I bet this has happened to you: you’re reading a great book and you think – gee, I’d really like to interview this author. I did that for years before the day came when I sat opposite my first real live author – absolutely scared witless and thinking – be careful what you wish for!
Here’s the authors I’ve interviewed (click on their names to read the full interviews):
Lionel Shriver: A 15 year old girl who changes her name from Margaret Ann to Lionel – just to pique her father – is not someone to be toyed with. This was my first interview ever at my first ever Literary Festival. I walked with heavy boots to her hotel, but I floated back on a little cloud nine. That was when I realised that there was nothing to be scared of, because authors love librarians!
William Dalrymple: He didn’t sit still for one minute in this interview held on the top floor of an Auckland Hotel. I had to chase him around trying to keep up with him. I was already nervous (he is a famous travel writer of books like Nine Lives – in Search of the Sacred in Modern India), and my uncertainties around the technology involved in getting the whole thing recorded were greatly exacerbated by Dalrymple’s restlessness. I start hyperventilating just thinking about it.
Kathy Lette: This interview really was like chatting to a good friend over a coffee. What a blast! Irreverent, sexy, fun, OK maybe a bit flippant. But at least she sat still!
Andrew Miller: Forever endeared himself to me by being the only author I have ever interviewed who asked: “How are things in Christchurch?” We were just post earthquake and the gap between life in Christchurch and life in Auckland made me feel so sad. His best known work is Snowdrops, a debut novel that made the Booker Long List in 2011. He was a pleasure to interview.
Jeffrey Eugenides: that is correct – the Pulitzer prizewinning author for his novel Middlesex. Terrifying to interview. Read right to the end and you will know why. The photo says it all really.
John Lanchester: One of those interviews that never really had a lift-off point. I was chatting to him about his book Capital – which I had loved. His Publishing Agent sat with us throughout the interview. What did she think I would do to him?
Laurence Fearnley: I am a big fan of this Kiwi writer. We bonded over a coffee at one of the WORD festivals. She really thinks about her interview answers. She gives you her full attention. I am so fond of her.
NoViolet Bulawayo: A young Zimbabwean author who was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2013 for her novel We Need New Names. We chatted for ages. I had to ruthlessly edit what had been recorded to get this interview down to a reasonable length. So young, yet so wise (her not me!)
There’s no doubt that interviewing is nerve-wracking – I felt my stress levels rise just writing this blog! But I would not have missed these opportunities for anything. How about you? Do you have an author you would like to interview?
28 July 1986
Grenadier Hotel demolished in Oxford Terrace. Formerly The Royal, it was the third hotel on this site since 1851.
29 July 1953
Aviation pioneer Richard W. Pearse dies in Christchurch. Pearse made one of the world’s first powered flights on or about 31 March 1902 in South Canterbury. He moved to Christchurch in 1921 and worked on his astonishing “convertiplane” over many years.
30 July 1976
7 Canterbury men in gold medal winning hockey team at the Montreal Olympics. See our page on Canterbury Olympians.
31 July 1856
By Royal Charter, Christchurch becomes New Zealand’s first city. Christchurch became New Zealand’s first city in 1856 under the terms of a royal charter. This was because it was the ‘seat’, or base, for a bishop. The Reverend Henry John Chitty Harper was consecrated, or made a bishop, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and arrived with his family in Lyttelton on 23 December 1856.
1 August 1929
“Lyttelton Times” re-named “Christchurch Times” after being taken over by Auckland interests. In fact, the paper had moved from Lyttelton to Christchurch in 1863.
1 August 1975
Severe nor-west gale causes serious damage throughout city and province. Winds gust to a record 172 kilometres per hour (107 miles per hour). Over 250 injuries in Canterbury, and many forests devastated.