Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Debra Bokur's "The Fire Thief"

Debra Bokur is an author, journalist, editor, screenwriter, and illustrator. Her work has appeared in a variety of domestic and international media outlets, including National Geographic Traveler, Islands, Spa Magazine, Experience Life Magazine, Natural Home, Yoga Journal, Global Traveler, and Women’s Adventure. She is a recipient of the 2015 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award.

Here Bokur dreamcasts an adaptation of her new novel, The Fire Thief:
My Dark Paradise Mysteries series is set in Hawaii, and The Fire Thief delves into the potential connection between ancient indigenous legends and several violent deaths that begin with the murder of a teenage surfer. Detective Kali Māhoe of the Maui Police Department balances her police training, a degree in anthropology and her knowledge of the islands’ dark lore to connect the dots. Aided by her uncle, Police Captain Walter Alaka’i, she investigates sightings of a faceless, malevolent spirit that appears to be connected to a string of solar panel thefts, all leading back to the bodies collecting on Maui’s sandy beaches.

I was a theater major, and practically everything I write begins in my head as a screenplay, so casting a film version of The Fire Thief happened early in the story process. My descent into make-believe even included an imaginary lunch with director Ron Howard, during which he offered to give me his dessert if I’d agree to let him direct the movie. Not only did I say yes, but in the spirit of fostering a good working relationship, I let him keep half his slice of pineapple upside-down cake.

When I write the character of Kali Māhoe, it’s an image of actress Keisha Castle-Hughes that wanders around my writing room. You might know her from Whale Rider, a film role that earned her a 2004 Academy Award nomination when she was only 13 years old. More recently, this New Zealand actress of Maori descent played Obara Sand in Game of Thrones (Season 5), and I believe she’s got the chops to play Kali.

Also from New Zealand, veteran actor Jay Laga’aia would bring out both the fun and toughness of Walter Alaka’i. Plus, Laga’aia has already played a captain—Captain Typho in two of the Star Wars films, to be exact—so I’m pretty sure he’s already got all the training he needs (plus some) to be a gravity-bound Hawaiian cop.

For policeman David Hara, it’s got to be John Cho. As I explained to Ron Howard during our (okay, my) fantasy lunch, this pick is non-negotiable.

I know that actress Lyrica Okano already has a job in the Hulu series Runaways. Still—she’d be perfect to stretch into the complicated role of Makena Shirai, a confused meth addict who’s an important part of the world portrayed in the Dark Paradise Mysteries.

When I’m working on scenes featuring store proprietor George Tsui, also a regular in the series, it’s the smiling face of Hawaiian actor Dennis Chun that always pops up. Chun’s creds include both Magnum, P.I. and Hawaii Five-O, so he’d be a natural.
Visit Debra Bokur's website.

Q&A with Debra Bokur.

The Page 69 Test: The Fire Thief.

--Marshal Zeringue