Your grandmother sounds amazing, tell us more about her.

Julia Wright was one of six children that grew up in Palolo Valley. Julia was a party girl in Waikiki. She made big mistakes in love, especially after meeting a blond Englishman at the Moana Hotel. He left her hapai (pregnant) after promising he’d send for her once he got settled in San Francisco. Julia never heard from the Englishman again and gave birth to my father the first day of world peace. Then she met a Portuguese sea merchant at the Young Hotel downtown and soon she was hapai again. Julia was forced to raise both sons in her mother’s tiny rental in Kaimuki. Her third love interest was Chipper, a decorated war vet. Chipper asked her to accompany him to the Molokai Ranch, where he’d secured a job as a paniolo (cowboy). Julia said she would. Chipper told her she couldn’t bring her sons along until she proved she could handle the rural lifestyle. She was caught between the fear of becoming an old maid raising two half-brothers or the possibility of marrying her teenage crush.JULIA+KAY

Are you a full-time writer? I see you were a PR person and also sold cars.

I write full time but have to work part-time as an accountant to pay the bills. There have been times when opportunities open up overseas. I lectured with the poet Gary Snyder at the Hong Kong International Writers Conference and they paid me the equivalent of what a Hong Kong bank VP makes. My latest journey was to Finland as an Artist-in-Residence, where I explored Helsinki, Stockholm, and the Finnish Archipelago. My work background in San Diego? Car sales at Team Nissan in Encinitas and Rancho Olds on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard. I was also the PR Director for the Carlsbad Inn, where I ran The Great Mercedes Benz Giveaway as a promotion. I am a Current Writer at the San Diego Reader. I’m best known for my gonzo journalism, particularly my take on the First Day of the Del Mar Races. Occasionally I do freelance work and have been paid for pieces in Writer’s Digest, Green Magazine and Southword Journal out of Ireland.  

How would you say your writing career began? Was there a certain event, person, intuitive impulse that guided you to forge your own literary path?

Believe it or not, it started when I began writing letters to relatives at age nine. I had a bunch of aunts and uncles in Boston and wanted them to know what it was like spending summers on my grandmother’s horse ranch on the remote island of Moloka’i. In college, I think the tipping point for me as far as wanting to be a writer came when my grandmother died and I knew all her stories would be lost if I didn’t write them down. Those stories can be found in my book Moloka’i Nui Ahina, a hybrid form between the novel and the creative nonfiction personal essay.