An Evening with Lee Child – Past Tense – WORD Christchurch

I am well into the morning-after glow of having spent an evening in the company of Lee Child, Paul Cleave and 750 of his Christchurch fans – and what a night it was! This is my first WORD Christchurch event – this one presented in association with Penguin Random House New Zealand – and I couldn’t have asked for a better author to kick off with. Lee Child is funny, intelligent and relaxed as he responds to Paul Cleave’s questions. He looks every bit as he does on the back cover of his books too. Now don’t worry – there are no spoilers for Past Tense in here – nor were there any in the interview, thankfully. I am still only part way through the book so I would have been gutted if it had been discussed in depth.

Have you ever wondered if Lee Child is channeling any of himself into our favourite character? Turns out that he is. He has gone out and experienced moving around the States as Jack does and has a similar dislike for technology. He also told us that other than the leather jacket and boots that he was wearing on the night; everything else will find itself in the bin in a few days and he will leave with new clothes. The basics aren’t expensive – he’s tried expensive clothing and found that they look the same anyway. And yes his jeans go under the mattress at night!

So which of you didn’t like Tom Cruise in the big screen role of Jack Reacher? No? Me neither! Quite simply because he doesn’t have the requisite traits that we all know Reacher to have – if anything, Tom Cruise is the antipode of Jack Reacher.

But this isn’t something that we will have to continue to grin and bear for any future films. That’s because there won’t be any. It was in Lee’s contract with the studio that he could opt out of any future movies once two had been made. So he has. Instead we have something much more worthy to look forward to. A TV series! He has just signed the paperwork to put Jack Reacher onto the little screen and I for one will be happily bingewatching it. If luck has it, there will be 8 seasons which will incorporate 24 books – 3 per season. One book will be chosen as the main theme and the other 2 will be cannibalised to round out the episodes. Can’t wait to see the result.

It was nice to see Lee graciously accept the book of a first-time author from the audience, when he was offered it. I had the impression that he genuinely supports up and coming talent. He does however, heartily disapprove of a well established author who quite blatantly kicks off a series with a character who is a bit of a dead ringer for ol’ Jack. David Baldacci… you know who you are! Amusingly, Lee didn’t take this affront lying down and is openly disparaging of such behaviour. He even went as far as to name a couple of his minor characters Baldacci and made sure that Reacher got a chance to punch them in the face. It seems that was enough to assure the absence of David Baldacci at some book events that he and Lee Child were due to attend together. Better watch your back DB!

So, ‘how does he remain as thin as he does?’, was one audience member’s question. Lee has discovered that stoking the fires of his creativity is as simple as keeping himself hungry. He writes better like this. He puts it down to some primal part of his brain that is activated when he is hungry – and it’s no doubt trying to imagine what it will have to do in order to hunt and forage to fill this need. Deep stuff.

So even though food doesn’t play a huge part we can rest assured that he is consuming copious amounts of coffee. This stuff must be running through his veins as it’s not unusual for him to consume 36 cups of coffee in a day! 36! Mind blown! How on earth does he sleep at night, I wonder?

So that was my night with Lee Child. It was a very entertaining time that was had by all. And no I didn’t hang around for my book to be signed, because I didn’t have a couple of hours to spare! Maybe next time.

Time to immerse myself back into Jack Reacher’s world – Past Tense here I come!

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Best book covers of 2018 – My pick of New Zealand’s finest

Throughout the year, I’ve been eyeing up the book covers of Aotearoa in order to create an assemblage of the most beautiful, bright, and bold. Luckily there were plenty of tasty covers to feast upon.

CoverGOLD: Poūkahangatus by Tayi Tibble

Cover art by Xoë Hall, published by Victoria University Press.
I had my eye on this one back in April, when VUP Books tweeted their cover reveal.The bold sexy colours! The snaky Medusa lettering!

This stunner of a cover is a perfect match for the badass fab poetry in Tayi’s collection.

I’ve had a look at more work by Xoë, and WOW WOW WOW. My eyes are so pleasured.

She designed that spectacular dress on the cover of Tami Neilson’s Sassafras record.

SILVER: Are friends electric? by Helen Heath

Cover by Kerry Ann Lee, published by Victoria University Press.

Helen Heath’s book is one of the year’s best; the poems are a compelling blend of earthy and intelligent. The beautiful tableau on its cover is by artist Kerry Ann Lee.

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BRONZE: Go Girl. Oh Boy.

Go Girl: A Storybook of epic NZ women by Barbara Else. Illustrations by Ali Teo, Fifi Colston, Helen Taylor, Phoebe Morris, Rebecca ter Borg, Sarah Laing, Sarah Wilkins, Sophie Watson and Vasanti Unka.

Oh Boy: A Storybook of epic NZ men by Stuart Lipshaw. Illustrations by Ant Sang, Bob Kerr, Daron Parton, Elliot O’Donnell (aka Askew One), Fraser Williamson, Michel Mulipola, Neil Bond, Patrick McDonald, Toby Morris and Zak Waipara.

Both titles published by Puffin (Penguin Books New Zealand).

This pair of books are a stand out. The bright sturdy covers, the diverse range of historic and contemprary Kiwis depicted, and the illustrations by New Zealand’s finest. An all-ages joy.

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BLACK AND WHITE AND READ ALL OVER

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TYPOGRAPHICAL DELIGHTS

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PERFECT SIMPLICITY

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FACES FRONT AND CENTRE

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GROUPS

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BOOKS OF POETRY RULE THE COVERS SCHOOL

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Browse more covers of New Zealand books published in 2018.

More best book covers

Best book covers of previous years

For more on local book covers and design, see the PANZ Book Design Awards.

Hidden Gems – Fugazi

After digging deep in the library catalogue, I found a couple of great things on one of my favourite bands, Fugazi. Fugazi is an American punk rock band from Washington D.C. that formed in 1987. The band consists of guitarists and vocalists Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto, bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty. Fugazi are the ultimate independent punk band, they staunchly refused big money offered by the major record labels, would only play all-ages gigs that were no more than $5 on the door and refused to sell merchandise.

Fugazi were a phenomenal live band and played 2 gigs in Christchurch (both at the Caledonian Hall) one in 1993 and one in 1997.  At the 1993 gig, a member of the audience was annoying Ian McKaye so much he was escorted out and offered his money back. On Ian McKaye’s record label Dischord you can access recordings of both these Christchurch shows. (If you have photos of either of these shows that you would like to share with the library please contact us or upload them to the Discovery Wall).

Top of the list to read is In on the Kill Taker by Joe Gross, which is part of the Bloomsbury 33 1/3 Series available via Bloomsbury Popular Music. Next up is Fugazi: Instrument a documentary film collaboration between Fugazi and Jem Cohen. This is available from Access Video which has an excellent range of music documentaries and live performances.

This book offers a little bit of back history before it looks at the making of the album In on the Kill Taker. It starts from the disastrous first recording with Steve Albini, to stories behind the writing and recording of songs like Smallpox Champion, Rend it, Public Witness Program and Instrument. This book is full of interludes and discusses how the band wrote songs, punk vs pop, and their live performances. Joe Gross also interviews long time friend of Fugazi, Jem Cohen who spent a lot of time recording their live shows and is also responsible for creating the cover art for this album.

After reading In on the Kill Taker by Joe Gross, I really wanted to see footage of Fugazi and was super excited to find the library had this 2 hours of footage from a collaboration between Fugazi and Jem Cohen. This video has footage covering the 10 year period of 1987-1996, and it captures the energy of their live performances. Fugazi are known for touring relentlessly and played over 1000 gigs around the world from 1987-2003.

Read more about Fugazi in Rock’s Back Pages.