Tuesday 27 March 2012

Author Interview - Tricia Stewart Shiu

Tricia Stewart Shiu
    stopped by our blog today
         for an interview!

Watch for Tricia's book, Moa, this
        week in
Read It & Reap!

Hillary Hause is not a witch. But, everyone in her conservative small town thinks so. When she is given a trip to Hawaii for graduation, this energetic eighteen-year-old anticipates adventure but gets more than she bargained for when Moa, an ancient Hawaiian spirit, pays her an unexpected visit.

With the help of her older sister, Molly and her seven-year-old niece, Heidi, Hillary embarks on a journey in which she not only saves herself, her family and Moa, but also the Hawaiian Islands. In the end, she learns to accept herself and her spiritual gifts warts and all.

Thank you for stopping by our blog Tricia! When did you first consider yourself an author?
I was in middle school and read James Joyce’s “Portrait of an Artist” for the first time. About an hour later, I was overcome by an urge to write, and indulged the impulse. Time stood still, I have no idea what happened. All I remember is coming to, with pages upon pages filled with words in front of me. It felt incredible to express myself so freely and I never looked back.

How did you decide on the character names?
The names just popped in naturally and, subsequently, their personalities formed. I had an intuitive internal dialogue that went something like:

“With one l or two?”
“One. No, two looks better. What about her last name?”
“I don’t know.”
“How about Haus.”
“No, that’s not right.”
And, that’s how it went.

How long does it take you to write a book, from start to finish?
Good question. I went back into my notes and discovered that it took me exactly three months and ten days to write “Moa” from beginning to end. That seems to be my average writing speed, three months. My aunt, Rebecca Gummere, is my editor extraordinaire. We have developed a comfortable and productive working rhythm that balances creativity and structure and brings such joy and enrichment to the work. Right now, we’re finishing up the sequel, “Statue of Ku,” which is due out at the end of April.

What was your main source of inspiration for the story?
When I was five, I was visited by a vision. I'll never forget it, I was running down the stairs and the entity, a girl with dark hair, stopped me in my tracks. The spirit said that I would go through a deeply challenging time in my life, but would resurface, later in life, with unimaginable joy and fulfillment. That vision stayed with me. In middle school, I would sit quietly at my desk adding up the years to figure out exactly when my life would turn around.

And then I forgot. I got busy, my work and the stress of family life took over and I was completely overwhelmed and in desperate need of a vacation. My husband, daughter and I decided to go to Hawaii.

When the plane landed in Honolulu, I remember feeling the difference in the atmosphere as I disembarked. The air made me somehow, remember that there was a part of me that knew…something…what was it?

Never mind, I was in Hawaii it was time to see the sights! So, I sped off to see Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach and then headed home for an afternoon nap before an evening luau. As I drifted toward sleep, I heard my name being called. In my mind's eye, I saw a beautiful young woman with dark hair, who said her name was Moaahuulikkiaaakea’o Haanaapeekuluueehuehakipuunahe’e—Moa for short.

And then I remembered.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The time between stories is the most challenging for me. When I am inside a story and writing I am at my most peaceful and joyful. Not only do I mourn the end of a story when I write, I also do it when I read a great book.

Nevertheless, I believe that this sadness brings with it, a great opportunity and depth of creativity and I wouldn’t change a thing about the process.

Is there a message in your story that you want readers to grasp?
Each of us has at least one divine gift to remember. The moment we wake up and retrieve the memory of who we are and what we are here—on earth—to do, the adventure begins.

What does your family think of your writing?
They are incredibly proud of my accomplishments and love sharing in every part of the creative process. My daughter took the cover photo and illustrated “Moa” and my husband has been a tremendous support in helping me finding designers, checking items off of my ‘to do’ list and, most importantly, watching our daughter while I write.

Do you have any hidden talents?
I am an energetic intuitive and have a talent for creating powerful healing essential oil blends and gem elixirs. The unearthing of these talents occurred as I became certified in an energy healing technique called “Crystalline Consciousness Technique” and studied a variety of shamanic clearing methods and healing rituals.

What book are you reading now?
“The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure. This is an excerpt from “Moa:”

Eighteen-year-old, Hillary Hause’s left thumb searches frantically to turn on the “I’m Okay to Fly” hypnotherapy recording. Her nerves on edge, fuchsia fingernails press into the blue pleather armrests of her airplane seat.

“No spells can help you now,” she whispers to herself under her breath—then checks to see if anyone notices. Nope, they don’t.

The plane lifts through the early morning, gray fog of California, “June Gloom” giving way to the azure sky, and Hillary covers her curly brown head and retreats beneath the questionably clean plane blanket cranking the volume to drown out the drone of the engines.

“Outer shell close to breaking.” This time she doesn’t care if anyone hears.

I hover just beyond her “outer shell”—a movement in the periphery, a faintly familiar scent, a fond memory just beyond recognition, a non-human observer.

What were your feelings when you first saw the finished product of your first book?
Elation! I grabbed the first person I saw—it happened to be my seven-year-old daughter/illustrator, Sydney—and we did a celebration dance!

Who designs the covers for your books?
The brilliant and talented, Sydney Shiu took the cover photos and Scott Torrance brought his years of experience in photographic art and design to the layouts.

Thank you again, Tricia, for stopping by our blog! Watch for Tricia's newest novel, Statue of Ku, coming out in ebook at the end of April!
STATUE OF KU, the second book in the Moa Book Series, follows Hillary and Moa as they jet to Egypt on the Prince’s private plane to reclaim Moa’s family heirloom, the inimitable Statue of Ku.

Once on the ground, however, they find that their search is less about retrieving a treasured family possession and more about tracing a healing path in their genetic lineage to its true beginning. Their journey involves magic, sacrifice and the discovery of unique healing gifts, which live within all of us.

Their story intertwines with that of the real boy, Ku — his questions, his travails and, eventually, his triumph.

In their continuing search for the Statue, Hillary and Moa find that the answer to every question they seek is where they least expect it and that healing gifts are not lost but merely forgotten.


  1. Enjoyed the interview. Has your dark-haired girl returned to you in adulthood? Is she now your muse? Good luck with book sales.

    1. Thanks, Cher! I appreciate the well wishes. The dark-haired girl has returned, but in different forms. I believe this guidance comes from an inspirational creative energy which is very muse-like :-)

  2. What a fascinating history! Has your daughter ever had any similar experiences - seers often run in the family.

    All the very best with the series Tricia.


  3. Great to hear that the story intrigues you, Laura. For now, I'm letting my daughter enjoy her childhood. When she's a bit older, I'll cross that bridge.

    Thanks for the support!

  4. Loved the way Tricia knew the names of her characters!