In the depression era 1930s, Hawaii’s secluded Kona Coast was a world apart. Despite hardships and racial barriers Kona’s intense natural beauty, cosmopolitan mix of cultures and inclusive Hawaiian values were mingling, creating combinations and possibilities unheard of in the mainland USA. The Island’s people had begun to overthrow the reproachful structures of the missionary era and find fresh ways to live and love. Little by little old Hawaiian ways could be openly treasured again. Images of surfers and Hula gave a weary world something to dream of. Celebrities, seekers and sages of all kinds began finding their way to the Big Island and with them the first waves of tourists. From Kona’s beaches to its mountainsides the ‘paradise present’ exerted its spell, transforming all who heard the call.
Inspired by the ‘never-to-be-read’ personal memoirs of a young American woman drawn to Kona by accident in the 1930s, and those close to her, the Kona Diaries novel chronicles a quest for independence and knowledge as well as love and identity that spans the generations.
Tom Eshelman, a native of Hawaii, graduated from Hilo High School in 1959. Never having left Hawaii until that time, he traveled to Cleveland, experiencing four distinct seasons for the first time. Four years later after graduating from Western Reserve University, Tom moved to North Carolina. While attending the Bowman Gray School of Medicine he met and married his wife.
Following eight years in the Army, Dr. Eshelman and his family moved back to North Carolina where he practiced radiology for thirty two years. After retiring and moving east of Raleigh, Tom has at last been able to resurrect his profound interest in the early migrations to Hawaii. Using research, travels to the South Pacific and personal notes he blends this into a fictionalized novel, Kona Diaries. Together with talented wordsmith and co-author, Andrew Muir, this is their first collaborative work.
Tom resides on a horse farm in Zebulon, NC with Mary Stewart, his wife of fifty years. With them are his daughter, Christine and her family, four quarter horses, four barn cats and a kind German shepherd dog. Tom’s son, Tim, lives in Allen, Texas with his family.
Andrew Muir’s life-long career as a creative writer has brought opportunities to work with all kinds of people on all kinds of assignments. But Kona Diaries is his first project to get started on a beach in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. “Hawaii is the ultimate outlier,” says Andrew. “From a mainland perspective, the islands seem small and far away. Yet their progressive influence on the American imagination is surprisingly oversized. That’s the back-story we follow in the diaries. “
Working to fictionalize co-author Tom Eshelman’s family narratives of life in1930’s Hawaii has been a revelation for Andrew – an opportunity to see the world from a beautiful and unexpected perspective. “I think a lot of readers will be intrigued. I hope they’ll have as much fun following this great love story through the wild world of territorial-era Hawaii as we did, creating it.”
Andrew works from an office in a secluded riverside cabin where he lives with his wife Lina, a shaggy Tibetan dog named Tao and a street-smart cat named Tiggs. He has one daughter, Chloé. Kona Diaries is his first novel.