I’ve recently found the Facebook phenomenon called Binders. The Binders Full of Women Writers and the spin-off groups for subcategories like romance, travel, and “rainbow” writers are active, vibrant communities of women sharing their successes and spreading word of opportunities.
The romance binder has organized a Work in Progress (WIP) Wednesday. I imagine the intent was less transparent than this post, but being new to the binders makes me want to show some appreciation for these women and their willingness to support one another. I’ve gotten new Twitter followers from the binders already, and now I’m hoping to see some new traffic on this site.
With that background established, I’ll move on to the actual purpose of the post. Heart of the Lilikoi comes out October 13th and I’ll debut it at the Provincetown Women’s Week in Massachusetts. It is still my work in progress, though I’ve sent it to my Bold Strokes Books editor and my Hawaiian-language editor.
Romantic suspense is a new subgenre for me and I found it both fun and tough to write. Fun in that I was able to explore human motivation in all its aspects, not just the romantic. Tough in that I have a hard time getting into the heads of characters I don’t like. Living with these people for such a long time, living in Hawaii with them and shaping their reality with my words, tested my determination. I move often and easily, but I stuck with these folks to the end of the first draft and through subsequent rewrites. Now that I’ve reached the point where my world is getting outside visitors, I’m looking forward to jumping back in and seeing how I like the place I spent so much time.
Here’s a taste of the beginning.
Kerala circled the plot of land, striding from the black beach cliff to the rough lump of exposed pāhoehoe lava that marked the far edge of the construction site. Salt glistened in the bright, tropical sunlight wherever waves had crashed ashore. The Kona side of the Island of Hawai’i didn’t get enough rain to wash it away.
She mounted the hill and turned to look back at the marker flags and check their positions. The litany of what’s-next flowed inexorably in her thoughts, but her eyes focused on the job at hand. She took a step to the left.
The hill disintegrated under her boots.
Surfing the lava-rock wave, Kerala dropped ten feet in an instant and thought, oh, shit.
Near the bottom, her feet scraped against the flattening slope and she crumpled, curling and dropping a shoulder faster than thought. She and the rubble hit the bottom of the grade and she rolled until she cleared the falling debris.
Momentum spent, she lay on her side and kept her arms around her head for a moment, listening to the ground. Adrenaline sharpened her senses. Tender, tough greenery lay smashed under her. Its freshness complicated the smells of saltwater, dirt, and sun-heated lava rock. She listened closely, tensed to move, but only small spills continued from the top of the new slope. When she confirmed she wouldn’t be buried under another rock fall, she rolled onto her back and stretched out flat. She opened her eyes gingerly and blinked into the tropical sun, feeling along her bones and muscles from the inside. No real injury.
A burst of fury propelled her to her feet.
Shouts and commotion from the top of the hill cascaded toward her as several men slid-fell to where she stood. By the time they reached her, she had checked the newly exposed rock for clues on why the grade had given way. She would hurt like a bitch later, but she’d use the adrenaline high while it lasted.
When the crew supervisor, Jack Zelinski, stepped forward, he did so with all the care of a handler feeding a tiger.
Heart of the Lilikoi is romantic suspense, with plenty of the usual Dena Hankins flavor. Gender, social justice, steamy sex, colonialism, and the concept of home get a thorough exploration against a background of passion and regret, love and hope.
Heart of the Lilikoi contrasts with Blue Water Dreams in almost as many ways as it is similar. The main characters are older, more mature, and far more sure of what they want. The suspense creates a darker tone, and it’s harder to see how these amazing people are going to end up together.
Here’s the blurb for the back of the book:
Human remains tangled in lilikoi roots bring the authorities to Kerala’s construction site. Native Hawaiians say the passion fruit vine marks an ancient burial ground protected by guardian spirits, the ’aumakua. But these aren’t ancestral bones. The fractured skull points to murder.
Secrets, sabotage, and indigenous sovereignty campaigns hinder the project Kerala leads: building an eco-dream vacation home for Ravi, CEO of a solar power company. Proud to be a tough dyke in the trades, Kerala can’t believe she’s so hot for the masculine genderqueer scientist. Their sexual connection is volcanic, but Ravi’s craving for love and family aggravates burn scars from Kerala’s past. As the lovers pursue justice for Hawaii and its people, Ravi turns his gift for harnessing the sun’s strength toward cultivating his own power, and Kerala wonders if building deep, lasting love could be even more satisfying than constructing a home to last the ages.