It’s not often you get to attend the launch of a book written both by a local debut author but also by someone barely into their twenties. Book publishing is a competitive business and the path to publication can be slow and dispiriting (for those that make it there at all), so it’s an impressive achievement at any age.
All the Other Days is a book for teens, first written when Hartley was still a teenager himself. He was encouraged in this by his Shirley Boys’ form (and English) teacher who spoke at the launch, as well as by his family. While there were many subsequent years of hard work on the manuscript, interrupted by a degree in Psychology and a foray into teaching, it’s a testament to the positive influence the right teacher at the right time can have for many people — and also how the work of one author is built with the support of the community around them. A glance at the acknowledgements at the back of a book can give an idea of just how big this community can be.
Hartley is clearly passionate about bringing an authentic voice to Young Adult literature, particularly an authentic male voice which he struggled to find in his youth. (Should’ve asked a librarian.)
Many teens struggle with mental health during adolescence, on top of the usual mix of first love, dealing with school, and potentially problems at home, so being able to connect with characters having a similar experience can be a lifesaver. I have yet to read All the Other Days so can’t speak to the validity of the comparison, but the themes remind me of Will Kostakis (by coincidence another author who broke into publishing very young). If you’re looking for an exciting new addition to YA fiction then put yourself on the waiting list, because it’s looking like All the Other Days is already shaping up to be a big hit.
A large audience heard how Bishop spent several years researching for the book, which he says he really enjoyed, but was overwhelmed by the information he found.
One thing that struck him was the number of books that contradicted each other.
His challenge was how to find his own unique angle on the Endeavour story. As he looked through the names of the crew on the boat and their occupations, he began to wonder about the lesser-known members on board and was particularly struck by their curiously one-handed cook, John Thompson.
The story of the crew’s journey is told through food “as a point of context,” explains Bishop, with the cook as narrator. And, as his publisher Julia Marshall from Gecko Press notes “you can tell so many different stories through food—everything is here: culture, class, adventure, humour and much more.”
The Endeavour was originally the collier Earl of Pembroke and was designed for a crew of just 16 but when it sailed as the Endeavour it had 94 crew on board, packed in like sardines. And the meals were prepared on the mess deck where 74 men slept!
The cooking process on the Endeavour seemed to involve throwing everything together in a pot or bag and boiling it. Bishop says the meat became so rank that it was towed in a net behind the boat to soften it up and every second day was a vegetarian day consisting of Pease Porridge. To avoid scurvy, the cook served up stinky German cabbage. But all was not awful for the men, as it was noted how much booze was aboard the ship.
The book contains a little story about each of the countries the Endeavour visited and explains some of the names of the recipes featured such as Poor Knights Pudding, Stingray Soup, Kangaroo Stew, Dog and Breadfruit Stew and Albatross Stew “which you wouldn’t get away with today.” There were goats, dogs, pigs, sheep, cats and chickens on board. And when the ship crossed the equator everyone aboard, including the cats, were apparently tied to a chair and dipped into the water 3 times in an equator crossing ritual.
Bishop told his audience that there are two stories about the Endeavour that you won’t find anywhere else except in his book. One was told by Pete Beech, whose family was there in Picton when the Endeavour came with Cook, and tells the story of how a Māori woman was tricked into giving her taonga away for a bag of sugar. And the second story comes from an obscure poem that mentions a slave named Dalton on board who was a servant of botanist Joseph Banks. Like the Endeavour, not a centimetre of space in Bishop’s book was wasted, he says, and even the endpapers are full of illustrated facts.
At the book launch, Gecko Press were also celebrating 10 years of working with Bishop, starting with his collaboration for Joy Cowley in illustrating their successful Snake & Lizard. Marshall said what a treat it is working with Bishop: “Gavin is a true artist and very knowledgeable.” Gavin’s other book published in the past year is the illustratively stunning Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story.
Join international award-winning writer and illustrator Gavin Bishop and invited guests as we explore the Our Painted Stories exhibition and have a conversation about how seeing ourselves and our city in children’s literature helps grow a sense of identity. Wednesday 24th October 5:30-6:30pm Tūranga
Free, no bookings required Created in partnership with the Painted Stories Trust.
While visiting Tūranga, Gavin was delighted to discover a picture of his family on our Discovery Wall that even he didn’t have a copy of.
It is auspicious that just as Gavin Bishop was the first author to have a book launched at the old central library, he is also the first author to launch a book in the new library, Tūranga, 36 years later.
My latest book odyssey started with Roberta’s blog about a meeting with the author of a new book. Peter Graham, a Canterbury barrister turned crime writer, had just written a new investigative book about the Parker/Hulme Murder. This matricide in 1954, in our very own city, caused shock and unease in quiet Christchurch at the time, and continues to intrigue and fascinate people to this day.
So Brilliantly Clever weaves together known and little known facts with details of the two murderers’ early and later lives. Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme violently murdered Pauline’s mother Honorah Parker in Victoria Park, using a brick in a stocking. The question of why has kept many, including academics, playwrights, novelists, journalists, filmmakers and the general populace both here and world-wide trying to come up with an answer.
I found the book both disturbing and enlightening. I had watched Peter Jackson’s film based on the case, Heavenly Creatures, and had always been interested. But in this book, I learnt about many of the background nuances of their personalities, what happened at the trial, who the key players were and what happened to many involved, after the trial was over. It also gives an interesting snapshot of Christchurch in the mid-fifties.
I decided to immerse myself. After reading the book, I re-watched Heavenly Creatures and read an Anne Perry novel. Juliet Hulme was spirited off overseas after serving her sentence and eventually settled in Scotland where she writes under the name Anne Perry. I also watched a documentary titled Anne Perry- Interiors, that is well worth hunting out. Pauline Parker now lives a hermit’s life in the Orkney Islands. I also plan to read Parker and Hulme: A Lesbian View by Julie Glamuzina and Alison Laurie.
I’m not sure I’m any closer to deciding for myself why these two 15-year-old girls committed this horrible crime, there are so many factors that come into play. If this case has ever interested you or you are interested in local history, this book is well worth a read.
Over the weekend I had a book I couldn’t put down, and that’s exactly what you need in a wet weekend, right? Unexpectedly, as I’m not usually a fantasy reader, I found myself in the fascinating world of an invisible flying lonely boy and was captivated. The curiously named children’s novel The Loblolly Boy is by local author James Norcliffe who is fast becoming one of my favourites. The story is timeless and grounded in the very real fears and emotions of children, and I couldn’t agree more with Margaret Mahy’s endorsement of the book as “a new classic”. I would recommend reading it aloud to the 9+ age group.
Even more impressive is the fact that three years ago I was in admiration of an altogether different kind of work by Norcliffe, a quite different world and much darker altogether, tightly written and intriguing The Assassin of Gleam, which won the won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for the best New Zealand fantasy novel of 2006. I am eagerly awaiting the next in this series.