HANK PHILLIPI RYAN: Now, a combo of our two themes of the week. A great idea, and why we read what we read. Both from Terry Ambrose! Terry doesn’t remember some things—but he knows he remembers others. And that has made all the difference.
Try to Remember?
I don't remember my childhood.
There, I've said it. My mom was one of those people who knew every detail of hers. She remembered the cross-country trips when her father moved the family back and forth between Connecticut and California—yes, multiple times. She remembered the antics of her brothers. Even her dog Brandy. She remembered the highs and the lows. Me? I have only snippets—and few at that. It's not age; I've always been this way. And that's how I really upset my mom.
There was a day a few years before my mom's death when we were talking about her childhood. I made a comment about not remembering my own and she asked if I could recall all of the stories she'd read to me when I was young. Nope. Nothing. I can't recall ever seeing her so ticked off. My mom was a librarian in her younger days. She loved books and put in tremendous effort to make sure I did, too.
I miss not having memories of her reading me to sleep or taking me to new and wondrous places through someone else's words. The good news is, while I don't remember those experiences, I know they happened. Because I love books and reading and, yes, writing.
My mom's efforts paid off and are quite likely one reason why I was such an easy mark in 1995. I was working for a municipal utility at the time. One of our board members, an older man I respected greatly, approached me and asked if I would join his local Kiwanis club. Uh, a what? Oh, community service. Helping kids. Let's see…I was busy. Worked long hours. Didn't have time for those weekly lunch meetings. My list of excuses went on, but I did agree to join him for one lunch. Which became two. And, before I knew it, I was saying, "I do."
In May 2012, I interviewed Hank about her participation in an event to raise money for Jumpstart. In the interview, she said, “Without books, kids grow up with slammed doors, missed opportunities, and clipped wings, right? If you can’t read, if you can’t lose yourself in a book—that’s the definition of tragedy. So it was absolutely glorious to be in a packed ballroom with those who spend their lives devoted to making sure kids are ready to flourish.”
The concept of writers supporting literacy resonated deeply with me for two reasons. First, I'd been involved in community service projects for ten years and the concept of paying back—or forward, depending upon how you define it—is now ingrained in me. But, on a deeper level, the conversation with my mom wouldn't let go. The question was, what to do about it? The obvious answer—write a book.
(HANK: And here comes the brilliant idea.)
TERRY: In October 2014, "Paradise, Passion, Murder: 10 Tales of Mystery from Hawai‘i" was born. The concept was simple. Assemble some writers. Create an anthology. Give all the money to charity. Simple, right? In truth, it wasn't so bad because we were all passionate about helping others learn to read.
Our writing team includes JoAnn Bassett, Gail Baugniet, Frankie Bow, Kay Hadashi, Laurie Hanan, Jill Marie Landis, AJ Llewellyn, Toby Neal, and CW Schutter.
Most of our stories are about characters from our existing series. We’ll take you from the Big Island to the North Shore of Kaua’i, where you’ll find the Tiki Goddess Bar. Our characters’ stories involve family drama, Hawaiian legends and history, and everyone’s favorite subject, murder. Whether you want a funny locked-room mystery on a tour bus on the far side of Maui or a prison breakout with an unwilling escapee, we’ve got them all.
All proceeds go directly to Read Aloud America, a Hawai’i 501.c.3 organization dedicated to improving literacy in the Aloha State. "Paradise, Passion, Murder" is available in soft cover, e-book, and audio formats. You can learn more about the project on hawaiianmystery.com.
So now, I have two questions. First, are you one of those people who remembers everything from your childhood? Or, are you more like me with only snippets of the past filed away?
Secondly, who, or what, influenced you to read? Did you just pick up a book and get hooked? Was there someone who nurtured you?
HANK: Do I remember my childhood? Ah, kind of. Somewhat. I have—snapshots. I really wish I remembered more.
What influenced me? Two things. One, the vast bookshelves at our house. I could read anything I wanted. (Though I briefly got in trouble for reading the James Bond books at age, what, thirteen?) And two—I need the thank my vast unpopularity. All I did was read. Those characters were often my only friends!
How about you, Reds?
Terry Ambrose writes the McKenna Mystery series, the License to Lie thriller series, and writes for the Lei Crime Kindle World. He’s currently working on mystery novellas featuring a Magnum, PI wannabe and the perennially snarky McKenna. Much like his protagonist, Terry’s many years of chasing deadbeats and repossessing cars taught him many valuable life lessons such as—always keep your car in the garage.
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/paradise-passion-murder-terry-ambrose/1123121343?ean=2940152513257