Tim’s NaNoWriMo Tips

Starting your first NaNoWriMo can be a daunting experience, but never fear! Our resident NaNoWriMo veteran Tim will give you the low-down on what to expect during your thirty day writing epic – including tips and tricks to help you through those more challenging times at the keyboard!

Did you do much planning before your first NaNoWriMo?

The planning I did on my first NaNoWriMo really made things difficult because I had a story I wanted to tell – and when it wasn’t working I just stopped. This was failed attempt #1. The trick is to remember the goal of this challenge: to hit the word count. What I learned from that experience was the planning caused me to have an additional goal which got in the way of the first. If you are able to get away with writing a complete novel you’ve had planned out in one month – good oh! But it seems like everybody I talk to who has tried the challenge learned to loosen up on the planning and allow the story to carry its own momentum.

What were your thoughts after your first day’s writing? How did this change throughout the month?

Every year I try NaNoWriMo I feel very disheartened after my first day. It’s like going for a jog for the first time in ages. It sucks! But the trick is not minding that it sucks. That’s why the whole online community is so great. There are subreddits and hashtags you can latch onto and remember you aren’t alone. In recent years, NaNoWriMo has become rather big on YouTube – so you can actually *see* you aren’t alone too! Real life face-to-face meet ups organized by communities – like the group that meets up in the Central library – are a really good way to get accountable. It wasn’t until after my second attempt at the challenge that I realized I couldn’t write this many words while alone on my laptop in my bed after a full day’s work. It was too tempting to just watch a TV show instead.

Did the intensity of NaNoWriMo help or change your writing in unexpected ways?

The intensity of NaNoWriMo forced me to shed a lot of silly stylistic rituals and habits I’d picked up from years of trying to be a ‘serious writer’. There are days when you just want to blab the words out onto your text editor and go to sleep. Or get on with your day. This is a Good Thing. Because when you stop being so self-conscious with your writing it’s always way better. I think there is a weird doubt we all have that if each sentence isn’t clever then readers will think we aren’t worth reading. But this is a fallacy. Just write.

Do you have any tips or tricks for getting through those harder moments?

Gripe! Gripe to your friends and to your flatmates and to your partner and to your pet. This way, everyone can know how interesting and creative you are for attempting to write a novel in a month. I also sincerely recommend showers. Just go stand in the shower and give yourself a pep talk. Pump some beats. Yeah, you got this. You are a writer. The novel might end up a bit shabby but by gosh you are actually writing!

How did it feel to complete 50,000 words?

I don’t know. I’ve never completed 50,000 words. I think it probably feels like sending off a university assignment when you close all the tabs of research. Or maybe it feels like when your bus has all green lights in the morning and you actually get to work on time. Or perhaps like a cool lemon lime bitters with like one ice in it and you’re part of the first wave of humans exploring intergalactic space. Who knows! Some do.

What happened to the non-writing areas of your life during NaNoWriMo, and do you have any advice in regards to this?

To be honest, if you aren’t a very organized person you are going to fail NaNoWriMo. Most likely. Because unless you already have up to an hour of every day carved out for ‘creative activities’ then something will suffer. And it would be great if it was your mindless internet browsing time but let’s be honest – that usually isn’t what is sacrificed. Just remember to shower. Also, it should be noted that having the free time to do NaNoWriMo is quite a privilege. Many people in New Zealand and the rest of the world DO NOT have a spare second to do something so silly and awesome.

What happened to your NaNoWriMo writing after November?

Nothing. I always hide mine. They are so embarrassing! This is something I obviously need to work out in therapy. But if you want a good time, check out Twitter for silly first lines of NaNoWriMo novels. So when you are writing your great November Novel, just remember: that’s your bar. That’s your company. Now get out there and take a jump!

 

New non-fiction for your ears

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to talk to an extraterrestrial, wonder no longer, because this month’s new eAudiobook non-fiction from Overdrive includes Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Other Minds, a critically acclaimed examination of the octopus – “the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien.” And if you’d like something more mammalian, we’ve got a range of other great titles from authors including Bill Bryson, Caitlin Moran and Hillary Clinton.

Overdrive cover Gastrophysics, by Charles Spence
“Why do we consume 35% more food when eating with one more person, and 75% more when with three? Why are 27% of drinks bought on aeroplanes tomato juice? How are chefs and companies planning to transform our dining experiences, and what can we learn from their cutting-edge insights to make memorable meals at home? These are just some of the ingredients of Gastrophysics.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson
“Bill Bryson’s first travel book opened with the immortal line, ‘I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.’ In his deeply funny new memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, and the curious world of 1950s America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Moranifesto, by Caitlin Moran
“This is Caitlin’s engaging and amusing rallying call for our times. Combining the best of her recent columns with lots of new writing unique to this book, Caitlin deals with topics as pressing and diverse as 1980s swearing, benefits, boarding schools and why the internet is like a drunken toddler.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Other Minds, by Peter Godfrey-Smith
“Peter Godfrey-Smith explores the incredible evolutionary journey of the cephalopods, which began as inconspicuous molluscs who would later abandon their shells to rise above the ocean floor, acquiring the greater intelligence needed to do so – a journey completely independent from the route that mammals and birds would later take.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull
“Ed Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques, honed over years, that have made Pixar so widely admired—and so profitable. Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve centre of Pixar Animation Studios.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Vacationland, by John Hodgman
“Though wildly, Hodgmaniacally funny, John Hodgman’s Vacationland is also a poignant and sincere account of one human facing his forties, those years when men in particular must stop pretending to be the children of bright potential they were and settle into the failing bodies of the wiser, weird dads that they are.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton
“For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Man from the Train, by Bill James
“Using unprecedented, dramatically compelling sleuthing techniques, legendary statistician and baseball writer Bill James applies his analytical acumen to crack an unsolved century-old mystery surrounding one of the deadliest serial killers in American history.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Wellington author interview: Pip Adam

Author image by Victoria Birkinshaw

Spacious open plan living. Nest or invest. Classy urban retreat. If you’ve spent a bit of time browsing real estate brochures, you’ve probably read these words before. But there’s another, darker story of renting and home ownership in New Zealand, one without floor plans or glossy full-page photos: The New Animals, by Pip Adam.

Adam’s work has appeared in a range of journals and anthologies, with her short story collection Everything We Hoped For published in 2010 and her debut novel I’m Working on a Building in 2013. She’s been described as “the woman who is making literature subversive fun in this country again… The most wired-in to the seething discontent below the housing bubble.” So put down the brochure and get a copy of The New Animals today!

The blurb for The New Animals references intergenerational tension, however the story also looks at tensions of class, wealth and gender. What was it like shaping a story around these conflicts?

I always think conflict and complexity give ‘life’ to stories. It seems like a boringly obvious thing to say but it is also constantly a surprise to me. I often use writing to sort out things that confuse me about life and I guess confusion is often a state of conflict for me – one idea against another, or maybe things acting in ways that don’t gel with my world view that cause a disruption to the things I believe and understand. For me it is always scary writing about people who I am not, but I have always loved the idea of trying to imagine myself into a mindset that seems confusing to me. Like often I might see someone do something and I have this idea that people always act in ways they see as ‘good’ or ‘right’. I’ve met lots of people and no one ever seems to make decisions by thinking ‘this is wrong thing to do’, even people who have broken the law. So yeah, I am always interested in trying to imagine myself into a mindset that would see decisions I see as odd as the ‘right’ decision.​ I enjoyed it particularly in this work because it was a bit like Sudoko or those tile puzzles, where someone would act and there would be a domino tumble of other people being forced to act.

You recently talked about your relationship with fashion – its power and ability to answer societal questions, but also its environmental impact. How did you approach this in The New Animals, especially with fashion playing such a large role in the story?

I am really interested in design of all types, particularly the form and function, or form versus function. Before I started the book I had this love of fashion which I think was a hangover from my hairdressing days. Like I loved seeing how fashion changed and yeah, also I really like looking at beautiful things. For this book I started taking a more intense interest. I became a rampant foll​ower of fashionable people and people in the fashion industry. I just consumed everything I could. I visited shops as well, touched the clothes, saw them on the hangar and on people. I was also really interested in the history of fashion and some of the theories around fashion. I am especially obsessed with the work of Rei Kawakubo and the way she deconstructs the human form. I love the play of her work but also the real seriousness and almost horror of some of her work. I am also quite obsessed with Alexander McQueen’s life and work – in a lot of cases the violence of it. One of the hard things about writing about fashion is that it is often talked about in quite ‘light’ ways. I had to read very deeply to find the language that had weight and importance. There is a risk that fashion can seem shallow because, I think, it is ephemeral and seems to be about adornment when often it is about so much more.

The New Animals is very grounded in Auckland. How do you think the city’s geography helped with the story?

I really love Auckland. I grew up there and I visit a lot.​ It’s interesting you ask about geography because I think it is a really interesting city that way. Like you have that massive volcanic basin that is the harbour and then you have that network of volcanoes that have formed Mt Wellington and Mt Eden and, yeah, I often think of Auckland as this volatile place. My parents live close to Stonefields which is a development built on the site of an old quarry. Auckland has this feeling for me of land acted on. Land in flux, land in change and to me this book is a lot about that, about change and fluidity and evolution and I think walking around Auckland, travelling over it which I did heaps of for this book it’s impossible not to feel that. For instance, the train I catch a lot from Glen Innes travels over the Orakei Basin, this incredibly changeable place. If the tide is in, it looks like a body of water, but when the tide is out it transforms into this muddy almost wasteland. Everything that was covered by the water is exposed. I like that as an image as well, the way things can be exposed by changes in environment. Tides are a big part of my thinking around this book. The way the moon pulls these huge bodies of water around, the way they kind of create these weather patterns deep below us. And then don’t even get me started about how humans began as fish, how the ocean must have some strange pull on us still.

One aspect that really stood out was the friendship between Carla and Duey, with the contrast between their interactions and their personal thoughts, and their awareness of the friendship’s decline. Was this relationship a difficult one to write?

For a long time, in the writing process, Carla and Duey had been lovers and it just wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. We so often place the ‘sex’ relation above all other intimate relationships. I am really interested in friendship. I find it so interesting. What keeps friendships alive is so complicated but also so purely unselfish. I liked the idea that Carla and Duey were at a stage where the relationship (as if it were a separate thing from the two people in it) was in decline, like despite all their care and thought for each other nothing was going to save it. It was difficult to write because I don’t read many books about friendships that are like that, so in a way the models I had were very much about love and sex relationships. So it took some sorting out, like some real close work. The other thing that I loved about writing that relationship is that I think it is pretty cool how humans can think one thing and then act in a better way. I love how we do that for each other. I guess also, finally, I was interested in deconstructing some of the ‘work’ we do in human relationships. Like, I find people pretty confusing sometimes, a lot of the relating stuff doesn’t come automatically to me. So, I am often thinking a lot about what the right thing to say is or what a person is saying (like actually saying). It was fun to make some of that work apparent, to sort of uncover that and show it.

Reviews of The New Animals have generated some discussion about New Zealand literature and the reviewing process. What has it been like seeing the passion your work has brought out in people?

Writing is a weird thing. I really like the part of writing that takes place in a room by myself. I love working on something, like really working on something – crafting it and messing it up and having to fix it and ​living with it. I find I get so ‘into’ that work (like I literally feel like I climb inside the story) that I forget that other people will read it. So yeah, sometimes publication is a bit of a shock. Like I remember after my first book was published someone I didn’t know said to me, ‘I read your book,’ and I was like, ‘I never said you could.’ I just forget that people will read it. So, it’s pretty amazing when people I respect say they like what I’ve written. People will email me and tell me in person and it means heaps because I’ve sort of ‘shown my hand’ as a human. I’ve said, ‘I made this. I think this is how life is awesome,’ and when someone says, ‘I see what you’ve made and it made me think this is how I think life is awesome,’ that is just incredible. I love how art can do that and I’m not sure much else can. I put a lot of stake in passion. I love the way, in my life, I have been granted the opportunity to come into contact with many people who make me feel passionate and I just get fired up about the idea that our work sort of sparks off each other. Like no matter what is going on. No matter what other people are saying about our work, we can sustain ourselves. It’s like the biggest collaboration. Because although I love those times by myself working, I am never far from the work of others, I will be reading those writers to keep me going, to keep me passionate.

Pip Adam's The New Animals

Delectable new Overdrive fiction

With its sourdough bread, fresh honey and Pu’er tea, this month’s new eBook fiction from Overdrive has a definite culinary theme. Of course food is never just food: it can be a symbol of familial love, culture, or, in Maja Lunde’s The History of Bees, a warning of what’s to come. So head over to the elibrary and join us for this literary feast!

Overdrive cover Refuge–A Novel, by Dina Nayeri
“An Iranian girl escapes to America as a child, but her father stays behind. Over twenty years, daughter and father know each other from only four crucial visits. The longer they are apart, the more their lives diverge, but also the more each comes to need the other’s wisdom and, ultimately, rescue.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Whispers Through a Megaphone, by Rachel Elliott
“Miriam hasn’t left her house in three years, and cannot raise her voice above a whisper. But today she has had enough, and is finally ready to rejoin the outside world. Filled with wit and sparkling prose, Whispers Through a Megaphone explores our attempts to meaningfully connect with ourselves and others, in an often deafening world.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Highland Fling, by Anna Larner
“Eve Eddison describes her ideal woman to her best friend, Roxanne, over pints in their local pub a few days before she travels to the Scottish Highlands. There she falls head over heels for an enigmatic local, Moira Burns, and the usually reticent Eve wants more than a holiday romance.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The History of Bees, by Maja Lunde
“England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant who sets out to build a new type of beehive. United States, 2007. George is a beekeeper and fights an uphill battle against modern farming. China, 2098. Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have disappeared. The History of Bees joins three different narratives into one gripping and thought provoking story.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover A Casualty of War, by Charles Todd
“Though the Great War is nearing its end, the fighting rages on. While waiting for transport to her post, Bess Crawford meets Captain Alan Travis from Barbados. Later, when he’s brought to her disoriented from a head wound, Bess is alarmed that he believes his cousin, Lieutenant James Travis, shot him. Bess’s quest for the truth will bring her face-to-face with the wounds of war that not even peace can heal.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Michael Tolliver Lives, by Armistead Maupin
“Michael Tolliver, the sweet-spirited Southerner in Armistead Maupin’s classic Tales of the City series, is arguably the most beloved gay character in fiction. Now, almost twenty years after ending his groundbreaking saga of San Francisco life, Maupin revisits his all-too-human hero, letting the 55-year-old gardener tell his story in his own voice.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Dewey Decimal System, by Nathan Larson
“After a flu pandemic, a terrorist attack and the collapse of Wall Street, New York City is a shadow of its former self. As the city struggles to dig itself out of the wreckage, a nameless, obsessive-compulsive veteran has taken up residence at the New York Public Library. Dubbed “Dewey Decimal”, he must face the darkness of his past and the question of his buried identity.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Sourdough, by Robin Sloan
“Lois Clary, an engineer at a San Francisco robotics company, codes all day. When her favourite sandwich shop closes up, the owners leave her with the starter for their mouth-watering bread. Soon she is baking loaves daily and taking them to the farmer’s market, where a close-knit club runs the show. But when Lois discovers another, more secret market, aiming to fuse food and technology, a whole other world opens up. But who are these people, exactly?” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Endless Love, by Scott Spencer
“Seventeen-year-old David Axelrod is consumed with his love for Jade Butterfield. So when Jade’s father exiles him from their home, David does the only thing he thinks is rational: he burns down their house. Sentenced to a psychiatric institution, David’s obsession metastasizes, and upon his release, he sets out to win the Butterfields back by any means necessary.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, by Lisa See
“Li-yan and her family align their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. There is ritual and routine, and it has been ever thus for generations. Then one day a jeep appears at the village gate—the first automobile any of them have seen—and their world will soon change forever.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Starting over & facing fears : New eAudiobook Fiction

The characters in this month’s new eAudiobook fiction from Overdrive are a restless bunch. Some are battling unstable relationships, others unreliable friends. A few are struggling to discover the truth about devastating events, while others are erasing those events by going back in time. And while time-travel might not be an option for us right now, there are bound to be other solutions to life’s problems – read your way towards them with our eLibrary.

Overdrive cover George and Lizzie, by Nancy Pearl
“George and Lizzie have radically different understandings of what love and marriage should be. George grew up in a warm and loving family, while Lizzie grew up as the only child of two famous psychologists. Over the course of their marriage, nothing has changed—George is happy; Lizzie remains…unfulfilled. When a shameful secret from Lizzie’s past resurfaces, she’ll need to face her fears in order to accept the true nature of the relationship.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Impossible Views of the World, by Lucy Ives
“Stella Krakus, curator at Manhattan’s Central Museum of Art, is having the roughest week in approximately ever. Her ex-husband is stalking her, a workplace romance is in free-fall and a beloved colleague, Paul, has gone missing. But the appearance of a mysterious map sends Stella on an all-consuming research mission. She discovers the unbearable secret that Paul’s been keeping, and charts a course out of the chaos of her own life.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Looking Glass War, by John le Carré
“When word reaches ‘The Department’ – an ailing section of British intelligence – that Soviet missiles are being installed close to the West German border, it seems the perfect opportunity to show their rivals that The Department still has value. Former spy Fred Leiser is lured back from retirement to investigate, but the world has changed since The Department’s glory days, and there is no place for heroes…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Goddesses, by Swan Huntley
“When Nancy and her family arrive in Hawaii, they are desperate for a fresh start. Nancy’s husband has cheated on her; they sleep in separate bedrooms and their twin sons have been acting out. But Hawaii is paradise. Nancy starts taking a yoga class and there she meets Ana, the charismatic teacher. As Nancy grows closer to Ana she feels a happiness unlike anything she’s ever experienced, and knows she will do anything Ana asks of her…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty
“Summoned to a case of apparent possession, Father Karras is at first sceptical, then horrified. The victim – a 12-year-old girl named Regan – seems to be controlled by a malign supernatural force that makes her swear, blaspheme, scream in agony and perform appalling acts. Attempting to find a rational explanation, Karras finds himself locking horns with the demon inside her head. He must turn to the ultimate solution: exorcism…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Tornado Weather, by Deborah E. Kennedy
“Five-year-old Daisy Gonzalez’s father is always waiting for her at the bus stop. But today, he isn’t, and Daisy disappears. Nearly everyone in town suspects or knows something different about what happened. And they also know a lot about each other. They are all connected, in ways small and profound, open and secret.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Edge of Tomorrow (Movie Tie-in Edition), by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
“When the alien Mimics invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armour called a Jacket and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On his 158th iteration, he gets a message from a mysterious ally. Is she the key to Keiji’s escape or his final death?” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover All Our Wrong Todays, by Elan Mastai
“Tom lives in a perfect world: no war, no poverty, no under-ripe avocados. . . oh, and time travel. When he loses the love of his life, going back to fix it seems like the only answer. . . what could possibly go wrong? Elan Mastai’s breakthrough novel brings a whole new dimension to a classic love story.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Wellington author spotlight: Geoff Cochrane

Author image by Grant Maiden

A city’s image is always complex, and Wellington is no exception. For over 150 years it’s had to contend with being a capital city; being in the middle of the country; being on unstable ground. From these complexities an identity has emerged, what Lonely Planet described as “a little city with a big rep”. But beside this identity is another, more marginal Wellington, and one writer has been described as the “keeper of its keys”: Geoff Cochrane.

Public Relations

My barista asks me where he can find my books, and
I’m not exactly thrilled by this development. My barista
thinks I’m a great bloke, currently, and I don’t want him
reading my books and changing his mind.

Cochrane has lived in Wellington for most of his life. While he started writing at an early age, it wasn’t until Victoria University Press released Aztec Noon: Poems 1976-1992 that he first found a home at a mainstream publisher. He has gone on to win numerous awards, including the Janet Frame Prize for Poetry and a 2014 Laureate Award, as well as regular appearances in Best New Zealand Poems.

Despite these accolades, Cochrane’s work continues to evoke Wellington’s physical–and literary–boundaries. His latest poetry collection, RedEdits, takes the reader to the Warehouse in Rongotai, to A&E, to his barista. It reveals the butt of his cigarettes, a drop of his blood, a verandah in Levin.

Points of Interest

Sand and water make up 99% of fracking fluid.
Winston Churchill did without a close male friend.
Nembutal is the trade name of sodium pentobarbital.
Michelangelo completed his Pietà at the age of 25.

(According to Martin Amis, wars get old.
Get grizzled and smelly and rotten and mad,
and the bigger they are the faster they age.)

Cochrane’s writing has been called “one of the great pleasures” of New Zealand literature. Writer Pip Adam has described it as “a joy to me, a solace, a proof that art can be made in New Zealand which shows ourselves in new ways.” To discover this proof for yourself, check out RedEdits at Wellington City Libraries.

 

Exciting new eBook Fiction in September

With everything that’s happened over the last six years, it can be easy to forget that in 2011, Egypt – and much of the world – was in the midst of the Arab Spring. This month, Overdrive takes you back to that year of social and political potential with what has been described as an “astonishing” new novel: The City Always Wins, by Omar Robert Hamilton. Sign up today to check out this, and many other great titles.

Overdrive cover The City Always Wins, by Omar Robert Hamilton
“On the streets of Cairo, a violent uprising is transforming the course of modern history. Mariam and Khalil, two young activists, are swept up in the political fervour. Their lives will never be the same again. Brave, visceral, and electric with tension, Omar Robert Hamilton’s debut novel uniquely captures the feverish intensity of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Roots, by Alex Haley
Roots: The Saga of an American Family tells the story of Kunta Kinte, an 18th-century African, captured as an adolescent and sold into slavery in the United States, and later follows his life and the lives of his descendants. The release of the novel led to a cultural sensation in the United States, and it is considered to be one of the most important U.S. works of the 20th century.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Boyracers, by Alan Bissett
“Meet sixteen-year-old Alvin. Poet. Virgin. Confused. Adopted by ‘the Lads’ – three older boys with a car called Belinda and four wheels to anywhere – he begins the crazy road-trip from adolescence to adulthood. Boyracers is adored by a generation of Scottish teenagers for its humour, optimistic spirit and inventive narrative style.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Love at First Flight, by Tess Woods
“Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, her picture-perfect life unravels. Seated on the plane she meets Matt, and for the first time ever she falls in love. What begins as a flirty conversation quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with consequences that neither Mel nor Matt seems capable of facing.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Monkey Grip, by Helen Garner
“Inner-suburban Melbourne in the 1970s: a world of communal living, drugs, music and love. In this acclaimed first novel, Helen Garner captures the fluid relationships of a community of friends who are living and loving in new ways.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong
“Ruth is thirty and her life is falling apart: she and her fiancé are moving house, but he’s moving out to live with another woman; her career is going nowhere; and then she learns that her father has Alzheimer’s. At Christmas, her mother begs her to stay on and help. For a year. Goodbye, Vitamin is the wry, beautifully observed story of a woman at a crossroads.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Old Deep and Dark, by Ellen Hart
“Renowned theater director Cordelia Thorn is working to restore a historic theater that she and her actress sister recently bought. Cordelia has a vision for the playhouse’s future, but the more she learns about the building, the more fascinated she becomes by its past. Nicknamed “The Old Deep and Dark”, there are a wealth of secrets hidden inside its walls. And, to her shock, a body…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden
“In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, an elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family. But for the young, wild Vasya these are far more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home, and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Shape of Bones, by Daniel Galera
“A man rises at 5 a.m. and leaves his home. As the dawn comes on, he drives toward the old neighbourhood of his youth. What is pulling him back there? Perhaps the need to make something happen, perhaps just nostalgia. Or perhaps the search for absolution – from a crime he has carried in his heart for fifteen years.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Marlborough Man, by Alan Carter
“Nick Chester is working as a sergeant for the Havelock police, at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. If the river isn’t flooded and the land hasn’t slipped, it’s paradise. Unless you are also hiding from a ruthless man with a grudge, in which case, remote beauty has its own kind of danger. In the last couple of weeks, two locals have vanished. Their bodies are found, but the Pied Piper is still at large…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

New eBook Fiction

Each winter, Icelanders brace themselves for the jólabókaflóð, or ‘Christmas Book Flood’. Christmas day is spent not at the bach or beach, but tucked up in bed with a pile of new novels. And while it’s still a few months until Christmas, why not embrace the jólabókaflóð tradition and keep out the darkness with a great new range of ebooks from Overdrive? As they say in Reykjavik, “On with the butter!”

Overdrive cover A Horse Walks into a Bar, by David Grossman
Winner of the Man Book Prize 2017. The setting is a comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience that has come expecting an evening of amusement instead sees a comedian falling apart on stage. Dovaleh G, a veteran stand-up comic – charming, erratic, repellent – exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Congo Dawn, by Katherine Scholes
“Melbourne secretary Anna Emerson’s life is turned upside down when a stranger hands her a plane ticket to the Congo. The newly independent country is in turmoil, Simba rebels are on the move – but the invitation holds a precious clue to the whereabouts of her estranged father. Inspired by real events, Congo Dawn combines epic drama with an intimate journey into the heart of a fractured family.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Fletcher of the Bounty, by Graeme Lay
“On 28 April 1789 Fletcher and his followers take control of HMAV Bounty. What follows is a story brimming with conflict as Fletcher, his fellow-mutineers and their Tahitian women attempt to build a new society on remote Pitcairn Island. But their attempts are doomed, as envy, lust and racism destroy the Utopia that Fletcher and Isabella dreamed of. This is historical fiction at its finest.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Solar Bones, by Mike McCormack
“Marcus Conway has come a long way to stand in the kitchen of his home and remember the rhythms and routines of his life. Deconstructing with his engineer’s mind how things are built to consider them better: bridges, banking systems and marriages. In one of the first great Irish novels of the 21st century, Mike McCormack captures a whole life, suspended in a single hour.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Beautiful Messy Love, by Tess Woods
“When football star Nick Harding hobbles into the Black Salt Cafe the morning after the night before, he is served by Anna, a waitress with haunted-looking eyes and no interest in footballers, famous or otherwise. Nick is instantly drawn to this exotic, intelligent girl. But a relationship between them risks shame for her conservative refugee family and backlash for Nick that could ruin his career.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Anna, by Niccolo Ammaniti
“It is some years since a virus killed all the adults. Brave, stubborn thirteen-year-old Anna looks after her brother Astor in the cottage where their mother’s skeleton rests, lovingly decorated, in a locked bedroom. But then Astor starts to question Anna’s version of the world—and suddenly, everything will change.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover A Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge
A Hugo award-winning Novel. Fleeing a galactic threat, Ravna crash-lands on a strange world with a ship-hold full of cryogenically frozen children. They are quickly taken captive by the Tines, a dog-like race of aliens with a harsh medieval culture. Will anyone come to save them, or will Ravna be caught in the power struggle to come?” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover If Snow Hadn’t Fallen, by Sharon Bolton
“They say that snow covers everything that is mean and sordid and ugly in the world…but beneath the carpet of white, the ugliness remains. 11 November 2012, London. Long-smouldering feelings come to a head in a burst of shocking violence. A young Muslim man is brutally murdered by a masked gang. There is just one witness to the horrific crime: DC Lacey Flint. Or at least that’s what she thinks…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Welcome to Lagos, by Chibundu Onuzo
“When army officer Chike Ameobi is ordered to kill innocent civilians, he knows that it is time to leave. As he travels towards Lagos, he becomes the leader of a new platoon, a band of runaways who share his desire for a better life. After an unexpected political encounter, Chike and his companions must make a choice. But perhaps the situation is more complex than it appears.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Madame Zero, by Sarah Hall
“Sarah Hall is an exquisite chronicler of landscapes – rural, industrial, psychological – and these haunting stories reveal a writer at the peak of her powers. This uncannily disturbing collection glitters with poetic and erotic imagery. Marked by a fascination with the intimacy of nature – and the nature of intimacy – Madame Zero is a stunning new collection from an author twice nominated for the Booker Prize.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

New eAudiobook Non-fiction this month

Edmund Hillary once said that the struggle to climb a mountain is the struggle of life itself. While that’s probably true, sometimes it can be nice to avoid the mountains for a while and stay safe and warm inside where you can face those struggles in a book – or better yet, an eAudiobook from Overdrive! From Carrie Fisher’s battle with electro-convulsive shock therapy to Yanis Varoufakis’ conflict with the European Union, there’s enough struggle – and success – here to keep even the hardiest mountaineers happy!

Overdrive cover The Polygamist’s Daughter, by Anna LeBaron
My father had more than fifty children. So begins the haunting memoir of Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron. With her father wanted by the FBI for killing anyone who tried to leave his cult―a radical branch of Mormonism―Anna and her siblings were constantly on the run. Anna escaped when she was thirteen—but the nightmare was far from over.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Shockaholic, by Carrie Fisher
“Bad news for anyone who thought Carrie Fisher had finally stopped talking about herself: sorry, but it appears she has yet another brand-new problem to overshare about. This time, the electro-convulsive shock therapy she’s been regularly undergoing. But before she can truly commit herself to it in the long term, she’d better get some of those more nagging memories of hers on paper.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Adults In the Room, by Yanis Varoufakis
“Economist Yanis Varoufakis blows the lid on Europe’s hidden agenda and exposes what actually goes on in its corridors of power. Varoufakis sparked one of the most spectacular and controversial battles in recent political history when, as finance minister of Greece, he attempted to re-negotiate his country’s relationship with the EU. Despite mass support, he succeeded only in provoking the fury of Europe’s elite. The true story of what happened is almost entirely unknown…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Settle for More, by Megyn Kelly
“Anchor of the number one news show on cable, The Kelly File, Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly writes her much anticipated book, a revealing and surprising memoir detailing her rise as one of the most respected journalists working today. From the values and lessons that have shaped her career, to her time at the centre of the chaotic 2016 Republican presidential primary, this book offers an inside look at an uncompromising woman’s journey to the top of the news business.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Surpassing Certainty, by Janet Mock
“The journey begins a few months before her twentieth birthday. Janet Mock is adjusting to her days as a first-generation college student and her nights as a dancer at a strip club. Fuelled by her dreams and inimitable drive, Janet makes her way through New York City while holding her truth close. She builds a career within the unique context of being trans, a woman and a person of colour.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, by Gabor Maté
“Starting with a close view of his drug addicted patients, Dr. Maté looks at his own history of compulsive behaviour, weaving a story of real people who struggle with addiction with the latest research on addiction and the brain. A bold synthesis of clinical experience, insight and cutting edge findings, Dr. Maté sheds light on this most puzzling of human frailties.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover When You Find Out the World Is Against You, by Kelly Oxford
“The famed internet personality—named one of Rolling Stone’s Funniest People on Twitter and creator of the viral #notokay for women to share their stories of sexual assault—turns her laser-like wit to anxiety, parenthood (or “the sheer insanity of being in charge of the safety and livelihood of three people besides myself”) and more in this razor sharp essay collection.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari
Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century – from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Hitler, by Volker Ullrich
“For all the literature about Adolf Hitler there have been just four seminal biographies; this is the fifth, a landmark work that sheds important new light on Hitler himself. Drawing on previously unseen papers and a wealth of recent scholarly research, Volker Ullrich reveals the man behind the public persona.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover A Rare Recording of Carl Jung, by Carl Jung
“Hear seven minutes of a 1959 interview with Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung on the BBC program, “Face to Face,” hosted by John Freeman. This probing interview with Jung, considered the world’s greatest psychiatrist, provides a rare glimpse into his personal viewpoints and sheds insight into his pioneering work.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Wellington author interview: Mandy Hager

Mandy Hager has influenced a generation of readers with her politically astute, emotionally rich YA novels, including The Crossing and The Nature of Ash. But it’s her recent historical novel, Heloise, that’s been causing a stir this year. Described as “brilliant” by the Listener, Heloise tells the story of 12th century lovers Heloise d’Argenteuil and Peter Abelard, and the politics and attitudes they must negotiate during the Gregorian Reforms.

You’ve mentioned that you spent 18 months researching before starting to write Heloise. Were there any particular discoveries that stood out for you, or altered your approach?

Two things really impacted on how I ultimately told the story. The first was a very good piece of advice from academic Dr Constant Mews, who recommended I read as many of the texts Heloise would have read as possible, as all her writing is steeped in references to them. This really enriched the story, especially when I discovered her love of Ovid’s Heroides and saw how I could use it as a mirror for her own story. It was also a really good reminder that, though the incidentals of the 12th century are different, human emotion is consistent across time.

The second thing was discovering the politics that lay behind the story, which made the actions make sense and put them into context. This proved crucial to cracking open the various character’s motivations.

From early on, Heloise fights against the notion that as a woman, she must “learn in silence with all subjection.” How did this struggle, and its on-going relevance, influence your telling of the story?

For a start, the whole act of writing her story countered this: giving her back her voice and own personal agency. Thematically, it taps into several strands I wanted to focus on: the systematic silencing of women across the ages; the effects of church and state power and control, especially as it affected women; and on a craft level, the challenge of telling a story that still has pace and action when the central character is cloistered away and mainly interacts through letters and hearsay.

How difficult was it to capture the voice, thoughts and feelings of a character from the 12th century? Especially someone with Heloise’s background?

As I mentioned above, by reading what Heloise read, it helped me find appropriate ways of expressing her feelings through the literature of her day. Plus, I had the advantage of her letters, which gave me an insight into how she put words on a page and thought. I wrote the whole first draft in a kind of heightened 17th century voice to try and get away from modern concepts, metaphors and language. It didn’t work from a readers point of view (too dense and saccharine) but it helped me make the shift in my head and meant that when I rewrote my head was much more seated in the language and thought constructions of the time. That said, it’s amazing how hard it is to pick up all the modern words and ideas – and I’m extremely grateful to the team of editors and readers for digging them out!

In terms of feelings, once the situation is defined by its context, then it’s just a matter of imagining myself into the character’s head and focussing on what would be the most truthful human reaction to each situation. I think we make a mistake thinking people back then thought in a less emotionally sophisticated way. Heloise’s letters make it clear nothing changes in the history of the heart!

How did writing historical fiction compare with writing stories set in the near future, such as The Nature of Ash?

One’s solely based on imagining a future, with the ability to reference current culture as a kind of shorthand for what’s going on. Historical fiction requires a lot more digging around for shorthand references that are pertinent to the day but still resonate with today’s readers. Another less delicate way of putting this is, in books like The Nature of Ash (which I’m currently writing a sequel to) I’m free to make shit up! That’s a whole lot easier!

Does your approach to writing fiction such as Heloise differ to your approach to writing young adult fiction?

I think when writing young adult fiction there’s an overriding need for pace that is more pressing than adult fiction, along with the need for a young adult protagonist, but overall I don’t think there is that much difference. It’s still a matter of digging into character and trying to bring them alive on the page.

Has Heloise had an on-going influence on your own life, writing or politics?

Most undoubtedly all three! It’s by far the hardest book I’ve ever written (in terms of both its scope and the amount of time it took) and I had to dig really deep to keep going and not give up. I think the gift of the residencies I had during the time meant I felt a great deal of personal pressure to perform and come up with the goods, and though that was exhausting and at times overwhelming, I’m proud of myself for persevering! But I think it’s also taught me a lot as a writer, mainly thanks to my amazing editor, Harriet Allan, who really pushed me (in the best possible way) and I’m hoping that the lessons I’ve learned transfer through to all my writing in the future. The politics have had a huge impact. It’s depressing to realise the very same issues Heloise struggled with are still evident today, and we seem no closer to really solving them. We rabbit on a lot about how we should use history to learn how to progress and improve human lives, but the truth is we’ll go on making the same mistakes over and over – and the same people will continue to be oppressed – if we don’t actually heed the lessons and make a concerted effort to implement change. Heloise’s courage in speaking her truths and supporting those around her is one I now try even harder to emulate as a result of this.