How to interview yourself – WORD Christchurch

If, like me, there is a strong possibility that you will get through life without ever being interviewed, why not do it yourself? Here’s my interview with myself on WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival – now a mere nine sleeps away.

Roberta AWF

What is it with you and festivals Roberta?

I know there should be an academic booky answer for this, but I will stick to the truth. I like the buzz. I like being in a room with other readers and having books and words as the focus of the gathering. Festivals are where my tribe gathers. I must be there.

How many of these tribal gatherings have you attended?

Three in Auckland (the Big Kahuna of book festivals in New Zealand) and three in Christchurch – the smaller but perfectly formed hometown gathering.

What’s the difference between the Auckland and the Christchurch Festivals?

One is big and wonderful. The other is smaller and quite perfect. I love them both but I am especially proud of the team at WORD Christchurch that brings us this festival. They have done a brilliant job in the face of some pretty earth-shattering events. Thanks.

A significant difference between the two for me is that AWF always takes place in one main venue Aotea Square, so I feel very connected to that place. I know where the good wifi spots are, where it’s quiet enough to conduct an interview, the best nearby coffee outlets and the location of all the loos. Not that I’m implying for one moment that toilet availability is what makes a festival great. But you did ask.

WORD, which is Christchurch’s  bi-annual festival has been held at a different venue each time. It keeps you on your toes. In 2012 it took place in a tent in Hagley Park – think mud and regular small earth tremors. In 2014 the main venue was in Rydges Hotel overlooking the Cardboard Cathedral, it was a tight squeeze which only added to the atmosphere. This year I am super excited about the new venues on offer – the Isaac Royal Theatre and the brand new The Piano.

What about this year’s programme?

When first I lay my hands on a programme I stroke it lovingly for a bit, then I take it out for many cappuccinos and page through it highlighting all my favourite events.  I have three festival rules:

I like to attend opening night. It feels optimistic and full of promise. This year the event is Can Books Change the World? Four authors will discuss the impact of literature on the turmoil of our world.   

Caitlin Doughty AuthorNext I like to choose my hot favourite – this year it is Ask a Mortician – Caitlin Doughty. So young, so beautiful so mortician-y. No one suggested this in career guidance when I was at school!

Finally I select an event about which I know very little. Sometimes I choose this event because the presenter is very good looking. But I digress. This year it’s going to be How To Be a Writer by the ‘amazingly funny’ Steve Hely because I’ve never heard of him, and he’s not too shabby in the looks department either. After that I fill up my goodie bag until I can’t fit in any more events and blog at the same time.

And the blogging, how hard is that to do at a festival?

Festival blogging is very fast paced. It makes me feel sharp, focussed and in the zone. If I could bottle that feeling I would make a million. I cancel all other engagements for that period of time. I also do a fair bit of preparation, like reading reviews and writing my drafts with the book covers and author photos ready to use. I think the actual blogging is the easy part because you don’t have to think what to write about.  You just pitch up (in my case on a caffeine high), listen to what the authors say and write that down. Trust me, they are always very, very quotable.

Anything else to share?

Just three words: See you there!


Fast Five with Gavin Bishop

There are some wonderful authors and illustrators for children who are coming to Auckland in August as part of the 2016 IBBY Congress. You can read all about who we are excited to meet in our post about the IBBY Congress here on the blog. We approached some of the speakers and asked them a few questions about books and libraries.

Gavin BishopToday’s featured speaker is award-winning New Zealand author Gavin Bishop:

What are you most looking forward to when you visit New Zealand for the 2016 IBBY Congress?

I have been privileged to visit many other countries to talk about my work and have always been looked after well. It is my turn now to make the visitors to the New Zealand IBBY Congress feel welcome. I have also been involved through the Painted Stories Trust with mounting an exhibition of NZ illustration for the IBBY Congress. This will be an exciting show featuring 20 of our top illustrators.

What is your favourite memory of libraries?

I love to visit a library with no idea in my mind of what I want to read. I wander along the shelves waiting for something to catch my eye. Suddenly a title, or a particular cover design shouts at me. This is one I will take out to read today.

Cover of Snake and lizardWhat are 5 of your favourite books?

  1. Moa by Quinn Berentson
  2. Cole’s Funny Picture Book No 1
  3. Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley
  4. The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting
  5. The Cleaner by Paul Cleave. A thriller set in Christchurch. Rather nasty but exciting and not for children.

What do you love most about the world of children’s literature?

I enjoy the support you get as a writer for children. The world of children’s literature is a very encouraging and nurturing one on the whole.

What do you believe is the most important thing that adults can do to encourage children to read?

Read to them from the time they are babies. Make books part of their lives. Throw books into the toy box or into the doll’s pram or the back of a trike.


Kōrerorero mai – Join the conversation

Quick questions with Leigh Hopkinson – WORD Christchurch

We are asking quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival on from 24 to 28 August.

Leigh Hopkinson is a New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Australian and The Press. Her first book Two Decades Naked is a memoir about her years working in striptease.

Leigh Hopkinson. Image supplied.
Leigh Hopkinson. Image supplied.

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

I’m looking forward to catching up with family and friends, and to immersing myself in the WORD festival. I’m especially looking forward to meeting Kate Holden, whose memoir inspired my own. And I’m keen to get out into the Southern Alps for a few days.

What do you think about libraries?

I love them! I’m very grateful they exist and that they’re free for everyone to enjoy, to take shelter in and to be nurtured by. In Melbourne, I often write at the State Library of Victoria. When I doubt the sensibility of pursuing my passion, I need only look around.

What would be your “desert island book”?

Just one? Well, I haven’t read Robinson Crusoe yet, but perhaps something more sensible might be in order, such as a Dummies Guide to Survival on a Desert Island.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

When I was a kid, I was a tomboy, happiest out of doors. I hated anything girlie, such as make-up, dresses or Barbie dolls. Post-stripping, I still associate these things with the performative, not with the everyday.

Leigh Hopkinson appears in:
PechaKucha Night, Thurs 25 Aug, 8.20pm
Work/ Sex, Sun 28 Aug, 12.30pm


Podcast – Disability rights and the NZ Disability Strategy

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from New Zealand’s only specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

The latest episode deals with Disability rights and the NZ Disability Strategy and covers topics such as:

This show includes an introductory interview with Nicky Wagner, Minister for Disability Issues, followed by discussion with Megan of the New Zealand Office for Disability Issues, Gary and Robbie from the NZDS Reference Group (in Wellington) and Sally and Shane from People First New Zealand (in Christchurch).

Transcript of the audio file

Find out more in our collection

Cover of A disability history of the United States Cover of Parenting an adult with disabilities or special needs Cover of Listening to the experts Cover of Waggy tails and wheelchairs

More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

The show is also available on the following platforms: