Over the years, I have gone on vacation to Hawaii with my family. While I was there, I was fascinated by how the local plants all intertwined with one another, creating a thick jungle that is difficult to navigate. I later learned that a number of the plants were not even native to the islands and that the local and foreign plants were trying to envelope one another. This is what resulted in the tangled wilderness in Hawaii’s jungles. One time, I learned that one of our guides was the son of the original Shazam/Captain Marvel actor from the 1970s television show. That revelation made me geek out! While writing The Kaligen Experiment, I drew heavy inspiration from the tangled rainforests of Hawaii when depicting the primeval wilderness.
I remember my trips to Hawaii over the years and the first thing that stood out was the island’s plants. I remember how the plants all seemed to be fused together into one giant mass. It was like looking at a vast network of life enveloping the island. I can see why the Jurassic Park movies were made here. It felt like the interconnecting plants were hiding something big behind their branches. There was always something that felt primeval about the jungles of Hawaii. A part of me thought: “If I look around that tree and there was a Triceratops behind it, I would not be surprised.” In a way, dinosaurs were on Hawaii because of the many chickens that lived on it. Out of the many birds that exist, the chicken is the closest living avian relative to dinosaurs. I am thinking of drawing inspiration from my interactions with both Hawaii’s jungles and chickens for my dinosaur series.
I remember a little incident my family and I had during our most recent trip to Hawaii. On the island of Kauai (which we nicknamed Chicken Island because there were wild chickens everywhere) my father, sister, brother-in-law, and I went kayaking down a river that opened up to the ocean. When we started rowing with our group, my father and I were in the same kayak. Because we were both big studs, our combined weight weighed us down so much that we were not only being left in the dust by the rest of the group, but the rim of the boat was only a few centimeters from the water. We knew that one wrong turn would tip the boat over and dump us into the river. That part did not worry us. What worried us was what was potentially lurking below the river’s murky depths. The river opened up into the ocean, which made the water brackish. My father and I watch Shark Week every year and we know for a fact that bull sharks can swim into brackish water and attack humans. Bull sharks have more testosterone than any other creature, which makes them completely aggressive. They do not attack people for food, but to satisfy their boundless hormone-based rage. Hawaii has been known to have between 2 to 3 shark attacks every year and bull sharks are one of the main suspects. We could not see anything in the river because it was so murky, but we knew bull sharks were down there somewhere. If we fell out of our boat, we were likely chum. Therefore, it became both a race and balancing act to catch up with the rest of our group. We even caught sight of something . . . BIG . . . moving next to us! That was one of the most nerve-racking experiences I ever had. Hopefully, I won’t have a close call like that next time I go to Hawaii. When writing my killer croc story idea, I can draw inspiration from the absolute fear I felt that day.
Today, I entered the lottery at my local theater yet again and won three FREE trips in a single day! I won two trips to Hawaii and one trip to Las Vegas. In total, I won FIVE free trips since I started participating in this lottery. One trip to Orlando, two trips to Las Vegas, and two trips to Hawaii. Lady luck was on my side today big time! Once I figure out how their system works, I plan to give one of these trips to my parents as an anniversary gift. I only need one of each of these trips so I will give out the extras to my family and loved ones.