Blasphemous libel and other stories: New Biographies

If you missed cartoonist Tom Scott’s appearance at the New Zealand Festival, never fear – his memoir Drawn Out is available now! Drawn Out has been shortlisted for a New Zealand Book Award, and includes Scott’s famous battle with Prime Minister Robert Muldoon. Check it out, along with a range of other great titles!

Syndetics book coverDrawn out : a seriously funny memoir / Tom Scott.
“Tom Scott has been drawing political cartoons for Wellington’s Dominion Post since 1988, and was famously banned from the Press Gallery by P.M. Muldoon. His memoir covers his childhood – a tragi-comedy of a poor Irish Catholic family, his uni days when he was editor of the student newspaper and sued for blasphemous libel, his parliamentary career, his work with Ed Hillary and more.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe trauma cleaner : one woman’s extraordinary life in death, decay & disaster / Sarah Krasnostein.
“Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things: husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife… But as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn praise of difficult women : life lessons from 29 heroines who dared to break the rules / Karen Karbo ; illustrations by Kimberly Glyder.
“From Frida Kahlo and Elizabeth Taylor to Nora Ephron, Carrie Fisher, and Lena Dunham, this witty narrative explores what we can learn from the imperfect and extraordinary legacies of 29 iconic women who forged their own unique paths in the world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA life of my own / Claire Tomalin.
“This enthralling memoir follows Claire Tomalin through triumph and tragedy in equal measure, from a difficult wartime childhood to her marriage to a brilliant young journalist. Tomalin writes of the intense joys of a fascinating progression as she became one of the most successful literary editors in London before discovering her true vocation as a biographer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGeorge / Sean Smith.
“Georgios Panayiotou was just eighteen when he decided to adopt the stage name of George Michael. Sometimes his two worlds would collide with shattering consequences. Bestselling biographer Sean Smith has gone back to the neighbourhoods of North London to trace the astonishing journey of a sensitive but determined boy who grew up to be one of the biggest British pop stars of all time.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn odyssey : a father, a son, and an epic / Daniel Mendelsohn.
“When eighty-one-year-old Jay Mendelsohn decides to enroll in the undergraduate Odyssey seminar his son teaches at Bard College, the two find themselves on an adventure as profoundly emotional as it is intellectual. As this intricately woven memoir builds to its wrenching climax, Mendelsohn’s narrative comes to echo the Odyssey itself, with its timeless themes of deception, recognition and the meaning of home.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverExtraordinary life of A.A. Milne / Nadia Cohen.
“Very few authors can ever dream of coming close to the legacy left by A.A. Milne, but Milne himself was never able to enjoy his fame and fortune. He died deeply resenting Winnie the Pooh’s success. The Extraordinary Life of A.A. Milne delves deep into the life of Milne and sheds light on new places, and tells stories untold.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHitler, my neighbor : memories of a Jewish childhood, 1929-1939 / Edgar Feuchtwanger with Bertil Scali ; translated by Adriana Hunter.
“Edgar Feuchtwanger was a carefree five-year-old when Adolf Hitler moved into the building opposite. In 1933 the joy of this untroubled life was shattered. Edgar’s parents, stripped of their rights as citizens, tried to protect him from increasingly degrading realities. In 1939 Edgar was sent alone to England. It wasn’t until the age of 88 he felt ready to tell the story of his buried childhood and his infamous neighbour.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGordon Walters : new vision / commissioning editor, Zara Stanhope ; curators, Lucy Hammonds, Laurence Simmons and Julia Waite ; managing editor, Clare McIntosh.
“A substantial publication, Gordon Walters : New Vision, is being co-published by Auckland Art Gallery and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery to mark the occasion of this exhibition.” (Syndetics summary)

New eAudiobook non-fiction

When an exert from Emily Chang’s Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley was published in Vanity Fair earlier this year, the response was described as a “mini earthquake”. And with Overdrive now releasing the entirety of Brotopia as an eAudiobook, you can discover what has made this work such a powerful addition to discussions on the tech industry, gender equality and the #metoo movement! Sign up here to get started…

Overdrive cover Brotopia, by Emily Chang
“Silicon Valley has long prided itself on being the land of opportunity, but the truth is that women have been marginalized and harassed from the start. Chang explores how this came to be, what it means, and what can be done to fix it. She delves into the seedy underbelly of shiny Silicon Valley via hard-hitting interviews with major influencers. She reveals the secrets that tech companies have tried to hide for years, and offers a fresh set of tangible solutions.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Brave, by Rose McGowan
“Rose McGowan was born in one cult and came of age in another, more visible cult: Hollywood. Every detail of her personal life became public, and the realities of an inherently sexist industry emerged with every script, role, public appearance and magazine cover. Hollywood expected Rose to be silent and cooperative and to stay the path. Instead, she rebelled.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Where the Past Begins, by Amy Tan
“In Where the Past Begins, bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club and The Valley of Amazement Amy Tan is at her most intimate in revealing the truths and inspirations that underlie her extraordinary fiction. By delving into vivid memories of her traumatic childhood, confessions of self-doubt and heart-breaking letters, she gathers together evidence of all that made it both unlikely and inevitable that she would become a writer.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Big Picture, by Sean Carroll
“In short chapters filled with intriguing historical anecdotes, personal asides, and rigorous exposition, readers learn the difference between how the world works at the quantum level, the cosmic level and the human level—and then how each connects to the other. Carroll’s presentation of the principles that have guided the scientific revolution from Darwin and Einstein to the origins of life, consciousness and the universe is dazzlingly unique.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Transgender History, by Susan Stryker
“Covering American transgender history from the mid-twentieth century to today, Transgender History takes a chronological approach. Chapters cover the transsexual and transvestite communities in the years following World War II; trans radicalism and social change through the early 1970s; the mid-’70s to 1990—the era of identity politics and the changes witnessed in trans circles through these years; and the gender issues witnessed through the ’90s and ’00s.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Mighty Franks, by Michael Frank
“Michael Frank’s family was unusual to say the least, and most unusual of all was his aunt, ‘Hankie’: a Hollywood screenwriter spinning seductive fantasies. With no children of her own, Hankie took a particular shine to Michael, telling him about ‘the very last drop of her innermost self’. This love complicated the delicate balance of the wider family and changed Michael’s life forever.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Trumpocracy, by David Frum
“Bestselling author, former White House speechwriter and media commentator David Frum explains why President Trump has undermined our most important institutions in ways even the most critical media has missed, in this thoughtful and hard-hitting book that is a warning for democracy and America’s future.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover On Being a Therapist, by Jeffrey A. Kottler
“An updated revision of Jeffrey Kottler’s classic book On Being a Therapist reveals the new realities and inner experiences of therapeutic practice today.” (Overdrive description.)

Typing with Tom Hanks: New eBook fiction

Did you know that Tom Hanks owns more than 250 typewriters? Or that he’s appeared in a documentary about them: 2017’s California Typewriter? In fact it was on one of these typewriters he wrote he debut short story collection, the appropriately named Uncommon Type. Check out Uncommon Type—along with heaps of other new eBooks—on Overdrive today!

Overdrive cover Uncommon Type, by Tom Hanks
“A hectic, funny sexual affair between two best friends. A World War II veteran dealing with his emotional and physical scars. A second-rate actor plunged into sudden stardom and a whirlwind press junket. These are just some of the people and situations that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks explores in his first work of fiction.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Queens’ Play, by Dorothy Dunnett
“1548 and seven-year-old Mary Queen of Scots has been dispatched to France. But surrounded by the double-dealing of a dangerous and unpredictable court, she suffers a series of ‘accidents’. Her mother orders Francis Crawford of Lymond to protect Mary, believing that at the heart of the court is an assassin hired to kill the infant monarch. Lymond must hunt down this individual before he himself is exposed…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover A Long Way from Home, by Peter Carey
“Irene Bobs loves fast driving. Her husband is the best car salesman in western Victoria. Together they enter the Redex Trial, a brutal race around the ancient continent over roads no car will ever quite survive. Set in the 1950s amid the consequences of the age of empires, this brilliantly vivid and lively novel reminds us how Europeans took possession of a timeless culture – and the crimes they committed along the way.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller
“In the spring of 1948 Arthur Miller retreated to a log cabin in Connecticut with the first two lines of a new play already fixed in his mind. He emerged six weeks later with the final script of Death of a Salesman – a painful examination of American life and consumerism. Opening on Broadway the following year, Miller’s extraordinary masterpiece changed the course of modern theatre.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Spoilt City, by Olivia Manning
“It is 1940, and Guy and Harriet Pringle and their friends in the English colony in Bucharest find their position growing ever more precarious. The ‘phoney war’ is over and invasion is an ever-present threat. Their easy life among Bucharest’s café society is gradually eroded as rumours become reality, and the Germans march in…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Jesus’ Son, by Denis Johnson
Jesus’ Son is a visionary chronicle of dreamers, addicts and lost souls. These stories tell of spiralling grief and transcendence, of rock bottom and redemption, of getting lost and found and lost again. The raw beauty and careening energy of Denis Johnson’s prose has earned this book a place among the classics of twentieth-century American literature.” (Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Children of Húrin, by J. R. R. Tolkien
“It is a legendary time long before The Lord of the Rings, and Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwells in the vast fortress of Angband in the North; and within the shadow of the fear of Angband, the fates of Túrin and his sister Niënor will be tragically entwined. Against them Morgoth sends his most formidable servant, Glaurung, a powerful spirit in the form of a huge wingless dragon of fire, in an attempt to fulfil the curse of Morgoth, and destroy the children of Húrin.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Phone, by Will Self
“Zack Busner is a psychiatrist who has made his name through his unorthodox treatment of psychological damage—but now his own mind is fraying. Jonathan De’Ath, aka “the Butcher,” is an MI6 man who remains a mystery even to those closest to him. There is only one person who thinks of him with tenderness: De’Ath’s long-time lover. As Busner’s mind totters and Jonathan’s affair teeters, they come to face the interconnectedness of all lives, while a phone continues to ring…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Under Parr, by Andrea Bramhall
“December 5th, 2013 left its mark on the North Norfolk Coast in more ways than one. A tidal surge flooded homes and businesses up and down the coast. It also buried a secret in the WWII bunker hiding under the golf course at Brancaster. A secret kept for years, until it falls into the lap of Detective Sergeant Kate Brannon. A skeleton, deep inside the bunker. How did it get there? Well, that’s Kate’s job to find out.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Perfect Death, by Helen Fields
“Unknown to DI Luc Callanach and the newly promoted DCI Ava Turner, a serial killer has Edinburgh firmly in his grip. The killer is taking his victims in the coldest, most calculating way possible – engineering slow and painful deaths by poison, with his victims entirely unaware of the drugs flooding their bloodstream until it’s too late. But how do you catch a killer who hides in the shadows?” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Library love: New eAudiobook fiction

It’s not every day you get a love story set in a library, but that’s exactly what you’ll find in this month’s new eAudiobook fiction from Overdrive, with Charlie Lovett’s The Lost Book of the Grail. And if secret romance amongst the stacks isn’t your thing, we’ve got a range of other titles, from Katherine Heiny’s Standard Deviation to one of the latest Star Wars books, Battlefront II. Check out our eResources guide to get started!

Overdrive coverStandard Deviation, by Katherine Heiny
“Graham Cavanaugh’s second wife, Audra, is everything his first wife was not. She is charming, spontaneous and fun—but life with her can be exhausting. In the midst of the day-to-day difficulties and delights of marriage and raising a child with Asperger’s, his first wife, Elspeth, re-enters Graham’s life. Graham starts to wonder: how can anyone love two such different women? Did he make the right choice? Is there a right choice?” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive coverHomegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
“Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel—the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive coverThe Boy That Never Was, by Karen Perry
“Five years ago, three-year-old Dillon disappeared. For his father Harry – who left him alone for ten crucial minutes – it was an unforgivable lapse. Yet Dillon’s mother Robyn has never blamed her husband: her own secret guilt is burden enough. Now they’re trying to move on, returning home to Dublin to make a fresh start. But their lives are turned upside down the day Harry sees an eight-year-old boy in the crowd…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive coverHow to Survive a Summer, by Nick White
“Camp Levi, nestled in the Mississippi countryside, is designed to ‘cure’ young teenage boys of their budding homosexuality. Will Dillard, a midwestern graduate student, spent a summer at the camp as a teenager, and has since tried to erase the experience from his mind. But when a fellow student alerts him that a slasher movie based on the camp is being released, he is forced to confront his troubled history and possible culpability in the death of a fellow camper.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive coverBattlefront II, by Christie Golden
“After the humiliating theft of the Death Star plans and the destruction of the battle station, the Empire is on the defensive. But not for long. In retaliation, the elite Imperial soldiers of Inferno Squad have been called in for the crucial mission of infiltrating and eliminating the Partisans—the rebel faction once led by notorious Republic freedom fighter Saw Gerrera.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive coverBroken River, by J. Robert Lennon
“An unusual and inventive psychological thriller about a Brooklyn family that moves to a house in upstate New York, in the wake of the husband’s affair. Twelve years before, there was a brutal double murder in the house, during which a young girl escaped; this event affects the houses new inhabitants in surprising ways.” (Overdrive description.)

Overdrive coverWar, by Roald Dahl
“There’s a whole world of Dahl still to discover in a newly collected audiobook of his deliciously dark tales for adults . . . In war, are we at our heroic best or our cowardly worst? Featuring the autobiographical stories from Roald Dahl’s time as a fighter pilot in the Second World War as well as seven other tales of conflict and strife, Dahl reveals the human side of our most inhumane activity.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive coverGods in Alabama, by Joshilyn Jackson
“When Arlene Fleet heads up north for college, she makes three promises to God: she will stop fornicating with every boy who crosses her path; never tell another lie; and never, ever go back to the “fourth rack of hell,” her hometown of Possett, Alabama. All she wants from Him is one little miracle: make sure the body is never found.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive coverBest Day Ever, by Kaira Rouda
“Paul Strom is the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever. But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. Is Paul the person he seems to be?” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive coverThe Lost Book of the Grail, by Charlie Lovett
“Arthur Prescott is happiest when surrounded by the ancient manuscripts of the Barchester Cathedral library, nurturing his obsession with the Holy Grail. But when Bethany Davis arrives to digitize the library’s manuscripts, Arthur’s tranquility is broken. He sets out to thwart Bethany, only to find in her a kindred spirit. Bethany soon joins Arthur in a quest to find the lost Book of Ewolda, and when the future of the cathedral is threatened, their search takes on grave importance.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Lots of new eBook fiction to delve into!

This month’s new eBook fiction from Overdrive includes a range of dark and suspenseful stories, from the Prix Goncourt-winning Lullaby by Leïla Slimani to the “lost classic” The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin. Fremlin’s work has been called a pioneer of the Domestic Noir genre, so if you’re a fan of authors such as Julia Crouch and Rebecca Whitney, be sure to check it out!

Overdrive cover Lullaby, by Leïla Slimani
“When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, Myriam and Paul’s idyllic tableau is shattered…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Hours Before Dawn, by Celia Fremlin
“Louise would give anything for a good night’s sleep. Forget the girls running errant in the garden. Forget her husband who seems oblivious to it all. If the baby would just stop crying, everything would be fine. Or would it? In a new edition of this lost classic, The Hours Before Dawn proves – scarily – as relevant to readers today as it was when Celia Fremlin first wrote it in the 1950s.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Killed, by Thomas Enger
“Determined to find his son’s killer, crime reporter Henning Juul doggedly follows an increasingly dangerous trail, where dark hands from the past emerge to threaten everything. His ex-wife Nora is pregnant with another man’s child, his sister Trine is implicated in the fire that killed his son and, with everyone he thought he could trust seemingly hiding something, Henning has nothing to lose… except his own life.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Missing Fay, by Adam Thorpe
“A spirited, restless fourteen-year-old, Fay, goes missing from a Lincoln council estate. Is she a runaway, or a victim – another face on a poster gradually fading with time? The story of her last few days before she vanishes is interwoven with the varied lives of six locals – whether aware or unaware of her presence or absence, all touched in life-changing ways.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Floating World, by C. Morgan Babst
“As Hurricane Katrina approaches the Louisiana coast, Cora Boisdoré refuses to leave the city. Her parents, Joe Boisdoré, an artist descended from freed slaves, and his white “Uptown” wife, Dr. Tess Eshleman, are forced to evacuate without her, setting off a chain of events that leaves their marriage in shambles and Cora the victim or perpetrator of some violence mysterious even to herself…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao, by Eric M. B. Becker
“Euridice is young, beautiful and ambitious, but when her rebellious sister Guida elopes, she sets her own aspirations aside and vows to settle down as a model wife and daughter. And yet as her husband’s professional success grows, so does Euridice’s feeling of restlessness. But then one day Guida appears at the door with her young son and a terrible story of hardship and abandonment.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Six Months, Three Days, Five Others, by Charlie Jane Anders
“Before the success of her debut SF-and-fantasy novel All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders was a rising star in SF and fantasy short fiction. Collected in a mini-book format, here—for the first time in print—are six of her quirky, wry, engaging best, including “Clover”, written exclusively for this collection.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Daring Brides, by Ava Miles
“Over one million readers have fallen in love with Ava’s bestselling Dare Valley and Dare River series…come join the family. Your favourite Dare Valley characters have survived betrayal, secrets, and tragedy to find true love. Now, watch each of these daring brides walk down the aisle to their happily ever after with the man of their dreams. You know, the hero who fires up all their engines.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Version Thirteen, by Martin Baker
“Yavlinsky, a brilliant Russian scientist has created a piece of wonder-technology; a drilling process that uses the forces of supercavitation. Named ‘Version Thirteen’, it enables oil explorers to take 40 per cent more oil out of the ground – it’s worth trillions. But there’s a problem. Supercavitation is also the basis for highly sophisticated weaponry…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

New non-fiction books for your ears

There’s great advice in this month’s new eAudiobook non-fiction from Overdrive. Advice about dating magicians, advice about surviving modern politics and, perhaps most importantly, advice if you’re ever considering renovating an apartment in Paris. Whatever you need help with, Overdrive is the place to go!

Overdrive cover The Good Immigrant, by Nikesh Shukla
“How does it feel to be strip-searched at every airport? Or be told that, as an actress, the part you’re most fitted to play is ‘wife of a terrorist’? How does it feel to have words from your native language used aggressively towards you? Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, The Good Immigrant explores what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Big Thirst, by Charles Fishman
“From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wal-Mart Effect comes a fascinating journey into the secret life of water, a book that upends everything we think we know about the most vital substance in our lives.” (Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Member of the Family, by Dianne Lake
“In this poignant and disturbing memoir of lost innocence, coercion, survival, and healing, Dianne Lake chronicles her years with Charles Manson, revealing for the first time how she became the youngest member of his Family and offering new insights into one of the twentieth century’s most notorious criminals and life as one of his “girls”.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Victoria and Albert–A Royal Love Affair, by Daisy Goodwin
“The second tie-in to ITV drama Victoria unveils the complex, passionate relationship of Victoria and Albert. What happened after the Queen married her handsome prince? Did they live happily ever after, or did their marriage, like so many royal marriages past and present fizzle into a loveless bond of duty? Victoria and Albert were the royal couple that broke the mould.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Unqualified, by Anna Faris
“Anna Faris has advice for you. And it’s great advice, because she’s been through it all, and she wants to tell you what she’s learned. Advocate for yourself. Know that there are wonderful people out there and that a great relationship is possible. And, finally, don’t date magicians. Her comic memoir, Unqualified, shares Anna’s candid, sympathetic, and entertaining stories of love lost and won.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Greatest Show on Earth, by Richard Dawkins
“In The Greatest Show on Earth Richard Dawkins takes on creationists, including followers of ‘Intelligent Design’ and all those who question the fact of evolution through natural selection. Like a detective arriving on the scene of a crime, he sifts through fascinating layers of scientific facts and disciplines to build a cast-iron case.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Jewish Comedy, by Jeremy Dauber
“Jeremy Dauber traces the origins of Jewish comedy and its development from Biblical times to the age of Twitter. Organizing his book thematically into what he calls the seven strands of Jewish comedy—including the satirical, the witty, and the vulgar—Dauber explores the ways Jewish comedy has dealt with persecution, assimilation, and diaspora through the ages.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover No Is Not Enough, by Naomi Klein
“Naomi Klein – award-winning journalist, bestselling author of No Logo, The Shock Doctrine and This Changes Everything, scourge of brand bullies and corporate liars – gives us the toolkit we need to survive our surreal, shocking age.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover L’Appart, by David Lebovitz
“Bestselling author and world-renowned chef David Lebovitz continues to mine the rich subject of his evolving expat life in Paris, using his perplexing experiences in apartment renovation as a launching point for stories about French culture, food, and what it means to revamp one’s life. Includes dozens of new recipes.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Wellington Author Interview: Jess Richards

“Dying faces are the colour of soiled linen. It’s the eyes which shine, as if the world around the person who is dying has brightened itself, so it’s fully seen and felt and known.”

So begins City of Circles, the third novel by acclaimed Wellington author Jess Richards. Richards’ work has been described as “brilliantly peculiar” and “a cornucopia of secrets and surprises”, with her debut novel Snake Ropes being nominated for the Costa First Novel Award, the Scottish Book Awards and the Green Carnation Prize. City of Circles tells the story of orphaned circus performer Danu as she negotiates grief, love and the mystery at the heart the fantastical city of Matryoshka . . .

Your work has been compared to Angela Carter and Erin Morgenstern, both of whom use circuses as key elements in their work. What do you think it is about circuses that continue to appeal to readers and writers?

Circuses have great potential to be made magical in fiction, because of their potential to appeal to all the senses, and also their rich history and traditions. They’re archetypal places of wildness and strangeness – performance and storytelling, which speak to our very human need for wonder. This is so often lacking in the ‘real world’ – as adults, we often lose sight of our desire for magic and strangeness. Within stories, we can find a parallel world to disappear into, between mundane daily rituals, tasks and chores. The people within circuses can be strange in so many ways – from the bearded lady to the cartwheeling clown, from the strong man to the contortionist. These slightly off-kilter people can be unique and intriguing characters to read and write about. The ordinary, distorted. The usual, made strange.

In Snake Ropes, the world of the story has been described as intentionally minimal in order to create the feeling of an “insular society”. How did creating Matryoshka and the world within City of Circles differ to this?

After writing Snake Ropes, which was set on a remote island, my second novel, Cooking with Bones began with two sisters fleeing a futuristic city (called Paradon) who quickly found their way to a strange and remote village. So both of my first two novels were mainly set in insular locations which had their own rules, folklore, mythology and sense of community. In City of Circles, I wanted to invent a magical city which also had all of these things, but on a larger scale. I used more description for the city, as it was such a unique and remarkable place, full of strange characters and places. Even the houses had their own unique ‘atmospheres’ and the house that Danu squats in has its own narrative voice. It was great fun to consider what kind of character a house could be – as cities are crammed full of buildings as well as people I came to see the buildings and the city itself as having their own personalities. As well as being part of the setting in that they were interesting things for the main characters to look at and explore, they also became part of the story.

As someone who has lived in several different places and recently moved to Wellington, how has your own experience with cities and identity compared to Danu’s?

When I’d just started to write City of Circles, I left my home of 18 years, and decided to remain voluntarily homeless for a period of time. During the next two years I couldn’t settle anywhere, so I looked after other people’s homes and pets, even their holiday cottages, which were sometimes in isolated rural places and sometimes in villages, towns, and cities. I slept in many different beds and was quite envious of Danu owning her own mattress, even though the caravan it was in kept moving on. All the places I lived in or visited found their way into City of Circles, as aspects of the places the circus travelled through, and several cities (London, Chicago, Wellington to name only a few) added to the descriptions of the different areas and revolving circles within Matryoshka, the city she eventually remains in. When Danu fell in love with Matryoshka, she experienced it almost as a living and breathing place, filled with enchanting scents and intriguing secrets. While I was exploring many different ‘homes’ I deeply wished to find somewhere which called me to it. Somewhere to love. As it happens, it was a person, not a city, I fell in love with, and that’s how I came to move to Wellington. I followed my heart to a person, while Danu followed her heart to a city.

Several reviews have praised your treatment of grief in City of Circles. How did you approach this theme?

My father died suddenly while I was writing City of Circles, and just three months after his death, I came to New Zealand. Experiencing grief so far away from anyone who knew him was an isolating experience. When we’re not with people who also knew the person who died, because no one is talking about them, there are no new memories to be had. All I could do, while grieving at such a great distance was to pour my grief into this novel. To give it to Danu, as it was too hard a thing to carry alone. As Danu’s parents had died right at the beginning of the novel, I wrote about her grief at the same time as I experienced my own. The physical pain of grief is something that few people talk about, so I gave aspects of this to Danu. I had her describe watching someone die, which is also something that few people talk about. She ties her mother’s locket like a choker around her throat, and trusses her ankles with her father’s bootlaces. The pain, to her, is a constant reminder of the strength of her love, and the strength of her loss. When she finally faces her grief, she does so from a high rooftop, throwing lily petals into the sky, and letting the wind carry them away. She’s trying desperately to part with her sorrow, and let it fly from her. But the truth of grief is that it never goes away. We each have to find our ways of living alongside it. And that is what Danu does as well. Learning to live beside grief takes time and courage. Others are also affected by it, which we see in Morrie, a charismatic hunchback who is in love with Danu, though she can’t reciprocate.

You were recently involved in an event at the Post-Apocalyptic Book Club in London. How did this go, and how do you see your work in terms of the genre of dystopian and speculative fiction?

It was a lovely event – with a great chairperson who had prepared excellent questions about City of Circles in advance. She got me to talk about more things than I’d realised I could. The audience were also great – really interested in the process of ‘world building’ and inventing an imaginary city. I tend not to think too much about genre when I write – to me, the main thing is the characters, and their story, and the world they are in being believable. That said, speculative fiction is a broad term which spans a variety of genres such as fantasy, sci-fi, young adult fiction and literary fiction. To me, what speculative fiction means is that the author has been ‘speculating.’ Asking… what if? And then answering their question in the form of a story. What if… there was an undiscovered island off the edge of a map? (This was the question behind Snake Ropes.) What if… an old woman was several people, and not just one? (One of the questions within Cooking with Bones.) And what if… a city was built which was made out of revolving circles, like a clockwork toy… and what if… a grieving woman thought she was alone in the world, and then discovered she had a double… In terms of dystopias – they’re far more interesting to write about than utopias, because I don’t believe that utopias exist. I also like writing amoral characters, who are neither completely good nor totally bad, but somewhere ambiguous in between. Darkness is, to me, much more interesting than light.

NaNoWriMo wrap-up for 2017

Did you know that during NaNoWriMo this year Wellington City Libraries hosted a Come Write In, where writers could gather each weekend to work on their goal of 50,000 words? Below we have some profiles of these future authors, and if you’d like to join them next year, just sign up to NaNoWriMo. Thanks so much to everyone who came along!


Story: A woman running from her past finds a key hidden behind a picture frame in a hotel room, but what does it unlock?

How have you found NaNoWriMo this year? This year has been a challenge. I got 3,000 words into the novel I was planning to write, then got frustrated with the story, and started a new story from scratch. I may not finish this year, but I’m happy with the plot of the new novel.

Will you do NaNoWriMo again next year? Absolutely. I’ll try to not end up moving house and jobs next November, and see if that means I have more energy to write.


Story: Liz is a newspaper reporter who gets in over her head when she investigates a sunken ship and gets involved with a group of musicians and their ambitions.

How have you found NaNoWriMo this year? It’s flowed well. It’s been very social, which is nice.

Will you do NaNoWriMo again next year? Yes. I might use a similar process of making a plan and then abandoning it, but we’ll see closer to the time.


Story: American Idol but there are robotic scorpions and the world is a capitalist hellscape.

How have you found NaNoWriMo this year? I really love the Wellington writing group (I’ve written in the Dunedin and Christchurch groups for NaNo as well and those are great too). Writing with a bunch of other writers around is fantastic for creativity if not for productivity.

Will you do NaNoWriMo again next year? I do NaNo every year (this is my 8th).


Story: The cheesiest romance novel you could possibly imagine – with all the traps!

How have you found NaNoWriMo this year? I’ve been so busy there’s no way I’m going to make 50K! But the meetups have been great and it’s a great group this year. I’ve still got more words than I started with!

Will you do NaNoWriMo again next year? Hopefully! And I’ll make sure November is less busy so I can write more words.

Quillbert the Literary Hedgehog

Story: My protagonist is a hedgehog vigilante called ‘The Urchin.’ He is trying to bring down two rival criminal organisations – the Owls and the Foxes – who bring death to the streets and corruption to parliament.

How have you found NaNoWriMo this year? Exhilarating and exhausting. Without the support of your peers, it is easy to burn out in the first week. Like a hedgepig caught in a bonfire.

Will you do NaNoWriMo again next year? I shall. Next year I shall write my memoirs. This is technically referred to as being a “NaNoWriMo Rebel” as it will not be a novel. I embrace the title.

Portable fiction: eBooks for the holidays

If you’re going on a family road-trip this summer, the last thing you want filling up the boot of your car is books: after all, there won’t be any space, not with the suitcases and body boards and fishing rods and the chilly bin, and that extra chilly bin for the ice, and the camp cooker just in case you want to eat under the stars, and the sleeping bags and tent and all those spare tent-pegs that don’t really work but you’d feel bad if you didn’t bring them, and – well, you get the idea. Basically, Overdrive is here to make sure you’ve got great new fiction to read during your holidays, no matter how pressed you are for space!

Overdrive cover The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, by Arundhati Roy
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is at once an aching love story and a decisive remonstration. It is told in a whisper, in a shout, through tears and sometimes with a laugh. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued. For this reason, they are as steely as they are fragile, and they never surrender.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Sweetpea, by C.J. Skuse
“I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcoholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Book of Chocolate Saints, by Jeet Thayil
“Francis Newton Xavier has lived a wild existence of excess in pursuit of his uncompromising aesthetic vision. Approaching middle age in a body ravaged by hard-living, he leaves Manhattan, and his journey home to India becomes a delirious voyage into the past.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Silk and Song, by Dana Stabenow
“Sixteen-year-old Wu Johanna is the granddaughter of the legendary trader Marco Polo. In the wake of her father’s death, however, Johanna finds that lineage counts for little amid the disintegrating court of the Khan. Johanna’s destiny – if she has one – lies with her grandfather, in Venice, at the very edge of the known world.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Borne, by Jeff VanderMeer
“In a ruined city of the future, Rachel scavenges a strange creature from the fur of a despotic bear. She names him Borne. He reminds her of her homeland lost to rising seas, but her lover Wick is intent on rendering him down as raw material for the special drugs he sells. Nothing is quite what it seems, and if Wick is hiding secrets, so too is Rachel – and Borne most of all.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover White Tears, by Hari Kunzru
“Two twenty-something New Yorkers: Seth, awkward and shy, and Carter, the trust fund hipster. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Rising fast on the New York producing scene, they stumble across an old blues song long forgotten, and everything starts to unravel. Carter is drawn far down a path that allows no return, and Seth has no choice but to follow.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The End of Eddy, by Edouard Louis
“Before I had a chance to rebel against the world of my childhood, that world rebelled against me. In truth, confronting my parents, my social class, its poverty, racism and brutality came second. From early on I provoked shame and even disgust from my family and others around me. The only option I had was to get away somehow. This book is an effort to understand all that.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover My Name Is Nobody, by Matthew Richardson
“Solomon Vine was the best of his generation, a spy on a fast track to the top. But when a prisoner is shot in unexplained circumstances, and on his watch, only suspension and exile beckon. Three months later, in Istanbul, MI6’s Head of Station is violently abducted from his home. With the Service in lockdown, uncertain of who can be trusted, thoughts turn to the missing man’s oldest friend: Solomon Vine.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Lover, Marguerite Duras
“Saigon, 1930s: a poor young French girl meets the elegant son of a wealthy Chinese family. Soon they are lovers, locked into a private world of passion and intensity that defies all the conventions of their society. A sensational international bestseller, The Lover is disturbing, erotic, masterly and simply unforgettable.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover John Dies at the End, by David Wong
“My name is David Wong. My best friend is John. Those names are fake. You might want to change yours. You may not want to know about the things you’ll read on these pages, about the sauce, about Korrock, about the invasion, and the future. But it’s too late. You touched the book. You’re in the game.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Recent eAudiobook fiction perfect for your summer holiday!

Sometimes you want to listen to something familiar, like an official sequel to Little House on the Prairie, and sometimes you want to listen to something a bit different, like a story about an ancient, powerful, lovesick mummy who’s terrorising humanity. Either way, this month’s new eAudiobook fiction from Overdrive has got you covered!

Overdrive cover A State of Freedom, by Neel Mukherjee
“Set in contemporary India and moving between the reality of this world and the shadow of another, this novel delivers a devastating and haunting exploration of the unquenchable human urge to strive for a different life.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover How Hard Can It Be?, by Allison Pearson
“Kate Reddy is back! This is the follow-up to the international bestseller I Don’t Know How She Does It, the novel that defined modern life for women everywhere. This time she’s juggling teenagers, aging parents and getting back into the workplace, and every page will have you laughing and thinking: It’s not just me.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, by Theodora Goss
“Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Caroline, by Sarah Miller
“In this novel authorized by the Little House estate, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship and joys of the frontier. A captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient and loving pioneer woman as never before.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
“This fictionalised portrait of Joyce’s youth is one of the most vivid accounts of the growth from childhood to adulthood. Dublin at the turn of the century provides the backdrop as Stephen Dedalus moves from town and society, towards the irrevocable decision to leave.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Wrong Dead Guy, by Richard Kadrey
“In this fast paced sequel to The Everything Box, chaos ensues when Coop and the team at DOPS steal a not-quite-dead and very lovesick ancient Egyptian mummy wielding some terrifying magic.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Dead Water, by Ann Cleeves
“When the body of a journalist is found, Detective Inspector Willow Reeves is drafted to head up the investigation. As she digs deeper, she realises the journalist was chasing a story that many Shetlanders didn’t want to come to the surface…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce
“When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Complete Talking Heads, by Alan Bennett
The Talking Heads monologues are widely regarded as one of Alan Bennett’s finest dramatic achievements. Beautifully crafted and full of compassion and wry observation, each tale is ripe with the quirky, insightful detail that has become Bennett’s trademark.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)