Going ‘Missing’

Steven Dabney’s spacey novel is a labor of love, decades in the making

Steven Dabney moved to Maui in 1968. In the early ‘70s, he formed a band called, fittingly, Supernatural. He wrote about various watermen—including, fair disclosure, for the old MauiTime—and was one himself. He partied. He got himself into and out of some trouble. He settled into Makawao.

Now, he’s published a book, titled “Missing Link.”

Courtesy Steven Dabney

Dabney came into our Wailuku office toting an energetic, fetching little brown dog tugging on its leash and a pair of freshly picked avocados to give away (the avocados, not the dog). 

He started writing his novel, published through Atlanta-based Westwood Books (westwoodbookpublishing.com), in the ‘90s. He describes it, with a wink and a chuckle, as “basically a history of the world.” It’s a work of fiction, but it weaves in real people and familiar places. Dabney said the response, thus far, has been positive.

“I used their names, got permission,” he said. “They all had a good read out of it, and they all say they’re loving it.” (We’ll leave spoilers aside for longtime Maui residents who will get a kick out of the references and call-outs.)

How does it feel to have finished something he’s been working on so long? “It feels like completing an emotional s–t,” Dabney said with a wry laugh. Now, he’s working on another one, as-yet-untitled. “I’ve got a few pages,” he said. “I just have to let the inspiration flow when it does.”

“Missing Link” involves aliens and Atlaneans and clean energy and…well, a lot of things. It’s sprawling, jumping through places and spaces and time. It can lose you in moments. But Dabney’s writing is distinct, his voice is engaging, and the yarn he weaves is worth following to the end. 

Here are two excerpts from a true Maui character’s magnum opus:

The migration of the birds, discordant, was the first sign. What normally were harmonious patterns of flight, the flocks had abandoned their symmetric shapes. Gone were the flying wedges, only to be replaced by chaos, as if they were trying to run away from something, but there was nowhere to escape. All were flying in different directions, turning around, then trying another way as if attempting to flee from something unseen.

Their screeching was another hint. No sing-song chirping, only the sounds of utter panic as if they were being chased by some form of predator, yet there was nothing, just a feeling…a paranoid wail as if their lives were in danger from some unseen force which was yet to appear.

It’s not that very odd things hadn’t been happening lately, since the Higher Ones had arrived and bestowed upon the Lemurian inhabitants what they called ‘the gift.’ Everything had been changing rapidly.

It was possible that the birds’ actions were the result of one of the new air machines passing somewhere close by, or perhaps the rumors were true that the Elders were using their newfound energy source to control the weather. Things certainly were very different. …

The headless people in the smoke-filled room were somewhat apprehensive. A stranger in their midst was out of the ordinary. To the best of their knowledge it had never happened before. And most likely would never happen again. But here he was, in the middle of the surrounding tables that were occupied by a member of the Trust, a stranger in their midst, albeit a blindfolded one at that. Violet had called it mandatory that he wear one.

Any attempt on his part to keep track of where they were going would be met with severe recrimination; as in, not living to see the light of another day. …”

Jacob Shafer