Coffee with Lee Child

Lee's first book The Killing FloorThis is a guest post from a fortunate fan who met with writer Lee Child. Thanks for sharing your impressions.

I had the good fortune to be offered the opportunity to meet Lee Child during his recent flying visit to Christchurch. As a huge fan of his works there was no way I was going to miss that! Fortunately I was already on leave that day so I fronted up at our agreed meeting place (prior to Lee starting his hectic book signing engagements) and over coffee I had the opportunity to quiz him on anything I liked.

Aware that most people probably quiz him endlessly about Jack Reacher, I left the likeable rogue to hover around the edges of our discussions. Being interested in writing, I quizzed Lee on how he structures his books (he doesn’t, except for a start and a finish), we discussed plans for a future book (mine), and talked about almost everything but his books. When quizzed on what authors Lee likes he said he enjoys reading books to inform himself, I never did get an actual author name out of him, but we did discuss Stieg Larsson (so he’d obviously read the Millenium trilogy).

Lee feels that readers can’t really expect 50 (or however many) books about the same character, so when Jack Reacher did eventually become the topic of discussion (his agent wanted to know if I’d thought of any questions that no-one else has ever asked), amongst other things we discussed potential endings for Jack Reacher; I’ll be extremely happy if one of my suggestions is how he concludes the series.

Lee struck me as a down-to-earth kind of guy who showed a genuine interest in people. Knowing that he had an exceptionally busy schedule in Christchurch I really appreciated him making the time to have a drink and chat with me. Thanks to Random House, Borders, and of course Lee Child for giving me this opportunity!

“And in the Morning …” – film featuring an interview with war veteran Lachie Griffin

The Central Library in Christchurch is pleased to be showing “And in the Morning…” by Chalice Productions, produced and directed by Jennifer Barrer.

This moving film contains an interview with local war veteran Lachie Griffin, Jennifer Barrer’s own personal account of her father Bryan Amherst Barrer, and archival footage of World War II servicemen. The film will be playing throughout the day at the West End of the 2nd floor from Friday April 23 to Monday April 26.

Jennifer will also be speaking at the library about the film on Saturday April 24 at 11 a.m. Please join us to experience a powerful local film on this Anzac holiday.

Jennifer Barrer interviews well known war veteran Lachie Griffin of the Canterbury 19th Battalion Armoured Regiment, then gives her own personal account of her father Bryan Amherst Barrer of the 2nd Expeditionary Forces of the 19th Infantry Battalion. She also reads her poem “War Baby” which has been translated into German. She dedicates the film to the soldiers and their families and peace.
There is archival footage of (1) “Welcome Home” , the return of the soldiers from World War II at Lyttelton and Christchurch, and (2) Soldiers departing from Christchurch.
We then experience an Anzac Day Service at the 19th Infantry Battalion and Armoured Regiment Memorial, Victoria Park, Christchurch and World War II veterans who fought in North Africa, Sicily and Italy; with special reference to the Battle of Cassino.”

Dead Dames – Dodie Smith 1896-1990

Dodie Smith is best known for her children’s novels The hundred and one Dalmatians and The starlight barking starring the revolting Cruella de Ville and oodles of  plucky monochromatic pups. An extremely successful dramatist in her day (the 30s and 40s), Dodie also published three volumes of autobiography: Look back with love, Look back with mixed feelings and Look back with astonishment.

But for me Dodie’s magic is all about her novel I capture the castle. Published in 1948, it tells the story of poverty-stricken sisters, Cassandra and Rose Mortmain, living with their eccentric family in an idyllic but crumbling  English castle. Their father is a revered and critically acclaimed novelist who now, unable to put pen to paper, whiles away time reading detective pulp. Their bohemian step-mother Topaz, a former artist’s model, spends her days making ends meet and communing with nature in the nudey.

Luckily, just when things are getting really dire, two attractive and wealthy American brothers Simon and Neil Cotton move into the area. They become  the Mortmain’s new neighbours and, horror, landlords. They also become targets for a scheming Rose who declares she’d marry Satan to escape her life of penury. Predictable but heart-warming romantic shenanigans ensue.

The story is told through seventeen year old Cassandra’s eyes, and her often self-consciously literary but delightful journal. This is the perfect coming-of-age novel and one I desperately wish I’d read at fifteen, instead of at the (advanced in years though not romantic maturity) age of thirty. I urge you all, in a bossy middle-aged librarian kind of way, to read the book and also highly recommend the movie version featuring Bill Nighy, Romola Garai, Rose Byrne and the delicious Henry Cavill.