Psst … wanna win some Writers Festival tickets?

CoverThanks to the fab The Press Christchurch Writers Festival crew we have  two double passes to give away to the following sessions:

An hour with Chris Cleave Friday 31 August 11am – 12pm. Chris will be chatting with  Tim Wilson, formerly TVNZ’s US correspondent:

Publishers Weekly has described his third novel, Gold, published in 2012 and set in the world of Olympic speed cycling, as ‘thrillingly written and emotionally rewarding’.

An Hour with John Boyne  Friday 31 Aug 2012 2pm – 3pm. John talks with Lynn Freeman, the presenter of Radio New Zealand National’s The Arts on Sunday.

CoverThe Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, published in 2006, was embraced by all ages. It was shortlisted for or won a host of international awards, topped the New York Times Bestseller List, has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide and has been made into an award-winning film.

An Hour with Kate Grenville Sunday 2 September 11am – 12pm

Kate Grenville is one of Australia’s finest writers. Her bestselling novel The Secret River has been published in more than twenty countries. It has received numerous awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award.

The Stuff of Life. Sunday 2 September 2pm – 3pm. Joanne Harris, Nicky Pellegrino, Felicity Price – chaired by Graham Beattie:

These three authors have all written books that speak of the magic and joy that can be hidden in the difficult, mundane stuff of everyday life. They talk about their own work, and about the books that they love – the authors who have enhanced their lives and given them inspiration, delight and solace.

Fatal Attraction?  Saturday 1 September 12:30pm – 1:30pm. Julian Novitz, Michael Robotham, Ben Sanders and Paul CoverCleave.

Session chaired by crime fiction enthusiast and blogger Craig Sisterson is the deputy editor of NZ Lawyer and the organiser of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.

Acclaimed crime writers Michael Robotham, Paul Cleave and Ben Sanders, and Julian Novitz, whose new novel revolves around a murder and a mystery, talk about the attraction of evil and the perils of genre fiction.

How to win

Email us at with your name, email address and phone number – and which session you’d like tickets for. (Sorry, Christchurch City Libraries staff aren’t eligible to enter). Good luck Christchurch booklovers!

TB and fresh air

In the course of searching our library website I came across the fascinating digitised photograph albums from the Cashmere Sanitorium.  They take us back to a time when tuberculosis was common in the community. There were no preventive vaccinations and the fresh air and isolation were part of the cure (if you were lucky). In Christchurch the Cashmere Sanitorium was the place you were sent to live high on the Port Hills in little huts open to the weather.

The photographs show patients, nurses, doctors and other staff at the Sanitorium. The patients recline on their beds, pose in their little wooden huts, sweep snow off the paths, play croquet and listen to an orchestra. Was anyone in your family ever at Cashmere? You might see their photograph.

In my family I had an uncle with TB (thankfully recovered).  I remember childhood visits to the TB ward at Wellington Hospital which was up on a hill above the main hospital.  I was sent to watch the rabbits they kept in cages in the grounds. There were sanitoriums all over the country, often in dramatic locations like the Port Hills or, in the North Island the wonderfully sited Pukeora sanitorium at Waipukerau.

The literary connections with tuberculosis are vast. Many writers included “consumptive” characters and many were themselves the victim of the plague. The roll call of those affected or killed by TB include Robert Burns, Charles Bukowski, Paul Eluard, Dashiel Hammett, Robert A. Heinlein, Franz Kafka, D. H. Lawrence, Sir Walter Scott, Dylan Thomas and of course Katherine Mansfield.