Songwriters speak

Those of you who watched ONE News last night will have seen Dave Dobbyn singing a new single off his album Anotherland. He was in vintage form. Read on to learn what they didn’t report… Continue reading

Books on the box: a conversation

A conversation between 2 librarians on their first session at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival Books on the Box (a panel discussion about TV book programmes, featuring Hamish Keith, Hermione Lee and Colin Hogg, and chaired by Noelle McCarthy).

Donna: Well that was a riproaring and fighting start. What was your favourite bit?

Joyce: Noelle’s shoes – her two tone shoezies were fab (editors note: they were pink and gold and very high) but the vibrant green earrings were plain wrong.

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Down to business

Books by every author have been loaded into the Aotea Centre by staff at The Women\'s BookshopWe’ve all been off to our first interviews after a quick stop at publishers Allen and Unwin and festival sponsor McGovern. The staff at the Festival bookstore tell me they had been working since 7.30am and were just stopping for a cuppa around 4pm. Essentially there’s books from every author, and for most of them several titles! A huge effort by a small team.

I’ve just returned from interviewing Tessa Duder on her new book Is She Still Alive? : scintillating stories for women of a certain age, published by HarperCollins. She says she likes to think of it as a new genre – fiction for older women. Word from the publisher is that it’s sold out at two Auckland stores already, so it looks like she’s on to a winner. Check the library website for the article soon – we’ll post here when it’s live.

The people taking part in the naked self-promotion mentioned earlier have disappeared into the showery Auckland afternoon…

Armed and dangerous?

Going on the road reporting these days involves taking some kit with you. Here’s a rundown on some of the kit that we’ll be using to bring you coverage of the festival:

  • Three standard issue laptops, with wireless internet and 3G cards
  • Four cellphones
  • Three digital cameras
  • 1 Marantz PMD660 audio recorder, 2 AKG field mics and 2 AKG lapel mics
  • Christchurch City Libraries promotional material
  • power adapters for above – there are five in my bag alone
  • 16 rechargeable batteries
  • a large assortment of cables for connecting things to one another
Think of all this kit as a licence to ask questions – a chance to see how the festival works and take in Auckland as we see it during our stay. My first job is to collect a media pass and then visit Paul Reynolds at McGovern – he is kindly helping us out with access to broadband for our visit. Then it’s off for my first interview – noted New Zealand author Tessa Duder.
And speaking of kit – and questions – we were suprised to see three people (two female, one male) without any kit on at all walking down Queen Street. Lucky they had nice pinnies to cover their fronts from the showers, but there was definitely a risk of exposure at the back! The reason – a promotion for Lush who sell “naked” products – with no packaging.

Ready to rumba with the writers and readers

We are all checked in and Auckland beckons. No-one spotted any authors on the plane but it was good to see a big festival banner over the motorway – and Joyce got a text to say Mo Hayder was chatting away on breakfast tv. So it really is the season of the writer and reader in the City of Sails.

We’ve got interviews with authors today, it’s a good chance to catch up with them before the onslaught – so look out over the next few days and see who we manage to snare.

Festival Quick Fix: Wednesday

I imagine my colleagues who’ve gone up to the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival are now camping out on the pavement outside the Aotea Centre, waiting to grab ringside seats for tonight’s opening events. I hope they are anyway, and I hope it’s a typically damp Auckland day, if just to make those of us who can’t be there feel better about being left behind in sunny Canterbury!

It’s going to be real hardship for them, five days of non-stop literary action. It’s the librarian equivalent of a petrol-head going to the Formula One, or a catholic meeting the Pope. For those like me who can’t be there, we can at least share in their experience by following the team’s ramblings (or otherwise), between now and Sunday.

Most of the action starts tomorrow, but today’s events are:

  • Sunday magazine columnist and author Steve Braunias talks to Finlay Macdonald about his writing and his recent books How to Watch a Bird and Roosters I Have Known.
  • Books on the Box – a panel discussion about TV book programmes, featuring Hamish Keith, Hermione Lee and Colin Hogg, and chaired by (the woman with that gorgeous accent) Noelle McCarthy.
  • One for the musos, Mike Chunn brings Dave Dobbyn, John Chong-Nee and Victoria Girling-Butcher together to talk about the art of song writing in Songwriters Speak.

We’ll have new posts throughout the day, every day, and we’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts and comments as we relay ours. We’ll also have exclusive interviews with some of the major writers, so call back for a regular fix, or don’t miss a thing by subscribing to our RSS feed. If you haven’t seen it already, our website Edition this week also previews the Festival.