Graham Salisbury: Island Boy

We seek heat in the dark cold winter night. Sleeping, we dream of warm air, beaches, and jungles. Imagine growing up in such a place, an island: not wearing shoes until the 6th grade; not seeing snow until you were 19, (and away from home). Some people call Hawaii paradise; Graham Salisbury called Hawaii home. The islands and surrounding waters are the locale for his compelling stories and novels.

Graham was born in Philadelphia, the son of a Navy fighter pilot and an art student from Hawaii; he grew up on the islands of Oahu and Hawaii. Salisbury, like many island boys, surfed a lot, and messed around on boats.His band, "The Millennium" had a number one hit in the Philippines. Sandy, as he was nicknamed, wanted to be a rock star, never thinking of writing fiction. He skippered a tourist boat and served as a deckhand on a charter fishing boat. "Keep yer mouth shut and ears open" on a charter boat, and you'll hear all kinds of stories. There are hundreds of stories in the Hawaiian air, from many different peoples and places. Polynesians, following the stars and stick charts, arrived first on green-backed Hawaii. Japanese, Chinese and Filipinos came for the fishing and other trades. Europeans and Americans added the last layer of stories.

The urge to write came fairly late and unexpected to Salisbury. He was thirty, and after a series of not satisfactory jobs, decided to scoop up some of those Hawaii stories and put them on paper. He saw the old Hawaii  disappearing under new tourist hotels. "Write what you know" is the advice given to new writers, so Graham wrote about growing up in Hawaii. His first book, Blue Skin of the Sea, is a collection of stories about 2 boys growing up on the Big Island before the tourists came. His next, Under the Blood-Red Sun, was more historical, about a boy living on Oahu just before, and after, the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He continues to write books for and about boys on the islands, each one worth the trip.

Graham Salisbury in the Library:
We own many of Graham Salisbury's works. You can place a hold on any title and pick it up at any branch.

Graham Salisbury on the Web:
Graham Salisbury’s official site.

Cynthia Leitich Smith's interview with Salisbury
An interview with Graham Salisbury.