When Bill Fernandez works on a novel, he spends hours at a time researching and writing in his office, a converted garage behind his childhood home that his parents first bought in 1927, when his mother worked in a pineapple cannery making just 25 cents a day.
From inside the oceanfront home, Bill and his wife, Judith, enjoy a life of retirement punctuated by Bill’s writing career. While Bill writes, Judith works on the illustrations, publishing and publicity.
For the memoirist and historical fiction author, writing has been a way to connect with his family heritage, much of which was lost through his own education. Fernandez is half Hawaiian and in the 1940s he attended Kamehameha School for Native Hawaiian children. When Fernandez was a student, Hawaiian language and culture was forbidden.
“They westernized us,” said Fernandez.
Fernandez, a retired judge, has since taught himself some Hawaiian ‘olelo Hawai‘i and learned how to chant oli. He spends his days immersed in Hawaiian history. Just outside his office, hundreds of books fill every inch of his bookshelf, and he is frequently found behind his computer sifting through the wealth of information now accessible online.
“The internet is a wonderful source. In fact, in writing this book, I found writings by the early missionaries about what they found when they were first here in the islands,” said Fernandez. “When I talk about what the early missionaries found in this book, it came out of (that) internet research.”
Fernandez celebrated 90 this week with the recent release of his 12th book, “End of the Gods.”
The book is the third in a series of historical fiction books, this one exploring a reckoning of Ku, the God of War, in a world flooded with new people and new ideas.
Fernandez hopes that each of his nine historical fiction books brings light to the challenging years Hawaiians have faced with the arrival of capitalism and Christianity.
Fernandez can’t help but being taken hold of by these stories.
“Whenever you write a book, your time is not your own. You trapped into a story,” said Fernandez. “(It’s) the excitement of writing books.”
Fernandez’s books are available at Kaua‘i Museum, Talk Story Bookstore in Hanapepe, and Kaua‘i Store in Kapa‘a as well as at amazon.com as an ebook. More information can be found at kauaibillfernandez.com.