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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Interview With a Character 4

Emalie Napunoa
 
Emalie with obligatory cherry blossoms
As I'm polishing up my second draft of Under a Mango Moon, I'm getting to know Kai's mother, Emalie. She doesn't get much story time for some reason, so the other day I decided to get to know her a little better. I started off by imagining what she looked like. And since my drawing skills are not the greatest, I decided to bring her to life through my just-as-meager Photoshop skills!

Once I got to see her, I knew I was ready for a conversation. So here it is!


JH: Hello Emalie, it is nice to finally meet you. Your son, Kai, has told me a little bit about you.

Emalie: Oh, is that so? I hope you had a pleasant conversation with him. (Sits easily in her seat, but looks ready to spring up at any moment.)

JH: Indeed I did! He mentioned that you work for the Hawaiian Monarchy, and your job is to maintain the queen's palace on Maui. What is a typical day like?

Emalie: Oh, most days it's quite uneventful. (Sits back a little.) The 'palace' is more of a large but simple two-story residence that the queen stays in when she visits, which is usually only once or twice a year. But the residence is open daily to the public and visitors may come and have a tour. I oversee a small staff that does the tours. But the queen is also very interested in listening to her people, so in addition to accommodating tours, I also handle civil appointments. Residents may come and meet with me to discuss any questions or concerns they have about policies, decrees, or other government actions.

JH: Does the queen ever hear these concerns personally?

Emalie: Because she is not on the island, she does not. But I compile a weekly list of my appointments and discussions and forward them to her. While she may not be present to hear her people, she does make sure she is aware of their concerns. That is my most important job - to make sure she hears what her people are saying. (A sound is heard just outside the door and her eyes turn quickly toward it for a moment before returning to focus on me.) You have a bird problem.

JH: A, huh? (Wondering where that came from.)

Emalie: I believe you may find a nest of birds inside your ceiling. You may want to check for holes in your roof.

JH: Oh, okay. (Flustered.) Thank you. Um, back to our conversation, you have an important task! Now, I am also aware that you enjoy kendo. Could you tell me more about that?

Emalie: I guess you could say I enjoy it. (A mysterious smile appears briefly) My father trained me since I was five years old. He is a very strict teacher, so there is no playing around when it comes to practicing. Kai on the other hand I think doesn't enjoy it at all. He likes to practice, but I think the rigidness of it doesn't suit him very well.

JH: Along the lines of practicing, I understand you would like to see him continue his schooling, even though it isn't mandatory. Why is that?

Emalie: (There is a slight pause as Emalie gives me a 'look.') A good education is the best way to achieve a goal. Kai is very smart and mechanically inclined, like his father. However, without a good education, he will be forced to begin work as a mechanical laborer, most likely within the sugar or pineapple industry. It is harder to work up to better jobs if you don't have the education to support you. (Another imperceptible pause.) It's not impossible, just harder. I don't want life to be so hard that he begins to think about giving up.

JH: (Feeling a little like I just asked a 'stupid' question.)That is very insightful. Is a good education how you got such an important job?

Emalie: (Another pause, and another 'look' as she squints her eyes thoughtfully.) I do have a high level of education, yes, and it has helped me to perform my civil duties well. However, my job requires a few other skills that require a different kind of learning.

JH: Oh? Such as?

Emalie: I have other skills that require a bit of, oh, let's say strategizing and technical knowledge.

JH: Technical, as in mechanical?

Emalie: No not mechanical. (Gives a small smile.) I don't know much about the engineering of things like my husband and son.

JH: Okay...well, I'm intrigued. It seems like there is more to your position than I thought.

Emalie: (Leans forward in her chair.) There are many jobs that require one to go a bit beyond their job descriptions, don't you think?

JH: (Leaning back.) Well, I guess so. Anyway, I want to thank you for taking time away from your job to have this interview.

Emalie: (Relaxes in her chair.) And thank you, please stop by and take a tour of the residence one day. I will be happy to give you the tour personally. (Gets up and gives a slight bow.)

JH: Wonderful! I may take you up on that. (Feeling a little relieved.)

Emalie makes her way out the door with the grace of a stalking cat. I realize I'm sweating a little.

I'm not sure what it was, but somehow, I'm starting to understand what Kai meant by "scary." Emalie's presence was the first thing I noticed, it sneaks up on you in a way. At a glance, she's just a well-dressed woman sitting across from you. But as the interview continued, I began to feel like she was assessing the space, and the people in it. Before I knew it, I felt like she's learned everything she needs to know about me. It was a little disconcerting!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this interview, and please look forward to other updates on Under a Mango Moon!

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