Author interview: Christine Leunens

When Christine Leunens’s latest novel In Amber’s Wake was released recently, it shot to the top of the bestselling charts and was buoyed by a raft of rave reviews. The narrative, an astute and powerful study of personal relationships, is set in the 1980’s and is interwoven with dramatic New Zealand historical events: including the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, the Springbok Tour and the mass anti-nuclear movement of the time. It’s a page turning story, a display of deep insights into the way in which the human psyche operates.

Christine’s most recent previous novel, Caging Skies, was adapted into the multi-award winning black comedy film JoJo Rabbit directed by Taika Waititi. In Amber’s Wake has already been optioned for movie adaptation by the team that brought us the movie Thelma and Louise, so when the chance to interview Christine Leunens arose we jumped at it.  You can view this specially created interview below.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Alexandre de Maupeou ,who did the filming and editing. We’d also like to thank Nick Young from The Greenpeace Photo Library and New Zealand National Libraries Archives for permission to use the copyrighted images used in the film. A huge thanks to Christine Leunens herself for her valuable time and this insightful and thoughtful interview.


In Amber’s wake / Leunens, Christine
“Set in New Zealand during the fast-changing, tumultuous 1980s era of the anti-nuclear movement, Springbok rugby tour protests, and the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, this romantic drama is as unpredictable as it is powerful and heartfelt. Ethan Grieg, a film student, is in love with his close friend Amber Deering, an environmental activist, who lives at her family’s seemingly picture-perfect stud farm. Amber loves Ethan dearly, but not in the way that Ethan longs for. Instead, the man Amber chooses is widower Stuart Reeds, a charming, refined British investor almost two generations older than her. As a Korean war veteran, Stuart is mentally prepared for the long, subtle war that begins between his young rival and himself for Amber’s heart. When secrets become exposed and nothing is as it seems, each will be cornered into committing acts they could have never predicted. This powerful, gripping story leaves in its wake lingering themes on the complex nature of love, social fabric, international politics, and fundamental notions of right and wrong.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Caging skies / Leunens, Christine
“An avid member of the Hitler Youth in 1940s Vienna, Johannes Betzler discovers his parents are hiding a Jewish girl named Elsa behind a false wall in their home. His initial horror turns to interest–then love and obsession. After his parents disappear, Johannes is the only one aware of Elsa’s existence in the house and the only one responsible for her survival. By turns disturbing and blackly comic, haunting and cleverly satirical, Christine Leunens’s captivating and masterful novel–sold in 16 countries and the basis for a major forthcoming film by Taika Waititi ( Thor: Ragnorak, What We Do in the Shadows)–examines this world of truth and lies, laying bare the darkest corners of the human soul.”–Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Jojo Rabbit
“A World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy named Jojo whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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