If it looks like magic, we agree: 34 minutes with Rives

A present for TessaRives and I began our chat by sharing earthquake experiences. He’s had his fair share whilst living in Los Angeles.

If you haven’t heard of Rives, seek him out – he is a master-craftsman with a huge ability to deliver knock-out lines which “break your frickin’ heart”.

We went on to talk about paper engineering (he made a pop-up brochure for my daughter); life and love and libraries, and sometimes love in libraries; about poetry on stage and page; the importance of quietness; and his desire to respond to circumstances more than the demands of his diary.

He also likes to encourage others to have a go – last night he invited people to meet him outside if they had any questions or would like to talk – I began by asking him how it went:

[34 min, 31.9Mb .mp3]

On top of the world with Cassandra Clare

Auckland Writers and Readers FestivalToday I climbed what felt like the steepest hill in the world, but it was worth it, because at the top of the hill, in the poshest hotel I have been in for a long time (butlers! giant chandeliers! ladies who lunch!), I got to sit and chat with Cassandra Clare.  Here for the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, Cassandra is speaking at both general festival events, and several sessions aimed more specifically at teens, including the festival’s schools’ programme, and the Wordy Day Out.

Cassandra is a best-selling author of two fantasy series for teens, the Mortal Instruments series (currently up to book 4: City of Fallen Angels), and the prequel Infernal Devices series (book 1: Clockwork Angel).  I love these books, and am constantly waving them at people, both young and old, and so it was a great privilege to be able to meet Cassandra and talk with her.

I’m not going to say much else here, because you can listen to the whole interview below (apart from the bit where there was a small technical hitch involving a waiter, the pause button and some spaghetti bolognese).  I will also be attending Sunday’s session on Fantasy writing, at which Cassandra is speaking, and will no doubt have some more to share about that later.  For now, grab a cuppa and turn the volume up, and have a listen to this interview. I began by asking her what percentage of her audience were adults:


[9 minutes 8.8Mb .mp3]

Handsome agreeable people: a conversation with Sarah-Kate Lynch

Sarah-Kate Lynch and Bronwyn10am – it’s the first session for me today, and it almost feels more like I am just hanging out in a friend’s lounge.  Maggie and Sarah-Kate are old friends, and this is really clear from the way they are chatting and sharing memories together.  The atmosphere is warm, although the room apparently is not – Sarah-Kate feels the cold, and has packed pashminas ‘just in case’ – a red one for her and a lime green one for Maggie.

I need to point out at this stage that Sarah-Kate has hands-down won the award for best-dressed festival speaker: an impeccable LBD, perfectly accessorised bracelet, handbag, shoes and necklace, and yes, even the emergency pashmina matched.  “Colour-coordinating to a fault”, as Maggie points out.

In her introduction, Maggie comments that Sarah-Kate has ” … the knack of writing books that we wish we could be in …”, and the room thoroughly agrees.  Her latest book Dolci di love is about families and friendships, babies and biscotti. Set in Tuscany, it’s a warm read, with gorgeously drawn characters:  “All my books are full of handsome agreeable people”, she notes; and like all of her novels, it makes you laugh and cry and laugh again.  There are some tough issues to deal with in this book, but somehow, as always, hope wins out.  As Sarah-Kate herself points out, “I want to believe that there’s hope and that there’s a happy ending for everybody.”

As well as talk about Dolci di love, there’s also some discussion of her next novel – set in Manhattan and Charleston, South Carolina, it’s about bees, she says.  And a character called Honey, or Sugar, or something else sweet (I forget which!  I am a note-taking failure!). 

There’s talk about blogging – after years of disparaging blogs, Sarah-Kate has fallen under their spell, and now has her very own blog.  She recommends a book (Blood, Bones & Butter, by Gabrielle Hamilton), recalls her earlier days in journalism, mentions her editor’s jobs, her new role at Next magazine and her columns in Women’s Day magazine, and generally makes me feel like I am the laziest, most unachieving-est person in the world.

At the end of the session I go and introduce myself – we did an email interview a month or so ago, and it’s great to be able to go and say hi face-to-face – and I skip off to my next session a very happy festival-girl indeed.

Saturday @ the festival: This one’s for Christchurch

This one's for ChristchurchAnother massively busy day at the festival for the team, capped off with a special event – This one’s for Christchurch. There was a large contingent of Canterbury people in this session, hosted by Morrin Rout and Ruth Todd. The Christchurch writers festival has been cancelled twice due to earthquakes, so it was teleported to Auckland for a mini-festival.

Special mention was made of The Press for its commitment to supporting the Christchurch festival, and its incredible determination to publish come hell or high water. In Bronwyn’s words, we felt “proud to be Christchurchians”.

We also talk about David Mitchell, Cassandra Clare, New Zealand poetry, Antarctica, and reveal some little known facts about Vincent O’Sullivan. [13 min 44 sec, 12.8Mb .mp3]