Prolific author, Robin Jones Gunn, invites readers to join her at one of her favourite places in the world in her latest novel, Under A Maui Moon ~ the beautiful islands of Hawai'i. Enjoy this insight into her lead character, Carissa Lathrop.
Over to you, Robin:~
Brief physical description
I often cut out pictures of intriguing looking people when I find them in magazines and catalogs. (Yes, this does sometimes drive my husband crazy when he picks up an Eddie Bauer catalog and finds a few pages missing because the polo shirt he was looking for happened to be on the model I just decided would make a stellar hero in a future novel.) I keep a file of all these cut outs and line them up for interviews whenever it’s time to work on my next book. I know I’m not the only author who does this. What would readers think if they knew we spent a serious day at work playing with paper dolls and using a glue stick to arrange them in a binder?
For Carissa Lathrop in “Under a Maui Moon” I selected a picture of a woman out of a J. Jill catalog because she looked so normal; 5’5”, brown hair, dark eyebrows, serene expression, straight nose. She reminded me of Katharine Ross from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. So, of course, when I made that connection, I had to watch the bicycle riding scene from the film to remember how she laughed and carried herself. It’s all research, right?
Strengths and weaknesses
Carissa is hard working, organized, pensive and poetic. Her soul wound is that her father left when she was 12. In the new empty-nest season of life she feels disconnected from her husband and needs to get her heart back.
Your inspiration for the character
Carissa is a compilation of several women I know and was future inspired by a lot who have written to me over the years and shared their hurts with me. I’m not good at offering advice or direction to those women but I listen and take in what they tell me. Then I sort of work out a possible life solution to those real life challenges by creating a compilation character who is going through the same problems. I literally watch as the story unfolds in order to see how the imaginary character faces the same issues and comes out with her heart tender to God. That’s always my objective. Not that the problems are necessarily solved, but that the character’s heart is softened and they turn to the Lord.
Background to the story
My husband is a counselor so a lot of his life experience influenced the opening of the story. And of course, I set Under a Maui Moon on the island of Maui because I LOVE Maui and spend as much time in the Hawaiian Islands as I can. In the back of the book I posted photos of the last time our family stayed at the real campground near Hana that is described in the book. I also included photos of the Bishop Chapel on Oahu where I spoke several years ago to 450 Hawaiian students about the history of Ka’ahumanu. That real life experience became a pivotal part of the ending of the book.
Over the years I’ve developed some wonderful friendships on the islands with some women sho work in the museums and teach at the schools. One of those women, Kahu Kathy Weaver, was an invaluable source of information as I was developing this story. (photo attached) We’re pictured together here at the Mission Houses Museum on the island of O’ahu.
On the homepage of my website www.robingunn.com I’ve posted a video my son took a few years ago at the waterfall pools described in the book.
On my facebook page I’ve posted an album of all my favorite places in Hawai’i.
Robin ~ thanks for sharing your thoughts and personal photos with us!
On Monday the spotlight shines on Mary Ellis' Rene & Jonathon from The Way to A Man's Heart.
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