actual events?
A K GUNN: The incident involving Luke stems from an incident involving my own son. He was a little older but still in grade school and had a job as a newspaper delivery boy. While delivering the Star-Bulletin, he probably got too close to a drug deal going down.

He was thrown to the ground, a knife put to his throat and he was told that if he ever told anyone about anything, he’d be killed. When he got home, we could tell something had gone wrong, and we were able to extract the truth from him after a little prodding. We called the police, who were very helpful, but that just aggravated his fear, both when he delivered his papers and when he went to school. A month or two later, a crack house in the neighborhood was raided. My son gave up his paper route and switched to a private school. 
Sisters in Crime/Hawaii: Your story addresses socio-political issues that are also recognized in other areas of the country. Is there any one issue in particular that is unique to the islands due either to our isolation or another reason?  
A K GUNN: Many of the issues involving Hawaii are similar to those facing many areas on the mainland, but Hawaii has been uniquely successful in dealing with them. Ethnic diversity, an unhappy indigent population, homelessness, crime, and economic disparity are examples. In addition, we have some unique problems.

We are dependent upon two major industries—tourism & military--both of which tend to be cyclical, so we’re vulnerable to difficult economic shifts. In addition, we host a high percentage of transient residents (tourists & military) who inevitably bring attitudes and viewpoints to our shores that differ from those held by people who live here permanently. Expenses are high here, particularly in housing, and people have to work harder to keep a positive cash balance. We’re over-crowded in Honolulu, and our infrastructure, particularly transportation, hasn’t kept up.

These negatives are offset by some positives, including the great climate, the physical beauty of both the land and the sea, and—most important—the Aloha Spirit. Our society is uniquely tolerant and acceptant of people with ethnic differences and different points of view. It’s the Aloha Spirit that makes Hawaii paradise, that makes our aina a garden of Eden instead of a jungle. 
Kent Reinker is a retired U.S. Army colonel, medical school professor, and scientist. He has published three novels under the name Alain Gunn, and one novel under the name A K Gunn. He has also authored forty-eight scientific publications, over twenty short stories, and numerous articles in newspapers or journals.
He has lived in Hawaii since coming from the mainland for military service in 1970. He was educated at Yale University, where he earned a BS in physics, and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, where he received an MD degree.
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