Obviously C.K. Stead and Charlotte Grimshaw are a popular pair, it was a full house. Steve Braunias was as much a participant as a facilitator with pithy one liners that had the audience eating out of his hand.
This apparently was the first time that Charlotte and her father had been interviewed together. Charlotte has always been intent on making it in her own right, even down to taking the name of her husband – Grimshaw – when she would have prefered to have kept her own name. She did acknowledge that she had finally made her own way and could now stand alongside her father as a writer.
The Stead household would have been an interesting one. Allen Curnow lived over the road, Frank Sargeson was a regular visitor. As Steve Braunias said C.K.Stead had “hung out with the dusty ancients that had invented New Zealand literature”. Charlotte recounted being upstairs as a young girl in her favourite room on her own enjoying the solitude, when she was joined by a man, with a beard and odd looking clothes who came and sat and the floor with her. She glared and him, and he glared and her until her father arrived and introduced her to James K. Baxter.
C.K Stead made the point that although his three children were all talented writers (his son is an art historian and daughter is the editor of the Atlantic Monthly), it is Charlotte who has inherited the “writing gene”. Although she trained as a lawyer the urge to write was never far away.
The audience was no doubt completely different from the one that attended Don McKinnon earlier in the day. Stead was a member of the Labour Party at the age of seven, and he eloquently talked of his opposition to the Iraq war. As a reader you are always aware of their political persuasions but both stressed that they were writing about the human condition. Charlotte also said that in the end she just wanted to write good dramas, and at this point her father acknowledged that she was a great writer. I wonder if this was news to Charlotte? Steve Braunias seemed to think so and came back to this statement a number of times!
I enjoyed this session very much, the questions were interesting and both participants engaging. It was really good to see a father and daughter having such a good time!