The Great WORD Debate : uproariously entertaining – WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Irreverently silly, relentlessly roasting and just a little bit real, the Great WORD Debaters had a sold out audience in stitches at The Piano Concert Chamber on Saturday night.

Blurring those lines again (you know the ones, fact and fiction), the speakers entertained with anecdotes, shaggy dog stories, impressions and some pretty solid arguments.

Adventure being the theme of the festival, the topic of debate left everything to the imagination:

That we should be free to choose our own adventure.

The M.C. for the evening was larger-than-life Joe Bennett, who had those of us who thought we were worn out sitting up in our seats, introducing:

Team for the Affirmative: Paula Morris, Tom Scott and Daniel Mallory (AJ Finn).

Team for the Negative: Michele A’Court, David Slack and Denise Mina.

Paula Morris, herself an international woman of mystery, opened proceedings with a wry, witty and clean (which is more than I can say for some) argument in favor of choosing to live an adventurous life, and the value of being free to choose said adventures. Playing the straight-woman, her stern jokes were all the more funny as she suggested that the team for the negative would rather be tucked up in bed with a cup of tea.

The Great WORD Debate. Image supplied.
The Great WORD Debate. Image supplied.

Michele A’Court, as leader of the opposition, fired back with hilarious and strong arguments in favour of letting our adventures choose us. Perhaps Michelle went to Charlotte Grimshaw as her point hinged on the existential question that perhaps it’s not the grand plan, but the surprises that make our lives big, rich and entertaining. Michele herself has lived a “daring, high-risk” life at the hands of her publishers.

Michele embellished her case with such colourful examples as oysters having no grit, a WORD Festival with no books (horrors!) and the clincher that

“Careful planning did not produce Jacinda Ardern’s baby.”

The fabulously received and recently iconized (it happened last night) Tom Scott set the bar for impressions, invoking Sir Rob Muldoon in a way that was so spooky I would have had goosebumps if I wasn’t laughing so hard. However he then lowered the tone, telling stories about Sir Edmund Hillary and others that, if true, would make your grandmother blush. In fact I’m sure I saw some. (I’m not sure I would choose some of the adventures Tom was suggesting.)

Next up David Slack who was of the opinion that if choice was the issue, we should be free to choose not to have adventures, as one can just as easily have them safely at home. David cited the perils of hiring cowboys to do renovations, striking fear into the heart of every Cantabrian. The third person from Feilding besides me and Tom Scott, David’s list of adventurous activities include a good cheese scone and putting Feilding in your rear view mirror. Lol.

But it’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye. Things got a little bit real when M.C. Joe Bennett ribbed Dan Mallory that after his huge success (Dan/AJ’s book, The Woman in the Window is the biggest seller in the world right now), it would be all downhill from here.

Dan’s argument completely kicked this to the kerb with a (literally) mind-blowing and incredibly brave tale of his battle with depression; choosing to take the risk of ECT treatment. The fact that the highly successful author saw this as an adventure was testament to his determination to choose how to define it.

Lastly, the delightful Denise Mina, who based her whole argument on a professional life of being thrown in at the deep end; using this evening as an example. Mina reiterated her team’s point that one doesn’t need to choose wild adventures to the Great Wall of China so that you can bore your friends and relatives to death with photos. Instead life can come at you, she said, observing that it might be naively adventurous to invite a Glaswegian to a friendly argument.

If you want an adventure, says Mina, come to Glasgow and eat the food.

Traditionally a draw, last night’s Great WORD Debate had a clear winner; the side for the affirmative. We like clear winners here.

Follow our coverage of WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Philip Hoare – Hunting for Moby-Dick and The Sea, The Sea: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Oh ye! Whose eyeballs are vexed and tired

Feast them on the wideness of the sea.

(Keats)

I love the Sea and books about the Sea. Thrillingly rough and washing up over carparks or velvet-smooth, there is something at once wild and calming about its compelling expanse.

Although I swim until March, Philip Hoare is a man who swims in the ocean every day (at 4.30am), no matter where in the world he may be, or whatever the season. He was not to be deterred by Canterbury’s spring temperatures, which swung from ‘damp and drizzly’ (Melville) to very welcome sparkly sunshine within a day.

Hosting a workshop and documentary on the classic Moby-Dick and speaking at WORD Christchurch Festival about the inspiration for his books, Philip shared his wonder of the ocean with the redoubtable Kim Hill for a large audience.

Risingtidefallingstar is Hoare’s latest book. Following a common thread this WORD Festival, in Risingtide Philip also blurs the lines between fact and fiction in an alliterative tidal flow that combines the mystical with tales of experience; taking the reader on a journey to discover how the ocean has influenced human life, literature, art, and essentially, ourselves.

To signpost this journey back to our primal selves, Hoare refers to many wonderful works of art and literature inspired by the Ocean itself. Shakespeare’s Tempest, Spenser’s Faerie Queen, the works of Shelley and of course the master of high sea adventure, Herman Melville; absorbed all and more of these, including the Bible.

At times in human story the Ocean is appears to be a metaphor for Nature’s evil. But in doing so it raises the question of, “Can Nature be evil?” turning the spotlight on perhaps the true villain, man:

“Humans have become disconnected from the natural world”

“Our vocabulary, speech, has distanced us.”

Here Hoare apologises for not speaking Whale. (We later discover that Waitaha can speak whale. That’s another story.)

What struck me was how similar to humans whales can be, not just physically (our bone structures are very similar). But maybe more evolved as they stuck to their path, and weren’t distracted by dreams of land (like the little Mermaid, to her doom). Whales define themselves by each other, says Hoare; like family, and are never alone.

Humans are defined by our larger culture, Philip himself relating poignantly to the death of iconic David Bowie, whose loss was felt worldwide, while he was writing this book. Bowie is, of course, the Falling Star.

We return to the subject of swimming. Whilst in Canterbury, Philip has taken a dip at Sumner Beach, and in Akaroa. He’s heading north to sunny Nelson next. The ritual of swimming is for Hoare a meditation, made more sensual by being done in darkness. In times gone by, Monks meditated in the sea, immersed in its timelessness.

“Why do you do it?” Asks a relentlessly funny Kim Hill.

“To leave it all behind,” replies Philip, “the Earth, earthly problems, gravity itself.”

“But you could die.”

“That’s part of the charm.”

“I’m reborn!”

exclaims Philip excitedly.

Go Girls and Boys! Barbara Else instils a love of reading at the Margaret Mahy Memorial Lecture: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Barbara Else, author of Go Girl! – a Who’s who of adventurous Kiwi women, (make that a Storybook of Epic NZ Women), written for young readers – shared some of her own magic tricks on inspiring readers young and old. She followed in the footsteps of another author we knew and cherished; the colourful Margaret Mahy.

Barbara Else. Image supplied.
Barbara Else. Image supplied.

CoverBarbara is a great believer in that whatever will inspire a child (or an adult) to read, is a good place to start. Trends suggest that a lot of young readers prefer non-fiction, hence the idea for Go! Girls. Yet this is cleverly disguised as a story book, much like you might hide good vegetables in the mince.

According to National Library, there are few people in New Zealand reading for pleasure (i.e.stories) in the 21st Century. They are responding with a project to entice Kiwis back to the ‘stillness, escapism and replenishment’ of reading fiction and fantasy.

Barbara couldn’t stress enough the importance of reading to children, which in turn becomes an individual pleasure as the child grows up. From the stillness and reassurance of developing listening skills in a mother’s lap (which stimulates brain networks, we were told by a member of the audience), Barbara’s stories are aimed at giving agency to the child protagonist, a voice that affirms their experience of the world. The glow of hope at the end gives the child the courage to imagine for themselves.

It’s important to carry on reading as an adult, remembering that our experience is shared, and a way to escape into considering the big issues, while reading of others’ journeys.

Non-fiction stories help young people to contemplate their own place in the world, says Barbara, fostering their own imaginations to dream beyond the real and everyday, into the future.

Barbara touched on the importance of women in story, citing Fiona Kidman as helping it to dawn on her that using male protagonists was a default for authors. While strong female characters, ‘defending themselves from oppression’ are a feature of Else’s books, characters such as Jasper in The Travelling Restaurant; a vulnerable male lead who uses his wits to care for others, was received with overwhelming interest by boys and girls.

“Each story demands its own audience. I can’t tell the audience what to think.”

Barbara describes the process as an alchemy;

“to challenge, provoke and reassure, as a mother’s voice would do.”

Pure magic.

“Reading stories to children gives them a voice.”

Charlotte Grimshaw: I and I and existentialism: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Blurring the lines between fact and fiction is a way of life for Charlotte Grimshaw. Growing up in father C.K. Stead’s orbit, Charlotte’s world was one where every facet of life could be fictionalised.

Cover of MazarineCharlotte spoke at WORD Christchurch Festival 2018 with Kate de Goldi about her latest novel, Mazarine, in which she explores the evolution of the shattered self; through the story of a woman trying to find her adult daughter, missing in Europe, ultimately finding her own sense of being.

There is a large element of psychoanalysis in Mazarine, a sense of personal experience within the narrative. The character of Francis is ethereal, almost non-existent in her family unit: adopted, ignored, her feelings unvalidated.

Francis keeps asking for validation of her existence throughout the book, her character lacking a sense of reality as her past has no narrative. This is a common human condition, asserts Grimshaw.

Mazarine, the ‘other mother’ whose son has gone missing with Francis’ daughter, is the blue butterfly to Francis’ brown female. (The male Mazarine gets the colour.)

Yet Charlotte was determined to avoid ‘selfie fiction” – meandering existentialism with no plot – writing instead a page-turner; successful in hooking this reader with “what happens next?” Grimshaw writes a compelling mystery that crosses the world, with an essential motif – a tattoo.

When asked of her inspiration for the story, Charlotte remembers an incident that drove the beginning (a suicide at West Ham railway station – Julian Assange’s lawyer) but not how circumstance took her there. Is she visited by a Muse? Charlotte suggests it might be aliens…

At the time of writing, the U.S. appeared to be on the brink of electing a female President (Hilary Clinton). Charlotte saw this as a possible zeitgeist. (Instead, the U.S elected a ‘narcissist gorilla’, she says; in whose world women exist only as handmaidens, plastic effigies of themselves; beautiful, young and never fat.)

Accordingly, the characters in Mazarine are strong females; Inez, the adoptive mother who will not speak to Francis, always refusing to acknowledge her feelings is ‘a towering black hole.’ Mazarine, significantly the first female friend Francis has found outside her family, is the Yin to Inez’ Yan. Francis’ father is the handmaiden, cowtowing to Inez’ dominant emotions and perception.

A wonderful session made all the more interesting by Kate de Goldi’s eloquent questioning and deep analysis.

“Therapy is a truth excavator” – Kate de G.

Kate de Goldi talks macro vs microcosm with Charlotte Grimshaw at WORD Christchurch

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Curiosities : Paula Morris and Tina Makereti: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

CoverMy next adventure was waiting for me at The Piano; a port in a storm after The Hunt for Moby-Dick at the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Curiosity is the seed of adventure. For Dr Paula Morris and Tina Makereti it has led to historically sensitive, lyrical works of fiction based on both fact and social myth.

Paula (Ngāti Wai) is the author of Rangatira, winner of the 2012 NZ Post Book Awards and Nga Kupu Maori Book Awards. False River is her new collection of short stories; topical as Dr Morris will be the Pacific Region Judge for the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Well-travelled, Paula teaches creative writing at the University of Auckland and has appeared at festivals and conferences worldwide. She is the founder of The Academy of New Zealand Literature.

Introduced by Nic Low (Ngāti Tuahiri), our two curious writers treated the audience at the Heartland Chamber to readings from their works.

Paula read from both Rangatira, and False River, Tina from her new book, The Imaginary Lives of James Poneke, for an audience full of writers, if question time was anything to go by.

False River is an unusual collection of contemporary stories in that some are fiction and some are non-fiction; blurring the lines between story and fact. This can be said of historical fiction also; where it may only be possible to imagine the world of our ancestors, based on myth or archaeological evidence.

CoverTina Makereti (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Ati Awa, Ngāti Rangatahi), also a PhD and winner of the New Zealand Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing (2009) to name just one of her accolades, is the author of Where the Rekohu Bone Sings, a lilting and moving tale of cultural conflict, place and belonging told through characters that are between Moriori, Maori and Pakeha cultures.

In Tina’s experience, fiction based on a real person involves letting go of reality. The historical figure is a flat image to be turned into narrative.

Something like performing your identity on stage? asks Nic. There’s a pause as Tina contemplates this. Exactly that!

For me it’s more playing the New Zealander, having to say, “Fush and Chups.” But the character of James Poneke (in The Imaginary Lives) realizes that in ‘dancing’ for the Europeans (letting them exhibit him), he has been complicit in perpetuating their sense of ‘other.’

Both writers teach creative writing. Any advice?

Tina : Just do it. Tell your own story, get it out in the world. There’s no guarantee but there is no one else to tell it. So much remains to be written.

Paula : We must do all we can. You can’t complain the field (of writers) is sparse if you haven’t sewn the seeds. Write the book you want to write : engage with language and tell your experience, your world view.

Lastly Nic asked how the two authors found material for their books; did they ‘plonk’ elements of their lives into their stories?

Tina : I prefer to call it artfully interwoven.

Paula actively purloins anecdotes and overheard scenes from her daily experience, using them to create scenes or characters.

Nic : “Your friends have to be careful”

Paula : “My enemies have to be more careful”

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Follow our coverage of WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Desert Woman – Robyn Davidson keynote: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Welcomed with a mihi by Corban Te Aika from Ngai Tāhu, we were then invited to fill our boots with adventure by WORD Christchurch literary director Rachael King,  the tone was suitably set for our WORD Christchurch Festival journey, beginning with an author who embodies the spirit of adventure: Robyn Davidson.

In 1977 Robyn trekked across the Australian desert with four camels and a dog for company; becoming world famous at the age of twenty-seven. The articles she wrote of her experience, for National Geographic, and The Times, formed the basis of her first book, Tracks. Robyn’s incredible story of survival in the desert remains a best seller, and was made into a film in 2013.

In the sold-out Philip Carter Family Concert Hall at The Piano, Robyn relived her 1700 km journey for an enthralled audience, accompanied by images by Rick Smolan.

Rick was sent by National Geographic to chronicle her adventures, meeting her three times during the nine month journey. The collaboration was uneasy at first. Although she needed the sponsorship, Robyn wasn’t keen to stage pictures re-enacting the story for a magazine audience, and she wasn’t willing to share her time alone in the desert.

Robyn felt “objectified” by the constant clicking, her depiction in the shots as a ‘Vogue model” and became increasingly aware that Rick was falling in love with her.

Raised on a cattle farm in Queensland, Davidson had a natural affinity with animals and later studied zoology. She spent two years working with camels before she felt ready to take on the unforgiving Australian desert.

Davidson practiced trekking with an Aboriginal guide, learning how to find water. She became interested in nomadic peoples, becoming something of an advocate for aboriginal land rights. The interest around the Tracks story led to a career as an explorer and writer.

“You are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be.”

Robyn conveyed some great messages to the crowd, empowering us with the idea that if a twenty seven year old Robyn, who was “terrified of everything’ could cross the desert, then “anyone can do anything.” She spoke of how we need to push through the boundaries of family, society and our own inner voices to command our own fate – to find a “better, larger way of being.”

The experience changed Robyn. When alone in the “singing desert” (i.e. not hounded by tourists and photographers) Robyn felt a sense of connectedness with everything.

“When all is connected, the boundary of the self expands.”

Therefore Robyn didn’t really feel alone in the wilderness, except when faced with life-threatening challenges such as an empty well or runaway camels. Even in the face of certain death, Robyn’s stoic sense of bravery came to the fore:

“I might have died, but we’re all gonna do that anyway.”

A master of understatement!

“The rest is sheer tenacity.”

Robyn later joined Indian nomads on migration in 1990-2, publishing this experience in Desert Places, and writing another collection including Tibetan nomads No fixed address.

Travelling Light, published in 1993 covers a decade of doing without “life’s little props,” including a trek across the U.S.A. on a Harley Davidson. Way to go!

Robyn Davidson at WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Adventurous Keynote: Robyn Davidson Wednesday 29 August 7.30pm SOLD OUT

Saving the Future: Interview with Ant Sang

Ant Sang, self portrait.Ant Sang is one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed cartoonists and graphic novelists.

His best-selling graphic novel, Shaolin Burning, won an Honour Award at the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. He’ll be appearing in Ant Sang: Dharma Punk with Tracy Farr, Saturday 1 September, as part of WORD Christchurch Festival 2018.

Welcome to Christchurch, Ant!

Graphic novels are very popular here across all age groups, as are animated series and films. New Zealand artists compete well in this genre. Can you say why you think the comic strip and cartoon has remained a popular genre?

I think cartoons are naturally appealing to people, from a young age.

And with the breadth of work being produced in the comic form there really is something for everyone; from easy-to-read comics for younger readers, experimental ‘alternative’ comics, Japanese horror and romance manga, superheroes and so much more.

As a kid I read Monster Fun, The Beano and Judge Dredd. What early cartoonists and artists appealed to you as a young person?

I read so many comics when I was young. Asterix, Tintin, Footrot Flats, Beano, Tarzan, Uncle Scrooge, Richie Rich; anything i could get my hands on really!

Cover of Shaolin Burning by Ant SangI enjoyed the clear black and white plates of Shaolin Burning, not to mention the great plot and strong characters. It appeals to those (like me) who don’t like too much text, or are reading graphic novels for the first time.

Was Shaolin Burning your interpretation of a folktale, or a myth of your own creation?

Thanks. Shaolin Burning was a retelling of kung fu myths and Chinese history, interwoven with my own original characters. I really liked the idea of creating characters who were written out of history, but who might have interacted with famous kung fu personalities such as Wing Chun.

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas is a standout as your first foray in colour comics. How did you make this transition and how did you find it as a medium?

I loved working in colour for Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas. I’ve worked with colour previously in my illustration and comic projects, but never on the scale of this book. To make it visually interesting I wanted to use different colour palettes for different locations and times of day so that there was a sense of a varied landscape and a long passage of time throughout the book.

The Dharma Punks, Shaolin Burning and Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas feature strong female characters. How did you develop Helen’s character?

Helen was created by my co-author Michael Bennett, who originally wrote the story as film script. As we developed the graphic novel, Helen did evolve; for instance in the original script she was married, and a few years older. But at the heart of it, it’s always been a story about a young woman finding herself and her place (or time) in the world.

Not just action-adventure, your comics address strong themes. In Helen we touch on disability, environmental destruction, state control and domestic violence, to name a few. Were these issues part of Michael Bennett’s original script idea, or did they develop as you responded to it?

A lot of these were very much a part of Michael’s script, though we did emphasise the environmental issue as we developed the script into comic form. Originally the collapse of civilisation was more mysterious and wasn’t fully explained, and Helen wasn’t an environmental activist.

These things became clearer as we collaborated on the comic and dug deeper as to Helen’s motivations and character. That’s something I really love about collaborating with other creatives; the process of pushing our work into new and undiscovered directions.

How do you think zine culture and comic strip writing could be better nurtured and preserved in New Zealand?

I think there’s already so much great work being produced here in New Zealand. Back when I started, it was all about using photocopiers to make and self-publish mini-comics, but now there’s a huge amount of great work being produced as webcomics.

Do you have any advice tor people planning to run a comic or ‘zine workshop?

I’ve been teaching comics at MIT here in Auckland for the last two years, and I think it’s a good idea to give participants an environment where they can create in a hands-on way. For short workshops, I like to focus on one topic and let participants get into it.

Lastly, we all loved Bro’ Town. Can we hope to see more of your series animated? (Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas would make a great film!)

The Naked Samoans have been busy writing a bro’Town feature script, and I really hope it goes into development. It’d be great to get together with the bro’Town crew again. As for my other projects, I’d love to see them all adapted into films. I’m currently making an animated kung fu short film about the young woman Wing Chun, so that’s a start.

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When the man you love lives in a bush: Intrepid romance, humour and travel

Just in case you wondered, How to Fall in Love With A Man Who Lives in A Bush is not set in he wilds of Africa and the protagonist is certainly no Jane Goodall.

An engaging and entertaining journey of self realization across the turbulent oceans of the earth, How to fall in Love is a story of boy meets girl.

No wait, dirty boy meets very clean girl.

This is a true story; of how Emmy, a Swedish actress and author, met her partner, Viv; a Canadian who was travelling, surviving on odd jobs and living rough – yes, in a bush.

It’s kismet – fate – as they sit together on a park bench in Austria; Julia looks into his eyes, and falls for Ben’s sense of humour (that and the size of him!).

Yet the two are very different people:

Ben : You live your life so…safely. I’ve seen how you never take any risks.

Julia: And that’s news? I told you the very first time we were on the Donausinel: that I don’t like surprises…

I’m actually so sick of the myth that adventurous people are somehow better than the rest of us. That you’re only worthy of attention if you’ve swum naked in the Ganges or stroked a dolphin. “Oh look at me! I’m covered in mud at a music festival where there are no toilets. I’m so cool!” (p.107).

Will the two find a middle ground?

Julia’s stay at home, safe character is hilarious in the wild:

I’m going camping. I’ve never been camping before. I’m an indoor person. Nothing makes me more nervous than a sunny, cloudless day, because I know I should be outside, doing the kind of thing outdoorsy people do…The closest I’ve come to being a nature person was when I hiked in the Lainzer Tiergarten one time. I tried to impress (Rebecca and Jesus-Jakob) with my knowledge of nature but almost managed to kill (them) by mistaking lily-of-the-valley for wild garlic. (pp176-7).

Emmy Abrahamson’s first book for adults is laugh out loud funny and not sickly romantic at all. (Julia can’t even kiss Ben at first, until he’s cleaned his teeth.)

My kind of romance.

How to fall in love with a man who lives in a bush
by Emmy Abrahamson
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
ISBN:9780008222338

Further reading

Record Store Day – Saturday 21 April 2018

Record Store Day is on this Saturday 21 April. It is an annual international event designed to celebrate the record store as a community. For more info, read Russell Brown’s Friday Music post The Shopping news and What’s happening for Record Store Day across NZ, this Saturday? Peter McLennan on Dub dot dash.
Here is our compilation of what’s happening here in Ōtautahi.

What’s on in Christchurch

Galaxy Records

Galaxy Records on 336 St Asaph St are an “Indie Institution’ in Christchurch, selling new and used vinyl. Like Galaxy Records on Facebook.
Record Store Day at Galaxy Records: Subscribe to the Facebook event
Rare & Collectable goodies! Featuring DJs: Pinacolada Soundsystem , Missy G & Skew-whiff from midday. Darkroom Bar will be open

Lyttelton Records

Lyttelton Records have spilled out of their home recording studio to open a shop (and bar) in Woolston. You can buy merch here, guitar strings and maybe catch a live performance. Like Lyttelton Records on Facebook.
Record Store Day at Lyttelton Records: Vinyl discounts, live music, happy hour 12pm to 4pm 650 Ferry Road

Penny Lane Records

If you are a record store fan in Christchurch, you can visit Penny Lane Records – they are at Eastgate Mall in Linwood, and in Sydenham at 430 Colombo Street. Penny Lane specialise in great quality second-hand music formats and collectibles. Like Penny Lane Records on Facebook.
Record Store Day at Penny Lane Records: The crew were cagey as to what’s happening – so there might be some good surprises on offer. What they did say was they are open at 8am, there will be Record Store Day exclusives available, and stuff happening for customers, as well as specials.

(here’s a pic from RSD 2017 at Penny Lane)

Sadhana Surf and House of Creativity

Sadhana Surfboards is at Shop 52 at The Tannery, 3 Garlands Road Woolston. Like Sadhana Surf on Facebook

sadhana
Sadhana Surfboards

Another hot tip for record fans: Vinyl Cafe at 24b Essex Street is a must visit for vinyl lovers. Like Vinyl Cafe on Facebook,

Get on down to your local record shop, buy yourself some vinyl to spin while the weather goes wild. Talk to people who appreciate quality music. Who knows you may make a new connection…

Record Appreciation – Fee

I love records! I still have a halfway decent collection of records. When I had to replace my stereo a few years back, I made sure it came with a turntable. I’m a purist – like Neil Young I can hear more depth and texture of sound in an LP (Long Player), than I can on a CD or a download. Neil developed PonoMusic to develop modern sound recording formats that delivered quality of sound almost as good as the studio, or the original record. (See Waging Heavy Peace, one of Neil’s engaging autobiographies.)

Other bands and artists such as Iron Maiden and New Zealand’s Shayne P. Carter, have steadfastly resolved to continue releasing albums on vinyl as well as other formats. Shayne P. Carter has been heard to lament the difficulty of reducing sleeve artwork to fit CD cases. I sure as heck can’t read the release date on CDs, and most won’t tell you when the original album was recorded. The discussion about sound continues…

Did you know that you can still buy turntables? I’ve discovered them at The Warehouse, The Listening Post (330 St Asaph Street), the Top Hi-Fi Shop (35 Carlyle St, Sydenham), and Soundline Audio (329 Madras St), Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi.

Now to put the record collection in alphabetical order

Record Store Day resources

Vinyl and music at the library

Fee and Donna
Vinyl appreciators

Murder in the Library! A Post Mortem

A good crowd came in from the cold on Wednesday night to hear the who – and how – dunnits of the world of crime fiction writing.

A good turnout at South Library. Photo Clare Newton

The Ngaio Marsh Awards in association with the New Zealand Book Council hosted a panel discussion with three highly successful local authors, all of whom are in the running for a Ngaio Marsh Award in September.

The night’s chair was Morrin Rout, WORD Christchurch trustee and host of the Plains FM show Bookenz.

Bill Wicks is an ex-military man and surveyor whose book Different Shadows is part of a series centred on Sergeant Harry Brent, who has been put to pasture solving cold cases while he recovers from a hunting injury. Bill uniquely sets the action in Christchurch and Queenstown. This case has something to do with a bombed latrine…

CoverKatherine Hayton works in insurance and writes fantasy and crime in her spare time. Her newest book, The Only Secret Left to Keep, is the third book in the Ngaire Blakes Mystery series, based on a Māori policewoman based in Christchurch. Highly topical, the story begins with a body found in the aftermath of the Port Hills Fires in the summer of 2017, and traces a trail of evidence back to the divisive Springbok Tour of the 1980s.

Last but certainly not least, we heard from ex-opera singer and local historian Edmund Bohan. Unfortunately he didn’t sing for us. Edmund has written six mysteries for nineteenth century Inspector O’Rorke to ponder. A Suitable Time for Vengeance and The Lost Taonga bring this popular character back for a final two books in the series.

Katherine knew she wanted to write a trilogy so she set aside parts of Ngaire’s life; backgrounding, saving confronting moments such as her relationship and an ‘I’m going to die’ moment for other books. She feels she is finished with Ngaire, but may develop another character from this into another series.

Edmund’s O’Rorke is popular with the ladies. Edmund wanted to write a sensation novel that transferred to a New Zealand setting. In New Zealand’s quite violent nineteenth century, when there was much political and religious unrest, the Inspector is dragged out of retirement to track down the ‘dreaded Linsky,’ a stealer of bodies. The overarching theme in this series is that you can never escape your past.

Bill’s protagonist Sergeant Harry Brent is ‘basically normal’, just slightly flawed. Well none of us are perfect. Harry, unlike O’Rorke, is not very good with women. He wonders if he’s tough enough for the job. It’s a tough job. Bill’s writing has a military flavour, but this series is not gory like Bill’s first nonfiction book, A Long Way to Come to Die.

All agree there is a fair bit of not pleasant research to be done in order to appear authentic. Katherine talks to American detectives online, Edmund and Bill draw on their professional experience and contacts, while all three read widely in the genre.

When it comes to publishing, each has approached a different option. Katherine publishes eBooks, while Edmund recommends the benefit of remaining with a lifelong publisher (Hazard Press), if possible, to preserve the continuity of series writing.

Bill’s wife Gabrielle was tasked with the job of editing and getting published. She embraced it gladly, saying it was much nicer than that other horrible book” (A Long Way to Go to Die – a book as gory as a Peter Jackson exhibition). Getting sponsorship from the Spinal Trust where she had worked before retirement, Bill and Gabrielle self-published. Says Gabrielle :

” I didn’t want anyone to tear Bill’s stories to bits.”

The Ngaio Marsh Awards, to be held in September as part of the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival, were established by Craig Sisterson, in response to the literary elite’s (who remain unnamed, but may be publishers…) continued view of Crime Fiction as ‘not literature’, despite the genre’s rising popularity internationally.

Edmund Bohan, Katherine Hayton, Morrin Rout (chair), Bill Wicks. Photo Clare Newton

Sadly due to family illness, fourth author Justin Warren, author of Forgotten Lands, couldn’t be there.