In honor of Chinese New Year 2017, (Year of the Rooster) let me start off by posting a couple photos. These free-roaming roosters live on the island of Kaua`i. You are bound to bump into the unobtrusive creatures at some point. My favorite sighting was going back to the parking lot after seeing the Spouting Horn. Lined up like soldiers were a brigade of roosters and chickens. Somehow it felt as if we were being followed. (Just kidding).
After stopping at a food truck in Koloa Town, where we’d spotted our first set of photogenic fowls, we continued to make our way to the Coconut Coast, on the east side of the island. I wanted to see the coconut palms, which the area is famous for. We were about to cross a small bridge in Wailua, when I noticed the pristine crystal blue water. The waves were rolling in one after the other. White caps contrasting against the crystal clear blue water were picture perfect. Although, this photo I’ve posted doesn’t do it justice by any means. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anywhere to pull over or I’d have taken another picture. Feeling bound and determined, we drove until we found our first break in the road for a quick turnaround.
Being on the opposite side of the Kuhio highway, we stopped at a red light. As I looked out the window, I noticed a speed limit sign, but my eyes quickly averted upwards to a swaying ceiling lamp. Never in a million years, would I have guessed there was an abandoned building behind all the unruly shrubbery. Focusing, I noticed the glass windowpane was missing. Being the curious type, I’d quickly abandoned our plan to take photos of the ocean.
My husband humored me and drove into what appeared to be an adjacent parking lot to the complex. As we got a bit closer, I couldn’t believe what we’d discovered. It was the once famous Coco Palms Hotel. It was on my list of things to see, but I just wasn’t expecting to find it right then and there. Upon seeing the building, the familiarity I’d seen from still photos and Elvis movies still existed. I couldn’t comprehend how a hotel that was once so popular, sat in abandonment, with one of the most outstanding ocean views.
Upon seeing it, I had a mixed bag of emotions swirling within me. It brought back memories of my older cousin—she was Elvis obsessed. I was ecstatic to have accidentally stumbled upon the Coco Palms, but I also felt melancholy. The same sadness one feels upon realizing you can never go back to your childhood. I stood admiring the hotel, knowing how excited my cousin would have been to see it. I thought of her quite often as I wrote my book. Until stumbling upon the Coco Palms, it’d been a long time since I’d even watched an Elvis movie. As kids, we were guaranteed an Elvis marathon on any given weekend. I remember sitting and watching three movies in a row.
For the remainder of our stay on the island, we never drove into the Coco Palms again. Although, I couldn’t help stare at the lamp every time we passed by it from the highway. Somehow its eeriness left me with a comforting feeling. I didn’t know it at the time, but that lamp had planted its seed in my brain. Writing didn’t enter my thoughts right then, as I had just released my book Driving in Circles. Our whole point of taking a vacation was to get away from work entirely. I in particular didn’t want to think about anything besides sun, snorkeling and taking in the beauty of the Garden Isle. I had only brought one book with me, but on one of our adventures into a town called Hanapepe, we discovered Talk Story Bookstore. I ended up buying four books, which all have a connection to Hawaii, whether it’s the story, or written by a local author. I still have them, as they make great souvenirs.
Getting back to our condo we watched the sunset before opening up a beer and settling down to watch the Billabong Pipeline Masters, which had started on the island of Oahu. As my husband was flipping the channels, an Elvis movie was playing. I was torn over which to watch. Seeing as the competition had just started and would be running for the next couple weeks, I watched the movie. It truly felt like old times. Who could ask for more?
Months after being home the one recurring image in my mind was the swaying lamp. I can still remember the morning, when I walked into my home office. I internally said, “I’m going to write about a ghost and the lamp.” That was the conception.
By the time I had written half a manuscript, I shoved it aside due to the fact I’d taken on contractual work. Initially, I figured I’d have time to do both, but I was too exhausted by day’s end and abandoned the manuscript. I never stopped thinking about Kauai. How could I? I had pegged an aerial shot of the island on my corkboard. I kept it there for inspiration seeing as I was stuck in a downtown office.
Nine months had passed before I picked up the manuscript again. I read it, but my focus had shifted to other things that were happening in my life. I never thought I’d continue with the manuscript.
One day while working on my iPad, the sticker I had put on its protective cover, was still there. I had peeled it off a lunch plate container. Seeing the sticker reminded me of why I had started to write the manuscript. The lamp had a lot to do with the paranormal element, but the underlying compass was the stranger I’d met, who’d given me the inspiration for the heart and soul of the book.
I don’t know the person who approached me that day, or their name. All I know is how that person impacted me, with the short exchange we’d had. Talk about insightful first impressions.
By the time my second draft was completed and out being proofread, I had started to look at photos of the Coco Palms in its heyday. I was trying to get inspired for a book cover. One sight led to another and there it was. An article stating that the Coco Palms property had been bought. The Hyatt group was going to start demolition in hopes of reopening by 2017. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I called my husband at work and forwarded the article to him. That was my fictitious date, which I’d already written in my manuscript.
I’m fast-forwarding to a few months after my book release. This past Christmas I made a short advertising video on YouTube. The same day my wider screen T.V. had arrived due to my nearsightedness. For those who don’t know me, I’m still challenged when it comes to certain forms of technology. I was so excited that our new T.V. had a YouTube feature. I clicked on it and figured out how to work it. I was going to show my husband the video I’d put together on the big screen. Later that night after viewing my YouTube video, we noticed a Coco Palms related video about to follow. A local Kauaiian man was giving a couple, a tour of the grounds. About halfway through the video, the husband zeros in on Elvis Presley’s cabin, which he stayed in while filming and vacationing. I quickly grabbed the converter to rewind. I paused it to make sure that what I’d heard was correct, as the number had passed me by quickly. I was stunned to say the least. The hair on my arms was standing up.
For those who haven’t read my book yet, there’s a designated room, which bears a random number I chose. I still have the unedited first and second drafts of my manuscript, where the room number was #56. I changed it to room #256 by my third draft, as it made more sense in the way I’d written the scenes. What I wasn’t aware of when writing my book was Elvis’ cabin number—the number that sat paused on the T.V. screen. It was #56. My husband and I were speechless. I may write fiction, but this entire experience has been as mysterious as my novel.
There have been many other incidences since the book’s release, which are happenstance, but I will leave it for another time. I’d like to thank everyone who has been supportive of my work and for those who haven’t read Legend of the Coco Palms Resort, you should. Especially knowing that the new Coco Palms is slated to open in 2018, as reported three days ago! I for one can’t wait to stay there. Who knows, maybe they’ll give me room #256. Okay, I just got goose bumps.
I’d like to thank everyone who has stopped by to read my blog. I hope we can meet again in a few weeks.