Catherine Chidgey shares her writing hints and tips for NaNoWriMo

 

Multi award winning novelist Catherine Chidgey shares her writing hints and tips for NaNoWriMo.

With NaNoWriMo now in full swing and scores of people busy beavering away at various branches of our library network throughout Wellington. We thought now is an excellent time to step back for a moment take stock, seek advice and ask some of New Zealand’s leading authors for any helpful suggestions they might have to help people on their way.

The fabulous Catherine Chidgey has the following tips:

  • What personal tips or hints would you pass on to new writers.

Shut the internet out of your writing room! No phones, no tablets…I write on an ancient laptop that cannot connect to the internet. If I want to look at pictures of cats, or check how many likes I have for my latest picture of my cat, I have to leave the writing room and go to my other laptop in the lounge. For me, this is the only way to get any work done.

  • Are there any writing traps that people fall into you can warn them about?

Don’t spend too long throat-clearing at the start of a piece of writing, and don’t overstay your welcome at the end. Once you’ve written a draft, have a look at these two spots – the start and the finish – and see if you can do some cutting in order to let a more powerful opening/closing emerge.

Branches hosting “Come Write In” spaces for NaNoWriMo:

  • Te Awe Library – Monday – Friday 5.30pm – 7.30pm; Saturday – Sunday 12.00 – 2.00pm
  • Arapaki Library – Thursdays and Fridays 5.00 – 7.00pm
  • Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library – Wednesdays 10.00am – 2.00pm
  • Johnsonville Library – Tuesdays 4.00 – 6.30pm and Sundays 10.00am – 4.00pm
  • Karori Library – Fridays 3.00pm – 5.00pm and Saturdays 10.00am – 1.00pm
  • Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library – Mondays 5.00pm – 7.00pm and Wednesdays 2.00 – 5.00pm

We wish to thank Catherine for her invaluable advice.

And check out our previous hints and tips posts by Breton Dukes and Mikaela Nyman for more fabulous writing advice. For full details on NaNoWriMo click here.

Below is a selection of Catherine’s works including her recently released and highly acclaimed novel Remote sympathy. Enjoy.

The beat of the pendulum : a found novel / Chidgey, Catherine
” The Beat of the Pendulum is the result of one year in which Chidgey drew upon the language she encountered on a daily basis, such as news stories, radio broadcasts, emails, social media, street signs, TV, and many conversations. As Chidgey filters and shapes the linguistic chaos of her recordings, a set of characters emerge – In her chronicling of moments of loveliness, strangeness, comedy and poetry and sorrow, Chidgey plays with the nature of time and its passing. The Beat of the Pendulum is also an exploration of human memory.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The transformation / Chidgey, Catherine
“A tale of enchantment and obsession Tampa, Florida, 1898: a frontier where the progress of the modern world has not yet won the battle against the voodoo magic of the swamps, and where miracles of transformation are still possible. Dominating the town is the new Tampa Bay Hotel, with its tangle of Moorish minarets, cupolas, and arches, its Byzantine domes and thirteen crescent moons, and its electric lighting designed by Edison. This fairy-tale castle anchored at the water’s edge is a winter magnet for the best sort of people .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The wish child / Chidgey, Catherine
” It’s 1939. Two children watch as their parents become immersed in the puzzling mechanisms of power. Sieglinde lives in the affluent ignorance of middle-class Berlin, her father a censor who cuts prohibited words such as love and mercy out of books. Erich is an only child living a rural life near Leipzig, tending beehives, aware that he is shadowed by strange, unanswered questions. Drawn together as Germany’s hope for a glorious future begins to collapse, the children find temporary refuge in an abandoned theatre amidst the rubble of Berlin. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover In a Fishbone Church, Catherine Chidgey (ebook)
“When Clifford Stilton dies, his son Gene crams his carefully kept diaries into a hall cupboard – but Clifford’s words have too much life in them to be ignored, and start to permeate his family’s world. Clifford taught Gene about how to find rocks and fossils, and about how to kill birds and fish. Gene passes on a similar inheritance to his daughters, Bridget and Christina – they have their own ways of digging and discovering the past, keeping an account of life, watching out for the varieties of death that lie hidden. “(Overdrive description)

Remote sympathy / Chidgey, Catherine
“Moving away from their lovely apartment in Munich isn’t nearly as wrenching an experience for Frau Greta Hahn as she had feared. Life here in Buchenwald would appear to be idyllic. Lying just beyond the forest that surrounds them – is the looming presence of a work camp. Frau Hahn’s husband, SS Sturmbannführer Dietritch Hahn, is to take up a powerful new position. As the prison population begins to rise, the job becomes ever more consuming. When Frau Hahn is forced into an unlikely and poignant alliance with one of Buchenwald’s prisoners, Dr Lenard Weber, her naÏve ignorance about what is going on so nearby is challenged. A decade earlier, Dr Weber had invented a machine: the Sympathetic Vitaliser. At the time he believed that it’s subtle resonances might cure cancer. But does it really work? One way or another, it might yet save a life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mikaela Nyman shares her writing hints and tips for NaNoWriMo

With NaNoWriMo now in full swing and scores of people busily writing away at various branches of our library network throughout Wellington, we thought now might be an excellent time to step back for a moment and check in with some New Zealand authors for any helpful suggestions they might have to help people on their way.

Next up, debut novelist Mikaela Nyman — author of Sado — shares her writing hints and tips for NaNoWriMo.

Sado, by Mikaela Nyman on our Catalogue

What personal tips or hints would you pass on to new writers?

I would say: just start writing to find out the nature of the beast you’re dealing with and your own writing style. Don’t overthink it in the beginning. You might be surprised where it takes you. Depending on the project and your personality you might want to do some background research first, but at the end of the day nothing will come of it, unless you start writing. Even 150 words a day is a step in the right direction. If you feel passionate about an issue that’s fertile territory to lean into and explore further. Passion can carry a writer through a lot of rough patches. If you get bored with your own text, readers are likely to pick up on it too.

Do you have any writing rituals you follow before starting writing ?

Kids off to school so I can get some peace and quiet at home. Breakfast. Coffee. Apples in the fridge. I’ve found that I can’t write in cafes, unless I bring a small notebook. With a laptop I feel too conspicuous and become very self-conscious that I’m taking up space. All these people wanting my table, glaring at the woman with the laptop who’s pretending she’s still drinking her coffee …

Are there any writing traps that people fall into you can warn them about? 

It depends on the writer’s own personality and experience. Anyone who is the “constant editor” type, compelled to go through what they’ve already written from the very beginning every day, may struggle to get to the end of a first novel draft. I find I need to get to the end to know what I’m really dealing with; what to cut out, what’s missing. Find out what time of the day produces the best writing and block that time out to write. I used to hit my stride around midnight, now I find mornings produce the sharpest prose, which is exactly when friends want to meet up for coffee. Whereas poetry writing follows its own impulses.

Are there any best practices you follow when starting to write or to keep you focussed whilst writing? 

I write most days, even if I don’t feel like it. At least I have something on the page that I can edit later or discard. I also try to give myself a real break every now and then, without having a bad conscience. Specific music can be a great way to get into the right mood and time period. Other days quiet works best. But peace and quiet is hard to come by in a family of five, where both adults work from home, so I’ve invested in headphones to shut out TV, games and kids.

Is there anything you do to keep motivated when things get bogged down strategies, approaches etc ?

I read widely, in different languages, for inspiration and to see how other writers have resolved things that I’m struggling with. I derive pleasure and satisfaction from a beautifully crafted sentence, an astounding insight, and try to hold on to the joy of writing whenever it starts to feel like a slog. Alternating between long and short fiction, non-fiction and poetry is a way to come unstuck.

We wish to thank Mikaela for her invaluable advice! Check out her novel Sado on our catalogue below:

Sado / Nyman, Mikaela
“Tropical Cyclone Pam makes landfall with devastating consequences. Vanuatu is bruised but not broken. . Cathryn is an NGO worker from New Zealand who has a ruined home, a teenage son and a Ni-Vanuatu boyfriend she hasn’t heard from since the phone lines went dead. Faia is a community organiser, a radio journalist and a survivor who fights for women to be heard. Together and apart they navigate their places in the complex cultural and social systems of Vanuatu, where tradition clashes with modern urban life.” (Catalogue)

Coming soon: award-winning author Catherine Chidgey shares her NaNoWriMo hints and tips.

For more helpful suggestions, have a read of our interview with author Breton Dukes.

Don’t forget as well, we have ‘Come Write In’ sessions happening at some of our libraries, with dedicated space set aside for NaNoWriMo writers during these sessions. Find out more on our Event Calendar.

Come Write In for NaNoWriMo

Breton Dukes shares his writing hints and tips for NaNoWriMo

 

Breton Dukes author of What Sort of Man, Bird North and Empty Bones shares his writing hints and tips for NaNoWriMo.

With NaNoWriMo now in full swing and scores of people busy beavering away at various branches of our library network throughout Wellington. We thought now is an excellent time to step back for a moment take stock, seek advice and ask some of New Zealand’s leading authors for any helpful suggestions they might have to help people on their way.

Breton Dukes has these tips:

Expect to fail. Over and over. Enjoy the failure. Enjoy the work of writing, forget about fame or whatever, just enjoy the act of sitting at your desk/table/wherever and making stuff up. Do it enough – the sitting and working – and you’ll create a habit. With the habit ingrained, you’ll get work made. Once you’ve made something, run through the whole thing again. Keep going through it until it makes a clear, seamless sound in your brain. Then give it to someone you trust to read. Make changes based on their feedback. Take time away from the project. A month or so. Then re-read and rewrite parts that don’t seem right. Send the work to a magazine/newspaper/online journal. While awaiting response, start a new project. Expect failure – embrace failure!

– Do you have any writing rituals you follow before starting writing?
Avoid rituals. They’ll stop you from getting work done.


Branches hosting “Come Write In” spaces for NaNoWriMo:

Newtown Library – Special one-off event on Monday 9th November 4.00pm
Kilbirnie – Special one off on Monday the 16th at 4.00pm
Te Awe Library – Monday – Friday 5.30pm – 7.30pm; Saturday – Sunday 12.00 – 2.00pm
Arapaki Library – Thursdays and Fridays 5.00 – 7.00pm
Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library – Wednesdays 10.00am – 2.00pm
Johnsonville Library – Tuesdays 4.00 – 6.30pm and Sundays 10.00am – 4.00pm
Karori Library – Fridays 3.00pm – 5.00pm and Saturdays 10.00am – 1.00pm
Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library – Mondays 5.00pm – 7.00pm and Wednesdays 2.00 – 5.00pm


We wish to thank Breton for his invaluable advice.

Coming soon award winning author  Catherine Chidgey and debut novelist Mikaela Nyman share their NaNoWriMo hints and tips. For full details on NaNoWriMo click here.


Empty bones : and other stories / Dukes, Breton
“From the author of the acclaimed short story collection Bird North, Empty Bones is a novella accompanied by five equally raw, intense, and comical short stories. Empty Bones is weightlifting, infidelity, drunk driving, facelifts, and childbirth. It’s a family and their weekend reunion. It is Lisbon to Madrid on the night train and Auckland to Wellington on a motorbike. It is the end, the beginning, and the gristly in between.” (Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Bird North and Other Stories, Breton Dukes (ebook)
“The vignettes in these fresh, searing short stories, closely examine the complex male life. From a predatory act during a cross-country run in Fiordland to a doomed diving trip off Wellington’s south coast, this collection combines emotional urgency with a surprising dose of humor to a great range of worlds. The result is a startlingly candid portraiture of the modern man.” (Overdrive description)

2020 Ngaio Marsh winners announced

Ngaio Marsh Awards on Facebook

Congratulations to the finalists and winners of the 2020 The Ngaio Marsh Awards!

The Ngaio Marsh Awards are presented annually and promote and celebrate excellence in crime, mystery and thriller writing by New Zealand authors.


Best Novel

This year’s winner for best novel was:

Auē, by Becky Manawatu
“Taukiri was born into sorrow. Auē can be heard in the sound of the sea he loves and hates, and in the music he draws out of the guitar that was his father’s. It spills out of the gang violence that killed his father and sent his mother into hiding, and the shame he feels about abandoning his eight-year-old brother to another violent home. But Arama is braver than he looks, and he has a friend and his friend has a dog, and the three of them together might just be strong enough to turn back the tide of sorrow. As long as there’s aroha to give and stories to tell and a good supply of plasters.” (Catalogue)

Shortlisted were:

Best First Novel

And the Best First Novel was won by:

The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald.
“Tippy Chan is eleven and lives in a small town in a very quiet part of the world – the place her Uncle Pike escaped from the first chance he got as a teenager. Now Pike is back with his new boyfriend Devon to look after Tippy while her mum’s on a cruise. Tippy is in love with her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books, especially the early ones where Nancy was sixteen and did whatever she wanted. She wants to be Nancy and is desperate to solve a real mystery. When her teacher’s body is found beside Riverstone’s only traffic light, Tippy’s moment has arrived. She and her minders form The Nancys, a secret amateur detective club. But what starts as a bonding and sightseeing adventure quickly morphs into something far more dangerous…” (Publisher description)

Shortlisted were:

We wish to extend a big congratulations to all of this year’s finalists and winners. Well done all!

We recently were lucky enough to get some of the shortlisted authors to give us some exclusive interviews and readings from the books – have a watch below:

Debut novelist Rachel Kerr’s NaNoWriMo tips!

NaNoWriMo celebrates the power of creativity, and is the ideal way of firing up your writing neurons. It also connects you to fellow writers, focuses your writing efforts by setting milestones and is a fantastic way to help budding writers create new worlds and stories!

To help you begin, we asked various authors to share their tips, hints and general advice for new writers. First up: debut novelist Rachel Kerr, who shares her advice on both the writing process and also how to get published.

Rachel’s book Victory Park revolves round a young mum who lives in council flats with her young son. The truth of her daily existence is that it is threadbare and unpromising. That is until the mysterious Bridget moves in to the flats, bringing with her unexpected friendship, glamour and wild dreams. But is all as it seems?

Rachel said that when she heard that Victory Park had arrived from the printer, she grabbed a carry bag and jumped on a bus and came straight down. “Nothing like holding your first novel in your hands and realising the words you sweated over for years are there, locked in, ready for others to read”.

Below is a short video with Rachel’s tips. We’d like to extend our thanks to Rachel for doing this!

Victory Park has now been published and will soon be available to borrow from our libraries–and is of course available from all good bookshops.

NaNoWriMo runs throughout the month of November in many of our branches. For full details see below.

Branches hosting “Come Write In” spaces for NaNoWriMo:

  • Newtown Library  Special one off event on Monday 9th November 4.00pm
  • Kilbirnie  Special one off on Monday the 16th at 4.00pm
  • Te Awe Library – Monday – Friday 5.30pm – 7.30pm; Saturday – Sunday 12.00 – 2.00pm
  • Arapaki Library – Thursdays and Fridays 5.00 – 7.00pm
  • Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library – Wednesdays 10.00am – 2.00pm
  • Johnsonville Library – Tuesdays 4.00 – 6.30pm and Sundays 10.00am – 4.00pm
  • Karori Library – Fridays 3.00pm – 5.00pm and Saturdays 10.00am – 1.00pm
  • Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library – Mondays 5.00pm – 7.00pm and Wednesdays 2.00 – 5.00pm

Below is a selection of the many writing guides available from our collection that may help you on the way. Enjoy!

Overdrive cover How Not to Write a Novel, Howard Mittelmark (ebook)
“How not to Write a Novel, authors Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman distill their 30 years combined experience in teaching, editing, writing, and reviewing fiction to bring you real advice from the other side of the query letter. Rather than telling you how or what to write, they identify the 200 most common mistakes unconsciously made by writers . As funny as it is useful, this essential how-NOT-to guide will help you get your manuscript out of the slush pile and into the bookstore. (Adapted Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Write Your Novel in a Month, Jeff Gerke (ebook)
One of these days, I’m going to sit down and write that novel…. Everyone thinks about doing it, yet most people who do start a novel end up stalling after a few chapters. Where do these would-be novelists go wrong? Are the characters dull and cliched? Did the story arc collapse? Whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or simply hoping to complete a draft over winter break, this book covers the entire scope of writing a novel. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, Jessica Brody (ebook)
Novelist Jessica Brody presents a comprehensive story-structure guide for novelists that applies the famed Save the Cat! screenwriting methodology to the world of novel writing. Revealing the 15 “beats” (plot points) that comprise a successful story, this book lays out the Ten Story Genres (Monster in the House; Whydunit; Dude with a Problem) alongside quirky, original insights (Save the Cat; Shard of Glass) to help novelists craft a plot that will captivate—and a novel that will sell. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

How to write short stories and get them published / Lister, Ashley
How to Write Short Stories and Get Them Published is the essential guide to writing short fiction. It takes the aspiring writer from their initial idea through to potential outlets for publication and pitching proposals to publishers. Along the journey this guide considers the most important aspects of creative writing, such as character, plot, point of view, description and dialogue. All of these areas are illustrated with examples of classic fiction, and accompanied by exercises that will help every writer hone their natural skill.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dance Prone and Invisible Mile author David Coventry in conversation

I was staring out a window
I was standing by the sea
Standing by the sea.

Grant Hart From Zen Arcade by Hüsker Dü


We are totally stoked to announce an exclusive interview with Dance Prone and Invisible mile author David Coventry, in conversation with his friend and fellow New Zealand musician Greg Cairns.

David had a rich and fascinating career in the New Zealand music industry before taking a right-turn and becoming an award-winning author. His first book, The Invisible Mile, is about the rigours of cycling in the Tour de France, and his second novel is about the hard core punk scene in America (you’ll hear more about this in the video). At first glance you might think these themes are poles apart, but — as David discusses — not so far apart as people may think.

In Dance prone David captures lightning in a jar by describing the psychological, physical and visceral experience of playing live in front of an audience — a remarkable feat many authors have tried and with a few notable exceptions have largely failed.

David and Greg in coversation is entertaining, insightful, wide-ranging and free form. It encompasses many topics, including David’s writing process, life on the road, and first hand recollections of legendary New Zealand bands, gigs and musicians, not to mention the genius of Husker Du.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to both David and Greg for such an entertaining, frank, and insightful behind-the-scenes conversation.

Watch the full extended  version of their discussion below:

David also put together a Dance Prone Spotify playlist.

You can catch David at his upcoming Verb Wellington Festival event on the 8th of November.

Below are just a few of the Bands and albums mentioned in the David’s  interview:


Dance prone / Coventry, David
“During their 1985 tour, two events of hatred and stupidity forever change the lives of a band’s four members. Neues Bauen, a post-hardcore Illinois group homing in on their own small fame, head on with frontman Conrad Wells sexually assaulted and guitarist Tone Seburg wounded by gunshot. The band staggers forth into the American landscape, traversing time and investigating each of their relationships with history, memory, authenticity, violence and revelling in transcendence through the act of art.” (Catalogue)

The invisible mile / Coventry, David
“The 1928 Ravat-Wonder team from New Zealand and Australia were the first English-speaking team to ride the Tour de France. From June through July they faced one of toughest in the race’s history: 5,476 kilometres of unsealed roads on heavy, fixed-wheel bikes. They rode in darkness through mountains with no light and brakes like glass. They weren’t expected to finish, but stadiums filled with Frenchmen eager to call their names. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

This is Memorial Device : an hallucinated oral history of the post-punk scene in Airdrie, Coatbridge and environs 1978-1986 / Keenan, David
This Is Memorial Device, is a love letter to the small towns of Lanarkshire in the late 1970s and early 80s.It follows a cast of misfits, drop-outs, small town visionaries and would-be artists and musicians through a period of time where anything seemed possible, a moment where art and the demands it made were as serious as your life.  Written in a series of hallucinatory first-person eye-witness accounts that capture the prosaic madness of the time and place.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ready to fly / Verlaines

Doolittle. / Pixies (Musical group)
“After 1988’s brilliant but abrasive Surfer Rosa, the Pixies’ sound couldn’t get much more extreme. Their Elektra debut, Doolittle, reins in the noise in favor of pop songcraft and accessibility. Their most accessible album, Doolittle’s wide-ranging moods and sounds make it one of their most eclectic and ambitious. A fun, freaky alternative to most other late-’80s college rock, it’s easy to see why the album made the Pixies into underground rock stars. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Horses. / Smith, Patti
“It isn’t hard to make the case for Patti Smith as a punk rock progenitor based on her debut album, which anticipated the new wave by a year or so: the simple, crudely played rock & roll, featuring Lenny Kaye’s rudimentary guitar work, the anarchic spirit of Smith’s vocals, and the emotional and imaginative nature of her lyrics — all prefigure the coming movement as it evolved on both sides of the Atlantic. Smith is a rock critic’s dream, a poet as steeped in ’60s garage rock as she is in French Symbolism.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Evol. / Sonic Youth

The last few titles are not currently available from our collection, but we hope to have them available very soon!

The Frozen Borderline, by Nico.

Land Speed Record, by Hüsker Dü.

Zen Arcade, by Hüsker Dü.

Tugga’s Mob: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Stephen Johnson

Continuing our short feature series on this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards, we are delighted to have an exclusive interview and reading by debut novelist and Ngaio Marsh shortlisted author of Tugga’s Mob, Stephen Johnson.

Stephen has a fascinating background, first as a courier and driver for Topdeck Travel, taking passengers from London to Istanbul and then as a television producer for some of New Zealand’s most iconic news and sports programmes. Both of these life experiences inform many of the dramatic devices and locations Stephen uses in this novel. For example, the novel’s investigators are a television current affairs crew rather than the traditional detectives or private investigators.

Stephen describes himself as an accidental author who wrote the book whilst on an empty nest tour of Europe. The plot revolves around Judy Williams, a young backpacker whose dream of exploring Europe on her OE ends tragically in her murder. It is only the discovery of her diary thirty years later that leads to the investigation that finally puts matters to right. Tugga’s Mob has been described by many reviewers as a “compulsive page turner” that vividly brings to life some of Europe’s top tourist destinations.

We want to extend our biggest thank you to Stephen for his time and such a great interview. And we wish him 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!

Below are some of the books that influenced Stephen Johnson and were mentioned in his interview:

Secret Seven on the trail / Blyton, Enid
“Something mysterious is going on at Tigger’s Barn, and the Secret Seven are intrigued. Peter thinks it’s all just gossip, but Jack isn’t so sure when he overhears a strange conversation. It looks like the Seven are on the trail of another exciting adventure! Solve the mystery!This edition features the classic text and comes with a Bonus Blyton section at the back with quizzes, puzzles and other bonus extras! .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Call for the dead / Le Carré, John
“After a routine security check by George Smiley, civil servant Samuel Fennan apparently kills himself. When Smiley finds Circus head Maston is trying to blame him for the death, he begins his own investigation, meeting Fennan’s widow. On the very day Smiley is ordered off the enquiry he receives an urgent letter from the dead man. Do the East Germans – and their agents – know more about this man’s death than the Circus previously imagined?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Ipcress file / Deighton, Len
“Len Deighton’s classic first novel, whose protagonist is a nameless spy – later christened Harry Palmer and made famous worldwide in the iconic 1960s film starring Michael Caine. The Ipcress File was not only Len Deighton’s first novel, it was his first bestseller and the book that broke the mould of thriller writing. For the working class narrator, an apparently straightforward mission to find a missing biochemist becomes a journey to the heart of a dark and deadly conspiracy.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Bourne identity : a novel / Ludlum, Robert
” His memory is a blank. His bullet-ridden body was fished from the Mediterranean Sea. His face has been altered by plastic surgery. A frame of microfilm has been surgically implanted in his hip. Even his name is a mystery. Marked for death, he is racing for survival through a bizarre world of murderous conspirators–led by Carlos, the world’s most dangerous assassin. Who is Jason Bourne? The answer may kill him. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Headhunters/ Nesbø, Jo
“Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter, but one career simply can’t support his luxurious lifestyle. At an art opening one night he meets Clas Greve, who is not only the perfect candidate for a major CEO job, but also, perhaps, the answer to his financial woes: Greve just so happens to mention that he owns a priceless Peter Paul Rubens painting–and Roger Brown just so happens to dabble in art theft. But when he breaks into Greve’s apartment, he finds more than just the painting.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

A place of execution / McDermid, Val
In the village of Scardale, thirteen-year-old girls didn’t just run away. So when Alison Carter vanished in the winter of ’63, everyone knew it was a murder. Catherine Heathcote remembers the case well. A child herself when Alison vanished, decades on she still recalls the sense of fear. Now a journalist, she persuades DI George Bennett to speak of the hunt for Alison, the tantalizing leads and harrowing dead ends. But when a fresh lead emerges, Bennett tries to stop the story… ‘” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook

The faceless / Symon, Vanda
“Bradley is a middle-aged man trapped in middle-class New Zealand. One day, Bradley picks up a teenage hooker. Unfortunately he can’t keep it up and then she laughs at him. That was a mistake. He beats her, ties her up and takes her to an abandoned warehouse. Max is homeless. He eats from rubbish bins, bums cigarettes from anyone and anywhere, including the footpath. But Max has one friend and she has gone missing. If he is to find her he is going to have to call on some people from his past life and re-open old wounds.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

When she was good / Robotham, Michael
“Criminal psychologist Cyrus Haven and Evie Cormac return. Who is Evie, the girl with no past, running from? She was discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Her ability to tell when someone is lying helped Cyrus crack an impenetrable case. Now, the closer Cyrus gets to uncovering answers about Evie’s dark history, the more he exposes Evie to danger, giving her no choice but to run. Ultimately, both will have to decide if some secrets are better left buried and some monsters should never be named…” (Catalogue)

For more information on Stephen click here.

New general fiction: forging fanciful new trails

Our selection this month includes the thirteenth novel by celebrated New Zealand Aotearoa author Elizabeth Knox. The absolute book is described by the author as an ‘arcane thriller’, a quest and a personal journey about revenge. This far ranging creation is rich in detail, born from the author’s knowledge of myth and folklore, the intricacies of the tale balancing between two worlds is a pleasure to be immersed in.

In The giver of stars, Jojo Moyes looks at the life of rural horseback librarians in Kentucky in the Depression era. A crew of five women from very different backgrounds will find their lives changed and influenced by choice and chance as they deliver books to people who had never had any, expanding horizons and arming them with facts that will change their lives. Gun island weaves together a contemporary and traditional tale as characters roam, migrating like seasonal animals whose patterns no longer conform to previous paths.

Other titles range from gripping thrillers to historical tales, reprising favourite love stories and gritty gangster tales. A great variety from talented writers, something for all readers to enjoy.

The absolute book / Knox, Elizabeth
“Taryn Cornick believes that the past is behind her – her sister’s death by violence, and her own ill-conceived revenge. A book about beautiful societies founded on theft and treachery, and one in which dead sisters are a living force. It is a book of journeys and returns, set in London, Norfolk, and the Wye Valley; in Auckland, New Zealand; in the Island of Apples and Summer Road of the Sidhe; at Hell’s Gate; in the Tacit with its tombs; and in the hospitals and train stations of Purgatory.” (Catalogue)

The Dutch house / Patchett, Ann (print), (eBook)
“Danny Conroy grows up in the Dutch House, a lavish mansion. Though his father is distant and his mother is absent, Danny has his beloved sister Maeve: Maeve, with her wall of black hair, her wit, her brilliance. Life is coherent, played out under the watchful eyes of the house’s former owners in the frames of their oil paintings. Then one day their father brings Andrea home. Though they cannot know it, her arrival to the Dutch House sows the seed of the defining loss of Danny and Maeve’s lives. The siblings are drawn back time and again to the place they can never enter, knocking in vain on the locked door of the past. For behind the mystery of their own exile is that of their mother’s: an absence more powerful than any presence they have known. ” (Catalogue)

Postscript / Ahern, Cecelia (print), (eBook)
“‘We desperately need your help Holly. We’re running out of ideas and…’ She takes a breath in as if summoning the energy, ‘all of us are running out of time.’ When Holly Kennedy is approached by a group calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, her safe existence is turned on its head. Inspired by her late husband Gerry’s letters, the club wants Holly to help them with their own parting messages for their loved ones to discover after they’re gone. Holly is sure of one thing – no way is she being dragged back to the grief she has left behind. It’s taken seven years to reinvent herself, and she’s ready to move on with her life. But Holly comes to realize that when you love someone, there’s always one more thing to say…” (Catalogue)

Tin badges : a novel / Carcaterra, Lorenzo (print), (eBook), (eAudiobook)
“As one of the NYPD’s most trusted “tin badges”–retired detectives brought in to solve cases that are beyond the reach of the everyday force–Tank Rizzo has faced off against some of the city’s toughest criminals without breaking a sweat. To tackle a case involving a dangerous kingpin known as Gonzo, Tank turns to his best friend and ex-partner, Pearl; a former mobster living out a seemingly quiet retirement as the owner of Tank’s favorite Italian restaurant; and a team of expert misfits he would trust with his life. But Gonzo will stop at nothing to defend the empire he’s built, and won’t hesitate to make it personal.” (Catalogue)

The giver of stars / Moyes, Jojo
“When a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Mrs. Roosevelt’s new traveling WPA library, Alice signs on enthusiastically. The leader, Margery, the smart-talking, self-sufficient daughter of a notorious local criminal, a woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. Alice finds Margery as bracing and courageous as anyone she’s ever met–and comes to rely on her, especially as her marriage starts to fail. They will be joined by three other women–two white, one black–and become known as the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky. Funny, heartbreaking, and rewarding, it is a rich novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.” (Catalogue)

Gun island : a novel / Ghosh, Amitav
“Bundook. Gun. A common word, but one which turns Deen Datta’s world upside down. A dealer of rare books, Deen is used to a quiet life spent indoors, but as his once-solid beliefs begin to shift, he is forced to set out on an extraordinary journey; one that takes him from India to Los Angeles and Venice via a tangled route through the memories and experiences of those he meets along the way. Gun Island is a beautifully realised novel which effortlessly spans space and time. It is the story of a world on the brink, of increasing displacement and unstoppable transition. But it is also a story of hope, of a man whose faith in the world and the future is restored by two remarkable women.” (Catalogue)

Pursuit : a novel of suspense / Oates, Joyce Carol
“As a child, Abby had the same recurring nightmare night after night. Now an adult, Abby thinks she’s outgrown her demons, until, the evening before her wedding, the terrible dream returns and forces her to confront the dark secrets from her past she has kept from her new husband, Willem. The following day Abby steps out into traffic. As his wife lies in her hospital bed, sleeping in fits and starts, Willem tries to determine whether this was an absentminded accident or a premeditated plunge. Slowly, Abby begins to open up to her husband, revealing to him what she has never shared with anyone before, the story of a terrified mother; a jealous, drug addled father; and a daughter’s terrifying captivity.” (Catalogue)

Bloody genius / Sandford, John
“At the local state university, two feuding departments have faced off on the battleground of PC culture. Each carries their views to extremes that may seem absurd, but highly educated people of sound mind and good intentions can reasonably disagree, right? Then someone winds up dead, and Virgil Flowers is brought in to investigate . . . and he soon comes to realize he’s dealing with people who, on this one particular issue, are functionally crazy. Among this group of wildly impassioned, diametrically opposed zealots lurks a killer, and it will be up to Virgil to sort the murderer from the mere maniacs.” (Catalogue)

A thousand ships / Haynes, Natalie (print), (eBook)
“In the early hours of the morning, Creusa wakes to find her beloved Troy engulfed in flames. Ten seemingly endless years of brutal conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans are over, and Troy has fallen. Over the next few hours, the only life she has ever known will turn to ash…The devastating consequences of the fall of Troy stretch from Mount Olympus to Mount Ida, from the citadel of Troy to the distant Greek islands, and across the oceans and sky in between. Arising from this are the individual tales of the women embroiled in the lead-up to and the aftermath of that legendary war, as well as the feud and the fatal decisions that started it all…Powerfully told from an all-female perspective, A Thousand Ships gives voices to the women, girls, and goddesses who, for so long, were kept silent.” (Catalogue)

Mansfield in translation

The Doll’s House by Katherine Mansfield has just been translated  by Karena Kelly into te reo Māori, Te Whare Tāre.  This short story looks at the class distinctions woven into young colonial New Zealand. The translation has been published by The Katherine Mansfield House and Garden. Mansfield’s Thorndon home and family artifacts are maintained by this organisation at 25 Tinakori Road in Wellington.

 

Te Whare Tāre / Mansfield, Katherine
Te Whare Tare is a te reo Māori translation of Katherine Mansfield’s well known story, The Doll’s House. First published in English in 1922. Te reo Maori translation by Karena Kelly published in 2018.” (Catalogue)

 

Wellington draws people from all over the world, keen to see Katherine Mansfield’s early influences in person. An early recreation of this short story filmed in 1975 influenced Trish Bowles’ illustrations of the sophisticated picture book, where Mansfield’s text has been embellished for all to enjoy.

Katherine Mansfield’s childhood home Chesney Wold was the inspiration for the model of her own doll’s house held as part of the collection at Katherine Mansfield House & Garden.

Chesney Wold, Karori Road, ca 1901. Karori Historical Society : Photographs. Ref: PAColl-5277-1-11. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23070805

 

 

 

Chesney Wold, Karori Road, ca 1901. Karori Historical Society : Photographs. Ref: PAColl-5277-1-11. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

 

You can also read The Doll’s House in Mansfield’s  short story collections:

Overdrive cover Bliss, Katherine Mansfield (ebook)
‘Although Bertha Young was thirty she still had moments like this when she wanted to run instead of walk, to take dancing steps on and off the pavement, to bowl a hoop, to throw something up in the air and catch it again, or to stand still and laugh at — nothing — at nothing, simply.’ This book includes Bliss, The Daughters of the Late Colonel and The Doll’s House. (adapted from Overdrive description)

One of the latest biographies describing the childhood of Mansfield and her family details the dire health issues of the era, but also the freedom the family had to socialise with the variety of people that made up Wellington in that era. Kathleen Beauchamp was a keen observer of her social and physical surroundings and was inspired to write about people from an early age.

 

A strange beautiful excitement : Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington, 1888-1903 / Yska, Redmer
“How does a city make a writer? Described by Fiona Kidman as a ‘ravishing, immersing read’, A Strange Beautiful Excitement is a ‘wild ride’ through the Wellington of Katherine Mansfield’s childhood. From the grubby, wind-blasted streets of Thorndon to the hushed green valley of Karori, author Redmer Yska, retraces Mansfield’s old ground: the sights, sounds and smells of the rickety colonial capital, as experienced by the budding writer”(adapted from Catalogue)