Author Interview: Ngaio Marsh winner Brannavan Gnanalingam

Brannavan Gnanalingam is one of the most accomplished authors working in New Zealand/Aotearoa today. A Wellington lawyer as well as a writer, his past three novels have all been listed for Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. His novel, Sprigs, won the 2021 Ngaio Marsh award and was described by Kim Hill as “scarily contemporary and realistic story…an extraordinary piece of writing”.

Gnanalingam’s latest book, Slow Down, You’re Here, is fresh off the press and has already gathered glowing reviews. In brief, the novel revolves around the arrival of an old flame into a dead-end marriage. Filled with unexpected twists and turns which propel the plot forwards; this book is a fast paced, page turning domestic thriller. It’s funny, smart and touching with truly relatable characters. As well as this, the novel is also an exploration of serious moral questions, including issues racism and class. In short, it is a fantastic engaging read.

We are thrilled that Brannavan Gnanalingam took time out from his very busy schedule to discuss his new book, and we wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to him. For more information visit http://www.lawrenceandgibson.co.nz/

This interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirinthe arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. It was conducted by host Tanya Ashcroft. You can hear the interview, as well as find a selection of Brannavan Gnanalingam’s work that is available to borrow, below.

 


Slow down you’re here. / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“Kavita is stuck in a dead-end marriage. A parent of two small kids, she is the family’s main breadwinner. An old flame unexpectedly offers her a week away in Waiheke. If she were to go, she’s not sure when – or if – she’d come back.”
( Adapted from catalogue)

 

You should have come here when you were not here / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“The intriguing title of this novel by Wellington writer Brannavan Gnanalingam derives from a statement made by Parisians to their Nazi occupiers in World War II when the Germans expressed being underwhelmed by the attractions of the French capital. This postmodern travelogue tells the lonely tale of Veronica, a thirty-something asexual female journalist from New Zealand who travels to Paris late as a freelance journalist only to find the city indifferent to and from her.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Sprigs / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“It is Saturday afternoon and two boys’ schools are locked in battle for college rugby supremacy. Priya – a fifteen year old who barely belongs – watches from the sidelines. Then it is Saturday night and the team is partying. Priya’s friends have evaporated and she isn’t sure what to do. In the weeks after ‘the incident’ life seems to go on. But when whispers turn to confrontation, the institutions of wealth and privilege circle the wagons.” ( Adapted from Catalogue )

Sodden downstream / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“Thousands flee central Wellington as a far too common ‘once in a century’ storm descends. For their own safety, city workers are told that they must go home early. Sita is a Tamil Sri Lankan refugee living in the Hutt Valley. She’s just had a call from her boss – if she doesn’t get to her cleaning job in the city she’ll lose her contract.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Credit in the straight world / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“‘Credit in the straight world’ charts the fortunes of Frank Tolland as he casts off an ignoble birth to become the singular leader of business and community in small-town New Zealand. Told through the eyes of his mute brother, George, this novel is a sharp and satirical account of a small-town finance company, and sweeps through the dramatic economic changes of the 20th and the 21st centuries.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A briefcase, two pies and a penthouse : a novel / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“Rachel McManus has just started at the New Zealand Alarm and Response Ministry. One of the few females working there, she is forced to traverse the peculiarities of Wellington bureaucracy, lascivious colleages, and decades of sedimented hierarchy. She has the chance to prove herself by investigating a suspected terrorist, who they fear is radicalising impressionable youth and may carry out an attack on the nation’s capital.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Getting under sail / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“Morocco to Ghana. Overland. Three New Zealanders. Armed with a guide book and stereotypes. They go being warned of danger, poverty and war by people who had never been there. They end up embroiled in a civil war – but it wasn’t really anything to do with Africa.” (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)

Bryan Walpert in conversation about his latest novel Entanglement

Bryan Walpert is a professor in creative writing at Massey University, a poet, novelist and a creative thinker. His work so far encompasses nine books including four collections of poetry: – Etymology, A History of Glass, Native Bird and Brass Band to Follow being the most recent. His short novella called ‘Late Sonata’, won the Seizure Viva La Novella Prize and he was also recently a contributor to the Dante project More Favourable Waters.

‘Late Sonata’ was praised  for its “seamless melding of the emotional and the intellectual”, something his new novel Entanglement does too.

Entanglement is Bryan’s first full length novel and revolves around various threads: A memory-impaired time traveller and his attempts to correct a tragic mistake, a novelist researching at the Centre for Time in Sydney, and a writer at a lake retreat in New Zealand in 2019 obsessing over the disintegration of his marriage following another tragedy. Are they separate stories, or are they one?

Entanglement is a multi-layered, multi-faceted work that weaves big ideas about the nature of existence and time into the integral fabric of the plot, whilst also being very personal about the characters’ inner lives. It was recently listed in the Listener’s Best Books of 2021 list and when Bryan agreed to talk to us about Entanglement and its creation and themes, we jumped at the chance.

We wish to extend to Bryan a huge thank you for letting us interview him about Entanglement and giving us such a fascinating insight into your creative process. Read more about Bryan Walpert here and more about Entanglement by clicking here.

Entanglement / Walpert, Bryan
“A memory-impaired time traveller attempts to correct a tragic mistake he made in 1977 when, panicked, he abandoned his brother on a frozen lake in Baltimore. Decades later, in 2011, a novelist researching at the Centre for Time in Sydney becomes romantically involved with a philosopher from New Zealand. Another eight years on, and a writer at a lake retreat in New Zealand in 2019 obsesses over the disintegration of his marriage following another tragedy. Are these separate stories, or are they one? Is the time traveller actually travelling? Can the past be changed? As the answers to these questions slowly emerge, the three tales become entangled, along with the usual abstractions: love, desperation and physics.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Brass band to follow : poems / Walpert, Bryan
“Bryan Walpert’s fourth collection of lyric poems ranges in its focus from flowers to infinities, from laundry to eternity, but is founded most fully on what it is to move into middle age – to wait for life’s promised brass band to arrive. Whether writing from the perspective of a parent watching childhood slip away or ventriloquising the 17th-century scientific language of Robert Hooke and Robert Boyle to craft surprising love poems, he engages the world with a keen and often witty perception, a deft juggling of the sentence, and a sense of wonder. Frequently playful in approach, the poems are always serious in their engagement with the bewildering nature of time passing – of growing up and growing older.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

More favourable waters : Aotearoa poets respond to Dante’s Purgatory
“An anthology of contemporary poets from Aotearoa New Zealand commemorating one of the world’s great poets, Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), 700 years after his death.
Each of the 33 poets has written a poem of 33 lines inspired by and including a short passage from one of the 33 cantos of Dante’s Purgatory, the second part of his epic The Divine Comedy.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Strong words 2019 : the best of the Landfall essay competition
“Judging her first Landfall Essay Competition in 2018, Landfall editor Emma Neale was seriously challenged. The overall high quality of the 90 submissions made it impossible to choose. After a nails-bitten-to-the-quick struggle, she optimistically submitted her ‘shortlist’ of 21 essays. The publisher had some strong words with her. Emma was told a shortlist needed to be shorter than 21. A lot shorter. In the end she pared the list back to 10 but it seemed so wasteful not to be awarding many more prizes. That’s when this book was born … Strong Words is a striking collection of essays that celebrates an extraordinary year in New Zealand writing.” (adapted from catalogue)

Coming Soon! The Big Read: Potiki by Patricia Grace 7-21 December 2021

 

This December we have a very special treat for book lovers.

We want to try get as many people as possible to read the iconic New Zealand novel Potiki by Patricia Grace. Since it was first published in 1986, local and international readers have been spellbound by Potiki. This captivating story follows the struggle to protect indigenous land against developers, who are threatening to destroy a community and a whole way of life.

And to help make this happen, we have two ways people can celebrate and get involved with this outstanding novel: Unlimited downloads of the book and a chance to find your own hidden copy.

Between 7 – 21 December Wellington City Libraries are offering unlimited downloads of Potiki  eBooks; all you will need to access a digital copy is a valid Wellington City Libraries card. Available from our eBook platform Libby, our Overdrive app.

Or if you are up for a bit of fun, our book fairies are hiding copies of the book throughout the city. So if you  fancy the chance of finding your own hidden copy of Potiki, keep an eye out for more details soon. So why not join Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts and Wellington City Libraries, with Penguin Random House New Zealand to read one of Aotearoa’s great novels: Potiki.

We want to make this the biggest read in Aotearoa’s history…

Find, read and pass it on!

Then there is the opportunity to  hear from the Patricia Grace herself at the  Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts 25 February – 20 March 2022.

 

Click here for more details of the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of The Arts

Overdrive cover Potiki, Patricia Grace (ebook)Patricia Grace’s classic novel is a work of spellbinding power in which the myths of older times are inextricably woven into the political realities of today. In a small coastal community threatened by developers who would ravage their lands it is a time of fear and confusion – and growing anger. The prophet child Tokowaru-i-te-Marama shares his people’s struggles against bulldozers and fast money talk. When dramatic events menace the marae, his grief threatens to burst beyond the confines of his twisted body. His all-seeing eye looks forward to a strange and terrible new dawn. Potiki won the New Zealand Book Awards in 1987. (Overdrive description)

 

 

The good wife of Bath: our selection of new fiction titles

British Library Dragon GIF by GIF IT UP

Written in the late middle ages, ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’ by Geoffrey Chaucer is definitely one of the best known of The Canterbury Tales. The tale gives a rare, if skewed, insight into the role of women at that time and illuminates the changing social structure in a society that was very heavily male dominated. At a time when women were defined only by their relations with men, the tale depicted a person who was unashamed of her sexuality, was more than capable of holding her own amongst bickering pilgrims and was living a very unconventional life for the time, though Chaucer’s tone was often mocking. Some critics have speculated that Chaucer may have written the tale in part to ease a guilty conscience and as a partial critique of misogyny in the literature of the time, though the tale still contains elements of that misogyny.

Karen Brooks’ reimagining of the tale takes a very different tack – in The good wife of Bath: a (mostly) true story she puts the narrative very firmly in the lead protagonist’s voice, and in doing so highlights the caustic results of leaving male power to run unchecked on both society and individuals. The resulting book is often ribaldry, funny and picaresque and examines issues that are just as pertinent to the present day as they were to Chaucer’s time. As well as The Good Wife of Bath we have a wide selection of newly acquired fiction titles including two fabulous Aotearoa titles

The good wife of Bath : a (mostly) true story / Brooks, Karen
“In the middle ages, a poet told a story that mocked a strong woman. It became a literary classic. But what if the woman in question had a chance to tell her own version? Who would you believe? England, The Year of Our Lord, 1364. When married off aged 12 to an elderly farmer, Eleanor Cornfed, who’s constantly told to seek redemption for her many sins, quickly realises it won’t matter what she says or does, God is not on her side – or any poor woman’s for that matter. But Eleanor was born under the joint signs of Venus and Mars. Both a lover and a fighter, she will not bow meekly to fate. A recasting of a literary classic that gives a maligned character her own voice, and allows her to tell her own (mostly) true story.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Crazy love / Allan, Rosetta
“It has been 28 years since Vicki last sent a letter to Robert Muldoon. Last time she wrote, he was Prime Minister, while she was living with her loser-boyfriend and wanting to know why people like her had to exist in such dire straits. Back then, Muldoon sent her a dollar, but it was the irrepressible Billy who turned up and transformed her life. This time Muldoon is dead and it is Billy who has made her so desperate she doesn’t know where to turn. Since running away with Billy, Vicki has barely looked back. Together they have become a family and prospered. They have survived so much, but can they survive Billy’s increasingly erratic behaviour, especially when he seems so set on pulling them apart?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The last guests / Pomare, J. P.
“What do you do when you think no one is watching? Lina and Cain are doing their best to stay afloat. Money has been tight since Cain returned from active duty, and starting a family is proving harder than they thought. Putting Lina’s inherited lakehouse on Airbnb seems like the solution to at least one of their problems. The secluded house is more of a burden than a retreat, anyway, and fixing up the old place makes Cain feel useful for once. But letting strangers stay in their house might not be the best idea. Someone is watching – their most mundane tasks, their most intimate moments – and what they see will change everything.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sistersong / Holland, Lucy
“535 AD. King Cador’s children inherit a land abandoned by the Romans, torn by warring tribes. Riva can cure others, but can’t heal her own scars. Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, although born a daughter. And Sinne dreams of love, longing for adventure. All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold, their people’s last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. However, change comes on the day ash falls from the sky – bringing Myrdhin, meddler and magician. The siblings discover the power that lies within them and the land. But fate also brings Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear them apart. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sisters of the resistance : a novel of Catherine Dior’s Paris spy network / Wells, Christine
“Gabby Foucher hates the Nazis who occupy Paris. As the concierge of ten rue Royale, she makes it a point to avoid trouble, unlike her sister Yvette. Both women are recruited into the Resistance by Catherine Dior, sister of fashion designer Christian Dior. Gabby discovers an elderly tenant is hiding a wounded British fugitive, and Yvette becomes a messenger for the Resistance. As Gabby begins to fall in love with her patient and Yvette’s impulsiveness lead her into intrigue at an ever-higher level, both women will discover that their hearts– and their lives– hang in the balance. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also Available as an Audiobook.

Painting time / Kerangal, Maylis de
“An aesthetic and existential coming-of-age novel exploring the apprenticeship of a young female painter, Paula Karst, who is enrolled at the famous Institut de Peinture in Brussels. With the attention of a documentary filmmaker, de Kerangal follows Paula’s apprenticeship, punctuated by brushstrokes, hard work, sleepless nights, sore muscles, and long, festive evenings. After completing her studies at the Institute, Paula continues to practice her art in Paris, in Moscow, then in Italy on the sets of great films, all as if rehearsing for a grand finale: at a job working on Lascaux IV, a facsimile reproduction of the world’s most famous paleolithic cave art and the apotheosis of human cultural expression.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The inheritance of Orquídea Divina : a novel / Córdova, Zoraida
“The Montoyas know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers, even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. When Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers. Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways …….” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A slow fire burning / Hawkins, Paula
“Laura has spent most of her life being judged. She’s seen as hot-tempered, troubled, a loner. Some even call her dangerous. Miriam knows that just because Laura is witnessed leaving the scene of a horrific murder with blood on her clothes, that doesn’t mean she’s a killer. Innocent or guilty, everyone is damaged. Some are damaged enough to kill.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Historical Fantasy and beyond: new Science Fiction and Fantasy

“A library of books is the fairest garden in the world, and to walk there is an ecstasy.”

― E. Powys Mathers, The Arabian Nights

Historical fantasy is a genre of fantasy where fantastic elements such as magic are incorporated into a realistic often historical narrative. The genre is one of the oldest forms of fiction around with many early examples such as One Thousand and One Nights and spans a wide diversity of cultures and time periods. These days the genre itself is split into numerous sub genres from wuxia (a martial arts version of historical fantasy) to gunpowder fantasy (an offshoot of Steampunk), prehistoric fantasy to Celtic fantasy.

If you are unfamiliar with this genre just a few recommended titles are Diana Wynne Jones’ Castle in the Air, Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa and the Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel.

And this month’s newly acquired selection of science fiction and fantasy titles have two very fine examples of this genre – She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, set in China in 1345, and A Radical Act of Free Magic by the fabulous Aotearoa / New Zealand author H.G. Parry, set during the time of the Napoleonic war (you can hear H.G. Parry talk exclusively to us about this novel by clicking the link below.) We also have a very small selection of  non historical fantasy newly-acquired science fiction and fantasy titles as well.

A radical act of free magic : a novel / Parry, H. G.
“The Concord has been broken, and a war of magic engulfs the world. In France, the brilliant young battle-mage Napoleon Bonaparte has summoned a kraken from the depths, and under his command the Army of the Dead have all but conquered Europe. Britain fights back, protected by the gulf of the channel and powerful fire-magic, but Wilberforce’s own battle to bring about free magic and abolition has met a dead end in the face of an increasingly fearful and repressive government. But there is another, even darker war being fought beneath the surface: the first vampire war in hundreds of years…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

She who became the sun / Parker-Chan, Shelley
” In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected. When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. …..” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A song of flight / Marillier, Juliet
“After a violent encounter with masked men and the sinister Crow Folk, Prince Aolu of Dalriada disappears without a trace, and his companion Galen is seriously injured. Liobhan and the Swan Island warriors seek answers to the prince’s abduction. For Liobhan this mission is personal, as Galen is her beloved brother. While she and her team investigate, Liobhan’s younger brother Brocc is in serious trouble. Brocc’s secret attempt to communicate with the Crow Folk triggers a shocking incident, and sends him on a path which endangers the one he loves above all else. What brought the Crow Folk to Erin? And who plots to use them in an unscrupulous bid for power? ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Paris by starlight / Dinsdale, Robert
“Every night on their long journey to Paris from their troubled homeland, Levon’s grandmother has read to them from a very special book. Called The Nocturne, it is a book full of fairy stories and the heroic adventures of their people who generations before chose to live by starlight. And with every story that Levon’s grandmother tells them in their new home, the desire to live as their ancestors did grows. And that is when the magic begins…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Thread needle / Thomas, Cari
“Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic. Magic is the first sin. It must be bound. Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly. It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. ………..” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In the watchful city / Lu, S. Qiouyi
“The city of Ora is watching. Anima is an extrasensory human tasked with surveilling and protecting Ora’s citizens via a complex living network called the Gleaming. Although ær world is restricted to what æ can see and experience through the Gleaming, Anima takes pride and comfort in keeping Ora safe from harm. When a mysterious outsider enters the city carrying a cabinet of curiosities from around with the world with a story attached to each item, Anima’s world expands beyond the borders of Ora to places–and possibilities–æ never before imagined to exist. But such knowledge leaves Anima with a question that throws into doubt ær entire purpose: What good is a city if it can’t protect its people?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The past is red / Valente, Catherynne M.
” The future is blue. Endless blue… except for a few small places that float across the hot, drowned world left behind by long-gone fossil fuel-guzzlers. One of those patches is a magical place called Garbagetown. Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she’s the only one who knows it. She’s the only one who knows a lot of things: that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world, that it’s full of hope, that you can love someone and 66% hate them all at the same time. But Earth is a terrible mess, hope is a fragile thing, and a lot of people are very angry with her. Then Tetley discovers a new friend, a terrible secret, and more to her world than she ever expected.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Notes from the burning age / North, Claire
“Ven was once a holy man, a keeper of ancient archives. It was his duty to interpret archaic texts, sorting useful knowledge from the heretical ideas of the Burning Age–a time of excess and climate disaster. For in Ven’s world, such material must be closely guarded so that the ills that led to that cataclysmic era can never be repeated. But when the revolutionary Brotherhood approaches Ven, pressuring him to translate stolen writings that threaten everything he once held dear, his life will be turned upside down. Torn between friendship and faith, Ven must decide how far he’s willing to go to save this new world–and how much he is willing to lose” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The 2021 Ngaio Marsh Awards Shortlist

“Above all things — read. Read the great stylists who cannot be copied rather than the successful writers who must not be copied.”
― Ngaio Marsh, Death on the Air and Other Stories

The shortlist for this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards has just been announced and what a powerful and diverse shortlist it is.  Included amongst its illustrious ranks we have Brannavan Gnanalingam’s Sprigs, the debut novel sensation The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle, which already has its film rights snapped up by Hollywood, and a whole host of other stunning works.

The Ngaio Marsh Awards began in 2010 with an aim to recognise and proclaim excellence in New Zealand mystery, crime, and thriller writing. It is presented to the best novel, best first novel, best nonfiction work, and this year a whole new category has been launched for novels for younger readers. Each of the books in all the categories need to have been published the preceding year.

We wish to extend our congratulations to all this year’s nominees and we don’t envy the judges’ task in selecting the final winners.

Best Nonfiction (biennial):

Weed: A New Zealand story (James Borrowdale)

Rock College: An unofficial history of Mount Eden Prison (Mark Derby)

From Dog Collar to Dog Collar (Bruce Howat)

Gangland (Jared Savage)

Black Hands: Inside the Bain family murders (Martin Van Beynen)

 

Inaugural Prize for Novel for Younger Readers:

Katipo Joe (Brian Falkner)

Red Edge (Des Hunt)

A Trio of Sophies (Eileen Merriman)

Deadhead (Glenn Wood)

 

Best Novel:

The murder club / Crutchley, Nikki
“When the first letter arrives saying that ‘tonight it begins’, journalist Miller Hatcher ignores it. But then the body of a murdered woman is discovered, strangled, a scarf around her neck. Cassie Hughes has always vowed to find the man who murdered her mother. Cassie knows he’s out there and wants him to pay, and Miller agrees to bring the cold case back into the public’s eye. Logan Dodds has been obsessed with true crime ever since his sister was murdered thirty years ago. He has turned his obsession into a career and has created the True Crime Enthusiasts Club and his newest venture, True Crime Tours.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sprigs / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“It is Saturday afternoon and two boys’ schools are locked in battle for college rugby supremacy. Priya – a fifteen year old who barely belongs – watches from the sidelines. Then it is Saturday night and the team is partying. Priya’s friends have evaporated and she isn’t sure what to do. In the weeks after ‘the incident’ life seems to go on. But when whispers turn to confrontation, the institutions of wealth and privilege circle the wagons.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

The tally stick / Nixon, Carl
“Up on the highway, the only evidence that the Chamberlains had ever been there was two smeared tyre tracks in the mud leading into the almost undamaged screen of bushes and trees. No other cars passed that way until after dawn. By that time the tracks had been washed away by the heavy rain . . . It was a magic trick. After being in the country for only five days, the Chamberlain family had vanished into the air. The date was 4 April 1978. In 2010 the remains of the eldest Chamberlain child have been discovered in a remote part of the West Coast, showing he lived for four years after the family disappeared. Found alongside him are his father’s watch and what turns out to be a tally stick, a piece of wood scored across, marking items of debt. How had he survived and then died? Where was the rest of his family? And what is the meaning of the tally stick?”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

The secrets of strangers / Norman, Charity
“Five strangers, one cafe – and the day that everything changed. A regular weekday morning veers drastically off-course for a group of strangers whose paths cross in a London cafe – their lives never to be the same again when an apparently crazed gunman holds them hostage. But there is more to the situation than first meets the eye and as the captives grapple with their own inner demons, the line between right and wrong starts to blur. Will the secrets they keep stop them from escaping with their lives?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Tell me lies / Pomare, J. P.
“Psychologist Margot Scott has a picture-perfect life: a nice house in the suburbs, a husband, two children and a successful career. On a warm spring morning Margot approaches one of her clients on a busy train platform. He is looking down at his phone, with his duffel bag in hand as the train approaches. That’s when she slams into his back and he falls in front of the train. Margot’s clients all lie to her, but one lie cost her family and freedom.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Best First Novel:

The girl in the mirror / Carlyle, Rose
“Identical twins only look the same … Beautiful twin sisters Iris and Summer are startlingly alike, but beyond what the eye can see lies a darkness that sets them apart. Cynical and insecure, Iris has long been envious of open-hearted Summer’s seemingly never-ending good fortune, including her perfect husband Adam. Called to Thailand to help sail the family yacht to the Seychelles, Iris nurtures her own secret hopes for what might happen on the journey. But when she unexpectedly finds herself alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean, everything changes. Now is her chance to take what she’s always wanted – the idyllic life she’s always coveted. But just how far will she go to get the life she’s dreamed about? And how will she make sure no one discovers the truth?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Where the truth lies / Kilmore, Karina
“When investigative journalist Chrissie O’Brian lands a senior job at The Argus, she is desperate to escape the nightmares of her past. Her life has become a daily battle to resist numbing the pain. But her job is something she can do better than anyone else – and the only thing that keeps the memories at bay. A face-off on the waterfront between the unions and big business is just the kind of story to get her career back on track. But after a dockworker who confided in her turns up dead, Chrissie becomes obsessed with unravelling the truth. When a gruesome threat lands on her desk, it’s clear someone is prepared to do anything to stop her.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook

For reasons of their own / Stuart, Chris
“Robbie Gray, a talented but troubled Detective Inspector stationed in Melbourne, who has fallen foul of police bureaucracy, is called to a investigate a dead body found in a rural wetland swamp. Under-resourced, with a corpse that cannot be identified and no apparent motive for the murder, she fails to make headway. The Federal Police take over the investigation and ASIO becomes involved, focusing on a terrorism angle. Convinced they are misinterpreting the evidence, or worse, DI Gray begins her own investigation assisted by a young Aboriginal policeman….” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also on the list is  The Beautiful Dead by Kim Hunt and While the Fantail Lives by Alan Titchall.

Trains and boats and planes: our selection of recently acquired fiction titles

Amongst this month’s recently acquired fiction titles we have a few that have modes of transport woven into their plots, including a Japanese novel by Kōtarō Isaka intriguingly situated almost entirely on a bullet train. The first initial Shinkansen, known in English as the bullet train, routes started to transport passengers in 1964, expanding over the following decades. The high-speed network has now chalked up over 10 billion passenger journeys. In the novel, five killers find themselves competing for a suitcase full of money on a bullet train.

We also have Falling by real-life flight attendant T. J. Newman, written on redeye flights at 35,000 feet whilst her passengers were asleep.

We also have the fabulous Bug week & other stories by Airini Beautrais, the winner of this year’s Ockham prize and the recently released New Zealand novel Greta & Valdin, set in an Auckland apartment and revolving round brother and sister, navigating the complexities of modern romance. For a wider selection of our recently acquired new fiction just check out our list below.

Bullet train / Isaka, Kōtarō
“Satoshi looks like an innocent schoolboy but he is really a viciously cunning psychopath. Kimura’s young son is in a coma thanks to him, and Kimura has tracked him onto the bullet train headed from Tokyo to Morioka to exact his revenge. But Kimura soon discovers that they are not the only dangerous passengers onboard. Nanao, the self-proclaimed ‘unluckiest assassin in the world’, and the deadly partnership of Tangerine and Lemon are also travelling to Morioka. A suitcase full of money leads others to show their hands. Why are they all on the same train, and who will get off alive at the last station?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 Falling / Newman, T. J.
“You just boarded a flight to New York. There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard. What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped. For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die. The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane. Enjoy your flight.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Bug week & other stories / Beautrais, Airini
“A science educator in domestic chaos fetishises Scandinavian furniture and champagne flutes. A group of white-collar deadbeats attend a swinger’s party in the era of drunk Muldoon. A pervasive smell seeps through the walls of a German housing block. A seabird performs at an open-mic night. Bug Week is a scalpel-clean examination of male entitlement, a dissection of death, an agar plate of mundanity. From 1960s Wellington to post-Communist Germany, Bug Week traverses the weird, the wry and the grotesque in a story collection of human taxonomy.”(Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Greta & Valdin / Reilly, Rebecca K
“Valdin is still in love with his ex-boyfriend Xabi, who used to drive around Auckland in a ute but now drives around Buenos Aires in one. Greta is in love with her fellow English tutor Holly, who doesn’t know how to pronounce Greta’s surname, Vladislavljevic, properly. From their Auckland apartment, brother and sister must navigate the intricate paths of modern romance as well as weather the small storms of their eccentric Māori-Russian-Catalonian family”–Information from publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The discomfort of evening / Rijneveld, Marieke Lucas
“Jas lives with her devout farming family in the rural Netherlands. One winter’s day, her older brother joins an ice skating trip; resentful at being left alone, she makes a perverse plea to God; he never returns. As grief overwhelms the farm, Jas succumbs to a vortex of increasingly disturbing fantasies, watching her family disintegrate into a darkness that threatens to derail them all. “–Publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

 

Katharine Parr : the sixth wife / Weir, Alison
“Having sent his much-beloved but deceitful young wife Katheryn Howard to her beheading, King Henry fixes his lonely eyes on a more mature woman, thirty-year-old, twice-widowed Katharine Parr. She, however, is in love with Sir Thomas Seymour, brother to the late Queen Jane. Aware of his rival, Henry sends him abroad, leaving Katharine no choice but to become Henry’s sixth queen. Four years into the marriage, Henry dies, leaving England’s throne to nine-year-old Edward—a puppet in the hands of ruthlessly ambitious royal courtiers. The result is a tangled tale of love and a struggle for power, bringing to a close the dramatic and violent reign of Henry VIII.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A fine madness : a novel inspired by the life and death of Christopher Marlowe / Judd, Alan
“Danger and dissent stalk the streets and taverns of Elizabethan England. The Queen’s chief spymaster, Francis Walsingham, and his team of agents must maintain the highest levels of vigilance to ward off Catholic plots and the ever-present threat of invasion. One operative in particular – a young Cambridge undergraduate, controversial beliefs and literary genius who goes by the name of Kit Marlowe – is relentless in his pursuit of intelligence for the Crown. When he is killed outside an inn in Deptford, his mysterious death becomes the subject of rumours and suspicion .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

With teeth / Arnett, Kristen
“If she’s being honest, Sammie Lucas is scared of her son. Working from home in the close quarters of their Florida house, she lives with one wary eye peeled on Samson, a sullen, unknowable boy who resists her every attempt to bond with him. Uncertain in her own feelings about motherhood, she tries her best—driving, cleaning, cooking, prodding him to finish projects for school—while growing increasingly resentful of Monika, her confident but absent wife. When her son’s hostility finally spills over into physical aggression, Sammie must confront her role in the mess—and the possibility that it will never be clean again.” (Catalogue)

Winged horses and a trio of New Zealand titles to be found in this month’s selection of newly acquired Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy books

MiraX via GIPHY

‘It’s your worst nightmare. That’s why you’re writing it.’

– Emily Perkins about the manuscript that became Unsheltered.

The thriving and diverse nature of New Zealand’s Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and speculative fiction scene is very much to the fore and in evidence in this month’s selection of recently acquired titles with not one or two, but three New Zealand releases in the list.

First up we have Ghost bus: tales from Wellington’s dark side by Anna Kirtlan, a collection of comic supernatural stories featuring sea monsters, ghosts and troublesome witches in a collection that is a love letter to paranormal Wellington.

The second newly released title is Unsheltered by Clare Moleta, in which a mother travels across a disintegrating country marked by a collapsing ecosystem and the attendant social disintegration in search of her lost daughter. A taut and compulsive, page-turning read.

And rounding off these three we have Melanie Harding-Shaw’s, debut book Alt-ernate: A collection of 37 stories, gathered together from numerous publications since 2016, as well as a few previously unpublished works, and featuring a story for every year of her life. Melanie’s versatility as a writer really comes to the fore in the collection with strange, dark, and melancholic tales mingling with sweet or light-hearted yarns. A fabulous debut which was  followed up recently by Melanie’s lockdown witchy fiction  novella ‘Against the grain’; we very much look forward to more from Melanie. Below are these and a few other selected titles.

Ghost bus : tales from Wellington’s dark side / Kirtlan, Anna
“Ghosts, sea monsters and a rest home for troublesome witches all feature in this collection of paranormal short stories set in Wellington, New Zealand. By turns spooky and laugh out loud funny, these tales stew with malevolence and mischief. Climb aboard the ghost bus for a wild ride of sci-fi, fantasy, horror and humour and hop off a little more in love with Aotearoa’s capital city.” (Catalogue)

 

Unsheltered / Moleta, Clare
“Against a background of social breakdown and destructive weather, Unsheltered tells the story of a woman’s search for her daughter. Li never wanted to bring a child into a world like this but now that eight-year-old Matti is missing, she will stop at nothing to find her. As she crosses the great barren country alone and on foot, living on what she can find and fuelled by visions of her daughter just out of sight ahead, Li will have every instinct tested. She knows the odds against her: an uncompromising landscape, an uncaring system, time running out, and the risks of any encounters on the road. But her own failings and uncertainty might be the greatest obstacle of all. Because even if she finds her, how can she hope to shield Matti from the future?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Alt-ernate : a collection of 37 stories / Harding-Shaw, Melanie
“Alt-ernate is the debut short story collection from author Melanie Harding-Shaw, showcasing her versatility as a writer. This ability to write in many different voices and tones  really comes to the fore in this collection with strange, dark, and melancholic tales mingling with sweet or light-hearted yarns.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

The thief on the winged horse / Mascarenhas, Kate
“The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls for over 200 years. But their dolls aren’t coveted for the craftsmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. A magic that can make you feel bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Though founded by sisters, now only men may know the secrets of the workshop. Persephone Kendrick longs to break tradition and learn her ancestors’ craft, and when a handsome stranger arrives claiming doll-making talent and blood ties to the family, she sees a chance to grasp all she desires. But then, one night, the firm’s most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ariadne / Saint, Jennifer
“Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid’s stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice. When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne’s decision ensure her happy ending? And what of Phaedra, the beloved younger sister she leaves behind?”(Adapted from Catalogue)

The helm of midnight / Lostetter, Marina J
“In a daring and deadly heist, thieves have made away with an artifact of terrible power-the death mask of Louis Charbon. Made by a master craftsman, it is imbued with the spirit of a monster from history, a serial murderer who terrorized the city. Now Charbon is loose once more, killing from beyond the grave. But these murders are different from before, not simply random but the work of a deliberate mind probing for answers to a sinister question. It is up to Krona Hirvath and her fellow Regulators to enter the mind of madness to stop this insatiable killer while facing the terrible truths left in his wake.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A girl made of air / Hetherington, Nydia
“This is the story of The Greatest Funambulist Who Ever Lived… Born into a post-war circus family, our nameless star was unwanted and forgotten, abandoned in the shadows of the big top. until the bright light of Serendipity Wilson threw her into focus. Now an adult, haunted by an incident in which a child was lost from the circus, our narrator, a tightrope artiste, weaves together her spellbinding tales of circus legends, earthy magic and folklore, all in the hope of finding the child… But will her story be enough to bring the pair together again? Beautiful and intoxicating, A Girl Made of Air brings the circus to life in all of its grime and glory.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The shadow in the glass / Harwood, JJA
“When a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life–seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases–lowly maid Ella soon discovers that each wish comes with a high price and must decide whether it’s one she is willing to pay.” (Catalogue)

 

 

The animals in that country / McKay, Laura Jean
“Hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, and allergic to bullshit, Jean is not your usual grandma. She’s never been good at getting on with other humans, apart from her beloved granddaughter, Kimberly. Instead, she surrounds herself with animals, working as a guide in an outback wildlife park. And although Jean talks to all her charges, she has a particular soft spot for a young dingo called Sue. As disturbing news arrives of a pandemic sweeping the country, Jean realises this is no ordinary flu: its chief symptom is that its victims begin to understand the language of animals – first mammals, then birds and insects, too. As the flu progresses, the unstoppable voices become overwhelming, and many people begin to lose their minds, including Jean’s infected son.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Ebook.

 

Listen to our interview with H. G. Parry

Catalogue link: Hannah Parry's A Radical Act of Free Magic

Facebook event for Hannah Parry, in conversation with Casey Lucas-QuaidWe are totally thrilled to be hosting an exclusive launch event with the wonderful H.G. Parry, in conversation with Casey Lucas-Quaid, to celebrate the release of her latest novel A Radical Act of Free Magic at Te Awe Brandon Street Library on 22 July at 6pm!

Hannah is an internationally acclaimed Historical Fantasy fiction writer whose previous books The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep and A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians have gained her an ever-growing, dedicated, passionate, and loyal fanbase. And to get you in the zone for this event we had the rare chance to catch up and interview Hannah about her work, done in conjunction with our friends at Radio Active FM88.6.

You can listen to the interview by clicking below:

 

The unlikely escape of Uriah Heep / Parry, H. G.
“For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob – a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life – hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A declaration of the rights of magicians / Parry, H. G.
“It is the Age of Enlightenment — of new and magical political movements, from the necromancer Robespierre calling for revolution in France to the weather mage Toussaint L’Ouverture leading the slaves of Haiti in their fight for freedom, to the bold new Prime Minister William Pitt weighing the legalisation of magic amongst commoners in Britain and abolition throughout its colonies overseas. But amidst all of the upheaval of the early modern world, there is an unknown force inciting all of human civilization into violent conflict.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A radical act of free magic : a novel / Parry, H. G.
“A war of magic engulfs the world. In France, the brilliant tactician Napoléon Bonaparte has risen to power, and under his command, the army of the dead have all but conquered Europe. Britain fights back, but Wilberforce’s own battle to bring about free magic and abolition has met a dead end in the face of an increasingly repressive government. In Saint-Domingue, Fina aids as Toussaint Louverture navigates these opposing forces to liberate the country. But there is another, even darker war being fought beneath the surface: the first vampire war in hundreds of years.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Three times listed for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Brannavan Gnanalingam coming to Newtown Library

Three times listed for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, Brannavan Gnanalingam will be one of the authors coming to Newtown Library as part of our

Capital Crimespree: Newtown Mystery in the Library event in conjunction with Ngaio Marsh Awards. 

When: 6pm, Friday 30 April 2021

Where: Newtown Library, 13 Constable Street, Wellington 6021

This is a free event.

Our stellar line up also includes Dame Fiona Kidman one of the most highly acclaimed and celebrated authors in New Zealand,  Sally J Morgan longlisted for the 2021 Acorn Prize for Fiction  and Dr Judy Melinek and TJ Mitchell the husband-and-wife writing duo behind the Jessie Teska forensic mysteries. Dr Judy Melinek was part of the forensic team that investigated the 9/11 World Trade Centre site.

We’re so excited to be hosting all these crime-writing luminaries, that we are doing short profiles on all the authors involved.   Our next profile is Brannavan Gnanalingam.

Brannavan Gnanalingam is a Wellington lawyer and writer of fiction and non-fiction. His past three novels have all been listed for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards; Sodden Downstream was shortlisted in 2018. His latest novel Sprigs is on the shortlist for this year’s Fiction award at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and is tipped to feature in the 2021 Ngaio Marsh awards.

If you are interested in crime fiction in any way this event promises to be unmissable and will undoubtedly reveal and  shed light on how these gifted authors craft characters, create exciting storylines and how they address real-life issues through their fiction.

Below is a selection of Brannavan Gnanalingam’s work we have available to borrow.

Click here for the Facebook event.

Please note “Mature/ adult issues of a challenging nature” may be discussed.

Getting under sail / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“Brannavan Gnanalingam’s ‘Getting Under Sail’ tells the story of three New Zealanders on an ad hoc road-trip through West Africa. Starting in Morocco, the three aim to reach Ghana via Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

You should have come here when you were not here / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“The intriguing title of this novel by Wellington writer Brannavan Gnanalingam derives from a statement made by Parisians to their Nazi occupiers in World War II when the Germans expressed being underwhelmed by the attractions of the French capital. This postmodern travelogue tells the lonely tale of Veronica, a thirty-something asexual female journalist from New Zealand who travels to Paris late as a freelance journalist only to find the city indifferent to and from her.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

/ Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“‘Credit in the straight world’ charts the fortunes of Frank Tolland as he casts off an ignoble birth to become the singular leader of business and community in small-town New Zealand. Told through the eyes of his mute brother, George, this novel is a sharp and satirical account of a small-town finance company, and sweeps through the dramatic economic changes of the 20th and the 21st centuries”–Publisher’s information.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

A briefcase, two pies and a penthouse : a novel / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“A Briefcase, Two Pies and a Penthouse looks at modern day spies in New Zealand. Instead of ‘Reds Under the Bed’, the new existential threat is Islamic terrorism – and the novel looks at a very New Zealand response to a global issue. Rachel McManus has just started at the New Zealand Alarm and Response Ministry. One of the few females working there, she is forced to traverse the peculiarities of Wellington bureaucracy, lascivious colleagues, and decades of sedimented hierarchy. She has the chance to prove herself by investigating a suspected terrorist, who they fear is radicalising impressionable youth and may carry out an attack himself on the nation’s capital.” (Catalogue)

Sprigs / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“It is Saturday afternoon and two boys’ schools are locked in battle for college rugby supremacy. Priya – a fifteen year old who barely belongs – watches from the sidelines. Then it is Saturday night and the team is partying. Priya’s friends have evaporated and she isn’t sure what to do. In the weeks after ‘the incident’ life seems to go on. But when whispers turn to confrontation, the institutions of wealth and privilege circle the wagons.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Internationally celebrated New Zealand author Dame Fiona Kidman coming to Newtown Library

Facebook Event LInk

Internationally celebrated New Zealand author Dame Fiona Kidman will be one of the authors coming to Newtown Library as part of our

Capital Crimespree: Newtown Mystery in the Library,
in conjunction with Ngaio Marsh Awards. 

When: 6pm Friday 30 April 2021

Where: Newtown Library, 13 Constable Street, Wellington 6021

This is a free event.

Our stellar line up also includes three-time Ockham New Zealand Book Awards listed author Brannavan Gnanalingam, longlisted 2021 Acorn Prize for Fiction nominee Sally J Morgan and Dr Judy Melinek and TJ Mitchell, the husband-and-wife writing duo behind the Jessie Teska forensic mysteries. Dr Judy Melinek was part of the forensic team that investigated the 9/11 World Trade Center site.

We’re so excited to be hosting each of these crime-writing luminaries that we are doing short profiles on all of the authors involved. Our next profile is Dame Fiona Kidman.

Dame Fiona Kidman is one of the most highly acclaimed and celebrated authors in New Zealand. She has an OBE and DNZM for services to literature as well as the French honours the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) and the Légion d’Honneur (French Legion of Honour).

Kidman’s contribution to literature in Aotearoa/New Zealand is vast. Since publishing her first novel in 1970, she has gone on to create a large, powerful and imaginative body of work ranging from novels to short stories, memoirs to poetry, plays to radio series. She has won a huge range of awards, fellowships and residencies and has won the New Zealand Book Award on four separate occasions!

This Mortal Boy, her most recent novel, won the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, the NZ Booklovers Award, the NZSA Heritage Book Award for Fiction and the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.

If you are interested in crime fiction in any way this event promises to be unmissable and will undoubtedly reveal and  shed light on how these gifted authors craft characters, create exciting storylines and how they address real-life issues through their fiction.

Below is just a very small selection of Dame Fiona Kidman’s work we have available to borrow.

Click here for the Facebook event.

Please note, mature/ adult issues of a challenging nature may be discussed.

The infinite air / Kidman, Fiona
“The rise and fall of ‘the Garbo of the skies’, as told by one of New Zealand’s finest novelists. Jean Batten became an international icon in the 1930s. A brave, beautiful woman, she made a number of heroic solo flights across the world. The newspapers couldn’t get enough of her; and yet she suddenly slipped out of view, disappearing to the Caribbean with her mother and dying in obscurity in Majorca, buried in a pauper’s grave.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

True stars. / Kidman, Fiona
“Rose Kendall is alone. She is alienated from her children, her friends, and her political ideals, and there is someone trying to scare her – she doesn’t know why and she doesn’t know who.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

 

The book of secrets / Kidman, Fiona
“In 1853, a group of settlers established a community at Waipu in the northern part of New Zealand. They were led there by a stern preacher, Norman McLeod. The community had followed him from Scotland in 1817 to found a settlement in Nova Scotia, then subsequently to New Zealand via Australia.   – Isabella, her daughter Annie and granddaughter Maria. McLeod’s harsh leadership meant that anyone who ran counter to him had to live a life of secrets. The ‘secrets’ encapsulated the spirit of these women in their varied reactions to McLeod’s strict edicts and connect the past to the present and future.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

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)Also available as an eBook

Crime-writing duo Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell coming to Newtown Library

You may have heard American forensic pathologist and crime writer Judy Melinek and her husband and co-author TJ Mitchell interviewed by Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand at the end of March. They’re the writing sensations behind the Jessie Teska forensic mystery books — and they’re coming to Newtown Library!

The couple will part of a panel discussion in an exciting line-up that includes three-time Ockhams New Zealand Book Awards listee Brannavan Gnanalingam, 2019 Ngaio Marsh Award and Ockhams winner Dame Fiona Kidman, and 2021 Ockhams long listee Sally J Morgan.

What? A Capital Crimespree – Newtown Mystery in the Library Panel Discussion, an event in association with the Ngaio Marsh Awards.

When? 6pm, Friday 30 April

Where? Newtown Library, 13 Constable Street, Newtown

Facebook Event Link

We’re so excited to host all these crime-writing luminaries, and in subsequent posts we’ll be profiling them all, but because they were recently interviewed on Radio New Zealand, we thought we’d kick off our panellist profiles with Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell — two authors with storied pasts who relocated to Wellington from America in July 2020.

Judy Melinek is a doctor and forensic pathologist who trained in forensics at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner. Her working life is the subject of the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, co-authored with her husband, writer T.J. Mitchell, and the two also collaborate on their series of novels featuring medical examiner Jessie Teska. Today Dr. Melinek performs autopsies as a forensic pathologist in Wellington, New Zealand.

T.J. Mitchell, as well as being a bestselling author, also has a past as a scriptwriter for Hollywood. To hear more about their remarkable lives and times and how actual forensic practice informs their fictional works, pop along to our Newtown Mystery in the Library event!

Listen to Kim Hill’s interview with this intriguing pair of authors (18 min.)

Please note “Mature/ adult issues of a challenging nature” may be discussed.

Browse their work below:

Working stiff : two years, 262 bodies, and the making of a medical examiner / Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
“Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. While her husband and their toddler held down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation–performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines Flight 587. An unvarnished portrait of the daily life of medical examiners–complete with grisly anecdotes and chilling crime scenes” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.First cut : a novel / Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
“For San Francisco’s newest medical examiner, Dr Jessie Teska, it was supposed to be a fresh start. A new job in a new city. A way to escape her own dark past. Instead she faces a chilling discovery when a suspected overdose case contains hints of something more sinister. Jessie’s superiors urge her to close the case, but as more bodies land on her autopsy table, she uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate plot involving nefarious opioid traffickers and flashy tech titans who got rich off Bitcoin. Autopsy means ‘see for yourself,’ and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she has seen it all – even if it means the next corpse on the table could be her own.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.Aftershock / Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
“At first glance, the death appears to be an accident. The body, located on a construction site, rests under a collapsed beam. But when Dr Jessie Teska arrives on the scene, she notices the telltale signs of a staged death. The victim has been murdered. A rising star in the San Francisco forensics world, Jessie is ready to unravel the case, help bring the murderer to justice and prevent them from potentially striking again. But when a major earthquake hits San Francisco right before Halloween, Jessie and the rest of the city are left reeling. And even if she emerges from the rubble, there’s no guaranteeing she’ll make it out alive. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Upcoming Event: Capital Crimes – Karori Mystery in the Library 9th April

Are you a fan of mysteries? The Ngaio Marsh Awards, in association with Wellington City Libraries, invites booklovers to a fun evening of criminally good conversation, featuring four acclaimed local storytellers. This is a free event.

Event details

What? A panel discussion with local authors Jennifer Lane (2018 Ngaio Marsh Award Winner, panel chair), Rajorshi Chakraborti, Helen Vivienne Fletcher, and Rodney Strong, on how they craft memorable characters and page-turning storylines, and infuse their books with real-life issues and insights into people and society

When? 6pm, Friday 9 April 2021

Where? Karori Library, 247 Karori Road, Wellington

Pictures of authors together with their book covers, superimposed over a picture of Wellington harbour

About the panel

Jennifer Lane

Catalogue link: All our secrets, by Jennifer Lane

Jennifer Lane is a copywriter, short story writer and author. Her short stories have been published in journals and magazines in New Zealand and Australia. Jennifer’s debut novel, All Our Secrets, won the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel.

Rajorshi Chakraborti

Catalogue link: Shakti, by Rajorshi Chakraborti

Rajorshi Chakraborti is a novelist, essayist and short story writer who grew up in Calcutta and Mumbai. The author of six novels, he was longlisted for the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. His latest novel Shakti is a supernatural mystery thriller set in India.

Helen Vivienne Fletcher

Catalogue link: Broken Silence, by Helen Vivienne Fletcher

Helen Vivienne Fletcher is a playwright, poet, writing teacher and children’s author. She has been shortlisted for the Joy Cowley Award, was named Outstanding Young Playwright at the Wellington Theatre Awards and was a finalist for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards.

Rodney Strong

Catalogue link: Troy's possibilities, by Rodney Strong

Rodney Strong is a Porirua author who left his day job in 2016 to follow his lifelong dream of being a writer. He has now published ten novels for children and adults, including four Ghostly Hitchhiker mysteries and three Silvermoon Retirement Village mysteries.


Don’t forget to check out our second Ngaio Marsh Awards event later in the month — A Capital Crimespree – Newtown Mystery in the Library (6pm on April 30th at Newtown Library), featuring Brannavan Gnanalingam, Dame Fiona Kidman, Sally J Morgan and New York Times bestselling writing duo Dr Judy Melinek and T.J Michell. Both events are unmissable!

2021 Fiction Ockham Shortlist Announced

(Image credit: New Zealand Book Awards Trust.)

The Ockham 2021 fiction shortlist has just been announced and what a wildly diverse, eclectic and fabulous list it is. There are two previous winners in there – Pip Adam and Catherine Chidgey – and it is safe to say that, as befits New Zealand’s top fiction award, some very challenging issues are explored in several of the books, including the Holocaust, the aftermath of a sexual assault at a high school rugby game, surveillance, gender and the longtail effects of capitalism.

The quality and calibre of all four finalists in the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction is quite exceptional and all four books are highly readable and available to borrow from Wellington City Libraries.

You can also see shortlisted author Brannavan Gnanalingam at our forthcoming A Capital Crimespree event at Newtown Library on the 30th of April.  For full details of that event click here.

Bug week & other stories / Beautrais, Airini
“A science educator in domestic chaos fetishises Scandinavian furniture and champagne flutes. A group of white-collar deadbeats attend a swinger’s party in the era of drunk Muldoon. A pervasive smell seeps through the walls of a German housing block. A seabird performs at an open-mic night. Bug Week is a scalpel-clean examination of male entitlement, a dissection of death, an agar plate of mundanity. From 1960s Wellington to post-Communist Germany, Bug Week traverses the weird, the wry and the grotesque in a story collection of human taxonomy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Nothing to see / Adam, Pip
“It’s 1994. Peggy and Greta are learning how to live sober. They go to meetings and they ring their support person, Diane.  They live with Heidi and Dell, who are also like them. It’s 2006. Peggy and Greta have two jobs: a job at a call centre, and a job as a moderator for a website. They’re teaching themselves how to code. Heidi and Dell don’t live together anymore. It’s 2018. Margaret lives next door to Heidi and her family. She has a job writing code that analyses data for a political organisation, and she’s good at it. Every day she checks an obsolete cellphone she found under her bed, waiting for messages. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

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.  Frau Hahn and the other officers’ wives living in this small community can order anything they desire, whether new curtains made from the finest French fabrics, or furniture designed to the most exacting specifications. Life here in Buchenwald would appear to be idyllic. 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.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sprigs / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“It is Saturday afternoon and two boys’ schools are locked in battle for college rugby supremacy. Priya – a fifteen year old who barely belongs – watches from the sidelines. Then it is Saturday night and the team is partying. Priya’s friends have evaporated and she isn’t sure what to do. In the weeks after ‘the incident’ life seems to go on. But when whispers turn to confrontation, the institutions of wealth and privilege circle the wagons.”–cover. (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

For a  full list of all other categories shortlisted, see below:

Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2021 Longlist

The longlist for the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards has just been announced — and what a strong, vibrant and impressive line-up it is! The list is full of diverse and varied novels and voices, and we think it’s noteworthy that half the fiction nominees this year are debut authors — evidence if any was needed that Aotearoa’s thriving literary scene goes from strength to strength.

We wish to extend our heartfelt congratulations to all the nominated authors — and we really don’t envy the judges’ job of distilling this list down to a shortlist and then again down to the overall winners. The shortlist will be announced on March 3 and the winners will be announced in May at the 2021 Auckland Writers Festival.

Below is our video of longlisted author Rachel Kerr talking about her debut novel Victory Park at our recent Four writers writing about Newtown event:

Longlist:

Nothing to see / Adam, Pip
“It’s 1994. Peggy and Greta are learning how to live sober. They volunteer at the Salvation Army shop, and sometimes they sleep with men for money. They live with Heidi and Dell, who are also like them. It’s 2006. Peggy and Greta have two jobs: a job at a call centre, and a job as a moderator for a website. They’re teaching themselves how to code. One day, Peggy and Greta turn around and there’s only one of them. It’s 2018. Margaret lives next door to Heidi and her family. She has a job writing code Then, one day, there are two of them again, both trying to figure out where they have come from. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bug week & other stories / Beautrais, Airini
“A science educator in domestic chaos fetishises Scandinavian furniture and champagne flutes. A group of white-collar deadbeats attend a swinger’s party in the era of drunk Muldoon. A pervasive smell seeps through the walls of a German housing block. A seabird performs at an open-mic night. Bug Week is a scalpel-clean examination of male entitlement, a dissection of death, an agar plate of mundanity. From 1960s Wellington to post-Communist Germany, Bug Week traverses the weird, the wry and the grotesque in a story collection of human taxonomy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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.  Frau Hahn and the other officers’ wives living in this small community can order anything they desire, whether new curtains made from the finest French fabrics, or furniture designed to the most exacting specifications. Life here in Buchenwald would appear to be idyllic. When Frau Hahn is forced into an unlikely and poignant alliance with one of Buchenwald’s prisoners, Dr Lenard Weber, her naive ignorance about what is going on so nearby is challenged. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sprigs / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“It is Saturday afternoon and two boys’ schools are locked in battle for college rugby supremacy. Priya – a fifteen year old who barely belongs – watches from the sidelines. Then it is Saturday night and the team is partying. Priya’s friends have evaporated and she isn’t sure what to do. In the weeks after ‘the incident’ life seems to go on. But when whispers turn to confrontation, the institutions of wealth and privilege circle the wagons.”–cover.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Victory Park / Kerr, Rachel
“Kara lives in Victory Park council flats with her young son, just making a living by minding other people’s kids – her nightly smoke on the fire escape the only time she can drop her guard and imagine something better. But the truth is life is threadbare and unpromising until the mysterious Bridget moves in to the flats. The wife of a disgraced Ponzi schemer she brings with her glamour and wild dreams and an unexpected friendship. Drawn in, Kara forgets for a moment who she’s there to protect.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The swimmers / Lane, Chloe
“Erin’s mother has motor neurone disease and has decided to take her fate into her own hands. As Erin looks back at her twenty-six-year-old self, she can finally tell the story of the unimaginable task she faced one winter”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Fake baby / McDaid, Amy
Stephen’s dead father is threatening to destroy the world. If Stephen commits the ultimate sacrifice and throws himself into the harbour, he will save humanity. The last thing he needs is a Jehovah’s Witness masquerading as a schoolboy and an admission to a mental health facility. Jaanvi steals a life-like doll called James and cares for him as if he were her dead baby. Her husband demands she return him. But she and James have already bonded, and it’s nobody’s business how she decides to grieve. Lucas, pharmacist and all-round nice guy, is having one of the worst weeks of his life. His employees forgot his birthday, his mother’s gone manic, and now his favourite customer is in hospital because of a medication error he made. Can he make things right? Or is life all downhill after forty?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

2000ft above worry level / Marra, Eamonn
“Everything is sad and funny and nothing is anything else 2000ft Above Worry Level begins on the sad part of the internet and ends at the top of a cliff face. This episodic novel is piloted by a young, anhedonic, gentle, slightly disassociated man. He has no money. He has a supportive but disintegrating family. He is trying hard to be better. He is painting a never-ending fence. Eamonn Marra’s debut novel occupies the precarious spaces in which many twenty-somethings find themselves, forced as they are to live in the present moment as late capitalism presses in from all sides. Mortifying subjects – loserdom, depression, unemployment, cam sex – are surveyed with dignity and stoicism. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sorrow and bliss / Mason, Meg
” This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn’t know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going. Martha told Patrick before they got married that she didn’t want to have children. He said he didn’t mind either way because he has loved her since he was fourteen and making her happy is all that matters, although he does not seem able to do it. By the time Martha finds out what is wrong, it doesn’t really matter anymore. It is too late to get the only thing she has ever wanted. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

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. 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. At the same time infamous murderers, Fred and Rosemary West, are stalking the country, on the lookout for girls like Jude.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Queens of the Abyss: Lost Stories from the Women of the Weird – new Sci-Fi and Fantasy

The task of the right eye is to peer into the telescope, while the left eye peers into the microscope.” ― Leonora Carrington (Down Below)

One of our new and recently acquired Science Fiction and Fantasy titles is Queens of the Abyss: Lost Stories from the Women of the Weird. There is a mistaken perception that in the 19th and early 20th centuries, weird and wonderful fiction, was the exclusive domain of male writers but, as this fabulous new anthology shows, this view is far from the truth.

The fundamental contributions made by women authors to the birth of this genre is celebrated in this anthology from overlooked pulp magazine contributors to more established authors such as Frances Hodgson Burnett, Marie Corelli, Margaret St Clair and Leonora Carrington. Many of these tales have never been reprinted since their first publication so why not delve into the abyssal depths of surreal darkness in this entertaining and important work? There’s lots of other wonderful new Science Fiction and Fantasy titles recently acquired by us, this short list is only our picks. Enjoy!

Queens of the abyss : lost stories from the women of the weird
” Contents include  A revelation by Mary E. Braddon,  The sculptor’s angel by Marie Corelli, From the dead by Edith Nesbit, The Christmas in the fog by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The haunted flat by  Marie Belloc Lowndes, A modern circle by Alicia Ramsey, The nature of the evidence by May Sinclair,   The Bishop of hell by Marjorie Bowen,  The antimacassar by Greye La Spina, White lady by Sophie Wenzel Ellis,  The laughing thing by  G.G. Pendarves ,  Candlelight by Lady Eleanor Smith,  The wonderful tune by Jessie Douglas Kerruish, Island of the hands by Margaret St Clare, The unwanted by Mary Elizabeth Counselman and The seventh horse by the exceptional genius Leonora Carrington.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Tomorrow The World / Joseph, M. K.
“A dying Hitler dictates his memoirs to a personal aide whilst his top commanders plot against each other to see who will become the next Fuhrer. Meanwhile a small resistance group from England tries to smuggle a package across Europe that will help to smash the fascist rule, but are they in reality the pawns of one of the German Generals? … Now a new novel has been discovered that imagines Britain and Europe as ruled by the Nazis after they won WWII.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Blood of the sun / Rabarts, Dan
“There’s been a gang massacre on Auckland’s Freyberg Wharf. Body parts everywhere. And with the police’s go-to laboratory out of action, it’s up to scientific consult Pandora (Penny) Yee to sort through the mess. It’s a hellish task, made worse by the earthquake swarms, the insufferable heat, and Cerberus’ infernal barking. And what’s got into her brother Matiu? Does it have something to do with the ship’s consignment? Or is Matiu running with the gangs again?  Join Penny and Matiu Yee for the family reunion to end all family reunions, as the struggle between light and dark erupts across Auckland’s volcanic skyline.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Archangel’s sun / Singh, Nalini
“The Archangel of Death and the Archangel of Disease may be gone but their legacy of evil lives on – especially in Africa, where the shambling, rotting creatures called the reborn have gained a glimmer of vicious intelligence. It is up to Titus, archangel of this vast continent, to stop the reborn from spreading across the world. Titus can’t do it alone, but of the surviving powerful angels and archangels, large numbers are wounded, while the rest are fighting a surge of murderous vampires. There is no one left . . . but the Hummingbird. Old, powerful, her mind long a broken kaleidoscope. Now she must stand at Titus’s side against a tide of death, upon a discovery more chilling than any other. For the Archangel of Disease has left them one last terrible gift .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A girl from nowhere / Maxwell, James
“Life in the wasteland is a constant struggle. No one knows it better than Taimin. Crippled, and with only his indomitable aunt to protect him, Taimin must learn to survive in a world scorched by two suns and frequented by raiders. But when Taimin discovers his homestead ransacked and his aunt killed, he sets off with one mission: to seek revenge against those who stole everything. With nowhere to call home, his hunt soon takes a turn when he meets a mystic, Selena, who convinces him to join her search for the fabled white city. Taimin and Selena both need refuge, and the white city is a place where Taimin may find someone to heal his childhood injury. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ambergris / VanderMeer, Jeff
 Before Area X, there was Ambergris. Jeff VanderMeer conceived what would become his first cult classic series of speculative works: the Ambergris Trilogy. Now, for the first time ever, the story of the sprawling metropolis of Ambergris is collected into a single volume, including City of Saints and Madmen, Shriek: An Afterword, and Finch.” (Catalogue)

Piranesi / Clarke, Susanna
“Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house. There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The blue eye / Khan, Ausma Zehanat
“The Companions of Hira used their wits and magic to battle against the Talisman, an organization whose hyper conservative agenda limits free thinking and subjugates women. They were defeated. But Arian continues to lead a disparate group of Companions in pursuit of the mystical artifact that could end the Talisman’s rule: The Bloodprint. For the arcane tome slipped out of their reach once more in the heat of battle. Through all they have endured, Arian’s band of allies has always remained united in the face of their enemy. ” (Catalogue)

Master of poisons : a novel / Hairston, Andrea
“The world is changing. Poison desert eats good farmland. Once-sweet water turns foul. The wind blows sand and sadness across the Empire. To get caught in a storm is death. To live and do nothing is death. There is magic in the world, but good conjure is hard to find. Djola, righthand man and spymaster of the lord of the Arkhysian Empire, is desperately trying to save his adopted homeland, even in exile. Awa, a young woman training to be a powerful griot, tests the limits of her knowledge and comes into her own in a world of sorcery, floating cities, kindly beasts, and uncertain men. ” (Catalogue)

Monsters in the Garden Event…. Now exclusively online

Back at the tail end of 2020 we had the very special privilege of hosting an event to celebrate the recent publication of Monsters in the Garden: An Anthology of Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy.

In attendance were four of the most accomplished writers in New Zealand who all contributed works to the anthology: Elizabeth Knox, Tina Makereti, Dylan Horrocks and Craig Gamble.

The ensuing discussions were entertaining, informative, lively and a real insight into the inner workings of these fabulous authors as well as the current status of speculative fiction in Aotearoa.

If you missed the live event or want to re-experience this fascinating conversation you can watch below.

And keep your eyes peeled on our various social media channels for future events coming in 2021. Enjoy!



Monsters in the Garden : An Anthology of Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy / Knox, Elizabeth
“Casting its net widely, this anthology of Aotearoa-New Zealand science fiction and fantasy ranges from the satirical novels of the 19th-century utopians – one of which includes the first description of atmospheric aerobreaking in world literature – to the bleeding edge of now. Spaceships and worried sheep. Dragons and AI. The shopping mall that swallowed the Earth. The deviant, the fishy and the rum, all bioengineered for your reading pleasure. Featuring stories by some of the country’s best known writers as well as work from exciting new talent, Monsters in the Garden invites you for a walk on the wild side. We promise you’ll get back safely. Unchanged? Well, that’s another question.” (Publisher’s description)

Dreamhunter / Knox, Elizabeth
“Set in 1906, Dreamhunter describes a world very similar to ours, except for a special place, known simply as the Place, where only a select group of people can go. these people are called Dreamhunters and they harvest dreams which are then transmitted to the general public for the purposes of entertainment, therapy – or terror and political coercion. Fifteen-year-old cousins Laura Hame and Rose Tiebold both come from famous dreamhunting families, but only Laura proves to be blessed with the gift and once inside the Place she finds out what happened to her missing dreamhunter father .” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The imaginary lives of James Pōneke / Makereti, Tina
‘The hour is late. The candle is low. Tomorrow I will see whether it is my friends or a ship homewards I meet. But first I must finish my story for you. My future, my descendant, my mokopuna. Listen.’ So begins the tale of James Poneke – orphaned son of a chief; ardent student of English; wide-eyed survivor. All the world’s a stage, especially when you’re a living exhibit. But anything can happen to a young New Zealander on the savage streets of Victorian London. When James meets the man with laughing dark eyes and the woman who dresses as a man, he begins to discover who people really are beneath their many guises.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Sam Zabel and the magic pen / Horrocks, Dylan
“A burned-out superhero comic artist goes on an adventure that spans time and space–with two female companions. Cartoonist Sam Zabel hasn’t drawn a comic in years. Stuck in a nightmare of creative block and despair, Sam spends his days writing superhero stories for a large American comics publisher and staring at a blank piece of paper, unable to draw a single line. Then one day he finds a mysterious old comic book set on Mars and is suddenly thrown headlong into a wild, fantastic journey through centuries of comics, stories, and imaginary worlds. (Adapted from Catalogue)

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 has been released in a new edition with three new chapters and an index

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.