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Historical novel weaves fiction and history from Kamehameha’s unification of Hawaiʻi

Olohana in the service of a king
Kevin William O'Leary/Nick Bers
"Olohana: In the Service of the King," written by Kevin William O'Leary and illustrated by Nick Bers

For National Book Month, we highlight a recently published historical fiction novel about a real-life sailor named John Young who crewed aboard the American ship Eleanor and got left behind in Hawaiʻi in the late 1700s. Young was given the name Olohana by the Hawaiians and became an important military advisor to King Kamehameha I during the formation of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Kevin William O’Leary, author of "Olohana: In the Service of the King," spoke with The Conversation about the challenges of writing fiction based on historical events.

The book is available on Amazon. This interview aired on The Conversation on Oct. 3, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Russell Subiono is the executive producer of The Conversation. Born in Honolulu and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, he’s spent the last decade working in local film, television and radio. Contact him at
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