Sunday, April 21, 2013
I am delighted to announce (somewhat belatedly) that Red Rocks is a finalist in the Junior Fiction category of the NZ Post Children's Book Awards. I am the newbie in a line-up of some big names in NZ children's lit - Kate de Goldi and Greg O'Brien, Jack Lasenby, Barbara Else and David Hill. For information about the awards, and to vote in the Children's Choice Award (hint hint) go here.
To celebrate I have made a public confession of the secret I planted in Red Rocks. The photo below gives you some clue. To read the secret, and the story behind the picture, go to the Booksellers blog.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Here's a picture of me*, yesterday, talking to about 90 kids at the Shirley Library in Christchurch. Being as how it is New Zealand Book Month and the theme is "Books Change Lives", I took along a selection of books that changed my life - books I still own from childhood. The kids seemed fascinated to see the small, yellowed, 1970s versions of books they still read today: Danny the Champion of the World, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I also showed them an old copy of Under the Mountain and was very pleased to find how many of them had read it, and how many had seen the film. I was able to tell them about how I auditioned for the TV series when I was 10 years old, and how (in my mind) my chances were thwarted by my older brother, who went on to be the voice of Theo in the Radio NZ version, then to direct and co-write the film all those years later (still rubbing my face in it!).
I then talked about writing Red Rocks and read a spooky passage. One little girl in the front looked so scared I had to keep reading to the end of the chapter so she knew that Jake, the protagonist, was okay and was not actually murdered by seals.
We finished up with some questions from the audience and what great questions they were. Unlike adults at literary festivals, kids really don't hold back. The best one was "What do you like about Red Rocks?" which really made me stop and think. In the end, I said I liked how personal a story it was to me, about how much I had unwittingly inserted myself and my experiences into it, and how my two boys, when they are old enough, will be able to read it and I can use it to tell them about my own childhood.
I'll be doing it all over again tomorrow (Friday March 15th) at Christchurch's South Library, at 11.30am, and very much looking forward to it.
*Thanks to Zac at Shirley Library for the great photos, and thanks to the library for hosting me.
Saturday, March 02, 2013
There are lots of fantastic events happening around the country, which are about New Zealand authors. Authors reading, talking and answering questions and if any of them have any special talents, they will probably be on display as well. For more information, you can go the NZ Book Month website or specifically to the events page.
I'm doing two events: the first is at the Shirley Library in Christchurch, Wednesday March 13 at 11.30, the second at South Library, Friday March 15 at 11.30. I'll be talking about Red Rocks, so it's a good one to bring the kids (ages about 8-12) to. I'll be talking about my inspiration for the story, reading an exciting chapter and answering any questions. I will not have any other special talents on display, sorry.
I hope to see you there.
Thursday, January 03, 2013
Happy new year to you all! To welcome in the new year, here is a pic of the four notebooks I have on the go, each representing a different project I am working on. At the the moment one seems to be taking precedence over the others in the work stakes, but knowing me, and my skittish work habits of late, this could change at any moment. These do not include the other three ideas I would also like to develop this year, each of which is a huge departure for me. Will I find the time? I've already cut back on my huge television consumption and have even started writing in the evenings, which is a first for me, so who knows?
Maybe this post is the start of a new blogging year. A girl can dream.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Books supposedly for young persons (Writing for children has led me to reading children’s books and it has opened up a huge, sparkling world to me)
Two books by Janet Frame.
Gorse is not People, Janet Frame
In her Own Words, Janet Frame
A book by a family member that I have yet to start but I hope the author will forgive me and I just know it will be amazing.
Mad on Radium, Rebecca Priestley
Yes I know I have cheated but it's my list and I'll do what I want. So there.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Speaking of launches, mine is at The Children's Bookshop in Kilbirnie on Thursday, June 7, from 5.45-7.30. Come along for a glass of wine, some nibbles and some electrifying speeches from the likes of me and the fabulous Jolisa Gracewood. All are welcome, but it would also be helpful if you could RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are thinking of coming along so we don't run out of aforementioned wine.
The wonderful Children's Bookshop is the perfect venue for the launch, as it's a stone's throw away from the action of the story, which is Wellington's south coast.
I've done a small interview over at the Christchurch Libraries website in celebration. You can read it here. And in this weekend's Sunday Star Times, I've written a wee piece about the books I loved as a child and the effect they've had on me. Do take a look.
Hope to see you at the launch, and in the meantime, I'm off for a glass of wine to wet my new baby's head well and truly. Cheers.
Monday, May 07, 2012
Then it'll be back to Christchurch to start preparing for the launch of Red Rocks (see below). The official launch will be at the Children's Bookshop in Kilbirnie on June 7, and I'll be posting more details as I have them. I'm hoping then I can have a bit of a break, but things just seem to thunder on and just as one thing falls out of the wagon, another usually jumps in to take its place.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
I can finally reveal the cover of my new book, Red Rocks, a novel for children aged 8-12, out June 1. Here’s the blurb:
“While holidaying at his father's house, Jake explores Wellington's wild south coast, with its high cliffs, biting winds, and its fierce seals. When he stumbles upon a perfectly preserved sealskin, hidden in a crevice at Red Rocks, he's compelled to take it home and hide it under his bed, setting off a chain of events that threatens to destroy his family. Red Rocks takes the Celtic myth of the selkies, or seal people, and transplants it into the New Zealand landscape, throwing an ordinary boy into an adventure tinged with magic. With its beautiful writing and eerie atmosphere, junior readers will be thrilled and moved by this captivating story.”
It's been exciting watching it come together: first the editing process, then the layouts arriving and needing proofreading. Twice. Choosing a cover design, with lots of back and forth. I love the cover. It's eye-catching and retro looking at the same time, which is kind of fitting, as it's an old-fashioned sort of a kids' adventure, the kind I loved as a child. I see Jake standing in sillouette, very static and grounded on the rock, while he looks out at the wild sky that promises a maelstrom of magical adventure and danger. Will he be tempted?
Sunday, October 16, 2011
What I'm going to write about is new beginnings. Because for the fifth time in my life I am starting a new novel (discounting of course all the false starts I had in my 20s when I should never have been attempting a novel, but counting my first, unpublished novel). What happened to the last one I was writing? Well, if you look to the right of this blog you'll see my 'picometer' widget which has been tracking my progress on the children's novel I was chipping away at. And guess what? I finished it. Quite a while ago actually. And it's going to be published, too, but I'll post about that in more detail at a later date. Let's just say that I surprised myself, because I am always complaining about what little time I have to write with two pre-school-aged (hence the neglected blog) but it turns out that just tapping away a few hundred words here and there actually gets you a book. Admittedly a very short book.
What this all means is that I am starting again. I have been trying to start again. But damn, I have just been reminded how damn hard beginnings are. My children's book was actually a breeze in that department. The whole idea came to me while I was out walking one day and I went home and wrote the first chapter. The voice of the story, of the main character, arrived in my head immediately, and once you have the voice, the book just writes itself really. So of course when I had my big idea for my new book, I just expected that I would sit down and out it would come. But it didn't, did it? And then I remembered how long it took me to really get started on Magpie Hall. Months actually. I even wrote about 10,000 words of a completely different book, but that one died a horrible death and Magpie Hall assembled itself from its squashed bones and guts. And it took me so long to find Rosemary's voice. I wrote so much that never made it into the book, just finding my way into her head, into her life. The result being that I knew an awful lot about her, which was a good thing, but at the time it was actually quite painful. I moaned about quite a bit on this blog, actually. In fact I started this blog as a diary of writing Magpie Hall, really. Maybe this process will bring me back to this blog as I work through things.
So. New beginnings, and lots of words to write that will never make the final cut but which will get me into the head of my character. In the meantime I am learning things about her, and her family, who I think will be quite wonderful. They're already becoming like real people in my mind, just not on the screen. I won't lie, it's an exciting time, but I just have to remind myself that each book is not necessarily as easy as the last.
Here's what I'm listening to at the moment in case you interested. Tiny Ruins' Some Were Meant For Sea. Sad and sublime. Nothing like a bit of melancholy to get me writing. (In fact, the cover of this album reminds me of my children's novel)
Monday, July 18, 2011
I cannot believe how busy life is at the moment. My poor old blog seems to be the last thing I get to these days after looking after two kids under 5, mentoring other writers for the New Zealand Society of Authors and the Hagley Writers' Institute, judging the BNZ Short Story Awards (Novice section), serving on various boards and panels, presenting a citation at the Arts Foundation Icon Awards, being stranded by ash clouds, writing a novel for children, and launching and publicising The Silence Beyond: Selected Writings by Michael King. Twitter suits me well these days, as instead of sitting down and composing a post I can just go blah! on Twitter in thirty seconds (and you can follow me here), on everything from books I'm reading to those pesky earthquakes. But don't worry, this isn't a death of the blog announcement, it's a quick update of where I'm at, with some links, and an announcement of some upcoming events to keep me even busier.
But back to The Silence Beyond. A slightly revised version of the introduction I wrote appeared in the Listener a while back. It is available to read online here. It says everything I want to say, really. I am very happy with the book and its reception so far. I will be discussing the book, the process of assembling it, and Dad's work, with Lloyd Jones at an event in Christchurch on July 27th. More information can be found on the Christchurch Writers' Festival website. Lloyd has kindly offered to take a break from his hectic schedule, between Bougainville and Hobart, to help give the wearied book-lovers of Christchurch something to look forward to. The festival is putting on other fantastic events too, throughout August and September; information can be found on the website.
A few days after that, I will be appearing as part of Great Lake Tales in Taupo, in an event at the Hilton on July 31st. I'll be talking about how I started writing, and the process of writing and researching my two novels, The Sound of Butterflies and Magpie Hall. I might even read from my current project, a children's novel called Red Rocks. More information, and details of a bookstore signing, can be found here.
Things should settle down a bit after that, and with more writing time I hope to devote more time to writing about writing ie keeping this blog active.