A twist on ‘Romeo and Juliet’: BYU-Hawaii graduate’s new book looks to appeal to young adults

Written by: 
Tucker Grimshaw~Multimedia Journalist

BYU-Hawaii alumna, Kealohilani Wallace, is in talks with Hollywood about her recently published book, “Romeo Killed Juliet.”

Wallace graduated from BYU-Hawaii in 2010 with a degree in international business with a digital media emphasis and a minor in Polynesian studies. After college, she pursued a career in the film industry. She worked on films such as, “Soul Surfer,” “Battleship” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” Wallace, recently took time off to work on her writing because Sean McNamara, director of “Soul Surfer, encouraged her.

In “‘Romeo killed Juliet,’ the main protagonist is 22, and the other characters are around her age,” said Wallace. The setting is Bend, Oregon. She said, “It’s kind of an adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ It’s a modern twist and I take my own liberties with it.”

“Romeo Killed Juliet” is filled with gospel truths. “It’s kind of funny because when I meet with Hollywood, since they don’t understand the Mormon beliefs, they are always like, ‘This is so deep, and where did you get this stuff?’ They are pointing to stuff that is LDS doctrine.” Wallace looks at her writing as a tool that will help her share the gospel.

People have said “Romeo Killed Juliet” makes abstinence popular, said Wallace. “If someone is reading it and they want to take the truth out of it, it’s there. The ones who just want a story, it’s a story,” she said. The novel is found on amazon.com for $4.99. The amazon app can be downloaded for free on any device.

Wallace has not always had a positive view of writing. She said, “When I was younger I hated it.” In her secondary schooling at Kahuku High School, she said she received good marks in English classes and scored well in the writing section of the ACT, but creative writing was something she despised.

While at BYUH, Wallace noticed a turning point in her writing career when she took Dr. Randall Allred’s English 315H film adaptation class. Her love for creative writing and film grew as she focused on different film adaptations, including Gaston Leroux’s, “The Phantom of the Opera.” Dr. Allred said, “I never found her at a loss, or with nothing to contribute.” She is very bright, he remarked.

Wallace said writing was a reward she gave herself after she finished homework during college. For her, writing is like watching a movie that she is transcribing.

Her creative writing took another sudden turn when she took history 201H. One day the class was covering geography, and she created another world on paper. This world was the basis for her “Half-Hearts trilogy.”

According to Wallace, the “‘Half-Hearts trilogy’ is my epic and my baby, for lack of a better word.” In this trilogy, she created the “Half-Hearts legend.” Wallace said, “The legend of the Half-Hearts is that in every generation, on this other planet called Alamea, there are 24 Half-Hearts born; 12 girls and 12 boys. The universe selects them before they are even born to be half hearts.”

In the legend, the female and male Half-Hearts search for one another, said Wallace. If the Half-Hearts find one another and fall in love and get married, “they can tip the balance from evil back to good and start reclaiming their lands,” she said, “The only problem is that the Half-Hearts don’t know who they are.”

While the Half-Hearts search for one another there is an “… evil one, who has been around since before the beginning of time and knows everyone. He knows who [half hearts] are. If [half hearts] get close to meeting, then he’ll throw spells at them to make them unfaithful or contentious to break them up. If all else fails, he kills them.” This trilogy, although not yet published, is in talks with Hollywood, said Wallace.

“With ‘Romeo Killed Juliet’ and with my ‘Half-Heart’s’ series, I am a proponent of young love. I think that our society has crushed it severely,” said Wallace. Saving self for marriage is not forced to but is found throughout her books. Wallace promotes the ideal that it is sexier to wait. “It is more about finding the right one. If you find the right one and you’re 21 then I just believe in going for it. “This aspect, found in her writing, sets Wallace apart from other writers, who write for the same audience.

Wallace writes for the echo boomer generation, which includes ages 18 to 35. This generation is rarely published, said Wallace. “When the publisher’s publish for this age group they think we want erotic stuff,” she said. Wallace is having a hard time getting a publisher because she does not write material the publisher’s think this age group wants. “I did not set out to be different,” she remarked.

According to Wallace, “The new adult genre does get read, but our age group just reads it because they want stories with protagonists their age. We are trying to find something similar to Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, to read next, all of which are relatively clean.” The ABC network covered this phenomenon and one of the female New Adult Fans they interviewed said that it is not because of the erotic content that she and others read those books. They read the books in spite of it, she said.

Echo boomers account for 1/3 of the United States population, said Wallace. Publishers are more concerned with publishing for young adults (YA), which includes ages 11 to 17, and adults, which includes ages 30 and up, she remarked. She said that the publishers rarely notice the wants of the echo boomer generation. Wallace has taken it upon herself to help change the viewpoints of the publishers and show that the echo boomers want clean, entertaining novels.

For more info on Wallace and her novel visit www.KealohilaniWallace.com and www.RomeoKilledJuliet.com