Friday, August 10, 2012

In the SinC/Hawaii Spotlight: Lori Tian Sailiata

In the spotlight for today's SinC/Hawaii interview is Lori Tian Sailiata whose writerly alter ego is Lara Britt. Lori is Vice President of Sisters in Crime/Hawaii and an enthusiastic blogger. She has developed a new website for SinC Hawaii, Facebook SinCHawaii Group and Facebook Page. She is also moderator of Tweet Chat for our group under the hashtag #SinCHI.

GAIL: Lori, you have mentioned something called “Whirled Peas Cafe.” I would love to hear the story behind the name. What inspired you to create the name, and does such a cafe actually exist?

LORI: For a couple years my girls and I lived in Spokane, Washington. I ran a small espresso bar/deli near the courthouse. The hours were perfect for me as a single mom. I would bundle the girls up ready for school, cook them breakfast at the deli while I was roasting the turkey for that day's sandwiches and whipping up three featured soups, then put them on the school bus. At two o'clock I went to volunteer for the last hour of their school day. We'd walk home together. After the normal nightly ritual of supper, homework, playtime and baths, it would be story time.

At that time Spokane was part of a program that gifted books to both school libraries and the public library. We read lots of books as per normal, but we also wrote reviews and in doing so earned dozens of books for both libraries. If you ever go into the Main Library in Spokane and flip open a jacket, don't be surprised to see our names inset. Whirled Peas Cafe was our small family's daydream place. The name came from a t-shirt shop that had on one side "Stop the Violins" (Stop the Violence) and Visualize Whirled Peas (World Peace) on the other. Whirled Peas Mysteries is a synthesis of our dreams, our experiences, and our sense of humor as well as our taste in art. The series is set in the Whirled Peas Cafe. Maybe if I'm lucky, it will be a brick and mortar that smells of great coffee, locally-sourced soups, and intriguing characters. (http://www.whirledpeasmysteries.com)

GAIL: Any setting with the name Whirled Peas Cafe could draw only intriguing characters! You are active with a group that uses a Twitter hash tag of #MNINB and #WSChat. What is the focus of this internet group?

LORI: #MNINB was the hashtag we devised when we joined our first Twitter chat as part of The 2012 April Platform Challenge developed by Robert Lee Brewer for his My Name Is Not Bob (MNINB) blog. Robert is an editor at Writer's Digest, but this was an effort of his personal blog.

His rules were that we needed to comment by at least posting a "done" after we completed a daily challenge for the month of April. By the middle of the month, the participants had bonded and had spun off activities to supplement Not Bob's material.

At the end of April, we declared ourselves "done but not over." This became the tagline of our "#MNINB April Platform Challengers." (http://notbobbers.wordpress.com/). Our ambitions to help each other with our writing outstripped what we could accomplish on this WordPress site and we are currently transitioning to our more permanent home, Wordsmith Studio. (http://www.wordsmithstudio.org) Each Tuesday, we hold two separate Twitter chats. Our moderator, Khara House, also uses Spotify to transcribe them and posts to our FaceBook fanpage. (https://www.facebook.com/WordsmithStudio)

GAIL: Hawaii is home to you, but you lived on the Mainland for awhile. Which states were you in and did your experiences there spark any ideas for future stories?

LORI: I've only been back in the Islands for a little more than a year. My history goes back many decades. My mother was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base back in the 1950s. (Well before I was born, thank you!) I grew up visiting the Islands multiple times throughout the years. I went to public school in suburban Chicago. My family is from Southernmost Illinois which is also known as the Appalachia of Illinois. The Cherokee Trail of Tears runs through my father's farm, land that my ancestors owned as the Cherokee made their way to Oklahoma. I grew up on old Indian tales. My grandfather's mother was Cherokee, born in Georgia and raised in Oklahoma. Also heard the settler's tales. From an early age I was interested in borderland places, places where folks from different backgrounds interact.

GAIL: What type of research is necessary for your writing and where is most of your research done?

LORI: A writer's archive is the whole of life. Research is in taking notice. Taking notice of the word choices and mannerisms of the Microneasian woman who works graveyard at the Waikiki 7-Eleven is as important to me as the information I find on the internet. I also have my favorite hangouts at University of Hawaii/Manoa, a handful of Hawaii State Library branches that I haunt, and of course, the Bishop Museum. I'm a docent at the Bishop. I always say I learn as much from our visitors as from anyone. There are no end of experts and wonderful archives. I have a series titled Writerly Nooks (http://larabritt.com/category/writerly-wednesdays/) on my blog where I show some of my favorite places to write and research.

GAIL: Of all the locations you have visited, where would you most like to spend your time writing and why?

LORI: The Big Island or Hawaii Island, as it's more frequently referred to these days. It is remote and has a slower pace than O'ahu. I can hole up and not be distracted. But if I'm looking for inspiration, there is plenty of that as well. International scientists do their research high atop Mauna Kea at the observatory, but others study the volcanic data spewing from Mauna Loa. Oceanographers study the local sea life. Physicists study geothermal and solar energy sources. Then the botanists and agriculturalists who are expert in local vanilla, coffee, cocoa, macadamia nuts, citrus, orchids, and regional teas...horses and cattle, lamas. So much going on and yet the pace is so wonderfully mellow.





22 comments:

  1. Mahalo, Gail! I had a bit of a panic attack last night when I couldn't find an email I was sure I had sent you with my bio pic. Looks like I did. Whew!

    Although I've been working on my Whirled Peas Series, I recently received a shipment of my old projects and journals from storage on the mainland. An older series is taking over my life. You will hear about that when I respond to your tag in your The Next Big Thing Series.

    See you at the SinC Hawaii meeting next week if not before.

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  2. Awesome interview Lara! I always wondered where you got the name Whirled Peas Cafe.

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  3. Great interview! Thanks to you and Gail for this lovely bit of PR :)
    Whirled Peas ... love it!

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  4. Know I know two writers who live and work in Hawaii! I'm sure you know I'm jealous. :) Lovely interview!

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  5. I guess you can tell I'm tired. NOW I know, not know I know... sigh. I think I'm going to bed.

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  6. I don't know how Lori does it. Wordsmith Studio, SinC/Hawaii, her blog and other writings .... She is an inspiration!
    Thanks for a wonderful interview, Gail.

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  7. Thank you for stopping in Dana, Lara, and Melanie. Gail is very generous with author profiles. I love digging through her archive. And Amy, I would say that you are just one to talk. You've got your fingers in most of the same pies. I'm thinking you'll be interviewed by Gail before you know it!

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  8. Lori, I just spent the day designing a book cover so I haven't even checked the internet since this morning. You received some wonderful comments on your interview!
    I see someone else was curious about where the name "Whirled Peas Cafe" got its origin.
    Now (I say, now) we all know!

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  9. I just visited your blog sites, Dana, Mel, Lara S., and Amy. All very colorful and easy to access!

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  10. This is a great post! Lori-was your Mom every stationed in Okinawa? Texas and Okinawa was where I was stationed from 1966-1969. It's interesting how people come up with the settings of the books. Kinda encouraging and insightful. Gail, it always surprises me that you live in Hawaii! When we talk about the Turners from Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, I always imagined you in one of these states! How are you feeling?

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  11. What a fun interview! I loved learning more about Lori, who is a force for good in Wordsmith Studio. And it was such a treat to witness a Hawaiian conversation.

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  12. What a terrific interview, but then Lori is a terrific lady. She has been the driving force behind our NotBobbers group and now the Wordsmith Studio. She's an inspiration to all of us. I loved learning where "Whirled Peas" came from! I can't believe I'd never thought to ask. Thanks, Gail, for bringing us more of Lori and her stories. I'm so proud to call her friend.

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  13. Judy, my adoptive mom was in the Air Force in the 1950s. She went from Hickam AFB to post-war Japan undercover Air Intelligence at the American Embassy in Tokyo. Air Force training was (and still is, I believe) in Texas.

    Gail and I have Hawaii and Chicago in common. It sounds as if we also share some Southern roots.

    Fun how these sorts of interviews bring out the unknown in folks you know!

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  14. Joy and Gerry, you know what big fans I am of you both. And how envious I am of your photography skills whether you are taking shots out your backyard or an Irish adventure. Mahalo for stopping in.

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  15. I've heard much about the NotBobber group from Lori and how so many of you bonded through a writing program on the internet. You give a good name to "Social Media"

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  16. I am so impressed with Gail and Lara . . . the interview questions were original and the author's insights, unique. Whether it is intentional or not, most Q&A's start to feel alike:"I outline, NO, I don't outline".
    I am definitely going to check out both writers' work.

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  17. Look forward to getting to know you Mickie. Gail has quite the treasure trove of author Q&A's. You be rewarded if you take time to dig into her archives.

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  18. Thank you, Mickie, for visiting and for the compliments.

    Lara, I am so pleased that many people were able to ready your informative answers. Thank you for participating.

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  19. Great interview, Lori! I wish I could have visited the Whirled Peas Cafe in Spokane when it was open. I guess I'll have to settle for your intriguing mysteries instead.

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  20. Glad to see Lori here. Great interview!

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  21. There is a great deal of historical information here. All written from a good perspective. The details are rich and enchanting. Good "back story," here, Lori.

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  22. Mahalo, Jennifer, Kasie and Amanda! More Wordsmith Studio regulars. Kasie has just started taking on the first of the two Tuesday TweetChats for Wordsmith Studio. You all are invited to participate every Tuesday at 6p EDT and again at 9p EDT. Follow the hashtag #WSChat.

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Aloha and thank you for visiting today!