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Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Tag: Interview

New Zealand Dance Week interview: Olivia Morphew

We chatted with local Wellington dancer Olivia Morphew about her dance inspirations, library love and, of course, what she’s reading at the moment:

What inspired you to be a dancer?
Really, there wasn’t much to it when I decided to start. I got put in ballet classes by my mum just like every other four year old. For a long period of time, I wanted to quit, but my mum wouldn’t let me. I persevered, and eventually found out how much I loved to be able to express myself through movement. The biggest moment for me was actually my first contemporary class, at the age of 10. I discovered how dance can really be used as a form of communication in many different ways. I brought this to all forms of dancing, and this is what still inspires me now.

What do you love about the library?
The biggest thing I love about the library is the community. It can be used for so much; relaxation, time to lose yourself in a book, quiet time, a safe place to go and sit, a meeting place with friends, or a place to just chill out. Everyone is so kind and welcoming, not only in the wonderful staff but the amazing Wellington Library community. It really feels like a place of home.

Who is your all-time favourite book character?
I would have to say my all-time favourite book character would be Holden Caulfield, from The Catcher in The Rye. The reason for this is that he is just such a complex, relatable character. He not only emits to others this about himself, but also to the reader. His development in the story just blows my mind every time I read it.

What inspired you to take come to the library for this photo shoot?
Well, some friends and I went out for this fun town photo shoot, and met up in the library. We thought that it was actually a really comforting and creative place to take some shots, and that was it really! It was just the ambiance of the library and the community feel that made us decide to take photos there I guess.

Do you have a favourite dance book or magazine?
This might sound weird, but I have honestly never ventured out into the world of books in communication with dance. Obviously the Secret Lives of Dancers was a huge thing for me when that was on TV, but I really have never read any books that relate to dance. It’s something that I really want to do and think I’ll look into in the future.

What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I’m re-reading An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. John Green is one of my all-time favourite authors, and I absolutely love his work. Next I really want to read Turtles All The Way Down as I’ve heard so many good things about it, and I’m always the first to jump at a new(ish) John Green book!

What is your favourite book to recommend?
My favourite book to recommend would be without doubt The Catcher in The Rye. This book is so appealing to me because at first glance it isn’t really about anything terribly exciting, but has so much meaning to it and symbolism that it encompasses. I have re-read this book many times, and highly recommend anyone young or old who hasn’t read it to give it a try!

Some Links

If you’re a Jodi Picoult fan, and you’re interested in Between the Lines, the new novel she has written with her daughter Samantha Van Leer, then here’s a Radio New Zealand interview they did together today, talking about the inspiration for stories, who to cast in the movie, and other such writerly things.

Here’s a lovely salute to Margaret Mahy by American author Kristin Cashore, focussing on the many reasons why MM’s young adult writing is so wonderful, and so deservedly award-winning.

If you are interested in the Olympic Games and statistics, the New York Times has a map of medals won by country from 1896 to 2008. It is pretty cool (if you’re not into stats) and very interesting (if you are). In 1984 New Zealand won enough medals for “New Zealand” to appear on its circle.

NPR.com (National Public Radio, I believe) in the US is compiling a list of the best young adult novels ever. You can vote for your favourites (a bit of good taste from New Zealand won’t hurt).

Zines, Superpowers and Don from Madmen: an interview with a library buyer

So who buys the library books then? WCL has a team of eight people who are lucky enough to spend most of their time buying books, magazines, CDs and DVDs. This is a fairly ideal job if you really like spending money, and really like reading, listening to music and watching movies. Stephanie is one of the young adult selectors and we thought we’d ask her a few questions.

1) What’s the strangest book you’ve bought for the library and/or what’s the strangest suggestion to buy you’ve received from a customer?

Well, as well as books for children and teens I also buy zines for the Library. You know what they are right? For those that don’t basically they’re self published magazines and you can write them on just about any topic imaginable! So some of the strangest ones I’ve brought are: I was unaware they made black jeans that small; little dead riding hood; super pash action; why no one gets tight with the geek; I was a teenaged Mormon; I hate my mom’s cat and fish piss. Ok, so they ain’t that strange but they do have cool titles! They are also free to issue on the first floor of the Central Library. You should check them out sometime.

I can’t remember any really strange suggestion to buys, but Kathleen who works with me just showed me one for a book called “how to amputate a leg”, which is pretty weird.

2) When you were at school what did you want to be “when you grew up”?

I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was really young. I lived by the sea and my brother and I made friends with sea anemones. But really it wasn’t too serious. I just thought it sounded cool. I’m pretty happy doing what I do now though. Buying books is fun 🙂

3) What superpower would make your job easier?

Um, maybe the power to clone myself so one of me could sit outside and read in the sun and eat bread and cheese and the other could be inside doing work and getting paid!

4) What things did you read when you were at high school?

I feel really bad saying this but I didn’t read too much at high school, mostly just the prescribed texts. I was a big reader at primary and intermediate and then took a long break and only got back into reading for fun when I was at university.

5) What YA books have you read lately (that you’ve enjoyed)?

Right now I’m enjoying reading Catching Fire, which is the sequel to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I also enjoyed the Twilight series (well mostly when it wasn’t making me cringe), How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The 10pm Question by Kate De Goldi and Violence 101 by my friend Dennis Wright. I plan to read heaps more too, ‘cos as I’m buying them for you guys I’m thinking “that looks awesome” and so I have to reserve it for myself.

6) If you were marooned on a desert island with three people (of your choice), three items of food and three books, who and what would you choose?

Ok so this is a hard one! I would choose Don from Madmen (‘cos he’s nice to look at), my friend Carmel (‘cos we have fun together) and Katniss from Catching Fire (‘cos she looks like she could handle just about anything!). For food I would have breads, cheeses and cakes! And books I couldn’t decide. Because I work in a library I never really read anything twice so perhaps something new? I’ve recently reserved Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (because Grimm said it’s like The Time Traveler’s Wife, which is one of my favourite books) and The Great Death by John Smelcer (it’s gotten good reviews) and The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson (recommended by my co-selector Tom).

Louise Rennison Interview

Louise Rennison, author of the Georgia Nicholson books, was interviewed on Nat Radio’s Nine to Noon programme this morning. She’s a comedian as well as an author and is very entertaining to listen to. She discusses the recent film adaption of Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging (we have the DVD and all ten books in the series).

Listen to the .mp3 here, or else browse RNZ’s podcasts here.

Markus Zusak from his Deck Chair

Markus Zusak, who wrote The Book Thief (one of our Most Wanted books for, like, ages), was recently at the Hay Festival in the United Kingdom (which seems to be a celebration of books and chairs, from what I can tell), where he was interviewed while relaxing in a comfortable-looking deck chair. He talks about how he works, what inspired him to write The Book Thief, what it means to have death as a narrator, and a few other bits and pieces. The interview is here (from the Guardian website).

Incidentally, if you’re interested in strange narrators and you liked How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff make sure you read Just In Case, which is narrated by fate – it would make a very interesting point of comparison.

Zombies, Haloes & the Art Deco Capital of NZ: An Interview with Amanda Ashby

Amanda Ashby is a New Zealand author whose books are published to critical praise in the U.S. Her newest book, Zombie Queen of Newbury High  – about what happens when a teenage girl accidentally turns her entire senior year into zombies and has to try and find a cure before she ends up at the top of their menu – will be available from the library soon. We have scored an exclusive interview with Amanda!

1. At what age did you begin writing? How old were you when you first had something published?

I wish I could say that I wrote my first book when I was five, but the truth is that while I loved English and creative writing when I was at school it never occured to me that normal, regular people could be writers and so I contented myself with reading as many books as I could get my hands on. But sometime in my mid-twenties I had a terrible thought on how sad my life would’ve been if my favorite writers hadn’t taken the time to sit down and tell their stories.

This thought continued to stick with me until I finally decided that perhaps I should sit down and try telling a few stories myself. Unfortunately, as many writers know, writing stories and getting stories published are two different things and it wasn’t until I was 38 that I got to see my first book come out. Yay!

2. Do you write professionally, or do you need to work a regular day-job? And does it interfere with your writing?

I’m sort of a full-time writer and mother all rolled into one and I also have a part time job working at the Napier library (which I love because there is nothing a writer likes more than to talk books with people!!). Right now I feel quite lucky because I have a nice balance in my life and I hope it can continue!

3. Where do you get your ideas for writing from?

The idea for my first book, You Had Me At Halo, actually came from my father’s funeral (which as a rule isn’t the best time to be getting book ideas), somehow the idea of writing a book that was inspired my dad’s death certainly helped with the grieving process. The idea for my zombie book actually started out as a bit of a joke because whenever I was stuck for ideas I used to say to my friends that I could always write a book called ‘I was a zombie killer bride’. Unfortunately, you know what happens when you say things too many times…

4. Who are your favourite authors?

So, so, so many that I couldn’t possibly list them all so here is a selection: Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Raymond E Feist, PC Cast and Kristin Cast (if you haven’t read the House of Night books yet then you really must), Jill Mansell, Janet Evanovich, Eoin Colfer, Christopher Paolini, Jonathan Stroud.

5. We really like haiku – can you summarise Zombie Queen of Newbury High in haiku form?

Okay, so when I get arrested for crimes against haiku then I’m going to blame you entirely. Don’t think I won’t! Anyway, here is my butchered offering – no pun intended!

one simple mistake
entire school now living dead
feeding time is near

Shaved Hills, Great Aunts & Eclectic Reading: an Interview with Kate de Goldi

book coverKate de Goldi, author of The 10 pm Question (which we thought was one of the best books published last year) and Wellingtonian, kindly took some time out to answer a few questions about reading, writing, inspiration, characterisation… check out what she has to say, especially if you’re an aspiring writer; there is some good advice and useful insights in here. Many thanks to Kate for playing ball with us. We look forward to reading your next book!

1. What books did you enjoy reading in high school?

I read quite a variety of books…I was – and still am – the kind of eternally hungry (and often indiscriminate) reader who needs something, anything, as long as it’s print, so I read trash as often as I read good stuff. Literal boxes full of Mills and Boons, for example… predictable, reliable, junk food. Short term pleasure, zero long-term sustenance. I read a lot of historical romances – Anya Seton, Victoria Holt, Catherine Cookson, – these were a step up from M&B, (more developed, slightly less clichéd characters, often genuinely interesting historical contexts and interesting settings, but still formulaic (I suspect the less well-written vampire fiction today fills the same need for the erotic and the comfortably dangerous)). I read crime fiction – beginning (as girls often did then) with the Queens of Crime, Dorothy L Sayers, Christie, Ngaio Marsh)… and spy thrillers by men… whatever was in the school library or around the house… I read some science-fiction, loved John Wyndham and CS Lewis.
I read and re-read a lot of children’s books, though I was in my teens – the ones on my bookcase (all the standard – and excellent – children’s writers from the 50s, 60s and 70s, American, British, Australian and some European). I read every young adult book I could get my hands on – the 70s (when I was at high school) was when the YA genre really began hitting its stride… writers like Paul Zindel, ME Kerr, Robert Cormier, John Townsend, John Christopher, Robert Westall, Jan Mark, Margaret Mahy… were all producing great stuff.

In mid-high school I began reading adult literary fiction… I started by ‘doing’ my parents’ book case… they had handsome casebound collections of Dickens and Galsworthy and I read many of those… also, Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, Laurie Lee, EM Forster… There was a lot of history books on those shelves, too, and I read most of those – histories of the French Revolution, of the Second World War (I was obsessed with WWII), of Italy, of the Wars of the Roses, of the NZ gold rushes, biographies of Napoleon, of Louis 14th, of the English monarchs… We had the complete New Zealand Heritage (instalments of NZ history that made up several volumes… I loved those).

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Fluff, embellishments & reality TV: an interview with William Kostakis

William Kostakis is an Australian writer, whose book Loathing Lola is in the library now. He very kindly agreed to be interviewed for the Teen Blog, and we asked a few probing questions about writing …

1. At what age did you begin writing? How old were you when you first had something published?

I guess I started in Year One. I always loved story-writing tasks. At the end of the year, I won the award for ‘excellence in creative writing’. How anyone can judge ‘excellence’ in a seven-year-old creative writer is beyond me, I’d call it ‘the ability to string four maybe five words together on a page coherently’, but hey, excellence or not, labelling it like that must have gone straight to my head. Early in Year Three, I first had something published, I was a finalist in a cinquain competition for a kids magazine called the Starfish Generation. I remember it off by heart:

Bite people.
Stay away okay?
Dogs are very vicious.

… It isn’t very good.

2. Do you write professionally, or do you need to work a regular day-job? And does it interfere with your writing?

I’m a full-time student at Sydney University studying Media and Communications, and I’m also a private suite attendant at the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Sydney Football Stadium, so writing’s what I do when I have nothing to do. I guess I’m used to it, though. I grew up balancing writing with high school and a horrible job at McDonald’s… if I just wrote, I don’t think I’d know what to do with all that spare time.

3. Where do you get your ideas for writing from?

More often than not, I base my work on personal experiences. Obviously, I embellish and the stories end up completely different to what I based them off, but my personal experiences are my starting points, usually. Take Loathing Lola for instance. It’s about a teenage girl who stars in her own TV show… which has absolutely nothing to do with my life. But if you look at what it started as – a story about someone grieving the death of a loved one – you can see how my personal experience has marked the story (a close friend passed away as I was writing the book). When I’m not writing from personal experience, I’m usually writing to make fun of something (which is where the whole anti-reality TV message came from). For example, when I won Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year in 2005, one of my stories, ‘Bing Me’, was written solely as a way to pay out a friend who was in an internet “relationship”.

4. Who are your favourite authors?

Hmmm… Terry Pratchett’s amazing – in one sentence, he can make you laugh at and care for the same character. Chuck Palahniuk’s good in small doses. But really, I’m not that big a reader. Like most teens, I’m more of a TV and movies kind of guy.

5. We really like haiku – can you summarise Loathing Lola in haiku form?

I’ve never written a haiku before, so don’t judge, but…

Fun in funeral
and the smart in smart-arses
Loathing Lola rocks.