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February 01, 2016

Writing About: Oahu, Hawaii



The setting of Book 3 in my Disaster Crimes series is Oahu, Hawaii. Just as when I had to research San Francisco for Book 2, Seismic Crimes, I had a lot of fun learning about Oahu. I checked out travel guides and books from the library and visited many websites to get the information I needed to make the setting real and descriptive.

Below are the 10 most important things about Oahu you should include if you choose this island as a setting for a book:

1. Diamond Head

A volcano that’s been dead for about 100,000 years. It has a 760 foot crater in its center and tunnels that lead inside. You can follow the trails on a steep incline three-quarter miles up to the rim of the crater. You can also take a helicopter ride over it.

2.
Waikiki Beach

The world’s most famous stretch of beaches. Waikiki’s 2-mile long beach is actually divided into 7 sections: Kahanamoku Beach (the widest stretch), Fort DeRussy Beach, Gray’s Beach, Royal Moana Beach, Kuhio Beach, Queen’s Surf Beach, and San Suoci Beach.

The east end of the beach is next to Diamond Head. At the west end is the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. White sands, coral reefs, waves for surfing, and major hotels make up Waikiki Beach.

3. Pearl Harbor

At Pearl Harbor a special USS Memorial honors the over 1,100 sailors that died on the USS Arizona on December 6th 1941. The memorial was built directly over the ship in the middle of the harbor so you can peer over the side and see the ship’s hull.

4. Food

Shaved Ice – a cone-shaped cup of ice is sweetened with flavored sugar. You can request sweet beans (azuki beans) to be added under the ice. Shaved ice is sold at stands all around town.

Barbecue Sticks – pork, chicken, or beef marinated in Teriyaki sauce and served on bamboo sticks.

Pineapples – the most popular fruit with James Dole crops in Central O’ahu measuring around 11,500 acres.

5. Shaka

A hand greeting in Hawaii. You extend your pinkie and thumb and curl your three fingers into your palm. Many shake theirs hands back and forth, too. If you ever watched Dog the Bounty Hunter, you probably saw him do this while saying, “Shaka, Bratha.”

6. Pidgin

A mix of English and Hawaiian languages spoken by the natives, especially young Hawaiians.

Aloha – Hello
Brah (bra) – Friend; brother
Howzit – How are you doing?
Mahalo (Mah-hah-low) – Thank you
Lei (lay) – Flower garland
Hula – Hawaiian dance
Ae (aye) – Yes

7. Surfing

Oahu is the center of surfing among the islands. You’ll always find surfers catching waves, especially in the North Shore where die hard, professional surfers can be seen taking on beasts of waves known as pipe (aka Banzai Pipeline or Pipeline).

8. Weather

In the summer, trade winds stop blowing contributing to the rise of temperatures. Shirt-sticking weather is the reason why shaved ice is so popular. And air conditioning!

The temperatures in Hawaii don’t vary much due to its proximity to the equator. In the summer months it can be in the upper 80’s. In the winter months it can be in the upper 70’s, low 80’s.

9. Ala Moana Center

A shopping mall in Honolulu popular for shopping and dining. Bloomingdale’s, Macys, Kay Jewelers, Tiffany & Co, Nine West, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Godiva Chocolatier, and Barnes & Noble are some of the stores in this vast shopping center.

10. Flora & Fauna

Flowers – birds of paradise, plumeria, gardenia, hibiscus, red/blue ginger, orchid, oleander

Trees – Koa trees, Ohia trees, coconut palm trees, banana trees, Bayan

Mammals/Birds – sea turtles, sharks, manta rays, humpback whales, dolphins, monk seals, pigs (wild boar), goats, mongooses, ducks, geese, zebra doves, and feral cats.


QUESTIONS: Has Hawaii even been a setting for one of your books?
Do you live in Hawaii? Have you vacationed there?
(What else can you share?)


80 comments:

Sarah Foster said...

Never been to Hawaii, but I'd love to go someday! Creating an authentic setting can be so hard, I usually like to stick to a place I've at least visited a few times.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I've never been there - it looks and sounds beautiful!

So interesting about the volcano and the memorial built over the ship.

Pat Hatt said...

Never been or written about it, but it would sure be nice to go.

M.J. Fifield said...

I've never been to Hawaii, but I'd love to go someday. And if I were writing a story that took place there, I'd be seriously lobbying the significant other for an in-person research trip. "C'mon! I'm a writer! I have to go there! For Authenticity!"

betty said...

I had fun looking at your things you featured from Hawaii. I doubt I will ever get there so it was nice to read about it here :)

betty

Yolanda Renée said...

I've never been either, had the opportunity once, but I would have been alone. For some reason I didn't want to go alone. :)
Lovely setting for any book!

Christine Rains said...

Fun post! I would love to visit Hawaii one day, but I'm not much of a tropical person. I like my four seasons!

Chrys Fey said...

If I did that my settings would only be in Florida. LOL

Chrys Fey said...

I thought that was interesting too. I'd love to see both in real life!

Chrys Fey said...

It would be nice to go there.

Chrys Fey said...

I wish I could've done a research trip. *sigh*

Lidy said...

Never been to or written about Hawaii but did want to go there once upon a time. I might change my mind and visit the island in the future.

Chrys Fey said...

I'll probably never get there either. Writing about it was a nice replacement.

Chrys Fey said...

Going alone can be scary and boring. I'd want to go with someone.

Chrys Fey said...

I like seasons too but I live in Florida. LOL

Chrys Fey said...

If you do, tells us all about it. :)

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Thank you for taking us on a tour of Hawaii. I've always wanted to visit there. It will make a beautiful setting for your story.

Chrys Fey said...

You're welcome! I love blogging about settings. :)

Tamara Narayan said...

I went to Hawaii on my honeymoon to the islands of Maui and Kauai. I remember being amazed at how blue the water was on the plane ride in and how much turbulence there was landing. We saw plenty of feral cats on the beach and in the woods.

Chrys Fey said...

They say there are a ton of feral cats on the islands. I'd be in heaven. ;)

diedre Knight said...

Though I've not used the islands as a setting, I've most definitely had some fascinating experiences exploring for a time. On a half-hour, top-down drive around the big island (Oahu) we rode past breathtaking views in gorgeous sunshine - and pouring rain. Standing in a cave behind the shimmering cascade of a waterfall on Maui was thrilling and it drowned out the sound of feral roosters that followed our tour along the fragrant paths. I didn't see any cats, though I bet they pester the roosters;-)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

My husband and I went to Oahu for our honeymoon. We rented mopeds and did a complete tour of the island on our own. We visited everywhere it seemed. It was so much fun and the water is so warm an clear. I would go back in an instant if we could afford it.

Chrys Fey said...

I could only imagone those encounters between the roosters and feral cats. Eek!

Chrys Fey said...

Sounds like what Beth and Donovan do my in my book. :)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This was a nice sampling of Hawaii. I've never been there, although so many of my friends have. With all the research you have done, are you planning to use it in more than one book?

Loni Townsend said...

Someday, I'd like to visit Hawaii, but not the touristy parts. I think it'd be nice to move there and integrate into the culture.

Chrys Fey said...

No plans to set another book in Hawaii. I pretty much used most of this info in Disaster Crimes Book 3. :)

Chrys Fey said...

I couldn't resist go to some touristy places. :)

Lisa Thomson said...

Interesting facts about Hawaii! Pearl Harbor is a stunning monument. I like that Seismic Crimes will be set in Hawaii. Such a pleasure to escape through a book to such a beautiful place. (I caught a typo under your diamond head description, "750 foot crafter" should be crater?) I want you to tell me when you see a typo in my blog---LOL. Great post, Chrys!

Mary Aalgaard said...

Fun post! I just returned from a trip to the Hawaiian Islands. We spent just three nights On Oahu, and caught the highlights that you mention above. I have not hiked Diamond Head, nor driven up to the North Shore. Next Time! I did, however enjoy several helpings of Shaved Ice, lots of beach time, and the lovely ocean breezes and warm air. What a fun setting for your novel!

Mary at Play off the Page

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never been to Hawaii although a friend recently moved from there and said it was indeed paradise.
I could go for some barbecue sticks!

nashvillecats2 said...

Seems like a wonderful place to visit, perhaps one day?
Yvonne.

Chrys Fey said...

Crafter. Ha! That is a typo. LOL Thanks for letting me know!

Chrys Fey said...

I wish I could have some of their Shaved Ice and see their beaches in person.

Chrys Fey said...

Must be nice to be able to call Hawaii home.

Chrys Fey said...

Maybe. :)

cleemckenzie said...

Loved your setting in Hurricane Crimes. In fact, check this out. http://uncommonya.com/?p=1082

Carrie-Anne said...

Some of my Atlantic City characters (four sisters and their families) move to Honolulu during the Eighties. It's nice to use that setting when the story calls for it. I'd love to visit Hawaii someday.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Yeah that real world research is a lot of work. *Cuddles my fantasy world*

Chrys Fey said...

Hawaii is a fun setting to work with. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Oh, but creating a fantasy world is tough!

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, C Lee!

Liz A. said...

I think one should travel to any real life places where one wants to set one's book. You can deduct that, right?

Michael Di Gesu said...

HI, Chyrs,

Hawaii sounds so wonderful right now... Winters in Chicago are not the most fun, although this one is much milder than last years...

COOL setting for you book. I love researching exotic places for my settings... it really does add so much when you do it right! Congrats!

Lisa Thomson said...

Glad you're not mad at me for mentioning it. You can delete or edit the comment :)

Mary Kirkland said...

My husband went there when he was a teenager but I've never been there.

Chrys Fey said...

Oh, never. Then I forgot to give it. Oops. lol

Chrys Fey said...

It would qualify if you.make more than it would cost to go and stay there in sales, which I dont. LOL I can't even afford the plane tickets.

Chrys Fey said...

Chicago winters are brutal.

Exactly. Enough research and you can make it seem like you've been anywhere.

Chrys Fey said...

I've never been either. My mom lived there when she was younger so I picked her brain a bit.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

I visited Maui last year, and one thing I noticed is that a lot of hippies have retired there. Sadly, all the Polynesians we saw were in menial jobs (except for some awesome tour guides), and the "new islanders" were all incredibly defensive, telling us how they "deserved" to be there as if we'd said otherwise.

If you get to Maui, go to the Surfside Deli. It's a little place only locals know about that has PHENOMENAL food.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

Writers are allowed to spend more than they make. I've done it for 20+ years.

Chrys Fey said...

Well, I know if you do that and show a loss a few years in a row it's not a good thing. And I would. I make very little.

Chrys Fey said...

I can imagine a lot of hippies there.

Thanks for the tip!

Jeffrey Scott said...

Lots of great information on this Hawaiian island. I've never been to Hawaii, but I think one day I'd like to visit. Especially in Winter. I think I'd feel funny being on top of any volcano, even if it's been dead for 100,000 years.

Shaka, when the walls fell. Kadir beneath Mo Moteh.

Chrys Fey said...

I'd feel funny too. Actually, my character Beth isn't convinced it's dormant.

Arlee Bird said...

Hawaii is one of 2 states I have yet to visit. Maybe someday I'll go but for now my travel priorities center around visiting family. I'm sure it's a great place to go.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Sherry Ellis said...

I have not been to Hawaii, yet, but it's on my list. That's some pretty good research on the state!

Rachel Pattinson said...

I would LOVE to go to Hawaii!! You post has made me super excited to go! Great post - just goes to show how much research gets put into a novel! (That's why I write sci-fi/fantasy - I can just make places up ;))

Carrie Butler said...

I've never been west of Ohio, but I do love researching book locations! :)

Chrys Fey said...

I hope you get to go! :)

Chrys Fey said...

A lot of research does go into it. Writing fantasy worlds is fun but equally as challening.

Chrys Fey said...

I've only been to Florida and Michigan.

Chrys Fey said...

You've visited all but 2 states. Wow! I'm jealous.

Anonymous said...

I went to Hawaii a long time ago. My brother was stationed there. It was an awesome trip. I wouldn't mind visiting again one day.

Chrys Fey said...

I wish I could go with you. :D

Elizabeth said...

I would love to go to Hawaii some day! You did some great research :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks! I hope you do. :)

Deniz Bevan said...

That was fun, thanks for the introduction! Diamon Head looks so intriguing. And, yummmm, barbecue sticks and pineapple...

Trisha said...

Never been to Hawaii, but my family from Canada and Australia hopes to meet up there one year for Christmas. I hope it's soon!

Chrys Fey said...

Barbecue sticks and pineapple go well together.

Chrys Fey said...

Christmas in Hawaii sounds lovely! I hope it does happen soon. :)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Sounds and looks so beautiful. Sadly, with the Canadian dollar sinking fast, doesn't look like I'll get there any time soon. Thanks for doing the newsletter thingy, Chrys. Can't wait.

Chrys Fey said...

I'm sorry. I hope that changes so you can one day.You're welcome! :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys .. what great snippets about Oahu ... I didn't know it was the main island in the Hawaii group .. but I've never been - one day perhaps. Interesting it's called "The Gathering Place" ... good for you for all the research .. cheers Hilary

Chrys Fey said...

I'm glad you liked the information in this post, Hilary. :)

Anonymous said...

I'd love to visit Hawaii, but more so the non-touristy places. There's this turtle reserve a friend of mine volunteers at on one of the smaller islands and it's freaking beautiful!

Also, you forgot spam. People think it's a stereotype/joke, but they really do some banging stuff with spam down there.

Chrys Fey said...

A turtle reserve? My youngest nephew would love that! Spam...hmm...my brother would be happy about that.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

Spam sushi! We saw it in the grocery store.

Chrys Fey said...

Spam sushi? That doesn't sound so good. lol