For­mer Kahuku Woman Finds Her Call­ing In Science Fic­tion

MidWeek Islander (Windward Oahu) - - Windward Oahu Sports - By STEVE MUR­RAY

Never have dystopian so­ci­eties been so won­der­fully popular. Thanks to nov­els like The Hunger Games and Diver­gent, a gen­er­a­tion of young read­ers has been en­ter­tained by the tales of op­pres­sive gov­ern­ments and post-apoc­a­lyp­tic so­ci­eties.

Add to that grow­ing list of en­ter­tain­ment through dys­func­tion is Re­make, the first book in a tril­ogy by for­mer Kahuku res­i­dent and Kame­hameha Schools grad­u­ate Ilima Todd, who learned this month that the book is a fi­nal­ist for the Whit­ney award (best nov­els by Lat­terday Saints writ­ers) in the Young Adult Spec­u­la­tive cat­e­gory.

The 38-year-old au­thor, who spent Christ­mas here with her Hawaii fam­ily, bor­rows from and re­de­vel­ops Twi­light Zone’s Num­ber 12 Looks Just Like You, in cre­at­ing a so­ci­ety where fam­i­lies have been elim­i­nated, chil­dren are raised in batches, and at the age of 17 ev­ery­one is re­made, choos­ing how they look, their name, their oc­cu­pa­tion and even their gen­der. In the Rod Ser­ling clas­sic, a young woman rebels against hav­ing her ap­pear­ance changed to one of sev­eral ap­proved by an over­bear­ing gov­ern­ment.

Todd’s story starts with Nine, a teenager ap­proach­ing the re­make date, who is strug­gling to de­ter­mine who she will be­come. Along the way, Nine dis­cov­ers so­ci­ety isn’t what she had been taught and that her home­town, Free­dom City, isn’t free.

“De­spite things be­ing dreary,” said Todd, “you find that light of hope that you can stand up for some- thing and find that light in the dark.” So there is good news for Nine.

De­spite com­ing from a fam­ily in which read­ing was a popular ac­tiv­ity, Todd hadn’t given much thought to writ­ing. Fi­nally, in 2010, she made it her New Year’s res­o­lu­tion to write a book. She just didn’t know how.

“I didn’t know what I was do­ing,” she ad­mit­ted. “I Googled ‘how to write a novel.’ I found a plot­ting method, and I went from there and wrote my first book.”

That book, A Sin­gle Feather, about an an­cient Hawai­ian chief who falls for a com­moner, was well­re­ceived by friends, but ap­par­ently not nec­es­sar­ily by those who pub­lish books. Re­make is her first pub­lished novel.

“I went to my first writer’s con­fer­ence, where I learned I had no idea of how to write, and that my first one wasn’t very good,” laughed Todd. She at­tended more con­fer­ences, formed cri­tique groups and kept writ­ing. Other books fol­lowed, eight in all.

That Todd be­came a science fic­tion au­thor shouldn’t be much of a sur­prise. She grew up want­ing to be an as­tro­naut, even se­cur­ing a con­gres­sional ap­point­ment to the U. S. Air Force Academy. Todd changed course and stud­ied physics at BYU, where she met hus­band Daniel. The cou­ple now live in Utah with their chil­dren, Emma, Parker, Stir­ling and Hai­ley.

“Deep down, I knew I had to go to BYU,” said Todd, re­call­ing why she gave up space ex­plo­ration.

Though her book was writ­ten for teens, like Todd’s fa­vorite Twi­light, Re­make has been grasped by adult read­ers who ap­pre­ci­ate the po­lit­i­cal el­e­ments of the novel. “The big­gest com- ment I’ve had from read­ers is they want to talk about it. They want to form book clubs, there are a lot of po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sions,” she said.

Todd’s se­quel to Re­make is be­ing edited and should be re­leased this year. To learn more about her or to find book-sign­ing dates, go to re­make­book.com.

The cover of ‘Re­make,’ Ilima Todd’s first pub­lished novel. Im­age from Shadow Moun­tain Pub­lish­ing.

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