Tag Archives: Jan Walker

FORGET GREY. BEST BOOKS FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

‘I am Daniel Tahi’ by Lani Wendt Young

‘I am Daniel Tahi’ is a companion novella to Lani Wendt Young’s well-known Telesa series. As it shows Daniel’s point of view, it is written in a very ‘manly’ manner. It’s casual, funny, and…quite hot. You think Christian Grey is a guy for you? That means you haven’t met Daniel Tahi yet. And believe me, you do want to meet him.

‘Sons For The Return Home’ by Albert Wendt

Albert Wendt’s cross-racial love story follows a young student, the son of Samoan migrants, who falls for a pakeha girl. Amidst the troubles and difficulties, the two lovers discover the world of intimacy and relationships, quickly realizing that it’s not always easy to love someone from a different culture. The plot of this book is filled with desire, lust, sexual tension, and…overwhelming longing for what’s not there but could be.

‘Conquered’ by Paula Quinene

This historical erotic romance revolves around Jesi, a young Chamorro girl who, in the most dramatic circumstances, meets the man of her dreams. The story will make your heart beat a bit faster than usual, and the couple’s intense relationship will make you green with envy…or red in the face (if you know what I mean).

The Scarlet Series by Lani Wendt Young

Sometimes girls just wanna have fun, right? And, trust me, no one does it better than Scarlet, the main character in the series. Especially when a very handsome man appears on the horizon. Although this very enjoyable book may seem light-hearted on the surface, it has a real plot full of secrets. And if you’re looking for some romance, you will definitely find it here!

‘A Farm in the South Pacific Sea’ by Jan Walker

This title is a little more ‘serious’, more ‘mature’. It recounts a true story of June von Donop, who comes to the Kingdom of Tonga to find a purpose in life but ends up finding her true soulmate (while at the same time having a romance with a young Tongan man). This is the most beautiful love story, told with great passion, that you’ll want to reread as soon as you finish the last sentence.

ON THE SECOND DAY OF … MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME:

‘A Farm in the South Pacific Sea’ by Jan Walker

If you need a little romance during Christmastime, this is a perfect title!

Jan Walker presents readers with a story of June Sandusky, an American businesswoman who moves to Tonga in order to start a spiny lobster nursery. Although life in the South Pacific is far from uncomplicated, she enjoys every day spent in this tropical paradise. Especially when she finds a man who turns out to be her soulmate.

This is a book for emotionally mature audiences (definitely not for teenagers) who can appreciate the value of true love. Jan Walker beautifully described the experiences her cousin, June von Donop, had had in the Kingdom of Tonga. Terrific piece of literature!

A CHAT WITH… JAN WALKER

Have you already read ‘A Farm in the South Pacific Sea’? This fantastic book was written by Jan Walker – an incredibly talented and very warm person. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about her South Sea tale. Here’s what she had to say…

JAN WALKER

Pasifika Tales: Jan, why did you decide to write ‘A Farm in the South Pacific Sea’?

Jan Walker: My cousin June, the protagonist in the book, and I made the decision when I visited her on Maui in 1984. She knew I had two nontraditional textbooks for incarcerated adults about to be published by a small publishing company, and she’d read other material I’d written over the years. She wanted her story told and believed I could write it. During that visit, June told me her Tonga journals had been lost. She’d given them to her older sister who was allegedly contracting with a writer in the Chicago area to recreate and publish June’s story as nonfiction.

June was devastated by the loss of the journals, by her sister’s excuses for the writer who allegedly misplaced them, and by the final conclusion that the story really wouldn’t sell anyway; there just wouldn’t be enough interest in the U.S. I understood my cousin’s anger and sorrow. Her health was already in decline so we started developing a timeline for the Tonga years. She dug through files for stories she’d written in an attempt to reconstruct her adventure, and for any correspondence she had from that time. I carried a large stack of papers back to the mainland with a promise to begin background research. It was intense, time consuming work. Still, June wanted me to do the writing no matter how long it took.

PT: Did you have any doubts or second thoughts?

JW: Yes, many doubts. How could I write about the Kingdom of Tonga, a place I’d never been with a government unlike anything I’d experienced? How could I write about scuba diving? How could I portray June as the strong, independent woman I knew her to be so that came through for readers?

As those doubts were dispelled, I still wondered if writing about a living king and several other living people was proper. June understood that. She wanted a completed story that she could read and share with a few people. I achieved that for her well before her death in 1994. After she died, I put the manuscript in a box and wrote other books. When I learned of King Tupou IV’s death in 2006, I started rewriting the book for publication. The kingdom went through a tumultuous time, as characters in my book had predicted. As you might guess, it was June who informed me of those predictions, but I attributed them to a native character in the book.

PT: Where did you draw your inspiration from?

JW: From June and her personal strengths, first, but also from extensive research. I had a sense that she could be a small voice for the people living on remote islands in the vast South Pacific Sea.

I also believe that the abuses and losses she suffered through her life could be shown as part of her life without making her appear to be a pitiful victim, but rather a strong female survivor. I taught adult felons inside medium security prisons and maximum security units. I have studied victimizers and victims, and worked with them to help them make healthy choices as they do their time and work toward release back to their families and communities. Perhaps that work served as part of my inspiration.

PT: It must have been hard to write about someone else’s life. What was the writing process like for you?

JW: Yes, it is difficult to write about someone else’s life. I knew the book would have to be a fictionalized account of June’s adventure to provide me author freedom to create. I wrote an extensive backstory of her life prior to her Tonga adventure. Also, I created lists of everything I would need to know about the South Pacific and set up files and cross reference guides. I read extensively and amassed a large file of photocopied material.

June gave me photo albums that included pictures of her Mango Island fale (house), the church and school, the in-sea farm site, and many pictures of the people. Most of the pictures were taken with a Polaroid camera and have faded. To say the photos helped me write the story and describe settings and scenes would be an understatement.

PT: Did June give you any advice?

JW: She often told me to write more sex scenes, both loving and forced. She often said: ‘Sex sells.’ We argued about that off and on over the years. I wanted to draw on the depths of her character. She talked at times about the problems she’d encountered through life from the onset of puberty. She was very attractive; she often got unwanted attention from men in all facets of her life. In the end, she found the way I handled her sexuality an appropriate balance for the story.

PT: Speaking of your cousin and her incredible story … How much of the novel is true, and how much is pure fiction?

JW: This is all true: estrangement from her father from age 9 to full adulthood due to her mother divorcing him, taking June from their Chicago home but leaving June’s older sister behind; lifelong conflict with her controlling mother; June’s three marriages, the first at 17 and its events that are revealed near the end of the book; the man she loved who died in England; the reason the second and third marriages failed; learning to pilot small planes; ownership of an apartment building in Seattle; working in shipyards in Seattle and then with Morrison-Knudsen, civil engineers, in San Francisco; leaving Seattle to live in Hawaii after her third divorce and the brief look at that life; the Hawaii dive that opens the book; her search for a place to try in-sea spiny lobster farming and her connections to research laboratories in Florida and Australia; her arrival in Nuku’alofa and her stay at Beach House; meeting the man I call Tavita and traveling to the Ha’apai on his boat; all the events that occur on that trip; and the events as they unfold over the years in Tonga. The Fiji story is absolutely true.

I exaggerated parts of the post Tonga romance. The man I call Tavita outlived June. He and I corresponded at length after her death. Her health was seriously impaired shortly after she returned to Hawaii, when she was living on Maui. She heard a small plane’s engine failing and saw the plane plunge into the ocean near Lahaina. She yelled to someone nearby to call for help, then plunged into the water and swam to the plane where she helped the struggling pilot get out of his seat harness. She kept his head above water until help arrived. Remember, she’d had a punctured and collapsed lung for the Fiji ordeal, and damage from smoking since her teen years. That taxed her lungs so severely that she had to start using oxygen. She was treated for the rest of her life for COPD. She developed breast cancer that couldn’t be treated due to her already failing health.

PT: Let me ask you about other characters. Have you met any of the people that are portrayed in the book?

JW: I didn’t meet but did correspond with the woman I call Betty Peace Corps in the book. The man I call Tomasi did move to Los Angeles. He remained in touch with June, so she knew he fathered several children. I corresponded with two of the three ‘little Junies,’ as she called them. Tavita had helped her stay in touch with them. She transmitted money to them through him. He helped them with purchasing cars and paying education fees. I saw the relationship they maintained through the years as a love story of an important sort. They lived out their lives in two different worlds, each with personal struggles.

PT: The ending of the story is extremely emotional and I do believe everyone would love to know what happened afterwards. Could you tell us a bit more not only about June, but also about people she met during her time in the Kingdom of Tonga?

JW: June returned first to Honolulu and continued to work with the seafood company there as they explored in-sea farming ventures. She did bookkeeping for a clinic that assisted abuse victims. She stayed in touch with the families on Mango Island, collected clothing and other items they requested and shipped them out three or four times a year. She grieved deeply when the character I call Rosie Jamieson – Beach House owner, died. As noted above, she stayed in touch with the Tongan Junes, and dispersed funds to them through Tavita. She followed Tongan news, and always had tidbits about the king.

She moved to Oahu shortly after the pilot rescue on Maui. I visited her at least twice a year for the last ten years of her life. June didn’t travel far from her apartment in those years. She hated being seen in public with oxygen tubes in her nostrils.

PT: Let’s focus on Pasifika for a moment. The way you described Tonga is simply amazing. Have you had a chance to visit the islands?

JW: I have not visited Tonga, except through June’s eyes and our conversations, and through extensive reading. June’s photos helped. Visiting remote places on Maui, Oahu and the big island of Hawaii helped me imagine life on Tongatapu and Mango Islands. I would love to visit Tonga one day to see what I might have described differently.

PT: I know you’ve been to Hawaii a couple of times. What are your thoughts on the Blue Continent?

JW: Actually, I’ve been to Hawaii too many times to count. How can I answer that in a few words? I grew up near, and still live near Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. I have view of the Sound, and Mount Rainier in the distance, from my home, and easy access to the beach. I also visit ocean beaches in Washington, Oregon and California quite regularly. I respect and revere the sea—all seas.

I worry about damaged coral reefs, bombed out atolls, depleted vegetation on remote islands, rogue nets entangling sea creatures. I believe the peoples of every land touched by the sea must share their love of their place by caring for it and sharing their stories. I believe the power of stories is as profound as the power of the seas.

‘A FARM IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC SEA’ BY JAN WALKER

‘A Farm in the South Pacific Sea’ recounts a true story of the author’s cousin, June von Donop, who had lived in the Kingdom of Tonga in the late 1960s and early 1970s. All the events described in the book are based on June’s personal journals and countless conversations the two women held.

A FARM IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC SEA

Summary

In 1967, American businesswoman, June Sandusky, decides to move to Tonga in order to start a spiny lobster nursery and forget about her difficult past: three failed marriages, a rocky relationship with her mother, and the death of a loved one during the World War II.

Soon upon her arrival she discovers that the South Pacific islands are not quite the paradise she hoped for. While native Tongans seem very friendly and welcoming, they are not pleased with her being an entrepreneurial woman. But the men’s opposition makes June even more determined to succeed.

With a little help from the warm-hearted people, she finds a perfect location for her farm. She arrives on Mango Island and instantly chooses the place as her new home. She hires a carpenter to build a house for her – a traditional palm frond fale with nice kitchen cupboards, Dutch doors, and wooden-framed beds.

As time goes by, June becomes accustomed to the new surroundings. She works in her nursery, has fun with her friends, finds a lover and a man who turns out to be her true soulmate. But life is no fairytale and June learns that nothing lasts forever.

Review

This is a truly wonderful book that takes readers on an unforgettable adventure to the South Pacific region. June’s experiences, chronicled brilliantly by Jan Walker, stir emotions to such an extent that you will literally have to pause every few chapters to calm your racing heart. This is, of course, the result of the story itself – highly engaging, but not easy to read. Some people may find it a little bit hard to get through the beginning. Long, detailed descriptions and lack of action can definitely make the narrative appear mundane. However, let me assure you, it gets better and better with every page. What is more, once you get to the end, you will most likely want to read it again.

Strong plot is supported by mature, well-developed, and more than believable characters: ambitious and independent June, caring Tavita, family-oriented Tomasi, somewhat bossy but helpful Mary, determined to make a difference Ana’alisi, and many more who are just as good. They are all different and they all have their vices and virtues. Their world, although dubbed ‘the tropical island paradise’, is not picture perfect. Love is sacred and painful at the same time; happiness mixes with sorrow; troubles lurk around every corner. This is the real life – sometimes you just have to fight; even if you are surrounded by marvelous lagoons, sandy beaches, and crystal-clear blue waters. I guess this is the reason why all these characters seem so incredibly authentic.

‘A Farm in the South Pacific Sea’ is not just a novel based on actual events. It is a story of passion, strength, courage, love, desire, and friendship. It broaches the subjects of gender roles and women’s rights in various cultures, providing valuable insights into these issues. Jan Walker addresses discrimination, domestic violence, sexual harassment with surprising bravery. Her words may be quite enraging to read – a few of the scenes are profoundly disturbing – but it can’t be denied that they are deeply thought-provoking and thus worth pondering on.

I do recommend this book. Wholeheartedly! You may shed a few tears at the end, you may laugh a few times at the beginning. Whatever your emotions, June’s adventure will surely touch your heart and soul. But, bear in mind that this is not a light-hearted romance. Neither is this a novel for young adults.