Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My favourite books of 2012.

I thought I’d kick some life back into my blog by completing an annual ritual that I have sadly shunned for the last two years: naming my favourite books. This was the year that my reading returned to form after a period of slackness, and I think it’s because my kids are old enough that I’m not so exhausted that I just fall on the couch and zone out every night. In 2012 I read, or attempted to read (this was also the year of not finishing books if I didn’t want to) 26 books. Here are the highlights, roughly divided into categories. But first, some random facts: only two of these books are by men; eight are by New Zealanders; six of them are by people I know (one of the hazards of being a writer and a reader in a small country); four of them are published for children and young adults; four of them were not published this year; four of them I haven’t actually finished yet but am confident they deserve their place on here; one of them I listened to as an audio book as I jogged around the streets of my neighbourhood, transporting me away from roadworks and broken footpaths to a New World.

So, here are my picks:   

First books by dear friends (yes I am biased but I stand behind my recommendations. These books are wonderful for wildly different reasons)

The Girl Below, Bianca Zander
Sea Fever, Angela Meyer
Zen Under Fire, Marianne Elliot

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)

When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead
The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
The Apothecary, Maile Meloy
Fire in the Sea, Myke Bartlett

Books that have generally been raved about (and which I have enjoyed very much)

The Forrests, Emily Perkins
A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
Kirsten McDougall, The Invisible Rider

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

Publication Day!

It's here - publication day for Red Rocks.  It's always a strange feeling to describe. I sit at home while my book may or may not yet be on the shelves in bookstores around the country. But of course I'm excited, and that's what launch parties are for, to make the author feel like Something Big has happened.

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 reception@randomhouse.co.nz 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

Festivals & Festivities.

I'm off for my annual dose of literary society - to the Auckland Writers & Readers festival this weekend. I'll be there primarily as a punter, but I will also be chairing this session with Paula Morris and Stephanie Johnson, which should be lively and intelligent given the calibre of the brains and personalities involved (I'm talking about the writers, not the chair... oh never mind). They have both written wonderful novels, based on the lives of their ancestors and there will be a lot to talk about. I am also looking forward to seeing Jeffrey Eugenides, Emily Perkins, Eion Colfer, Geoff Dyer, Jesmyn Ward, Mal Peet, just to name but a few.

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

Introducing... my new book.

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?