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)

Author Interview: Poet, novelist & short story writer Maggie Rainey-Smith

Amongst many other things Maggie Rainey-Smith is a poet, novelist, and short story writer. And just recently Maggie released her latest collection of poetry called Formica.

Formica is an honest and humorous collection of poems written in an unsentimental fashion that both speaks of Maggie herself and her individual history but also the wider issues that envelope individual lives. The poems in the collection are rooted in the 1950s, avoiding the pitfalls of nostalgia, the poems instead give the reader a more precise and unsentimental look at life.

The collection moves from youth to warrior crone and also pays homage to love in its various forms.

Maggie uses as her raw material the lives of all women of her generation –  “lives too often defined by their fertility and kitchen appliances when there was fun and fulfilment to be had elsewhere. Not that Maggie doesn’t adore her Kenwood mixer, but it lines up with abiding friendships, granddaughters, travel, sex and the joy of words.”

She is a remarkable talent and when the opportunity to interview her about Formica arose, we leapt at it. This interview with  was done in conjunction with the Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM and was conducted by Caffeine and Aspirin host, Tanya Ashcroft. Below is the podcast of that interview for your enjoyment:

We are thrilled that Maggie took time out from her very busy schedule to talk to us about Formica, her life, and her writing career. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks.

Content warning: interview includes adult themes

Maggie’s books are available to borrow from the library.

About turns: a novel / Rainey-Smith, Maggie
“Irene has a secret. It slips out inadvertently during book club when the wine has been flowing too freely. Her teenage years as a marching girl are not something she had wanted her friend Ferrida to know about. She’s always wanted Ferrida’s approval, for her friendship is as important and fraught as the one with Paula, when they marched together all those years ago. But friends don’t necessarily march to the same beat, and Irene finds it hard to keep step. ABOUT TURNS, with its humorous insights into New Zealand women and their allegiances, will have you and your friends laughing in unison.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Turbulence / Rainey-Smith, Maggie
“Adam is fortyish, coasting along and relatively content while his glamorous partner, Louise, takes centre stage. But half a lifetime ago, his aspirations were higher and he was certain about the future he’d share with Judy. When an unexpected invitation arrives, uncomfortable truths resurface and the secrets of the past spill out. How will Adam manage to attend a reunion in the company of both Louise and Judy – not to mention stepfatherhood and a state of siege at work? ” (Catalogue)

Daughters of Messene / Rainey-Smith, Maggie
“Your history, Artemis, is full of female warriors.” Artemis has the name of a goddess, but she has trouble living up to it. Instead she usually just runs away. She’s running now … away from the married man she’s been seeing, and the Greek community in New Zealand who think they know what’s best, and into the arms of family in the Peloponnese that she’s never met. She carries her mother’s ashes and an ipod with recordings, which bit by bit tell the shocking story of what happened to Artemis’ grandmother during the Greek Civil War.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Author interview: Physicist and science writer Laurie Winkless

Image of the Laurie Winkless with her new book Sticky.


Laurie Winkless is a physicist and science writer. She has contributed to Forbes Magazine and worked with both the Royal Society and The Naked Scientists. She has a BSc in Physics with Astrophysics from Trinity College Dublin, has worked at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre and has done some impressive mahi with the Materials Team at the National Physical Laboratory, focussing on thermoelectric energy harvesting!  She has also researched the use of nanomaterials in the space industry for the European Space Agency.

Her first book, Science, and the City: The Mechanics Behind the Metropolis, explains the science behind aspects of urban living, including skyscrapers and subways. She recently took some time out from her busy schedule to talk to us about her latest book, Sticky, which is an exploration of the amazing world of surface science.

This interview with Laurie Winkless was done in conjunction with the Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. Below is the podcast of that interview for your enjoyment:

We are thrilled that Winkless took time out from her very busy schedule to talk to us about her new book, her career, and loads of other fascinating scientific topics. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to her.

 For more information on Laurie, visit https://www.lauriewinkless.com/

 And for more information on her new book Sticky, visit HERE. 

Both of Laurie’s books are available to borrow from the library.

 

Sticky: The Secret Science Of Surfaces / Winkless, Laurie
“In Sticky, physicist Laurie Winkless brings the amazing world of surface science to the popular science market. Using her characteristic fun and relaxed tone, she introduces us to the glues, adhesives and textures that rule and improve stickiness to give plants and animals an advantage, as well as uncovering the physics behind our sense of touch.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Science and the city : the mechanics behind the metropolis / Winkless, Laurie
“A window into the hidden science and engineering that are the backbone and lifeblood of the city, now and in the future.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Interview with Portico Prize winning author Sally J Morgan

Sally J Morgan - Toto

Debut novel Toto Among the Murderers by Sally J Morgan, is a dark, compelling, and immersive work that recently won the Portico Prize for Literature — a British prize given to a work that evokes the “spirit of the North of England”. The book was also longlisted for the 2021 Acorn Prize for Fiction.

We were thrilled when Sally agreed to talk to us about ‘Toto Among the Murderers’ and what it feels like to win one of the big fiction prizes! She even gave us an exclusive sneak peek into her thoughts about her new book, still at the writing stage. Have a listen and read more about Sally below…

Please note: this interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin, an arts and entertainment review show on RadioActive FM. The interview was conducted by Caffeine and Aspirin host, Tanya Ashcroft.

Sally J Morgan was born in the Welsh mining town of Abertyleri and describes her childhood as nomadic — following her father’s career in the motor trade across Britain. Sally graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and eventually moved to New Zealand where she is now a professor at Massey University in Wellington.

As a young woman she was once offered a lift by the serial killers Fred and Rose West. Sally declined, but that experience planted the seeds for Toto Among the Murderers.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Sally for both the interview and for her kind permission to reproduce the photographs in this blog — all © Sally J Morgan. (Photographer: Jessica Chubb)

Toto among the murderers / Morgan, Sally J

“It is 1973 and Jude – known to her friends as Toto – has just graduated from art school and moves into a house in a run-down part of Leeds. Jude is a chaotic wild child who flirts with the wrong kind of people, drinks too much and gets stoned too often. Never happy to stay in one place for very long, her restlessness takes her on hitchhiking jaunts up and down the country. Her best friend, Nel, is the only steady influence Jude has but Nel’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems.”

“Reports of attacks on women punctuate the news and Jude takes off again, suffocated by an affair she has been having with a married woman. But what she doesn’t realise is that the violence is moving ever closer to home: there is Janice across the road who lives in fear of being beaten up again by her pimp and Nel, whose perfect life is coming undone at her boyfriend’s hands. At the same time infamous murderers, Fred and Rosemary West, are stalking the country, on the lookout for girls like Jude.” (Catalogue)

She’s a Killer author Kirsten McDougall in conversation with Rajorshi Chakraborti

We are totally stoked to announce the release of our recent interview with Kirsten McDougall in conversation with Rajorshi Chakraborti about one of the most talked about and acclaimed novels of 2021, She’s a Killer.

Welcome to two of New Zealand’s finest authors engaging in a dynamic, fascinating, entertaining, and illuminating conversation, mainly about Kirsten McDougall’s highly acclaimed new novel She’s a Killer, but also sharing opinions about their respective writing practices, the vagrancies of being an author in the 21st century and passing on some writing tips and hints; not to mention discussing the merits of office meetings.

 

 

Our interviewer was the inimitable, highly acclaimed author Rajorshi Chakraborti.  Rajorshi Chakraborti was born in India and has lived in England, Canada and Scotland and now lives in Wellington, New Zealand. He is the author of six novels including Or the Day Seizes You, Derangements, Balloonists, The Man Who Would Not See, which was longlisted for the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, and Shadow Play: A Mystery. His latest novel Shakti is a supernatural magical realist mystery thriller set in India, that delves into the murky and dark waters of modern Indian politics in a carefully chosen, considered  and unique fashion.

Award -winning Wellington author Kirsten McDougall’s books include the critically acclaimed Tess, “a wonderful, multi-layered can of worms” and The Invisible Rider, as well as short stories and non-fiction in a range of books and journals. She’s a Killer has been heaped with praise since its release from the likes of The Listener, The Dominion Post and Radio New Zealand and is already one of this most talked about and highly regarded novels of recent years.

She’s a Killer is set in the very near future in New Zealand where the effects of climate change are really beginning to bite and affect both our physical world but also our society. The main theme of the book might be heavy, but the book is often very funny in a dark way, contains layers of twists and turns and is a fast-paced thriller with great characters to boot.

The resulting interview is a wonderful insight into the book, its themes and obsessions as well as both these writers’ practices,  and for anyone interested in modern fiction in Aotearoa and beyond is totally unmissable.

Find more info about Kirsten McDougall and her work here, 

and more info about Rajorshi Chakraborti and his work here.

She’s a killer. / McDougall, Kirsten
“Set in a very near future New Zealand where the effects of climate change are really beginning to bite and affect both our physical world but also our society.Full of spicy and fresh characters that leap of the book’s pages and a plot effortlessly moves from razor sharp humour to Climate fear driven sure shot action. ” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Tess / McDougall, Kirsten
“Tess is on the run when she’s picked up from the side of the road by lonely middle-aged father Lewis Rose. With reluctance, she’s drawn into his family troubles and comes to know a life she never had. Set in Masterton at the turn of the millennium, Tess is a gothic love story about the ties that bind and tear a family apart.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

The invisible rider / McDougall, Kirsten
“This delightful collection of linked short stories focuses on Philip Fetch, a lawyer with an office in a suburban shopping mall who feels increasingly out of step with his society and neighbours. At once surreal and whimsical, and fired by a quietly burning moral engagement, The Invisible Rider is an antipodean cousin of Calvino’s Marcovaldo” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Shakti / Chakraborti, Rajorshi
“Amid a climate of right-wing, nationalist politics, three Indian women find themselves wielding powers that match their wildest dreams. There is one catch: they come with a Faustian price.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook. 

 

The man who would not see / Chakraborti, Rajorshi
“As children in Calcutta, Ashim and Abhay made a small mistake that split their family forever. Thirty years later, Ashim has re-entered his brother’s life, with blame and retribution on his mind. It seems nothing short of smashing Abhay’s happy home will make good the damage from the past. At least, this is what Abhay and his wife Lena are certain is happening. A brother has travelled all the way from small-town India to New Zealand bearing ancient – and false – grudges, and with the implacable objective of blowing up every part of his younger brother’s life. Reconciliation was just a Trojan horse. But is Ashim really the villain he appears to be, or is there a method to his havoc?” (Catalogue)

Shadow play / Chakraborti, Rajorshi
“An international conspiracy thriller in the vein of The Parallax View— a Salman Rushdie-esque figure uses his latest novel to explain his own disappearance after a journalist’s murder   Raj Chakraborti, internationally renowned novelist and commentator, has disappeared from public view. What’s worse, the police want to question him about the murder of a young journalist. Raj claims to explain everything in chapters from his latest work of fiction about a serial-killer-turned-hired-assassin. Is Raj right to believe that he is being hunted, or is it his past that has finally borne down to haunt him?” (Catalogue)

Lit : stories from home
“Home-grown literary heroes, established contemporary authors, and award-winning emerging writers have been brought together in this new short story collection. Exploring ideas about identity, activism awareness, coming-of-age, society, and family in Aotearoa, New Zealand” (Catalogue)

 

 

And below as an additional bonus treat Kirsten herself reading a brief extract from She’s a Killer.

Q&A with author T. J. Klune

We are absolutely thrilled to announce the release of our recent interview with the wonderful T.J. Klune!

T.J. is one of the world’s most popular names in contemporary fantasy and romance fiction, whose work emphasizes positive LGBTQ+ characters. His just-released novel Under the Whispering Door is compelling and engrossing, a romantic fantasy story which deals with universal themes of life, death, grief and second chances.

Picture of T. J. Klune, seated outside in the snow with his dog

If you haven’t come across his works, his breakout novel The House in the Cerulean Sea, set in an orphanage for magical beings on an island, has justifiably been called a “Warm hug of a book”; a thoroughly recommended read with important messages about, friendship healing, inclusion and finding out who you really are.

Under the Whispering Door is equally compelling and engrossing — about a ghost who refuses to cross over, and the ferryman and his team tasked with helping him. Both novels have been huge bestsellers, and T.J. Klune is also a nominee for the 2021 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and won the Alex Award.

So, we are delighted to be posting  this touching, entertaining, insightful, poignant, and funny interview. We thoroughly enjoyed doing the interview and think you will enjoy hearing it just as much. We wish to extend our most heartfelt thanks to T.J. Klune, Tor Books and Macmillan Publishers for making it happen.

You can borrow T.J. Klune’s books from the library (see below) or buy them from any good bookshop.

Catalogue links for T.J. Klune’s books

Under the Whispering Door / Klune, TJ
The tea is hot, the scones are fresh, and the dead are just passing through.” When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead. And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead.
But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days. An uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home..” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook and an Audiobook

The house in the Cerulean Sea / Klune, TJ
“A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret. Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages. When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist.” ( Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook and an Audiobook.

The Extraordinaries / Klune, TJ
“If being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom was a superpower, Nick Bell would be a hero. Instead he’s just a fanboy with ADHD, posting online. After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), he sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Flash fire / Klune, TJ
“Through bravery, charm, and an alarming amount of enthusiasm, Nick landed himself the superhero boyfriend of his dreams. Now instead of just writing stories about him, Nick actually gets to kiss him. But having a superhero boyfriend isn’t everything Nick thought it would be–he’s still struggling to make peace with his own lack of extraordinary powers. When new Extraordinaries begin arriving in Nova City–siblings who can manipulate smoke and ice, a mysterious hero who can move objects with their mind, and a drag queen superhero with the best name and the most-sequined costume anyone has ever had–it’s up to Nick and his friends Seth, Gibby, and Jazz to determine who is virtuous and who is villainous.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive coverBrothersong, TJ Klune (ebook)
“In the ruins of Caswell, Maine, Carter Bennett learned the truth of what had been right in front of him the entire time. And then it—he—was gone.
Desperate for answers, Carter takes to the road, leaving family and the safety of his pack behind, all in the name of a man he only knows as a feral wolf. But therein lies the danger: wolves are pack animals, and the longer Carter is on his own, the more his mind slips toward the endless void of Omega insanity.
What Carter finds will change the course of the wolves forever.” (adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive coverHow to Be a Normal Person, TJ Klune (ebook)
“Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food. But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever. After all, what could possibly go wrong?” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive coverThe Art of Breathing, TJ Klune (ebook)
“Tyson Thompson graduated high school at 16 and left the town of Seafare, Oregon, bound for what he assumed would be bigger and better things. He soon found out the real world has teeth, and he returns to the coast with four years of failure, addiction, and a diagnosis of panic disorder trailing behind him. But shortly after he arrives home, Tyson comes face to face with inevitability in the form of his childhood friend and first love, Dominic Miller, who he hasn’t seen since the day he left Seafare. As their paths cross, old wounds reopen, new secrets are revealed, and Tyson discovers there is more to his own story than he was told all those years ago.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

This Thursday: Author Chris Hammer in Conversation

Brilliant… a rural crime novel with remarkable breadth and depth. – Sydney Morning Herald

Author and Journalist Chris Hammer. Photograph by Mike Bowers.

Over the past three years, journalist Chris Hammer has transformed himself into one of Australia’s leading crime writers. His debut novel Scrublands won the CWA New Blood Dagger Award and the Sunday Times Crime Novel of the Year, while his latest title, Treasure and Dirt has been described as “a criminally good crime novel set in an evocatively desolate outback opal mining town.”

This Thursday Chris will be discussing Treasure and Dirt and answering questions about his life as a journalist and author right here via Zoom. Simply click on the link below at 7pm on Thursday, 11 November (and enter the passcode) to join Chris and host Ben Hobson for this not to be missed discussion!

CHRIS HAMMER: IN CONVERSATION

DATE: 11 November 2021
TIME: 7pm
COST: Free

Click here to join!
Passcode: 199986

Overdrive cover Treasure and Dirt, by Chris Hammer
“In the desolate outback town of Finnigans Gap, police struggle to maintain law and order. Thieves pillage opal mines, religious fanatics recruit vulnerable young people and billionaires do as they please. Then an opal miner is found crucified and left to rot. Nothing about the miner’s death is straightforward, not even who found the body. Homicide detective Ivan Lucic is sent to investigate…” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Upcoming interview with photographer Professor Anne Noble

Professor Anne Noble
Anne in beesuit (All photographs are Copyrighted by Anne Noble and Massey University press and are reproduced with kind permission.)

Professor Anne Noble is one of the most highly regarded and acclaimed art photographers and conceptual artists working in Aotearoa / New Zealand.

Professor Noble’s photographic and conceptual works have gained her a major international reputation. Her work has been exhibited globally and is held in numerous national and international collections.

In 2003 Professor Noble was awarded the Order of Merit for services to photography in New Zealand. In 2009 she received a New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate Award and was awarded the Massey University individual research medal. In 2013 Anne was appointed Distinguished Professor of Fine Art.

Professor Noble’s previous bodies of work include pieces examining Antarctica, her own daughter’s mouth, pieces on the significance of memory and imagination to personal and cultural narratives of place and belonging and most recently Forests.

Her practice spans various mediums from moving image, still photography, sound, and installation work.

Bruissement_05_003 (All photographs are Copyrighted by Anne Noble and Massey University press and are reproduced with kind permission.)

We visited her recent exhibition at the Bartley & Company Art Gallery to talk to Anne about the exhibition and the associated book Conversātiō – in the company of bees which has just been published by Massey university press. It’s a beautiful publication and contains lots of stunning, and occasionally intense works, all imagery from Ann’s various Bee related exhibitions. And features illuminating essays to accompany the pictures from several guest Essayists.

Bees have long fascinated Professor Noble and been in various aspect and guises at the core of many of her exhibitions over recent years.

Professor Noble herself is a beekeeper, and has studied their history and culture, and recently her work has looked closely at their uncertain future due to climate change and ecosystem collapse.

We were over the moon when Professor Noble very kindly agreed to a filmed Q and A interview with Wellington City Libraries.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Massey university press, Bartley & Company Art Gallery in Wellington and especially Professor Anne Noble herself for her time and enlightening and thoughtfully replies to our questions.

Click here for more information on Professor Anne Noble’s practice.

Visit Bartley & Company Art Gallery for more information. Including Anne’s forthcoming exhibition  In a forest dark… (25 November – 18 December 2021 )

Dead Bee Portrait#14 (All photographs are Copyrighted by Anne Noble and Massey University press and are reproduced with kind permission.)

Conversatio : In the company of bees / Noble, Anne

“Lavishly illustrated book to accompany Professor Anne Noble’s Bee themed exhibitions staged internationally over the course of several years. With guest essayists commenting and illuminating various points and themes explored in these bodies of work.”

(Adapted from Catalogue )

 

 

Slow release : recent photography from New Zealand : Fiona Amundsen, Gavin Hipkins, Anne Noble, Fiona Pardington, Peter Peryer, Ann Shelton, Yvonne Todd

Catalogue of an exhibition at the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen, Victoria 10 August – 22 September 2002; the Gippsland Art Gallery Sale 16 November – 15 December 2002; and the Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington, 2003.Supported by the Chartwell Trust. And including bibliographical references.” (Adapted from Catalogue )

Now available to watch: Wellington writer Anne Harré in conversation with Dame Fiona Kidman

For your delight, edification, and enjoyment our very special interview with debut crime novelist and author of The Leaning Man Anne Harré in conversation with Dame Fiona Kidman.

Filmed at her publisher’s office by Wellington City Library staff. This wide-ranging interview with Anne covers The Leaning Man’s origins and creation, her love of Wellington and how Anne approaches her writing, not to mention how it feels to release your first novel.

Anne Harré’s debut novel The Leaning Man is a newly-released, gripping, suspenseful page-turning thrill ride of a book (you are very likely to stay up very late to see what happens next). It is set in our very own windy Wellington and in some respects is a love letter to the city with its perfectly visualised, vivid, and evocative descriptions of the capital. And to top it all one of the locations in the book is our very own Te Awe Library, with accompanying fictional librarian.

The book has already gained glowing reviews in The Listener, The Dominion Post as well as RNZ.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Anne Harré, Dame Fiona Kidman and Mary McCallum for making this interview happen. This interview was done in conjunction with The Cuba Press and Creative New Zealand.

The leaning man / Harré, Anne
“It’s Saturday night down on the wharf. Celebrations are in full swing for the Westons’ fortieth wedding anniversary. Their daughter Stella has returned from London to attend. Once shoulder-tapped as detective material, a few bad decisions and a questionable ethical dilemma saw her leave the force under a cloud. She’s now a private investigator in London, reduced to filming errant husbands for court cases. She doesn’t want to be home. Later that night her best friend Teri is found dead in a lane in the central city. Her phone is missing. It looks like suicide, but Stella won’t believe it.” (Catalogue)

This mortal boy / Kidman, Fiona
“Albert Black, known as the ‘jukebox killer’, was only twenty when he was convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland on 26 July 1955. His crime fuelled growing moral panic about teenagers, and he was to hang less than five months later, the second-to-last person to be executed in New Zealand. But what really happened? Was this a love crime, was it a sign of juvenile delinquency? Or was this dark episode in our recent history more about our society’s reaction to outsiders.” (Catalogue)

Facebook Premiere: Wellington writer Anne Harré in conversation with Dame Fiona Kidman

Anne Harré’s debut novel The Leaning Man is a newly released, gripping, suspenseful page-turning thrill ride of a book (you are very likely to stay up very late to see what happens next). It is set in our very own windy Wellington and in some respects is a love letter to the city with its perfectly visualised, vivid, and evocative descriptions of the capital both its light and darker sides.

The main protagonist in the novel is Stella; a complex, engaging, and damaged individual on a mission to get to the bottom of her friends’ mysterious death.

And to top it all one of the locations in the book is our very own Te Awe Library, with accompanying fictional librarian.

The book has already gained glowing reviews in The Listener, The Dominion Post as well as RNZ. So, when the opportunity arose for us to interview Anne about The Leaning Man’s origins and creation and  how Anne approaches her writing, not to mention how it feels to release your first novel, we jumped at it.

And when it was confirmed that one of the most respected and acclaimed of all our authors, Dame Fiona Kidman was to conduct the interview we were over the moon.

This exclusive interview will be premiered on our Facebook page

Sunday 17th October at 8.30

It will be available on our library social media platforms soon after. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Anne Harré, Dame Fiona Kidman and Mary McCallum for making this interview happen. This interview was done in conjunction with The Cuba Press and Creative New Zealand.

The leaning man / Harré, Anne
“Wellington. The land dips and rolls, the wind has a life of its own. Dig a little deeper and the city is unforgiving and unrepentant. Forget the politicians, they’re poor amateurs in deception and crime. It’s Saturday night down on the wharf. Celebrations are in full swing for the Westons’ fortieth wedding anniversary. Their daughter Stella has returned from London to attend. Once shoulder-tapped as detective material, a few bad decisions and a questionable ethical dilemma saw her leave the force under a cloud. She’s now a private investigator in London, reduced to filming errant husbands for court cases. She doesn’t want to be home. Later that night her best friend Teri is found dead in a lane in the central city. Her phone is missing. It looks like suicide, but Stella won’t believe it. Stella Weston is relentless, foul-mouthed and tenacious. She’s not above taking big risks to find the truth about her friend and the shady world she appears to have been dragged into. The race is on between those who want the phone, the homeless man who’s pocketed it, and Stella.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

This mortal boy / Kidman, Fiona
“Albert Black, known as the ‘jukebox killer’, was only twenty when he was convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland on 26 July 1955. His crime fuelled growing moral panic about teenagers, and he was to hang less than five months later, the second-to-last person to be executed in New Zealand. But what really happened? Was this a love crime, was it a sign of juvenile delinquency? Or was this dark episode in our recent history more about our society’s reaction to outsiders.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Interview: Both Feet in Paradise author Andy Southall

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson.

New Zealand writer Andy Southall has just released his second novel Both Feet in Paradise.  Andy’s mysterious, compelling, suspenseful thriller is occasionally surreal and chock full of unexpected twists and turns. It is set in Samoa, and along with its other attributes, is also a love letter to the island.

Andy has already published two travelogues: One Hundred Days in Samoa and 28 Days in Sri Lanka. His debut novel Making Meredith was about an amateur genealogist traveling to the north of England hoping to research his mother’s father.

During our interview with Andy we talked about his travel writing, the processes he uses whilst creating his work and how his mentorship with Pip Adam helped him finish the book. The resulting interview is a fascinating insight into Andy’s writing practice and also a great non plot spoiler accompaniment to Both Feet in Paradise. Andy was interviewed in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM.

Overdrive cover Both Feet in Paradise, Andy Southall (ebook)
“After months of researching butterflies in Sāmoa, Adam is looking forward to returning home to his family. Then his transfer to the airport doesn’t arrive. Worse, a hastily arranged taxi takes him not to departures but an empty field in the middle of nowhere, and he misses his flight. As he fails to find alternative ways off the island – other flights, ferries, even seagoing yachts – he grows increasingly frustrated, especially as all overseas phone lines and emails seem to be down as well. In a café, he meets Eve, who offers to help him. Adam decides he has to trust her, for there is no one else. Yet he has a strange feeling he’s met her before …” (Adapted Overdrive description)

The Only Living Lady Parachutist: interview with author Catherine Clarke

Image of Leila Adair during her tour of Aotearoa New Zealand in 1894,
courtesy of Palmerston North City Library

The Only Living Lady Parachutist is a remarkable novel by Catherine Clarke based in fact about aerial acrobat daredevil, Lillian (aka Leila Adair). Leila was a smoke balloonist who was billed on flyers of the time as ‘The Aerial Queen’; she toured New Zealand in 1894 and her performance included aerial acrobatics followed by death-defying parachute jumps from her balloon.  A risky endeavour at the best of times, and one that was often fraught with danger. Catherine’s book takes much of the historical information available about Leila and turns it into a compelling, fascinating, fictional page-turner of a read.

As well as being a compulsive read, the book is a fascinating insight into New Zealand and the wider world of the time, not to mention society’s perceptions of pioneering daredevil women who pushed the boundaries of what was perceived as acceptable for the time.

So, for your delight and edification, this is our exclusive, in-depth interview with Catherine Clarke, where she talks about her novel in detail, the fascinating historical and societal context behind aerial acrobats of the time, her research methods and a whole host of other topics. For anyone interested in New Zealand history, or how to create captivating historical based fiction, the interview is unmissable.

Continue reading “The Only Living Lady Parachutist: interview with author Catherine Clarke”

Library Lockdown Distractions: WCL’s You Tube channel

Color Fish GIF by Ana Pérez López

Whilst we are all at home doing the right thing, lots of us are looking for long or short distractions. Either to while away time or for something to listen to whilst doing all those tasks, or perhaps to learn something new. And the library is the perfect place to find a huge number of activities and entertainments to occupy your time, and all of them free. We have electronic platforms with tens of thousands of free-to-access books, magazines, films and video courses to learn everything, from a new language to new computing skills.

And in this series of mini blogs, we want to place the spotlight focus on just a tiny aspect of these fabulous resources. First up is our very own You Tube channel which features Q and A’s, author interviews, Home With Ghosts readings  and even whole events, such as the 2019 Comicfest panels. Our channel features some of the most popular authors from Aotearoa and across the world, such as Lee Murray, Val McDermid, Renee, Elizabeth Knox, Ben Aaronovitch, to name but a few. Click HERE to access the full list.

Poet interview: Sam Duckor-Jones

Poet / artist Sam Duckor-Jones has so far released two collections of poetry; People from the Pit Stand Up and the recently released Party Legend. As a poet his works are widely varied, wickedly clever, often poignant in an understated way and often displaying Sam’s mischievous sense of humour.

The starting point for his poems is often eclectic:- from dissections of lying, and overhead commuter conversations, to the subtle sensibilities of the works of Maurice Sendak or poetic allusions to Bach’s Allemande in G, not to mention the tensions between the options of lustful pursuit or putting your feet up in front of a warm comfy cosy fire. Sam has a natural poet’s awareness of rhythm and line and a razor-sharp intellect as this interview shows and is a radical, fresh, and distinctive voice in the poetry world.

His artwork shows the same breath of intellect and consideration and is unbounded by convention or the desire to follow any movement or school. You can see more of Sam’s artwork by clicking here.

We recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Sam to ask him all about his latest collection of poetry Party Legend and the various other projects he is involved in, including his Greymouth church project, not to mention doing a fabulous poetry reading for us.

This interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. The interview was conducted by Caffeine and Aspirin host Liam Wild.

 

Party legend / Duckor-Jones, Sam
“Sam Duckor Jones’s first poetry collection was a tour of small towns, overgrown lawns, and giant clay men. In Party Legend he turns once again to questions of existence but at an even bigger scale. These are poems about creation, God, intimacy, the surreality of political rhetoric, misunderstandings at the supermarket – and they are fearless in form and address. Though Party Legend is often wildly funny, it is also, in its Duckor-Jonesian way, tender-hearted and consoling.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

People from the pit stand up / Duckor-Jones, Sam
“This is the voice of someone who is both at home and not at home in the world. Sam Duckor-Jones’s wonderfully fresh, funny, dishevelled poems are alive with art-making and fuelled by a hunger for intimacy. Giant clay men lurk in salons, the lawns of poets overgrow, petrolheads hoon along the beach, birds cry ‘wow-okay, wow-okay, wow-okay’.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Author interview: Rajorshi Chakraborti

Rajorshi Chakraborti is one of the most interesting and exciting voices in New Zealand literature at the moment; a superb novelist, essayist, and short story writer. Rajorshi grew up in Calcutta and Mumbai and now lives in New Zealand.

He is the author of six novels and his novel The Man Who Would Not See was longlisted for the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Set in Calcutta, it is the story of a family split apart by a very small error that moves ahead thirty years, so a possible apparent reconciliation, but is it?

His latest novel Shakti is a supernatural magical realist mystery thriller set in India, that delves into the murky and dark waters of modern Indian politics in a carefully chosen, considered  and unique fashion.

And as an accompaniment to this exceptional book, we recently had the pleasure of interviewing Rajorshi in conjunction with  Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. The interview was conducted by Caffeine and Aspirin host Liam Wild.

You can also borrow his books:

Shakti / Chakraborti, Rajorshi
“Amid a climate of right-wing, nationalist politics, three Indian women find themselves wielding powers that match their wildest dreams. There is one catch: they come with a Faustian price.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook. 

 

The man who would not see / Chakraborti, Rajorshi
“As children in Calcutta, Ashim and Abhay made a small mistake that split their family forever. Thirty years later, Ashim has re-entered his brother’s life, with blame and retribution on his mind. It seems nothing short of smashing Abhay’s happy home will make good the damage from the past. At least, this is what Abhay and his wife Lena are certain is happening. A brother has travelled all the way from small-town India to New Zealand bearing ancient – and false – grudges, and with the implacable objective of blowing up every part of his younger brother’s life. Reconciliation was just a Trojan horse. But is Ashim really the villain he appears to be, or is there a method to his havoc?” (Catalogue)

Shadow play / Chakraborti, Rajorshi
“An international conspiracy thriller in the vein of The Parallax View— a Salman Rushdie-esque figure uses his latest novel to explain his own disappearance after a journalist’s murder   Raj Chakraborti, internationally renowned novelist and commentator, has disappeared from public view. What’s worse, the police want to question him about the murder of a young journalist. Raj claims to explain everything in chapters from his latest work of fiction about a serial-killer-turned-hired-assassin. Is Raj right to believe that he is being hunted, or is it his past that has finally borne down to haunt him?” (Catalogue)

Lit : stories from home
“Home-grown literary heroes, established contemporary authors, and award-winning emerging writers have been brought together in this new short story collection. Exploring ideas about identity, activism awareness, coming-of-age, society, and family in Aotearoa, New Zealand” (Catalogue)

Our exclusive author interview: Carol Markwell on Edwardian and Victorian Renaissance woman Blanche Edith Baughan (1870–1958)

New Zealand biographer Carol Markwell has just published her latest book – a brilliant and fascinating account of the life of Edwardian and Victorian Renaissance woman Blanche Edith Baughan (1870-1958), called Enough Horizon: the life and work of Blanche Baughan.

Blanche Edith Baughan was remarkable in many ways: she one of New Zealand’s first poets, a Victorian feminist, an active social reformer, one of the very first travel writers in New Zealand and an early environmentalist. She was, in all senses of the word, a true pioneer and a social visionary.

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Carol about Blanche in conjunction with the Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. And below is the podcast of that interview for your enjoyment:

In the podcast Carol also mentions her first biography Alice, what have you done! about NZ waitress Alice May Parkinson, who shot her lover in 1915.  Carol’s work also includes poetry and fiction.

Enough Horizon : The Life And Work Of Blanche Baughan / Markwell, Carol
“Blanche Edith Baughan (1870–1958) was one of New Zealand’s first poets and travel writers –  her travel writing introduced people here and overseas to our walks and wilderness areas. Born in England, Blanche emigrated to New Zealand in 1900, settling in Sumner and Banks Peninsula, where she embraced the freedom to write and think, and formed friendships with poets Jessie Mackay and Ursula Bethell. It was here that Blanche’s interest in the environment and her advocacy for the vulnerable in society flourished. She became a botanist, conservationist and prison reformer, known for her fierce correspondence in defence of her causes. ” (from publisher)

Alice, what have you done! : the case of Alice May Parkinson / Markwell, Carol
“Napier, 1915: Alice May Parkinson shoots and kills her lover. Her trial and its aftermath cause controversy throughout New Zealand. Is she a feminist heroine or a callous killer ? Or simply a desperate woman who ran out of choices? This is her story.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our exclusive author interview: John Summers on his latest book The Commercial Hotel

New Zealand writer and essayist John Summers has just published his latest work The Commercial Hotel.  John’s clever and often humorous book is part reportage, part memoir and is a meditation on his life and personal interests. Whilst the areas the book covers include John’s past, wider interests and obsessions, in doing so it also speaks to the reader about a wider story, about a side of New Zealand that is fast vanishing.

The book has a strangely modern, haunting quality to it. The Commercial Hotel in part achieves this by looking at some of the less celebrated and explored aspects of New Zealand’s recent past, especially in the more provincial areas of the country. By looking at things such as New Zealand Elvis impersonators, freezing works, night trains, hotel pubs and landfills he gets behind the surface of these things to reveal something deeper about life and death in New Zealand.

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing John about The Commercial Hotel in conjunction with the Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM.

Click below to hear the interview:


The Commercial Hotel / Summers, John
Combining reportage and memoir, The Commercial Hotel is a sharp-eyed, poignant yet often hilarious tour of Aotearoa: a place in which Arcoroc mugs and dog-eared political biographies are as much a part of the scenery as the hills we tramp through ill-equipped. We encounter Elvis impersonators, the eccentric French horn player and adventurer Bernard Shapiro, Norman Kirk balancing timber on his handlebars while cycling to his building site, and Summers’s grandmother: the only woman imprisoned in New Zealand for protesting World War Two. And we meet the ghosts who haunt our loneliest spaces.” (Publisher information) 

The mermaid boy / Summers, John
“From Christchurch to China, from mattress manufacture to Burmese medicine, these true stories explore one man’s experience with the exotic and the mundane. Witty, perceptive, and often surprising, The Mermaid Boy introduces striking new ways to write about love, travel, and home.” (Publisher information)