Our Exclusive Q and A with Ben Aaronovitch

This is your brain on magic.

Ben Aaronovitch

We recently approached international bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch about the possibility of doing a Q and A, very much expecting a polite ‘no’ in response. So when he kindly agreed, we were thrilled!

Thinking about how best to compile some really good questions for Ben, the answer was obvious: we would ask our library patrons to send in their questions for Ben. The questions we received ranged widely — from enquiries about the Rivers of London series, to examples of how to do research, to experiences writing for Doctor Who.

So, below we now present our interview with Ben Aaronovitch. In our opinion, he was hugely entertaining, insightful and really funny to interview and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We wish to extend our most heartfelt thanks to Ben, and of course to our users for supplying the questions. Enjoy!


False value / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Peter Grant is facing fatherhood, and an uncertain future, with equal amounts of panic and enthusiasm. Rather than sit around, he takes a job with émigré Silicon Valley tech genius Terrence Skinner’s brand new London start up – the Serious Cybernetics Company. Drawn into the orbit of Old Street’s famous “silicon roundabout”, Peter must learn how to blend in with people who are both civilians and geekier than he is. Compared to his last job, Peter thinks it should be a doddle. But magic is not finished with Mama Grant’s favourite son.” (Catalogue)

The October man / Aaronovitch, Ben
“If you thought magic was confined to one country-think again. Trier: famous for wine, Romans, and being Germany’s oldest city. When a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. But fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything. Enter Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police which handles the supernatural.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Rivers of London [3] : black mould / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Something dark and slimy is dripping through the walls of suburban London. Not the usual stuff that smells funny and can be hell on the lungs, this mould is possessed by some dark power full of bad intentions. Looks like it’s another case for London’s one and only trainee wizard cop, Police Constable Peter Grant, and his reluctant partner, Sahra Guleed.  Black Mould ties directly into the Rivers of London continuity, set between Foxglove Summer and The Hanging Tree.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Remembrance of the Daleks, Ben Aaronovitch (ebook)
“With unfinished business to attend to, the Seventh Doctor returns to where it all began: Coal Hill School in 1963. Last time he was here, the Doctor left something behind – a powerful Time Lord artefact that could unlock the secrets of time travel. Can the Doctor retrieve it before two rival factions of Daleks track it down? And even if he can, how will the Doctor prevent the whole of London becoming a war zone as the Daleks meet in explosive confrontation?” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

For more information on Ben Aaronovitch’s books visit his website. And again, a big thank you to Ben!

Everything Ben Aaronovitch on our Catalogue

Our Haunting Selection of Halloween Reads

Here then at long last is my darkness. No cry of light, no glimmer, not even the faintest shard of hope to break free across the hold — Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

Many of the core elements of Halloween are thought to have originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals. On All Hallows’ Eve the boundary between the physical and spiritual world was thought to be at it’s thinnest.

The festival has also long been associated with the consumption of food, a few examples being potato pancakes, apples and soul cakes. It was traditional to abstain from eating meat, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods to this day.  It was in America in the 20th century that it was turned into the candy-coloured, sugar rush holiday that it is today. Indeed Halloween is now one of the major North American holidays.

Much of the modern imagery for Halloween has its roots in fiction, especially Gothic and horror fiction, with iconic characters such as Frankenstein, the Mummy and Dracula. So to put you in a Halloween mood we have selected some strange and macabre tales to shiver the spine and chill the soul for Halloween. And a few have a distinctly Kiwi twist on the supernatural world–enjoy!


Frankenstein, or, The modern Prometheus / Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
“No-one in the grip of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, with its mythic-minded hero and its highly sympathetic monster who reads Goethe and longs to be at peace with himself, can fail to notice how much more excellent the original is than all the adaptations and imitations which have followed. In her first novel, Mary Shelley produced English Romanticism’s finest prose fiction.” (Adapted from Catalogue). For availability of the 1931 classic film, click here.

Dracula / Stoker, Bram
“When newly qualified solicitor Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help a new client purchase a residence in London, he is unaware that he will be lucky to escape with his life. Harker’s fateful visit to Count Dracula’s castle begins a series of disturbing events, as the malevolence he discovers there reaches across continents and oceans to twist and abuse his loved ones at home in England.” (Adapted from Catalogue) For availability of Christopher Lee’s first Dracula Film click here.

The scarecrow / Morrieson, Ronald Hugh
“Ronald Hugh Morrieson combines Boys’ Own adventure, psychological thriller, small-town saga and family farce to produce a unique masterpiece. 14-year-old Neddy Poindexter and his mate Les proceed to take swift revenge on the chook-rustling Lynch Gang, but things turn sinister when the vulture-like Hubert Salter stalks into the small community of Klynham. There is a  killer on the loose – and Neddy is in terrible fear for the safety of his sister.” (Catalogue) For availability of the 1981 film click here.

Into the mist / Murray, Lee
“When NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Militant Tahoe separatists are active in the area, and with its cloying mist and steep ravines, the forest is a treacherous place. Yet nothing has prepared Taine for the true danger that awaits them.  Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom as he becomes desperate to bring his charges out alive. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Wake / Knox, Elizabeth
“One sunny spring morning the Tasman Bay settlement of Kahukura is overwhelmed by a mysterious mass insanity. A handful of survivors find themselves cut off from the world, and surrounded by the dead. As they try to take care of one another, and survive in ever more difficult circumstances, it becomes apparent that this isn’t the first time that this has happened. And, it seems, they are trapped with something. Something unseen is picking at the loose threads of their characters, corrupting, provoking, and haunting them.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of leaves / Danielewski, Mark Z
“A blind old man, a young apprentice working in a tattoo shop, and a mad woman haunting an Ohio institute narrate this story of a family that encounters an endlessly shifting series of hallways in their new home, eventually coming face to face with the awful darkness lying at its heart. Focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The shining / King, Stephen
“Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.” (Adapted from Catalogue) For availability of the legendary Stanley Kubrick film click here.

Teatro grottesco / Ligotti, Thomas
“This collection features tormented individuals who play out their doom in various odd little towns, as well as in dark sectors frequented by sinister and often blackly comical eccentrics. The cycle of narratives that includes the title work of this collection, for instance, introduces readers to a freakish community of artists who encounter demonic perils that ultimately engulf their lives. These are selected examples of the forbidding array of persons and places that compose the mesmerizing fiction of Thomas Ligotti.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hunger / Katsu, Alma
“After having travelled west for weeks, the party of pioneers comes to a crossroads. It is time for their leader, George Donner, to make a choice. They face two diverging paths which lead to the same destination. One is well-documented – the other untested, but rumoured to be shorter. Then the children begin to disappear. As the survivors turn against each other, a few begin to realise that the threat they face reaches beyond the fury of the natural elements.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

The Wild Card: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Renée

This year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist is full of outstanding New Zealand novels that cover a wide range of styles and tones in stories entwined with crime, mystery, thrills, and suspense. And it is going to be a really difficult task for the judges to pick a winner.

Amongst the shortlist for this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards is New Zealand writing icon and legend Renée. Born in 1929 in Napier. After she left school age 12 Renée went on to work in a wide variety of jobs including in a dairy, as a cleaner in an Auckland’s Theatre and as a feature writer and reviewer. After completing a BA in 1979 Renée became more closely involved in community theatre and started writing for the stage. Having written so far over twenty  plays many of them featuring women in leading roles and works that often humanise working-class people.

Renée describes herself as a ‘lesbian feminist with socialist working-class ideals’ and nearly all of her written works expound these beliefs.

As well as numerous plays Renée has published nine fiction works and in 2018 was awarded the Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement. And her fascinating, funny and insightful memoir These Two Hands, initially published in 2017 is due to be reissued with further chapters added in the very near future.

Renée has also tutored creative writing classes and also presents an annual writing guide for those who have or have had cancer and want to write about that experience.

Astonishingly The Wild Card is her first crime novel. Ruby the female lead in The Wild Card is a strong rounded character and the plot revolves round a crime against a Māori state ward. Described by reviewers as “Superb… a gripping read that covers some brutal topics”.

We wish to extend our most heartfelt thank you to Renée for her time and such a great interview. And we wish her and his fellow shortlisted authors good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November. Enjoy!

The wild card / Renée
“Ruby Palmer has been dealt a rough hand. She was left in a kete at the back door of the Porohiwi Home for Children when she was a baby, and then at seven she discovered that Betty who stopped the bad stuff happening to Ruby at the Home has drowned. Now in her thirties, Ruby suspects her friend was murdered ¿ her only lead is a notebook that uses the symbols on playing cards to tell a story she can’t understand, but there are other clues too: the man in the balaclava who attacks her when she starts to investigate, and break-ins at the local theatre where Ruby is playing Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. As Ruby goes deeper into the mystery of Betty’s death, she starts to find answers to questions about herself that she hadn’t dared ask before. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The skeleton woman : a romance / Renée
“A baby on the doorstep, a skeleton woman biding time before the truth comes out. Rose Anthony’s life has just become much more complicated. Renee’s latest novel carries the reader on an entertaining roller coaster ride of mystery and intrigue. A rich tapestry of a tale guaranteed to keep the reader hooked from start to finish. Rose Anthony’s life has just become more complicated. There’s a baby abandoned on her doorstep, and long-kept secrets are about to fly into the open…A tightly plotted literary lesbian romance, delightfully told by New Zealand writer Renee.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Kissing shadows / Renée
“When Vivvie Caird is faced by the sight of her beautiful, strong-willed mother lying limp and speechless in a hospital bed, she feels empowered to begin unlocking the mystery that is her fathers legacy. Vivvies nave undertaking soon finds a parallel in her mothers own account of what happened when her husband left home one day, never to return. A family, and a court must confront a devastating event that occurred in the midst of the hard times of last century. This fast-paced, page-turning novel takes the reader into an absorbing and moving world of shadowy relationships and intrigue.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Wednesday to come : trilogy / Renée
” In Wednesday To Come Renee takes four women of four generations in a single family and looks at how they cope with the Great Depression of the 1930s. In Pass It On, Jeannie and Cliff, the two adolescents joined the hunger march in Wednesday to Come, have each grown up and married. Pass It On explores the very different experiences of Jeannie, the political activist, and Cliff’s wife Nell, and traces their relationship from initial distrust to a firm allegiance against the political and economic forces which threaten their families. Jeannie Once, tells the story of Jeannie’s great grandmother living in Victorian era Dunedin.” (Catalogue)

These two hands : a memoir / Renée
“Renee Paule lives in Otaki and teaches her Your Life, Your Story and her Poem a Week workshops there. This is just one version of her life, her story, told in patches, like a quilt.” (Catalogue)

 

 

And below some of the books Renée mentions in her interview.

Gaudy Night : A Lord Peter Wimsey mystery with Harriet Vane / Sayers, Dorothy L.
” The third Dorothy L. Sayers classic to feature mystery writer Harriet Vane, Gaudy Night features an introduction by Elizabeth George, herself a crime fiction master. Gaudy Night takes Harriet and her paramour, Lord Peter, to Oxford University, Harriet’s alma mater, for a reunion, only to find themselves the targets of a nightmare of harassment and mysterious, murderous threats.
Chicago Tribune ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

And then there were none / Christie, Agatha
“Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide. The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again… and again…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Artists in crime / Marsh, Ngaio
“In the movies, it’s known as a “meet cute.” But for Inspector Alleyn and Miss Agatha Troy, it’s more like irritation: On the ship back to England, she finds him tedious and dull; he thinks she’s a bohemian cliché. They may be destined for romance, but there’s a murder in the way: No sooner has Alleyn settled in to his mother’s house, eager for a relaxing end to his vacation, then he gets a call that a model has been stabbed at the artists’ community down the road. And the artistic Miss Troy is one of the community’s most prominent and outspoken members. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The mind readers / Allingham, Margery
“Sam Ferris is an ordinary English schoolboy. Well, except for a few things. One: His father is an eminent scientist, based on a military research island off the English coast. Two: Sam is about to be interviewed by a solicitor, giving evidence, in a serious legal matter, against one of his favorite teachers. And three: Sam can read minds. But there’s a four: Sam’s uncle is Albert Campion. And Sam’s story, in all its seemingly unrelated elements, gives his Uncle Albert quite a lot to be curious about. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The broken shore / Temple, Peter
” Shaken by a scrape with death, big-city detective Joe Cashin is posted away from the Homicide Squad to a quiet town on the South Australian coast. Carrying physical scars and not a little guilt, he spends his time playing the country cop, walking his dogs, and thinking about how it all was before. When a prominent local is attacked and left for dead in his own home, Cashin is thrust into a murder investigation. The evidence points to three boys from the nearby aboriginal community, whom everyone wants to blame. Cashin is unconvinced, and soon begins to see the outlines of something far more terrible than a simple robbery gone wrong.”(Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Films from the Big Apple

I’m staying! You hear that, New York? THE FROG IS STAYING!

― Kermit the Frog, The Muppets Take Manhattan

We recently did a small blog on books set in New York City – but as well as fiction, New York City is one of the most filmed locations on the planet.  The city was first committed to celluloid in 1901 just a few years after the birth of cinema. It’s a vibrant, unique, melting pot, and its multi-cultural population coupled with its iconic skyscrapers and historic monuments  make it a perfect setting for so many tales.

The films stretch from the Jazz Singer (the world’s first talkie) to films that are regarded as all-time classic films such as Citizen Kane,  and The Godfather. There are also legions of films that are loved for different reasons such as  Escape from New York, The Muppets Take Manhattan and Crocodile Dundee. The good news is that many of these iconic New York films are available to borrow from our extensive DVD collection – for our small selection read on – and enjoy.


Frances Ha
“A story that follows a New York woman (who doesn’t really have an apartment), apprentices for a dance company (though she’s not really a dancer), and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possibility dwindles.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The warriors
“The Warriors are a street gang from Coney Island, trapped in the Bronx when a city-wide truce explodes. What follows is non-stop suspense and violent action as they try to get through 28 miles of “enemy territory” with 100,000 gang members after them!” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Breakfast at Tiffany’s [videorecording]
“An eccentric New York City playgirl is determined to marry a Brazilian millionaire, but her next-door neighbour, a writer, changes her plans.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

3 Spike Lee joints [videorecording].
“Do the right thing” – Traces the course of a single day on a block in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. It’s the hottest day of the year, a scorching 24-hour period that will change the lives of its residents forever. Also included in this collection “Jungle fever”and “Clockers”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

King Kong [videorecording].
“An expedition exploring a remote island capture a gigantic ape and bring him back to New York for exhibition. A beautiful actress who accompanies them is menaced, when the monster’s love for her causes him to break out” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ghostbusters ; plus, Ghostbusters II. [videorecording] The original “Ghostbusters” and its sequel teamed comedians Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis with director Ivan Reitman, to tell the story of a trio of paranormal investigators who must save the world from the evil clutches of the supernatural.

Taxi driver [videorecording] “Vietnam vet Travis Bickle works as a loner night-shift cabbie in New York. Roving the streets, he kills time by keeping a diary, popping pills and hanging out in porn theatres. A series of frustrations and his encounters with a 14-year-old prostitute compel him to clean up the sordid milieu in which he operates.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Once upon a time in America [videorecording]
” Spanning four decades, the film tells the story of David “Noodles” Aaronson (Robert De Niro) and his Jewish pals, chronicling their childhoods on New York’s Lower East Side in the 1920s, through their gangster careers in the 1930s, and culminating in Noodles’ 1968 return to New York from self-imposed exile, at which time he learns the truth about the fate of his friends and again confronts the nightmare of his past.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Being the first lady? New general fiction

Every moment wasted looking back, keeps us from moving forward…In this world and the world of tomorrow, we must go forward together or not at all.”  – Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton.

What if Hillary Diane Rodham hadn’t married Bill Clinton? Well this big “what if” is at the heart of Rodham a brilliant alternative political history by author Curtis Sittenfeld whose previous novels include American wife: a novel an alternative reality version of the life of another First Lady Laura Bush.

Rodham is just one of the intriguing and enthralling books in this month’s new books list; others include Antkind the fiction Debut of Charlie Kaufman screen writer of Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And two titles from South Korea Almond and Disaster tourist. Finally, we have Sex and vanity the latest romantic comedy novel from bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians Kevin Kwan.

A mixture of new releases that really does have something for everyone. Enjoy!

Rodham : a novel / Sittenfeld, Curtis
“‘Awfully opinionated for a girl’ is what they call Hillary as she grows up in her Chicago suburb. Smart, diligent, and a bit plain, that’s the general consensus. Then Hillary goes to college, and her star rises. At Yale Law School, she continues to be a leader- and catches the eye of driven, handsome and charismatic Bill. But when he asks her to marry him, Hillary gives him a firm No. How might things have turned out for them, for America, for the world itself, if Hillary Rodham had really turned down Bill Clinton?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Antkind : a novel / Kaufman, Charlie
” B. Rosenberger Rosenberg, neurotic and underappreciated film critic (failed academic, filmmaker, paramour, shoe salesman who sleeps in a sock drawer), stumbles upon a hitherto unseen film by an enigmatic outsider – a three-month-long stop-motion masterpiece that took its reclusive auteur ninety years to complete. Convinced that the film will change his career trajectory and rock the world of cinema to its core, that it might possibly be the greatest movie ever made, B. knows that it is his mission to show it to the rest of humanity. The only problem: the film is destroyed, leaving him the sole witness to its inadvertently ephemeral genius.”  (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Almond : a novel / Son, Wŏn-p’yŏng
“Yunjae was born with a brain condition  that makes it hard for him to feel emotions like fear or anger. He does not have friends–t–but his devoted mother and grandmother provide him with a safe and content life. Then on Christmas Eve–Yunjae’s sixteenth birthday a shocking act of random violence shatters his world, leaving him alone and on his own, until troubled teenager Gon arrives at his school, and they develop a surprising bond. As Yunjae begins to open his life to new people–including a girl at school–something slowly changes inside him. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The disaster tourist : a novel / Yun, Ko-ŭn
“Jungle is a cutting-edge travel agency specializing in tourism to destinations devastated by disaster and climate change. And until she found herself at the mercy of a predatory colleague, Yona was one of their top representatives. Now on the verge of losing her job, she’s given a proposition: take a paid “vacation” to the desert island of Mui and pose as a tourist to assess the company’s least profitable holiday. When she uncovers a plan to fabricate an extravagant catastrophe, she must choose: prioritize the callous company to whom she’s dedicated her life, or embrace a fresh start in a powerful new position? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sex and vanity / Kwan, Kevin
” On her very first morning on the jewel-like island of Capri, Lucie Churchill sets eyes on George Zao and she instantly can’t stand him. She can’t stand it when he gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with her so that she can have a view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can’t stand that he knows more about Casa Malaparte than she does, and she really can’t stand it when he kisses her in the darkness of the ancient ruins of a Roman villa.  But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton, where Lucie is weekending with her new fiance, she finds herself drawn to him again. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bitter chocolate / Lokko, Lesley Naa Norle
“Three girls in search of a missing piece of their lives; three girls who will change their world to find it. In a story that begins in the relentless heat of a Haitian summer and sweeps through the luxurious homes of America’s elite, from elegant dinner parties in North London, to the colourful chaos of the East End, Bitter Chocolate is a tale of the quest for love, marriage and finding a place to belong.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Small pleasures / Chambers, Clare
“1957, south-east suburbs of London Jean Swinney is a feature writer on a local paper, disappointed in love and – on the brink of forty – living a limited existence with her truculent mother.When a young Swiss woman, Gretchen Tilbury, contacts the paper to claim that her daughter is the result of a virgin birth, it is down to Jean to discover whether she is a miracle or a fraud. But the more she investigates, the more her life becomes strangely (and not unpleasantly) intertwined with that of the Tilburys: But they are the subject of the story Jean is researching for the newspaper, a story that increasingly seems to be causing dark ripples across all their lives.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Double agent / Bradby, Tom
“Kidnapped in Venice by a Russian defector, Kate knows she’s in trouble. But all is not as it seems. The spy offers her conclusive evidence that the British Prime Minister is a live agent working for Moscow. Kate’s holiday quickly becomes the start of her next mission.With proof of the PM involved in a sordid scandal and a financial paper trail that undeniably links him to the Russians, the evidence seems bulletproof. But the motives of the defector are anything but clear. And, more worryingly, it seems that there are key people at the heart of the British Establishment who refuse to acknowledge the reality in front of them.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Into the Void: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Christina O’Reilly

Continuing our series on this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist we are delighted to present a video piece from Christina O’Reilly author of Into the Void.

As her accent still shows Christina grew up in England and emigrated to NZ at the age of twelve.  As well as a writer, Christina is a freelance copy editor and proof reader and has had her short stories published in several anthologies.

Christina had written several previous novels   before being longlisted for the 2019 Michael Gifkins memorial prize which gave her the confidence to publish this novel.

Into the void introduces us to DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers. The plot revolves round the disappearance of rural banker Richard Harper his disappearance possess many questions is he really dead? or has he been abducted and tortured?   Eventually it all becomes a race against time as the case descends into a mire of murder, violence and obsession.

One review described the book in the following way    “O’Reilly’s characters are all strong, believable people with equally believable domestic lives and troubles. It’s nicely flavoured with New Zealandness without feeing contrived and carries a story which would work in any international setting”.

We want to extend our biggest thank you to Christina for her time and insightful video. And we wish her and her fellow shortlisted author’s good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November… Enjoy.

Below are some of the books that influenced Christina and were mentioned in her interview.


The babes in the wood : a Chief Inspector Wexford mystery / Rendell, Ruth
“With floods threatening both the town of Kingsmarkham and his own home and no end to the rain in sight, Chief Inspector Wexford already has his hands full when he learns that two local teenagers have gone missing along with their sitter, Joanna Troy. Their hysterical mother is convinced that all three have drowned, and as the hours stretch into days Wexford suspects a case of kidnapping, perhaps connected with an unusual sect called the Church of the Good Gospel. But when the sitter’s smashed-up car is found at the bottom of a local quarry-occupied by a battered corpse-the investigation takes on a very different hue. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover End in Tears, Ruth Rendell (Audiobook)
“A lump of concrete dropped deliberately from a little stone bridge over a relatively unfrequented road kills the wrong person. The driver behind is spared. But only for a while… It is impossible for Chief Inspector Wexford not to wonder how terrible it would be to discover that one of his daughters had been murdered. Sylvia has always been a cause for concern. Living alone with her two children, she is pregnant again.  The relationship between father and daughter has always been uneasy. But the current situation also provokes an emotional division between Wexford and his wife, Dora.  (Adapted from Overdrive description)

The secret garden / Burnett, Frances Hodgson
“Born in India, the unattractive and willful Mary Lennox has remained in the care of servants for as long as she can remember. But the girl’s life changes when her mother and father die and she travels to Yorkshire to live with her uncle. Dark, dreary Misselthwaite Manor seems full of mysteries, including a very special garden, locked tight for 10 years. With the help of Dickon, a local boy, Mary intends to uncover its secrets.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an Audiobook.

Into the void / O’Reilly, Christina
“How easy is it for a man to simply disappear? When rural banker Richard Harper is reported missing, DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers are drawn into the tangled details of the man’s life. Would Harper really have chosen to leave his seriously ill wife, and abandon his pregnant girlfriend? Or is there a real threat behind the abusive emails he’d been receiving from desperate clients in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis? Has he really been abducted, tortured or killed? Or is Richard Harper himself behind everything that has happened? Archie and Travers ultimately face a race against time. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards by clicking here.

Southern Writers at Te Awe Brandon Library – Tuesday 20 Oct 2020


We are very excited to announce our first ever author event at our fabulous new Te Awe library.

______________________________
20 October 2020
Te Awe Library – 29 Brandon Street
12.30pm to 2pm
______________________________

And what a fitting event it is to inaugurate the Te Awe event space, with six fine poets and prose writers giving a very special lunch time reading. All hail from Dunedin or Southland.

They are:

Kay McKenzie Cooke, Richard Langston, Tim Jones, Nick Ascroft, Madison Hamill and Jenny Powell, with Mary McCallum reading some of the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr’s work.

So why not take this rare opportunity, grab your lunchtime sandwiches or buy one from the Te Awe café, and enliven your lunch listening to some of New Zealand’s finest poets reading from their works. Enjoy.



Kay McKenzie Cooke, her first poetry book, Feeding the Dogs received the Jessie MacKay Best First Book Award for Poetry. Kay is visiting Wellington and will be reading from her new collection Upturned / Cooke, Kay McKenzie

Richard Langston, poet and Country Calendar director, will be reading from his latest collection Five O’Clock Shadows / Langston, Richard


New Sea Land / Jones, Tim
Tim Jones is the winner of the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collected Work and the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature. He will read from his poetry collection New Sea Land and his novella Where We Land.


Moral sloth / Ascroft, Nick
Nick Ascroft.  Born in Oamaru and awarded the Robert Burns Fellowship in 2003, Nick describes himself as an editor by trade, a linguist by training and a competitive Scrabble player by choice. He will be reading from Moral Sloth.

Specimen : personal essays / Hamill, Madison
Debut author Madison Hamill’s writing has appeared in The Spinoff, Sweet Mammalian, The Pantograph Punch, and Turbine Kapohau.  She will be reading from her essay collection, Specimen.


South d poet lorikeet / Powell, Jenny
Jenny Powell is the current RAK Mason Fellow in the Wairarapa and has been a finalist for a number of poetry prizes including the Janet Frame Memorial Award. She will be  reading from her collection South D Poet Lorikeet.


Jenny Powell and Mary McCallum will read poems by the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr‘s collection Wanting to tell you everything. An award-winning Dunedin poet, Elizabeth died last year and her writing group (that included Jenny Powell and Mary as a consultant) got together to edit her first collection of poems.

This event has been organised by The Cuba Press, Wellington.

Girl from the Tree House : Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Gudrun Frerichs

Continuing our series on this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist we are delighted to have a video piece from Gudrun Frerichs author of Girl from the Tree House.

Gudrun has a fascinating personal backstory born on a small island near Hamburg she emigrated to New Zealand thirty years ago and worked until her retirement as a psychotherapist she is now a full time writer and describes herself as closet gypsy.

She says that her must have writing aids are a cup of Earl Grey a box of chocolates and the occasional glass of Merlot.

Gudrun’s previous novels include The Golden Girls Romantic Series of Contemporary Women’s novels. About four highly successful friends approaching their golden sixties who live in Auckland.  And the books  join  them as they navigate life’s obstacles.

Girl from the Tree House is a departure from her previous works and revolves around Elizabeth a woman with dissociative identity disorder, who is accused of murder. The novel is set in New Zealand’s West Coast is a fast paced psychological thriller that one reader described as a “superbly written story”.

We want to extend our biggest thank you to Gudrun for her time and insightful video. And we wish her and her fellow shortlisted author’s good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November… Enjoy.

Below are some of the books that influenced Gudrun and were mentioned in her interview.


Pippi Longstocking / Lindgren, Astrid
“Pippi is the only girl in the world who can do exactly what she likes. She is nine years old and lives in a cottage with a horse and a monkey. Her friends Tommy and Annika have to go to school and go to bed when they’re told, but they still have time to join Pippi on all her great adventures.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The world’s best Karlson / Lindgren, Astrid
“Smidge is used to Karlson, the funny little man with a propeller on his back, living on the roof. They are firm friends. Now, anytime Karlson pops in, Smidge knows that there’s fun and adventure in store.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The ABC murders / Christie, Agatha
” There’s a serial killer on the loose. His  macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim’s corpse the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. But if A is for Alice Ascher, and B for Betty Bernard, then who will victim C be? Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught – until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans… Poirot is the man to find out.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Penhallow / Heyer, Georgette
“Hated for his cruel and vicious nature, ruling his family with an iron hand from his sickbed, tyrannical patriarch Adam Penhallow is found murdered the day before his birthday. His entire family had assembled for his birthday celebration, and every one of them had the ways and means to commit the crime. As accusation and suspicion turn in one direction, then another, the claws and backstabbing come out, and no one is exempt from the coming implosion. The death of menacing old man Adam Penhallow, on the eve of his birthday, seems at first to be by natural causes. When it emerges that he was poisoned, there are more than a dozen prime suspects.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.


Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards by clicking here. You can visit Gudrun’s website by clicking here.

What do astronauts read in space?

What do Astronauts read in space?

What books inspired them to become Astronauts?

To celebrate the launch of our World Space week online film festival. We have done a bit of exploring of our own and found out what two Astronauts like to read in space or inspired them to become Astronauts.

For full details of our online World space week film festival click here.

Astronaut Anousheh Ansari dreamed about going into space from a very young age,  a dream she achieved just after her 40th birthday, when she became the first Iranian in space. She is now the CEO of the X prize foundation. The book she cites as her inspiration for her dream of becoming an astronaut was The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti choose The Martian by Andy Weir, The Invincible by Stanisław Lem. And her personal favourite of her picks was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Samantha said she had three good reasons for picking it as her favourite:

  • The first was that in the book the answer to the ultimate question is forty two, and she was a crew member on the forty second Expedition.
  • Second, the book contains an important reminder to not take ourselves too seriously.
  • And finally, and perhaps most importantly, ‘Don’t panic’ is printed on the cover.

Other astronauts have taken up other novels including Gone With the Wind, Vanity Fair and War and Peace, Faust and Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Astronauts also read books to children from space as part of the Storytime from space project and you can watch their out of this world readings by clicking here. Enjoy!

The little prince / Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de
” If a little fellow comes along, if he laughs, if he has golden hair, and if he never answers questions, then you will know who he is. He is the Little Prince. The Little Prince journeys to our planet from his home among the stars, encountering all sorts of benighted grown-ups along the way, and a fox, who teaches him how to see the important things in life. But the Prince has left behind a flower growing on his star, a rose which is his treasure and his burden, and before long he must return to it. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy : a trilogy in four parts / Adams, Douglas
” Book one: One Thursday lunchtime the Earth gets demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. For Arthur, who has just had his house demolished, this is too much. Sadly, the weekend’s just begun. Book two : When all issues of space, time, matter and the nature of being are resolved, only one question remains: Where shall we have dinner? Book three : In consequence of a number of stunning catastrophes, Arthur Dent is surprised to find himself living in a hideously miserable cave on prehistoric Earth. Book three .Arthur Dent’s sense of reality is in its dickiest state when he suddenly finds the girl of his dreams. They go in search of God’s Final Message and, in a dramatic break with tradition, actually find it.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Martian : a novel / Weir, Andy
“Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. ” You can also borrow the film adaptation by clicking  here for details.

Gone with the wind / Mitchell, Margaret
” This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life. A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage, in the pages of Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell brings to life the unforgettable characters that have captured readers for over seventy years.” (Adapted from Catalogue) You can also borrow the film adaptation by clicking  here for details.

Vanity fair / Thackeray, William Makepeace
“Becky Sharp will do anything to raise her position in Society, from impoverished orphan to woman of means. Clever, lively and resourceful, Becky is the total opposite of her naive and sentimental schoolmate Amelia Sedley, a pampered yet good-natured girl from a wealthy family. As both women pursue love and life in London, against the background of the Napoleonic Wars, Thackeray paints a vivid portrait of decadent Regency England and satirises its corruption and flaws to delightful effect.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

War and peace / Tolstoy, Leo
” War and Peace centers broadly on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 and follows three of the best-known characters in literature: Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count, who is fighting for his inheritance and yearning for spiritual fulfillment; Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, who leaves behind his family to fight in the war against Napoleon; and Natasha Rostov, the beautiful young daughter of a nobleman, who intrigues both men. As Napoleon’s army invades, Tolstoy vividly follows characters from diverse backgrounds – peasants and nobility, civilians and soldiers – as they struggle with the problems unique to their era, their history, and their culture. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Faust, part one / Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
“Goethe’s Faust is a radical adaptation of the old German story of the wandering conjuror who sells his soul to a devil called Mephistopheles for magical powers and secret knowledge. Over a period of sixty years Goethe turned it into one of the greatest dramatic and poetic masterpieces of European literature. Goethe started work on it in the 1770s when still a young man, only finishing it near the end of his life, some fifty years later.”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

The moon is a harsh mistress / Heinlein, Robert A.
“‘ It is a tale of revolution, of the rebellion of a former penal colony on the Moon against its masters on the Earth. It is a tale of a culture whose family structures are based on the presence of two men for every woman, leading to novel forms of marriage and family. It is the story of the disparate people – a computer technician, a vigorous young female agitator, and an elderly academic – who become the movement’s leaders. And it is the story of Mike, the supercomputer whose sentience is known only to the revolt’s inner circle, who for reasons of his own is committed to the revolution’s ultimate success.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


World Space Week Online Film Festival!

A blade of grass is a commonplace on Earth; it would be a miracle on Mars. Our descendants on Mars will know the value of a patch of green. And if a blade of grass is priceless, what is the value of a human being? ― Carl Sagan

To celebrate World Space Week, we have put together a very special free online Space Film Festival. This specially selected collection of documentaries cover everything from early attempts at space exploration and the moon landings to stories about the remote probes and the mysteries of deep space cosmology. And if you want to take your exploration of space to another level, we’ve included a 24-episode course entitled Introduction to Astrophysics, as well as links to several online resources. Enjoy!


Sepideh – Reaching for the Stars

Year: 2013
Length: 88 minutes
Director: Berit Madsen

Watch the full film here!

“Sepideh wants to become an astronaut. She spends her nights exploring the secrets of the universe, while her family will do anything to keep her on the ground. The expectations for a young Iranian woman are very different from Sepideh’s ambitions, and her plans to go to university are in danger. But Sepideh holds on to her dreams, teaming up with the world’s first female space tourist, Anousheh Ansari, to fight to make them come true.”


Fight for Space

Year: 2016
Length: 92 minutes
Director: Paul Hildebrandt

Watch the full film here!

“In 1962, spurred by the Cold War, President John F. Kennedy famously made the bold proclamation that NASA would send astronauts to the moon by the end of the decade. The Space Race inspired a generation to pursue careers in science and technology, but as the balance of world power shifted, interest in space exploration declined.

FIGHT FOR SPACE serves as an urgent call to re-awaken our sense of wonder and discovery and features commentary by Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson.”


First to the Moon

Year: 2019
Length: 121 minutes
Director: Paul Hildebrandt

Watch the full film here!

“In 1968, NASA sent three men farther and faster than anyone had gone before. This is the story of how Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders changed history on the flight of Apollo 8.”


Blast

Year: 2008
Director: Paul Devlin

Watch the full film here!

“This film explores both the heartbreak and the glory of trying to unravel the secrets of outer space. Mark Devlin, PhD (the filmmaker’s brother) launches revolutionary telescopes on NASA high-altitude balloons. Dangerous, but necessary if he wants to look back in time and reveal a hidden Universe of never-before-seen galaxies.

BLAST! follows Mark and his team on their grueling journey across 5 continents, from Arctic Sweden to Antarctica, as they search the sky for clues to the Evolution of Everything. Along the way, the rarely-seen true life of scientists is exposed – the failures, the triumphs and the sacrifices. It’s an adventure like no other, one that will that take you around the world and across the Universe.”


Skyline

Year: 2015
Length: 75 minutes
Director: Jonny Leahan, Miguel Drake-McLaughlin

Watch the full film here!

“In 1979, Arthur C. Clarke wrote a novel about an elevator that goes to outer space. SKYLINE is the story of the people who intend to build it. From scientific gatherings to NASA’s high-stakes Space Elevator Games, the film follows the major players working to make the concept a reality. For all of them, the space elevator is more than just science fiction: it’s an achievable goal.”


Introduction to Astrophysics

Length: 791 mins
Features: Joshua N. Winn

Watch the full series here!

“Plunge into the exciting quest to investigate everything beyond Earth through the laws of physics. Introduction to Astrophysics takes you step by step through the calculations that show how planets, stars, and galaxies work. In 24 episodes by noted astrophysicist Professor Joshua Winn, you’ll tour a universe of exploding stars, colliding black holes, dark matter, and other wonders.”


The Farthest

Year: 2016
Length: 116 minutes
Director: Emer Reynolds

Watch the full film here!

“It is one of humankind’s greatest achievements. More than twelve billion miles away a tiny spaceship is leaving our Solar System and entering the void of deep space – the first human-made object ever to do so.

Slowly dying within its heart is a nuclear generator that will beat for perhaps another decade before the lights on Voyager finally go out. But this little craft will travel on for millions of years, carrying a Golden Record bearing recordings and images of life on Earth. In all likelihood Voyager will outlive humanity. THE FARTHEST celebrates these magnificent machines, the men and women who built them and the vision that propelled them farther than anyone could ever have hoped.”


A Space Program: Artist Tom Sachs’ Homemade Space Station

Year: 2015
Length: 70 minutes
Directors: Tom Sachs, Van Neistat

Watch the full film here!

“Internationally acclaimed artist Tom Sachs takes us on an intricately handmade journey to the red planet, providing audiences with an intimate, first person look into his studio and methods.

A SPACE PROGRAM is both a piece of art in its own right and a recording of Sachs’ historic piece, Space Program 2.0: MARS, which opened at New York’s Park Avenue Armory in 2012.”


Online Resources:

Interactive: Science (Gale): An online interactive database that covers science subjects. Access and manipulate interactive 3D models related to key scientific concepts.

Science in Context (Gale): Contextual information on many significant science topics and showcases scientific disciplines that relate to real-world issues.