A-Z challenge, Characters, Kotahi Bay

S is for Samantha

SamanthaWe’re back in Kotahi today after a little deviation from the plan yesterday! And you’re about to meet one of the other long standing residents of the Bay. Samantha is the only character who is made mention of in every single book planned to date. I don’t think she is mentioned by name in In The Spirit, but the shop where Alyssa takes her grandmothers belongings to sell off is Sam’s.

She is probably the most calm and together local that you’ll meet. Always there for wise words and advice. Supportive, encouraging, helpful, kind. I adore Samantha, and I think she embodies many of the qualities I like to think I have myself. That said, she’s a lot more together than I am 😉 At least, at the beginning of the series!

While Sam plays a secondary role in the majority of the books, the final book of the series is all about her. I have her story firmly entrenched in my mind and am looking forward to writing it in the near future.

A-Z challenge, Kotahi Bay, Mythology

P is for Papatūānuku

One of the most important connections for Maori is the connection with the land that we live on. Papatūānuku is the earth mother, who nurtures us and from which all life came.

I’ve always had a deep connection with the land we live on, and that sense of place and strength, that sense of Turangawaewae. For me this comes from living in Taranaki, under the watchful gaze of our maunga (mountain), it hits me hard when I travel down to the land my people came from in the south island, when I stand on the black beaches and feel the wind against my cheeks and the water lapping over my toes, when I walk through the forests of our national parks. These things all give me strength, a feeling of connection, a sense of place and purpose. They all remind me that I am alive.

Kotahi Bay is that place for the characters in my books. The place that gives them strength. The place that is their home, regardless of whether they were born there or not.

A-Z challenge, Kotahi Bay, writing

O is for Oops

Why ‘O for Oops’? Because I wanted to do ‘otherness’ but today, that just feels too hard. I scanned my brain for other O words, but nothing jumped out at me, and then I remembered that just a few days ago I had to spend some time explaining to a friend the oddness of the ordering of my books…

And so I decided ‘oops’ was perfect for O.

You see, when I first started writing In The Spirit it was going to be included in a Christmas anthology. When that fell through, I tossed around the idea of writing a set of three novellas for Alyssa. I was going to call it ‘Witches of Kotahi Bay’ and it was going to be set alongside my main Kotahi Bay series.

Somewhere along the way that idea fell to the side. I think it was because I REALLY wanted to publish something, and I thought In The Spirit would be the perfect thing – it’s lightweight, it’s fun, it’s set in a place where I’ve written other stuff so would serve as a good kind of entry into the Bay.

And then I figured out that I could tie Alyssa into the main story line. And that her book would come a little later in the series. But I was already committed. So I went ahead and published In The Spirit anyway.

To avoid confusion, once Alyssa’s novel is released I’ll be bundling In The Spirit with it, because you can’t really read one without the other. The two stories go together. It’s kind of like #2.5 in the series, if you will. I’m glad I made this kind of mistake early on in my career, and I will be more careful in future to make sure I’ve hashed things out enough not to do the same again.

A-Z challenge, Characters, Kotahi Bay

N is for Noah

NOahYesterday we met Melody, and today it’s time for Noah’s turn – he’s the male lead and love interest in The Way the Sky Curves. Noah moved to the Bay a couple of years back and settled in as the local tattoo artist where he took a wayward Jake under his wing, and found his place in the town. He’s not always been the best of men, but he’s worked hard to get to where he is, and he’s happy. As far as he can tell, he’s got everything he needs.

And then he meets Melody.

He scanned the bus, his eyes latching onto a pretty young thing with dark blonde hair about halfway back. The seat beside her was empty, her crossed arms and restless green eyes no doubt deterring anyone from sitting there. Anyone but him. He made his way down the aisle and carefully slotted his duffle bag into the overhead storage; his load was fragile, but perhaps not as volatile as the girl now sitting beneath it.

Noah is one of the good guys, and I love him to bits. He could be likened to Jason Momoa, though his skin is a bit darker from his Maori heritage.

A-Z challenge, Kotahi Bay, Location

K for Kotahi Bay

Kotahi Bay. Where is it? Is it a real town? What does it mean?

Well, no, it’s not a real town, not outside of my head and my books anyway. It’s a mishmash of places I have known and loved, or loved to hate. It’s a hidden town, really, on the West Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Maybe around the coast from where I live, maybe further up. But it’s on the seaside, and no major roads go through it. It’s out of the way, the kind of place people don’t find unless they know it’s there.

And the name? I thought long and hard about what to name my town. Whether I should use a real location, or invent my own. Ultimately, I decided fiction was better in this case, especially considering the foundation of my stories. Ko roughly translates to a location in time or space, and tahi is the Maori word for one. And Kotahi can mean unity. The Bay IS united, it’s a place where people, demigods, other magical creatures live alongside each other and are united in the purpose of protecting themselves and the town.

Because it’s a special place. A place that other people want to destroy. In the world of my series it is the birth place of the Maori gods.

A-Z challenge, books, Characters, Kotahi Bay

J is for Jake

JakeOne of our lifetime residents of the Bay is Jake. He is the little brother of Melody (main character in The Way the Sky Curves), but becomes the secondary main character (and love interest) in the second book in the series (Shell & Bone). Confused yet? I hope not!

Jake is… well. He’s awesome. He’s a little bit like my younger brother in some ways – wiser than he should be for his years, knows when to pry and when to leave well alone. Not afraid to call people out on their crap. I think just about all my original beta readers swooned over him which helped me make the decision to bump him up to a more prominent position in the second book – and let me tell you, Moana is more than his match! He might look a little unconventional, but he’s a good guy, if a little confused about his place in the world.

I hope you’ll love him as much as I do and can’t wait for you to meet him in the Kotahi Bay series.

A-Z challenge, Kotahi Bay, writing

H is for Home

dorothyHome is where the heart is. Home is where you hang your hat. Home is where one starts from. There are a lot of quotes and sayings about home – there are a lot of thoughts and feelings about the matter as well.

Kotahi Bay is home to a lot of different people, some who were born into the Bay – Melody for instance runs away to the city, but finds herself running back to the Bay, when things go to hell. Noah on the other hand is not a native to Kotahi Bay, but he finds himself there and eager to do what he can to help protect it.

Which is one of the overarching themes of the series. What makes a place feel like home, and what barriers are in place that prevent other people from making that same connection? What changes a place from being just a town to having that ineffable quality of feeling like ‘home’?

How important is your home to you? What would you do to protect it?

You’ll have to read the books in order to find out 😉

A-Z challenge, books, Kotahi Bay, writing

F is for Family

Family is really important to me, so it’s no surprise really that family plays a big role in the Kotahi Bay series – and not just your typical run of the mill mum-dad-kids families either. I feel like these days diversity is increasingly important, and diversity in families should be included. Our society is one of many broken homes, adoptions, foster children, families that are not related by blood but have chosen to be families, parents of the same gender, grandparents being primary caregivers etc. There are so many combinations!

We see a range of these in my books, some functional, others not so much. I think the take away lesson though is that while some families are ones we’re born into (and may be awesome, or not so much, hell everyone is flawed right?) we’re totally capable of choosing the other people who populate our lives, who we are close too and share connections with – and sometimes, these bonds can be stronger than the ones formed by blood. Either way, whatever family you choose to include in your life, make sure they are the ones that support you, not the ones that put you down.

A-Z challenge, books, Kotahi Bay

G is for Gods

godsAcross the world there are many cultures, many religions. Some embraced, others hidden, some obscured by time and history. While New Zealand is a relatively young country in terms of how long people have been here, there has still been enough time elapsed since colonization to erode and discourage Maori beliefs and customs. Due to a primarily oral language, there is much about Maori life pre-colonization which has been lost, and knowledge of spiritual customs is one of those things that seemed to be swept away by the early missionaries to New Zealand.

I can remember even back in primary school, only hearing about Maori as being involved with the missionaries and noted the lack of stories and information about their belief system and practices before then. While we were told the Maori creation stories, and heard other legends about primarily Maui, I was curious about the (what felt like) completely missing information on the ways in which Maori interacted with these gods and their beliefs prior to colonization.

As someone with Maori heritage, this has always made me feel uncomfortable, like there were gaps in my knowledge, like those gaps were difficult to close because it seemed like the information I wanted was just not available. So I guess you could say that part of my explorations in Kotahi Bay are a way of internally resolving that lack, of finding ways to reconnect with the Maori gods through creating my own truths and interpretations of those gods. While they don’t play a direct role in the stories for the most part, their presence is felt in the world through their children, and the essence of them is certainly there. What I feel to be their essence, grounded in their connectivity to the world in which we live in, from the sea to the sky, to the harvest fields and the depths of the forest, animals and plants alike.

I’ve actually used the creation story as a basis for the overarching plotline in the series, so if you go and read it, you might get some ideas – I am certainly not going to spell it out for you 😉

I’ll be introducing some of the gods who are connected with my series in future posts in a little more depth. Not all of them make an appearance, but a good portion of them do.