Fiona Farrell – an hour well spent

Stephanie Johnson chaired this hour with Fiona Farrell, well known to South Island readers.

An appreciative crowd listened to readings and explantions of how the works came about, where they were written, inspirations for characters and really got the chance to appreciate the many facets of Farrell’s writing plus a sneak preview of her next work.

Farrell has been struggling with a novel for a year and a half, but says the work in in its “death throes” and is going to be finished in a month. After that she plans to write poems again.

“I discovered how much I like writing poetry. They have a different speed.”

Book Book – her fictionalised account of her life – is now in its fourth edition. She wasn’t worried about writing about people and places she knew. Quite the opposite: “I launch blithely into writing without thinking that anyone’s going to read it,” she said.

Fictionalising the book gave her freedom, she said.

“It’s not quite my life. My mother’s funeral was nothing like the funeral in the book.

I wanted to write about themes. I didn’t want to stick to the facts of my life. I wanted to be able to exclude things, tidy things up.”

Her next novel is The Autobiography of Limestone, something she’s “always been fascinated by”. The creatures that form the limestone around Oamaru and the Waitaki have the “knack of resurrection” and millions of tiny creatures make up the massive deposits that abound in that part of the country.

I really enjoyed this session and am appreciating more and more how much dedication and effort writers put into their work.

2 thoughts on “Fiona Farrell – an hour well spent

  1. Jane 15 May 2008 / 11:39 am

    Am I right in thinking that Fiona Farrell takes the writers course that Hagley High runs? I haave heard that it is really good.

  2. richard 15 May 2008 / 12:39 pm

    You are right – and I should declare that I am a student on this course so have a bias. Even so, it was illuminating to see Fiona in this context, sharing openly about her early life near Merton and her upbringing – not all writers are prepared to do that. She als mentioned her father, a voracious reader took an attitude that “nothing was rubbish”, allowing a huge variety of books into their lives. Looks like that attitude paid off.

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