Now Playing

Paging: Possibilities!

After the worldwide success of The Descendants, Kaui Hart Hemmings is back with a new novel.

Hemmings’ Hots: Loud dining, adventure, giving, spontaneous pau hanas, succinctness

Hemmings’ Nots: Fine dining, tour buses, galas, parties requiring tons of group-email planning, asterisks

It’s an exhilarating time for Kaui Hart Hemmings, who soon will reveal the next chapter in her journey as a writer. Her new novel, The Possibilities, arrives late spring. And although it’s only her third published book (and second novel), island literati await to see what artful vision has been crafted by the Maunawili author, who ascended into global publishing heights when her first novel, The Descendants, not just earned critical accolades, but was made into the Academy Award-winning film directed by Alexander Payne and starred George Clooney. For her next literary outing, Hemmings ventures off island. The Possibilities takes place in a small ski resort in Breckenridge, Colo., and Colorado Springs—places quite familiar to the Punahou grad and O‘ahu native. She attended Colorado College, met her husband in Breckenridge and, altogether, spent more than six years in the state. “It’s a place that’s dear to me,” she says, adding that she actually began writing the story before penning The Descendants, then picked it up again a few years later.

The story centers on Sarah St. John, a single mother and morning TV host whose 21-year-old son has died in an avalanche. As Sarah grieves, a girl unexpectedly arrives in her life, carrying her son’s child. Hemmings acknowledges the similarities to The Descendants, in that both stories are somewhat dark family tragedies, told with the “same realistic, humorous tone and voice,” as she puts it. “It’s purely fiction, yet all the places are real. I tried to capture a place that hasn’t been seen in literature.”

Now, as Hemmings waits for the novel’s debut and her impending book tour, she knows the scrutiny will come, but she is invigorated by the challenge. She’s already finished the first draft of a new book, which once again is set in the islands. And she remains focused on raising her two young children, nurturing a social life and writing. “I’ve been working the whole time,” she says. “Nothing has changed that much, even during filmmaking for The Descendants. I wrote. I took the kids to school. I cleaned the house. And I had dinner with George Clooney.”