Monday, November 23, 2009

It's been a while.

Sorry for the absence. I have been so busy lately, and once publicity for the book launch died down, I threw myself back into the domestic life and had little room for any focused thoughts worth blogging.

It was a great night at Our City in Christchurch, a cosy chat with Ruth Todd from Women on Air. Thanks to Ruth and Morrin Rout for hosting the event and for asking me. Thanks to Gillian at UBS for selling so many books, and of course thanks to everyone who came and listened and/or bought the book. I do like doing those intimate affairs (although there were around 80 people it felt very intimate) where people chime in from the floor and we get a good conversation going. We gave away some magpie tattoos to celebrate, and you can see one of them in action here.

Magpie Hall debuted at number two on the NZ bestseller list, behind a book that was getting, ahem, rather a lot of publicity, whether it was welcome or not. Which leads me to...

New Zealand literature has finally been in the news. It's funny, with dedicated sports sections on the news every night, it's a shame that it takes a bit of controversy to get people talking about New Zealand books. Peter Wells pointed it out on his blog that at least people are now talking about literature: the national book awards usually get a two-minute slot on the late news, but this has been front page news, with this story on the cover of the Dom Post and this on the cover of the Listener.

As a sometimes-historical novelist, people have been asking about my methods for research and incorporating that research into my books. I could talk about it all day, and I might write a proper blog post about it in the future, but basically, I do my reading, I absorb it, I close my eyes and imagine myself into the scene and I write what I see, through the eyes of my character. So you see, there is little chance of inadvertent copying as it has gone through such a transformation, and often dry information is turned into something altogether more subjective. If it is someone else's bright-eyed description, I do not copy it into my notebook but I might take elements of the description and use them in another context, with different words. But if there's one thing that this scandal has taught me it's that people have different ideas about what artists of all kinds should and shouldn't do and I hope I'm never at the receiving end of anyone's scorn and disapproval due to my methods.

I'm also not sure why people have focused on historical novelists as novelists of all breeds research things and rely on the knowledge of others.

Right, that's me. I've joined the twittering classes, and you can follow me here. I hope to be keeping this blog up to date but my life is an unknown quantity at the moment. I will just leave you with this:

If you're new to my blog and have come here because you're interested in Magpie Hall, you may be interested to know that I started this blog as a diary of writing a novel. Please take a look at the archives when I used to post a lot more regularly and philosophically - I was pretty honest about the highs and lows of the writing life, and the novel writing process is documented from go to whoa.

3 comments:

Donna Hosie said...

Many congratulations, Rachael. Debuting at number 2 is a fantastic achievement. I don't use twitter very often, but I'll add you to my following list.

Any news yet on release dates for Magpie Hall in other countries?

Rachel Fenton said...

Well done with your book release - fantastic!

Mark Hubbard said...

Yes, well done on the number 2 slot.