WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival kicks off on 27 August. We’ve asked three quick questions of festival guests:

Wallace Chapman – tv and radio host, and writer

Cover of The InterestingsWhat (or who) are you most looking forward to at WORD Christchurch?

Meg Wolitzer, because I read her book The Interestings, and it was fabulous. What happens when your teen group of friends grow up together and form relationships.

What do you think about libraries?

Possibly one of the greatest gifts to Civic Life were Libraries. For a 1 year stretch when doing my own book, my Library card got a bigger workout than my EFTPOS card. They’re essential and ever changing.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

I can put a needle into myself ( long story, but I can self infuse )

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival kicks off on 27 August. We’ve asked three quick questions of festival guests:

Dr Davinia Caddy – senior lecturer at the School of Music, University of Auckland

Cover of Peace, power, and politicsWhat (or who) are you most looking forward to at WORD Christchurch?

 Maire Leadbeater.

What do you think about libraries?

 The concrete ones, I presume? One of the Wonders of the World (the 8th?), soon (sadly, at least to me) to be ancient in the digital age

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

Avid fan of Stoke City Football Club – The Mighty Potters!

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival kicks off on 27 August. We’ve asked three quick questions of festival guests:

Donovan Bixley – illustrator and writer

Cover of The bright side of my conditionWhat (or who) are you most looking forward to at WORD Christchurch?

So much to look forward to. I’m a big fan of Charlotte Randall. I love historical fiction and the excitement of whaling and naval history – especially the period of the turn of the 19th century – so obviously I felt that The Bright Side of My Condition was written for me. I’m also an old fan of Kristin Hersh and I’m looking forward to her visit to NZ. It will be great to catch up with Melinda Szymanik as we are working on a book together and I’m also looking forward to finally meeting Dylan Horrocks.

What do you think about libraries?

I love just browsing the shelves and discovering new books (new to me that is). There’s never any pressure, if you don’t like it you can return it, and if you do like a book you can go back and get it again and again. Often you can find darling old books that you can’t get in the shops, and as a devoted book lover, I love that a lot of library books are original hardcover versions.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

At school I used to draw cars and trucks to keep the school bullies on side. Nowadays I love to draw all sorts of things – except (for some strange reason) cars and trucks.

Cover of Monkey Boy Cover of The Three bears Cover of Dinosaur rescue

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival kicks off on 27 August. We’ve asked three quick questions of festival guests:

Nic Low – author and artist

Cover of Peace, power, and politicsWhat (or who) are you most looking forward to at WORD Christchurch?

I grew up in Christchurch in the 80s. I have great memories of my parents taking us to Peace Group in a church hall. We’d paint anti-nuclear banners and learn protest songs (accompanied, badly, on a ukulele) and have a damn good time. So what I’m most looking forward to is the People Power session with Nicky Hager and Maire Leadbeater, talking about the history of New Zealand’s nuclear free movement. I live in Australia and travel overseas a fair bit, and I often talk about our nuclear-free status as an example of Why New Zealand Is Awesome. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of about being a kiwi. It’s also one of the reasons why my stories in Arms Race are about mischievous political shenanigans.

What do you think about libraries?

I’m obsessed! As a kid I probably borrowed and read 75% of the books in the kids and YA sections of the Christchurch Public Library. I lived in libraries while doing both undergrad and postgrad. The 11th floor of the UC library is my favourite: having a view of mountains while being surrounded by books remains a lifelong goal. In Melbourne I do my daily writing beneath the State Library of Victoria’s magnificent vaulted dome. And in 2012-2013 I created my own library – hundreds of books packed into six hand-made travelling cases that transform into book cases – and toured them 2000km across India by train. That project was a roving writers festival called The Bookwallah, and you can learn more about it during the opening Pecha Kucha night.

Cover of Arms RaceShare a surprising fact about yourself.

A lot of my ideas for short stories seem to come from … tramping trips. There’s something about being in the mountains, often with my brother Tim, that gets the imagination going.The closing story in Arms Race, ‘The Culler’, came from a mid-winter trip into the Lewis Pass back country. There’d been heavy snow – the Lewis Pass road was snowed in for two weeks – and the beech forest had been shattered. The tracks were impassable with fallen limbs. We spent five or six days wading in the rivers instead, and along the way we stayed in a tiny hand-hewn shelter called Slaty Creek Hut.

The ground outside was a boneyard of deer jaws and teeth. Sitting by the fire, my brother and I got talking about the cullers and hunters who escaped society to live and work from huts like this after WWII. We chatted about the mountain radio service, and imagined what it’d be like living in total frozen isolation, and getting news reports about major world events. What would it be like spending your days hunting among the moonscapes of the Alps, then getting word that the Americans had put a man on the moon? What if you actually met a party of Americans in those mountains, carrying a flag and a movie camera … ?

Now I know how much tramping seems to fire my imagination, my second book is all about the mountains. It’s an imaginative history of the Southern Alps, told through eight crossings of the mountains on foot. It’s called Eight Passes and it’s out with Text in 2016.

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival kicks off on 27 August. We’ve asked three quick questions of festival guests:

Rosetta Allan – poet and novelist

Cover of We need new namesWhat (or who) are you most looking forward to at WORD Christchurch?

 Oh there are too many to list, but I’ll give it a try:

and that’s just a handful of the artists I want to see.
I am going to be a busy, and very happy festival attendee.

What do you think about libraries?

I walk in and out of my local Mt Albert library at least twice a week.

Every time I notice a few things:

  1. The happy staff – and wish I could have their job.
  2. The high occupancy of most available seats, by a multi cultured and age varied populace busy reading or tapping on keyboards.
  3. That lovely shelf that has a selection of books waiting just for me, and the person next in alphabetical line to mine, who must be retired because she reads a LOT of books.
  4. How lucky I feel to be able to access so many amazing books and documentaries from such a happy place, all ordered online and delivered to my neighbourhood, and it’s all free!

Yes, I am particularly fond of libraries, for completely selfish reasons.

Cover of PurgatoryShare a surprising fact about yourself.

I have a rose tattoo.

My husband asked me to marry him two weeks after we met.

I said yes and he had a rose tattooed on his deltoid.

25 years later I had the same, but smaller, rose tattooed on my wrist.

It was my way of saying yes to the next 25 years together.

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival kicks off on 27 August. We’ve asked three quick questions of festival guests:

Cover of The Wandering MindKen Strongman – Emeritus Professor

What (or who) are you most looking forward to at WORD Christchurch?

I am most looking forward to the fact that the festival is occurring.

What do you think about libraries?

Libraries are an essential part of our society.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

18 months ago I began what is proving to be a successful column in The Press. It is entitled Over the Hill and appears on alternate Thursdays.

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival kicks off on 27 August. We’ve asked three quick questions of festival guests:

Richard King – writer and reviewer

Cover of The Snowden filesWhat (or who) are you most looking forward to at WORD Christchurch?

I’m looking forward to seeing a new city. I haven’t been to Christchurch before — or even to New Zealand — and so I’ll be interested to learn a little about it and to see how its reconstruction is being managed. I’m also looking forward to my events. The first one I’m involved in will be on spying and secrecy and will feature Nicky Hager and Luke Harding — real journalists, not mere commentators like myself. I’m hoping to learn, as well as to contribute.

What do you think about libraries?

I love libraries and always have. At university in Manchester (England) I would often use the Central Reference Library — a wonderful building — and I’ve also used the British Library, for which you need, or used to need, permission. Here in Western Australia I often visit the state library, which is a great place to work. While I like the fact that material is now being loaded onto databases, I worry a bit that in digitising their stock libraries are losing a lot of it. The US novelist Nicholson Baker has written passionately, and at length, about this issue.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

Well, sticking with libraries … Up to about the age of fourteen or so I didn’t know how libraries worked. I just used to go in, take the books, and leave. No one ever noticed I was doing it, and I always brought the books back. But strange! I’m a bit dense when it comes cards and IDs and the like. If I don’t turn up for my first event it’ll be because I’ve tried to get through Passport Control on my Trans-Perth travelcard.

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival kicks off on 27 August. We’ve asked three quick questions of festival guests:

Barnaby Bennett

Cover of Peace, power, and politicsWhat (or who) are you most looking forward to at WORD Christchurch?

I’m mostly looking forward to launching our book Once in a Lifetime: City-building after Disaster in Christchurch. We’ve had amazing support in creating it and it has the voices of so many people in it who will be at the launch, so I’m mainly excited (and a little scared) to let it out into the world. Also pretty excited to see people like Nicky Hager, Gerard Smyth, and Maire Leadbeater talk about their work. We are blessed with a great lineage of articulate activists in this country.

What do you think about libraries?

Well, as a Ph.D student libraries are incredibly important, they the heart of research. I don’t think contemporary society could exist without them. It’s obvious that new technologies are changing them, but in all my experiences librarians are the people most on top of what that change means to libraries and how to adapt to the new opportunities.

Cover of Barnaby BennettShare a surprising fact about yourself.

Um, my name got borrowed for a brilliant children’s book by Hannah Rainforth called Barnaby Bennett which is all about a little Māori boy who always wears red. Also I was born in the year (1980) that humans exceeded the carrying capacity of the earth for the first time, I sometimes worry I was the one that put us over the edge.

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival kicks off on 27 August. We’ve asked three quick questions of festival guests:

Michael Corballis

Cover of The wandering mindWhat (or who) are you most looking forward to at WORD Christchurch?

My visit will be too brief to take full advantage of the festival,  but I’ll be interested to hear what I can. I look also  forward to catching up with some old friends (some of whom will be at my talk), and seeing how Christchurch itself is progressing. I haven’t been there since the earthquake.

What do you think about libraries?

I love libraries.  Most of my working life involves electronic access to knowledge from my desk, but it remains a pleasure to browse in a good library and get the feel of books while we still have them. I think that the modern libraries I know have adapted well to the electronic age, and are pleasant and relaxing places to visit. Browsing in a library is in many ways complementary to browsing on a search engine (like Google) and sometimes more rewarding.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

Cover of Pieces of mindHmm. Here are some possibilities:
1. I started my university career as an engineering student at the University of Canterbury, but my main ambition at the time was to be a cartoonist.
2. I used to play squash with Ken Strongman but he always beat me.
3. I am addicted to cryptic crosswords, especially those in the London Spectator. Happiness is completing one in a single day.
4. I am not left-handed. (I don’t know why some people find this surprising).

Kia ora. To celebrate Te Reo Māori  we are publishing kupu (words) every week.

Kīwaha (colloquialism)

Ki hori
Step aside

Kupu (word)

engari
but

I whakapae au ka heke te ua engari kei te whiti kē mai te rā.
I thought that it was going to rain but instead the sun is shining.

Maori
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