Wicked Whispering, the third in the Wicked Series, will be out relatively soon. I say relatively because once the manuscript is done, it’s review time, then off to the editors, then design an eye catching book cover, convert to eBook format, contact the publicist, etc., etc., etc. However, I’m starting to get excited to share it! It tells the tale of a Whale Whisperer and life in the sea, which I know and love so well. And, of course there are erotic paranormal wanderings and dancing through the galaxy with the characters many of you know and love.
Like the first two books, this one has taken me on an exciting and sometimes surprising exploration of self-discovery, growth, learning and fun while hopefully shaping an entertaining read for you. It began back in the fall of 2011 on a trip to Maui, Hawaii. We were wandering through an art fair in Lahaina and came across some spectacular photography of whales and marine life taken by the Cesere Brothers of C3 Submerged, a Maui Photography company. The photography was captivating, beyond breathtaking. The guy manning the C3 Submerged photography booth, one of the Cesere Brothers, was an attractive young man with “dreamy eyes.” I asked him if he took the pictures. He said he did. I told him he’d make a great character, that his character would get the girl, and voila! the Whale Whisperer was born. Who knew a chance encounter with a Cesere Brother of C3 Submerged would result in the birth of a character? You never know where you will find inspiration even though the source of the inspiration might be far less interesting than future encounters with enlivening people. It was, at the least, a doorway to an amazing journey.
Another resident of Maui, Autumn Hill, or AJ,as she prefers to be called, of Mike Severns Diving, was so delightful on our scuba dives that she inspired another character in the book, that of Nina Cary. Both she and her partner, Andy Schwanke, were an amazing team.
I went home and began writing, shaping the character out of my wicked imagination. Here’s who emerged:
Kai was a respected boat captain and Dive Master, but not particularly close with anyone. Standing at 6’5”, with a muscular build, people…okay, women…were always trying to get close to him, though. He didn’t get it. As far as he was concerned, he was a freak. Kai had this wild, unruly mixture of golden brown hair, streaked with red. In front, there was one strip of light blond hair that used to bother him to no end. His eyes were also strange – a smoky gray defined the edges of the iris, leading to a sliver of pale mint green. A darker band of translucent green, flecked with robin’s egg blue and gold completed the colors. Kai thought his eyes and hair just made him look weird. Occasionally, as a youth, he’d longed for contact lens to normalize his eye color. And he used to try to dye the blond streak brown but then just gave up and let it be. At this point in the game it was a big, fat whatever.
When it came to interacting, he rarely looked people in the eye, was friendly, polite, and reasonable and took care of business. If individuals thought he was standoffish, well, that was their problem. Truth was; Kai couldn’t let himself get close to anyone. He just couldn’t look anyone in the eyes….couldn’t as in ‘no can do.’ He had this strange ability to know way more than he cared to know about a person when he made eye contact. He might get a glimpse or sensation when he wasn’t looking at someone’s eyes but the eyes were the key. He’d heard it said that they eyes were the ‘window to the soul.’ For him that phrase was more than just the stuff of romance. He’d see more than he cared to when he locked eyes with another. Way more….he’d see snapshots of their life….vivid images of situations they were struggling with; relationships they were suffering or enduring; problems they were encountering; pain they were having.
He’d been this way since he was a child. When he was younger, a couple of times he had blurted things out like, “Hey, your husband really loves you. He’ll stop flirting with his co-worker soon and you’ll get through it.” Or, “The kid’s going to be fine. The symptoms look worse than the illness suggests.” When he did that, he’d be met with stares of fear, shock or anger and then people would move away from him like they might catch whatever the hell he had. On another occasion, one of his former girlfriends – if you could call someone you only had booty calls with a girlfriend – had told him when he looked at her she thought his eyes “looked like emeralds in a bottomless sea.” She’d gone on to say that she felt like she was “drowning” in his eyes but she didn’t care….she didn’t want to stop from drowning. His gift had allowed him, on the other hand, to see the boil of self-hatred and bitterness she held inside, as well as the way she longed for Kai to be her savior. It would no doubt take years of therapy to get that self-loathing out of the way and he sure as hell didn’t want to save anyone. He’d ended that relationship right then and there.
It was too freaking much. People’s biz was their own. He had enough on his plate trying to maintain his own course in life; he sure didn’t need to know about anyone else’s inner garbage. As a result he just kept to himself, tried to maintain good working relationships with the people around him and that was that.
What he really loved was life on the sea….loved the water and the waves, the sun and the surf. There, he was at peace. Since he’d left home, he’d worked as a dive professional in some of the most exotic locations on the planet – Malta, Thailand, Fiji, Egypt, and Palau. Everywhere it was the same – do your job, get people/gear on the boat, off the boat, into the water, out of the water…boat onto the trailer, people back at the resort, check, check, check. But when Kai was in the water…when he was submerged in the liquid bliss of the sea…that’s when the magic happened. In the water he was free. The sharks, skates, rays, turtles, eels and fish could care less if he could see inside their souls. And, here was one of the coolest things – the thing he never told anyone – he’d always sense an animal before he saw them. Each mammal – be it on land or in the water – had a signature…call it a vibration or echoes of their essence. He’d feel it like a thrumming sensation that started in his pelvis, spread down his legs and pulsate up through his chest and out of his heart. The turtles had a low, slow vibration. The sharks had a sharp animated signature. Octopus had this unusual, quiet vibration. And once, in Australia, he’d been in the water with humpback whales and they’d blown his mind. He’d felt wave after wave of sensation pulsing through him and that, coupled with the whale song, was the most beautiful experience he’d ever had. In fact, he was so taken with the experience; he’d nearly dropped his regulator out of his mouth like he was completely narced – something that happened when your body was overloaded with nitrogen and your judgment was impaired, almost like you were drunk or high. Had he done that, he could have drowned. But he’d recovered, ascended back to the surface with his heart split open wide and tears in his eyes, like a weeping babe. Luckily, he could pass them off as sea water and not appear all weak and stupid. Yeah, he felt an incredible ease in the water that was incomparable to anything he experienced topside. And today, as soon as he got the Catamaran parked at the resort, he intended to do just that – get in the water and be free for a few.
No, I swear I don’t know a 6’5″ muscular guy with unruly brown, red and blond hair, and smoky gray, green, and blue flecked eyes. Honestly! No. This guy with these unique abilities to sense the signature or soul essence of people…and mammals…nope, don’t know him. Or do I? That’s on a need to know basis and you don’t need to know…yet.
A month or so later I was having dinner with a trusted friend and animal tracker. I asked if she knew of any spiritual significance of whales and she responded with a hearty Yes! She advised that I read the work of Hank Wesselman, specifically The Bowl of Light: Ancestral Wisdom from a Hawaiian Shaman. About Hank Wesselman’s friendship with the great Kahuna elder, Hale Makua, the book both affirmed ideas I had already written and added to the story in a delightful manner, such as shaping the opening of the book:
Moving through the galaxy in exotic formation, the band of tireless travelers paused to check their starlit map.
One of the travelers sent a telepathic message to the group. “It’s this way.”
The explorers communicated with one another via thought and vibration. Hence, when one conveyed a missive to another, whoever was close to the intended audience might ripple with the message, too. This message was meant for the entire group, however, and was received as a pleasantly pleasurable shudder by all.
The assemblage was known as the Galaxy Dancers. Most of the time their purpose was merely to co-exist in the All That Is, wandering here and there in ecstatic bliss; today they had a task to do and they did it in the same lovingly erotic-charged manner with which they did all their tasks. They streamed through the galaxy, coursing past fields of planets, sweeping vistas of star clusters, and streams of cosmic dust. To their right loped several gigantic wolf-like shapes, luminous with electric blues and grays. To their left, several enormous cat-like creatures slunk along; their thick, fur-covered paws whisper soft and their coats glinting with translucent gold, yellow, brown and black jewel-like sparkles of light. Following along behind were millions and millions of light seeds, awaiting assignment to true form.
Two high, exalted guardians led the pack. One, in the visage of a man whose golden eyes flashed and flickered with radiant gold and orange light and whose long silky midnight-black hair cascaded from his head, held the precious hand of his beloved. The other, a lucent turquoise and sea-blue eyed female beauty with streaming red hair that burst from her head like a fiery cosmic explosion, gazed at him with adoration. Her hair blew and radiated with the intensity of her essence, while his tresses vibrated with calm.
“Where are we going, my love?” said the female.
“To release the record keepers, mon amour,” he said. He uttered these words to his beloved with such tenderness that a wave of bliss rolled from their hearts, causing the other Dancers to shiver with sensation. “And we shall set free the keepers of the divine fire and the breath of life.”
She nodded her assent and the two of them continued to pulse in symmetry, harmony, love and power as they made their way through the galaxy.
When they reached the place they had deemed suitable, they made a leap from the skies and dove deep into the oceans of the small planet known as Earth, leaving the rest of the group behind. Following behind them were the as yet unformed seeds of light. These seeds burst into form the minute they made contact with the water. The male and the female took delight as flickers of light assumed life as pods of dolphins and huge whales.
“Is it done?” the female asked.
“It is done,” the male replied.
The female frowned. “Will it be enough? Will our beloved friends here be enough to hold the records of deep wisdom and keep the remembering of knowledge and destiny alive?”
The male being shrugged. “Oh, they will do their job for certain. Will the future denizens of this planet remember? Some will, some won’t. That’s not up to us.”
The female dipped her head in affirmation, a look of serious regard and somber reflection painting her face. “I wish we could do more.”
The male appeared aghast as he communicated with her, mind to mind, heart to heart. “We have done everything….everything, mon amour. There is nothing more we could do except force feed the future denizens, ramming the knowledge down their throats. And what would be the point of that? Unless a being is willing to assume responsibility for him or herself, what does it matter what jewels we lay before them?” Then, more tenderly, he conveyed, “You have a tender heart, ma chère. Your heart beats the rhythm of the universe. Let us console ourselves with the knowing that at least some will find their way to the truth. There will be keepers of this wisdom, rest assured. But, there will be no easy paths or shortcuts, here. That’s not why we chose this place as suitable. We chose it because even though there will be chaos and destruction in abundance, there will also be a fire of perseverance here and a willingness to endure much hardship to recover the truth…to restore their souls.”
The female nodded again as she watched her newly formed mammalian friends, the smaller beings cavorting and frolicking; the giants of the sea moving with elegant undulations through their watery environ. “Alright, my love, alright. We have done all that we can. Let’s just see what unfolds, shall we?”
We actually come into this world as gods. It’s just that we have forgotten who we really are as well as what this really means.
Hale Kealohalani Makua, native Hawaiian Elder
In December I had the pleasure and honor to begin a lengthy correspondence with Dr. Fred Sharpe on whale ecology. Having investigated, amassed and recorded data and written about bubble net feeding, Dr. Sharpe helped me understand why I had written what I wrote in one of the scenes. It was an Ah HA! moment to be sure. Dr. Sharpe has proved a valuable resource, sharing his wisdom from over 20 years of whale research. He continues to help shape the book, providing needed details and occasional anecdotal stories to help flesh out the mystery and the wonder of humpback whales. Endless thanks go out to you, Fred Sharpe! Here’s a bit inspired by you, greatly embellished by my active imagination!
Then Dr. Stillman looked right at Kai. “How about you? Hale Alemana said you have a unique affinity with the leviathans.”
Kai sat up with a start, once more surprised at the scrutiny aimed in his direction. “Uh, yeah, makes sense. Right…” Please stop looking at me everyone, please stop. He tried to shrink down in his seat but he was so tall it was impossible to do so. As he shrunk inside, the golden band began to tighten around his arm like a Boa constrictor.
“Good…that’s good to hear.” Dr. Stillman nodded and continued with his discussion. “I have some video footage to share with you. One of my prime areas of research has been bubble net feeding. The way the bubble net phenomenon works is this: one humpback creates the approximately 65’ wide, 45’ deep bubble net by swimming in a circle and releasing effervescent bubbles from its blowhole. Meanwhile, other members of the pod herd prey, typically herring, to the feeding area using deafening trumpet-like sounds. Once the herring have been caught in the confines of the bubble net the great beasts feast, bursting to the surface, their jaws open-wide to consume their wriggling meal.
The entire group has to work in concert with one another for prime feeding. There’s a point at which the bubble reaches an optimal point for prey capture. Meanwhile, the herding whales must practice coordinated efforts as a compact group to prevent the herring from moving below them and becoming motionless; a behavior typically exhibited by the fish when frightened. The bubble blowing whale must deploy the bubble net at a depth that is not too deep lest the herring swim up and over the top of the net before it reaches the surface. The complexity of this seemingly simple task is immense. The entirety of this social feeding technique speaks volumes to the intelligence possessed by this species. This is a truly phenomenal experience. We have recorded the whales hunting vocalizations along with some footage of what it is like when they blast to the surface. Here – take a look and have a listen.”
He indicated that the lights needed to be turned off. Nina and Will rushed to different parts of the room to flick them off. Then, the screen behind him became illuminated with the video. Dr. Stillman and a couple other researchers stood on the deck of a sleek-looking 33′ aluminum commercial dive & survey boat. A woman sat inside the hull of the boat working some type of instrumentation. The first sound that was heard was the high, eerie sound of whale song.
When Kai heard the sound, his heart began to thump loudly. His arm band felt like liquid gold. It grew warm around his upper arm and the heat oozed into his shoulder and chest and slid down his arm into his hand. He experienced the sound as a call from beings he knew intimately. He understood this sound to be a mating call. His heartbeat roared in his ears. His eyes fell shut and his head began to fall back as bliss overtook his body.
Cassie again put her hand on his forearm. “Not here. People are watching you.”
Her soothing, grounding energy brought him back to the room. He opened his eyes and tried to focus on the screen.
“That was the mating call of humpback whales,” Dr. Stillman was saying. “In this next segment, prepare for a treat. We’ll get to hear the hunting song of the Thunder Pumpers, as I like to call them.”
The next sound that erupted from the video was a long, piercing, thunderous sound that blew Kai’s mind. He experienced the sound slicing through his being, shredding his sense of cohesive thought and awareness. He felt his consciousness explode into images of stars, atmosphere, oceans and wonder. This time, no touch in the world could keep him grounded in the room. He wanted to soar, to shoot through the sky like a comet and play amongst the star beings of his ancestors. My ancestors? The question floated like a wisp of goose down through his mind. My ancestors? He felt the presence of other beings dancing through the sky with him…a woman with long, flowing red hair like sunlight streaming from her head….a man with hair as dark as the night, illuminated with stars. He knew this woman…he knew her and her companion…but why? And who was she to him? He could not tell. And then he was streaming through the sea alongside his brethren, the leviathans. They swam with lightning speed through seascapes and miles, upon miles of blue. They sped through the oceans, stopping in warmer waters to mate; then heading to colder climes to feed.
He experienced himself as a huge whale in pursuit of a receptive female, rocketing to the surface, bursting out of the water and slapping his tail with a thunderous clap, in competition with another male. He butted his challenger with his chin and smacked him with his tail fluke with such force that a trail of blood seeped out into the water. Then, he was a hunting male, sounding the same thunderous cry playing over the speakers, driving the frightened fish to the surface to be caught inside the net of bubbles. The scenes of ocean and galaxy rumbled through his head, streaming like a rushing river, tumbling over his protesting thoughts without pause. And then, a different sound could be heard. Something that sounded like a rattle, accompanied by chanting was right behind him. Must be those voices in his head…yeah, that was it. Only the voice sounded a lot like it was outside of him, not inside.
He opened his eyes to find he was lying on the floor on a blanket and the elder was standing over him chanting something in Hawaiian. Cassie was kneeling by his side, while Cherie and Cam stood calmly to his other side as if they knew what the deal was. Nina was kneeling at his feet, looking at him anxiously, while Will stood behind her with his hands on her shoulders. The scientist stood with his hands on his hips, looking at him as if he were on exhibit. Fuck. He quickly pulled himself up to standing, reaching for Cassie when dizziness threatened to send him back to the floor. “Fuck.” This time he said the word aloud. “Look, I’m okay. It was nothing. Get back to your talk…please.” He looked at Dr. Stillman imploringly.
“This does not seem like ‘nothing’,” Nina said sharply, like a mother reprimanding her child. “You were speaking some strange language that only Hale Kamana could comprehend. He began an answering call to whatever you were saying.” She focused her gaze on the elder. “Can you explain?”
He spoke softly so that no one else could hear. “Of course, I can. But it would be better if you told them, Kai. Tell them what you are.”
Kai reddened and turned away. “Like hell I will.”
The shaman came up next to him. “These people are your friends. They need to hear.”
Another friend, Don Peterson, of Octopus Gardens Diving, has helped me shape the scuba diving scenes. Although I am an active scuba diver myself, Don has provided data on the plausibility of some of the deep diving scenes. Why trust an amateur such as myself, when you have a Dive God as a resource?
Thank the stars for my pals at the Bottom Dwellers Dive Club! There’s nothing like sharing a drink and a round of spicy stories among friends to inspire the imagination.
And, of course, my delightfully passionate relationship with the Official Sweetie Pie always provides inspiration, encouragement, joy and love to assist me on my way.
And then there’s Blake Shelton… All I can say here is Yum.