Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Writers and Readers 2012: Part one.

After reading Craig Cliff's blog post about his own writers and readers week experience, I felt compelled to write a one myself. It's a wee bit of rambling, hope ya'll survive. I'll appreciate it. And give you a high five.

I’ve been living in Wellington for going on five years, and I’ve never actually partaken in Writers and Readers week before. I’m rather ashamed of this fact, I work in a bookstore (vicbooks, check it out) and consider myself an avid reader. I will leave this down to the natural assumption made by the majority of students in Wellington that things will just be expensive. Alas, it was a mere $10 a session for students to attend most W&R events this year, (I’m still a student, doing Whiteria’s publishing course) and I limited myself to four sessions due to studylink refusing to give me free money.

I may or may not have slightly forgotten that W&R had started until Saturday afternoon when a friend of mine said she was going to Germaine Greer’s town hall talk. So I bought a ticket for the next session that afternoon – NZ’s Emerging Writers aka Eleanor Catton, Hamish Clayton and Craig Cliff, chaired by Harry Ricketts. Shamefully having only heard of Hamish beforehand, I had no idea what to expect and am stoked I didn’t. Eleanor made me insanely jealous of what she has already achieved by her age, and Craig’s humour and obvious talent for short stories didn’t help boost my ego either. Not to say Hamish isn’t without his merits – Wulf is really amazing and I’ve been reading it ever since he signed my copy that day. That didn't sound very enthusiastic... Apologies, I really am loving the book.
 Somebody's holding attention well.
(from NZ's Festival's facebook page (c) Robert Catto.)
The three of them had such knowledge behind them; it’s hard to believe they’ve all only published one book. Each also read a passage, or story in Craig’s case, from their books. I was really impressed by each of their public speaking skills, and their banter between one another. However, the talk of historical fiction really sparked up my interest – as a history major I’m still hugely interested in the relationship between what has been and the way people create their own piece of history with it, be it a novel, art, or film. I had a great chat to Eleanor about the current novel she’s working on that night (read on). The main things about Historical fiction that stuck with me were the notions that "historical fiction is simply re-enforcing known historical facts", and that the novel doesn't have to be accurate. According to this panel, that's not the point of it - it's contemporary fiction. And  they're right, it definitely is just contemporary fiction. But after four years of writing essays this idea totally flipped me. I'm all about accuracy, and I do believe hist. fict. authors do try and make their work as close to the truth as possible, while still telling a great story. No one wants to be 'that guy' that takes all their historical knowledge from novels and becomes completely misinformed. Just something to think about. As a side note, the session actually ended with an awkward question about whether they were considered ‘young writers’ – apparently none of them looked young or something.

Harry reading 'Arty Bees' at the launch.
(from NZ's Festival's facebook page
(c) Robert Catto)
That night VUP hosted a publishers’ party that doubled as the launch for Harry Ricketts’ latest poetry collection ‘Just Then’. I went along with some of the people from my course, and spent a lot of the night pointing out people I recognised and letting them know who they were. I fangirl-ed out several times with various authors and industry folk, hopefully that stayed pretty well hidden... Like I said earlier, I talked to Eleanor about her new book, a historical novel - the whole concept and the research she's done in to it just blew my mind. So impressed. I went home with a signed copy of Harry’s stunning biography of Rudyard Kipling, and a feeling of great achievement and gratitude toward everyone at the party that took the time (and had the patience) to talk to me, the publishing student, that just walked up to them and starting ranting about something or the other – networking at its best I feel.

This is the end of part one. Because I'm watching Game of Thrones. Part two will come… soon. Much like I keep hearing winter is. I'm hilarious.
P.S. I hope it doesn't look like I just stole all the images from Craig's post - they just worked so well!


  1. Great blog Kimaya! I loved reading about W&R week (so I can live vicariously through you), I went a couple of years ago to see Emily Perkins (one of my favourite NZ authors) and Audrey Niffenegger speak and it was great. I highly recommend Eleanor Catton's book The Rehersal (although I must admit I didn't like the ending of the book much, it's superbly written), she is one big talent! Keep up the writing. Besos from Barca, Zsofia :)

    1. Zsofia! So good to hear from you! I will get around to The Rehearsal one day soon - I shouldn't really be reading for pleasure with all the work I have for school! I'll keep it up, even if only you read it, love to you both over there - stay safe! xx