Categorized | Books, Entertainment

Peek’s novel wins national indie publishers award


The Independent Book Publishers Association (IPBA) — the largest not-for-profit trade group in the U.S. book industry — recognizes excellence and innovation in independent publishing with its annual Benjamin Franklin Awards, named in honor of America’s most cherished publisher/printer.

IBPA named ‘Daughters of Fire,’ written by Tom Peek of Volcano and published by Hana-based Koa Books, a 2013 Benjamin Franklin Silver Finalist Award winner for Popular Fiction.

Tom Peek

IBPA will announce the Gold Award winners in each category May 29 at a gala at the Marriott Marquis in New York’s Times Square.

“’Daughters of Fire’ was a labor of love for everyone involved — the author, editors, artists, and designer,” said Koa Books publisher Arnie Kotler. “That’s something independent publishers can still do. We couldn’t be more delighted to get news of this Benjamin Franklin Silver Finalist Award.”

More than a decade in its research and writing, Peek’s mystical and provocative page-turner picks up Hawaii’s story where James Michener left off.

‘Daughters of Fire’ illuminates how the islands’ transformation into a tourist mecca and developers’ gold mine sparked a Native Hawaiian movement to reclaim their culture, protect sacred land, and step into the future with wisdom and aloha.

With cover art by Native Hawaiian cultural treasure Herb Kawainui Kane, and pen-and-ink drawings by renowned nature artist John D. Dawson, the novel harkens back to classic adventures of earlier times.

In the novel, a visiting astronomer falls in love with a Hawaiian anthropologist who guides him into a Polynesian world of volcanoes, gods, and revered ancestors. The lovers get caught up in murder and intrigue as developers and politicians try to conceal that a long-dormant volcano is rumbling back to life above the hotel-laden Kona coast.

The anthropologist joins forces with an aging seer and a young activist, and these three Hawaiian women summon their deepest traditions to confront Hawaii’s latest, most extravagant resort as the eruption and murder expose deep rifts in paradise.

‘Daughters of Fire’ is the 12th work from Koa Books, which was founded on Maui in 2005 by Arnie Kotler, who was publisher and editor of Parallax Press in Berkeley, California from 1985-1999.

Peek, a writer and policy expert at the University of Minnesota in the 1980s, hitchhiked by boat through the South Seas before settling on Hawaii Island 25 years ago.

He’s taught his popular Empowered by the Pen writing workshops through Volcano Art Center and the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

He’s also been a mountain and astronomy guide on Mauna Kea and an eruption ranger, wildland firefighter and exhibit writer on Kilauea, working closely with Hawaiian elders and cultural practitioners on both volcanoes. These experiences provided Peek with much of the material for his book.

The award-winning novel will be featured at the May 18-19 Hawaii Book and Music Festival in Honolulu, the state’s premier literary event. Peek will read from the book 4-5 p.m. Saturday, May 18.

‘Daughters of Fire’ is available at bookstores and gift shops throughout Hawaii and the U.S., and from online retailers.

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