Featured Interview With Kirby Michael Wright
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Honolulu. I attended Punahou School and also UH-Manoa. I spent every summer with my grandmother on her horse ranch on the east end of Moloka’i. She gave me my first horse when I was four. That mare dropped a foal the morning after I “rode her to death,” according my grandmother. My father told his mother to never mention I had Hawaiian blood because of the discrimination he experienced as a boy growing up in Honolulu.
I currently live in San Diego.
I have 3 cats: Marilyn Monroe, DoDo Boyd, and Tiny.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I suppose my first story was written at age nine, when I crafted a letter to my mother from the island of Moloka’i and sent it to her in Boston. It amazed me that I could convey feelings on paper and relay those feelings to her all those miles away.
My fascination with books started in elementary school @ Star of the Sea in Honolulu, where I got a crush on the Tom Swift SciFi Series.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
Favorite authors include Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Plath, Hemingway, and Joyce.
My favorite genres to read are poetry, literary fiction, plays, and creative nonfiction.
Instead of Who inspires me, it’s What inspires me. Writing helps me to document my life, allowing me to go back in time and express how I felt in the past. Try it. I think that’s important because it helps you understand who you are today. When the founder of Wal-Mart died, he left hundreds of millions to his family but never left any record of himself behind through a story or even a poem. What do we know about his interior world? Writing also allows you get down the stories of your elders. For example, THE QUEEN OF MOLOKA’I focuses on my paternal grandmother’s life in the islands and begins two generations before I was born. Julia Wright deserves to be remembered because of all the hardships she overcame. Now this isn’t a praise book. Far from it. It’s Julia’s story, warts and all.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
My latest book is THE QUEEN OF MOLOKA’I. This is the true story of Julia Wright, my paternal grandmother who was born and raised in Hawaii.
Julia Wright was one of six children that grew up in Palolo Valley. Julia was a party girl in Waikiki. She made big mistakes in love, especially after meeting a blond Englishman at the Moana Hotel. He left her hapai (pregnant) after promising he’d send for her once he got settled in San Francisco. Julia never heard from the Englishman again and gave birth to my father the first day of world peace. Then she met a Portuguese sea merchant at the Young Hotel downtown and soon she was hapai again. Julia was forced to raise both sons in her mother’s tiny rental in Kaimuki. Her third love interest was Chipper, a decorated war vet. Chipper asked her to accompany him to the Molokai Ranch, where he’d secured a job as a paniolo (cowboy). Julia said she would. Chipper told her she couldn’t bring her sons along until she proved she could handle the rural lifestyle. She was caught between the fear of becoming an old maid raising two half-brothers or the possibility of marrying her teenage crush.
Four chapters from THE QUEEN OF MOLOKA’I manuscript were published online during the writing process. These acceptances gave me momentum. I have found that, by submitting chapters as stand-alone stories, you soon find out if your chapters are worthwhile. My advice to any wannabe writer is to get his or her work published online in the pages of respected magazines. Once my chapters were online, I hunkered down and re-edited them to make them even stronger. I also think it’s important for people to get down the stories of their elders before they pass. Just remember to get down both sides of the coin—the good and the bad.
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