Big Island Author Receives Top Honor at Hawaii Book Publishers Association Awards

Waimea resident and nationally best-selling author Darien Gee received the Award of Excellence in Special Interest Books at the Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association’s 2015 Ka Palapala Po‘okela Awards for Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir: Advice and Exercises to Help You Tell Your Story, released by Honolulu-based Watermark Publishing.

Darien Gee

Darien Gee

The Award of Excellence is the highest honor in the category. The awards, which recognize the best local books published during the previous calendar year, were announced at ceremonies held on Thursday, April 23, 2015 at the East-West Center.

“What an amazing gift it would be for the Hawaiian Islands and the rest of the world if more people started to write down what might otherwise be lost,” the competition’s judges observed in their comments. “Writing your memoir or telling your family history is something special to think about [but] it’s a daunting task to actually sit down and know where to begin. Darien Gee has solved this problem. [This] book takes you through the process step by step…it takes the stress out of where and how to start and offers you the tools and encouragement to help keep the stories alive, documented for the generations to come. The format of Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir is inspiring in itself, creative and original in its design.”

Gee is a nationally best-selling author with six novels to her credit; Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir is her first non-fiction release. A former columnist for the North Hawaii News (“Writer’s Corner”), she continues to write fiction (also under the pen name Mia King) and teaches writing and publishing workshops.

“I was lucky to connect with so many Hawai‘i writers on this project, many of whom gave me their best advice on the writing process and how to handle challenges and roadblocks,” Gee says. Six of the 21 other writers whose advice Gee sprinkles liberally throughout the book are also current and former Big Island residents: Dr. Billy Bergin, Frances H. Kakugawa, Leslie Lang, Mark Panek, Phil Slott and the late Patricia Jennings. In addition, Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir features work from Gee’s Big Island students and workshop participants Christian Gomez, Levi Higa, Ryan Hooley, Kai Ibana, George Manu, Elsbeth McKeen, Arielle Faith Michael, Kamuela Spencer-Herring and Taran Takahashi. Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir is introduced with a pule from Rev. Danny Akaka, Jr., and dedicated to community treasure Stephanie Bengene Lindsey, aka Aunty Tūtū.

Watermark Publishing swept the Special Interest Books category with Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir taking the top prize and Honorable Mention in the category going to The Hawaiian Survival Handbook by award-winning Hawaiian musician (and lifelong outdoorsman) Brother Noland, illustrated by Andrew J. Catanzariti and designed by Jen Tadaki Catanzariti. The Hawaiian Survival Handbook received further recognition with an Honorable Mention for Design.

Each year, the Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association presents the Ka Palapala Po‘okela Awards to honor the best of Hawai‘i book publishing from the previous year. “Ka Palapala Po‘okela” literally translated from Hawaiian means “excellent manuscript.”

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