Former KHON anchor publishes first novel, Dragonfruit

Kailua-born author Malia Mattoch McManus announces the launch of her debut novel, Dragonfruit, a vivid portrait of Hawai`i in a time of historic upheaval whose central character, Eliza Dawson, tells a story of love, betrayal, and the intoxicating power of the past.

Courtesy: Malia Mattoch McManus

“Driven by the harsh, racist conditions of plantation life and the tragedy of Hawaii’s loss of sovereignty, “Dragonfruit” is reminiscent of “Gone with the Wind,” with epic scenes of violence and fire. Eliza’s indomitable spirit and unapologetic sexuality recall Scarlett O’Hara,” said the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

As the heiress to a plantation fortune, Eliza occupies a privileged place in the opulent court of Hawaii’s King Kalakaua. But her secret plan to marry the son of an opium tycoon collapses when political crisis forces him to China.

Pregnant and desperate to keep her child, Eliza must wed an opportunistic rancher on the remote island of Moloka’i. After a devastating fire, Eliza makes a daring escape to Honolulu on the eve of the American overthrow to restore the Hawaiian monarchy.

When a mysterious figure from Molokai reveals powerful secrets, only one man can help Eliza find the truth- her first love. But soon, their search for answers threatens to unravel the life she’s rebuilt in a dramatically changed Hawaii.

“Malia Mattoch McManus paints loving and vivid images of Hawaii in the late 1800s, through the eyes of a strong, woman living through the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and her own tumultuous young life. The fictional story is not only a compelling narrative…it also depicts an intimate look at a sad moment in Hawaii’s history,” said Roy Kimura, former vice president of creative services – PBS Hawaii in a book review.

After a decade reporting and anchoring at KHON in Honolulu, my former colleague began researching Dragonfruit. Parts of her own family arrived in Hawai`i in the 1800’s as both ship captains and sugar plantation workers.

Dragonfruit is McManus’s second published book but first novel. (Congratulations, Malia!) She also wrote The Hawaiian House Now and continues to write and report for local publications. She lives on O`ahu with her family.

For more information about Malia Mattoch McManus and Dragonfruit, visit

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Diane Ako

Peace of mind By Diane Ako I like to reflect on life. Sometimes it’s philosophically. Sometimes it’s humorously. For all its beauty, life is far too difficult a journey to take alone. You need the support and connection with others to help carry you along the way. Writing brings me that connection– within and without. It clarifies my thoughts and feelings. It helps me reach out to others for advice, wisdom, or feedback. Your thoughts become your actions. Your actions become you. A wise yogi- Patanjali- said, “Speak what is true. Speak what is pleasant.” Let’s speak of things pleasant to one another and seek some peace of mind along the way. ABOUT Diane Ako joined Hawaii: In Real Life in October 2016. She likes being part of a community of local bloggers – people who like writing and sharing, like she does. Ako is an anchor/ reporter at Island News (KITV4 – ABC) in Honolulu. She previously anchored and reported at KHON2 (FOX) and KHNL (NBC), and at stations in California, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. She freelance writes for NMG Network's magazines. In between news jobs, in 2017, she launched and ran her own p.r. company, Diane Ako PR. From 2010-2014, she headed the public relations department at Halekulani Corporation, which oversees luxury resort Halekulani and boutique hotel Waikiki Parc. She’s been blogging since 2009 – before Hawaii: IRL, she wrote for The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the state’s largest daily newspaper, where her stories garnered a dozen journalism awards and an Emmy nomination. Ako has a BA in Communications from Menlo College and an MA in Political Science from University of Hawaii at Manoa. She volunteers as a board member of the Honolulu Gay & Lesbian Cultural Foundation, a Shinto shrine maiden at Daijingyu Temple, a citizen-scientist studying shrimp, and a yoga teacher at a senior center.

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