Thursday, July 31, 2008

A little bit of a do

On what was probably the grottiest and wettest Dunedin night of the winter, a dedicated and lovely bunch of friends, family and colleagues gathered at The University Book Shop to launch The Ringmaster into the world.

It was a fantastic evening, and I'm still grinning, sigh.

I was fortunate to have Geoff Walker, my publisher at Penguin, there to say lovely things about me and my book (a girl could listen to that all night) and The Ringmaster was launched with a hilarious and very flattering speech by my dear friend Tania Roxborogh.

I love The University Book Shop, and their fabulous staff did a great job, including the necessities of life - wine, antipasto and a big bowl of Toffee Pops. (And yes, for those of you who are wondering, me + wine + book shop = addition to new bookshelf.) They even made a Toffee Pop Bouquet! Sam Shephard would have been in her element.

I would have had more pics of people, but my little camera didn't cope very well, so you will just have to imagine the happy, chatty crowd and put up with me posing before an impressive book mountain. The author coped better than the camera, and I managed to get through the launch without crying.

Apparently I took my children to the launch, but I didn't see them as Mr Eight-year old sat in the children's section and devoured several books, and Mr Six-year-old entertained his little mates, emerging only for another strategic strike at the toffee-pop bowl.

The evening was topped off with dinner at my favourite eaterie, Plato.

So there you go, my new baby is out there in the big wide world. Now, I wait with anticipation and a touch of trepidation for the reviews, comments and Vanda, how could yous.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Let the hoohah begin

Tomorrow we unleash The Ringmaster upon the world.

Today the publicity stuff begins with an appearance on Channel 9 Television's Dunedin Diary, with Dougal Stevenson - as the guest this time, not the reviewer. Naturally, to celebrate the occasion, I've got a face full of zits!

I sent mum a copy of The Ringmaster and she's started reading it. When I rang her yesterday she told me off! I'll take that as a good sign.

The fact I'm launching one book tomorrow doesn't detract from the fact I've got to box on and write the next one. In fact, I've already had folk ask when's Containment out, Vanda. For heaven's sake, people! Got to write the blerry thing first.

Speaking of which, better slap on my anti-zit cream and get typing...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Blood Detective

There's a lot of detective fiction out there, and writers have to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Dan Waddell is a genealogist (Think the BBC series Who do you think you are?) as has turned his hand to writing fiction with The Blood Detective. He brings his skills at tracing family histories to bring a new slant on crime solving.

The story starts with a mutilated body in a London churchyard and a cryptic clue left by the killer. The police enlist the help of genealogist Nigel Barnes and the links between this murder, and one set in the same place more than a hundred years before, begin to emerge.

I enjoyed this novel and the feeling of going along for the ride in the protagonists search for clues in family histories. I think we're all fascinated by what our forebears may have gotten up to, this book takes blood ties to a new level.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Truth is stranger than fiction

A few odd bits from the news:

Would you like fries with that?

This Italian idea of entertainment is, er, shocking.

Funfair's electric chair closed after protest.

I didn't see it coming.

An assault on an elderly Christchurch woman who was pushed out into traffic, and the description of the offender as a young man walking a dog with a harness, had police lead up a blind alley.

A Bump as good as a push from a blind man.

Getting a leg-up.

A young man is selling advertising space on his left leg for $500.00 a square cm. I don't fancy his dating prospects is he accepts advertising from Viagra.

For Sale: One left leg, at $1m

That one has regret written all over it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Crime - The World Tour.

For those blessed with the ability to travel, and those like me who just dream, there's this from The Independent, via Roger's Plog and many others as is the nature of the blogosphere.

Crime Fiction: Around the world in eighty sleuths.

This is a handy list of Crime fiction novels set in cities around the world, so that next time you're visiting Reykjavik, you can choose some local crime to go with your destination. There's even a recommendation for your next trip to Antarctica - Greg Rucka's graphic novel about US Marshall Carrie Stetko, Whiteout.

For New Zealand, they suggest some vintage Ngaio Marsh - Vintage Murder, and correctly point out that most of the Roderick Alleyn books were set in Britain, with the odd detour to New Zealand, as is the case here.

I'm going to put my thinking hat on (keeps your brain warm down here in a Dunedin winter) and compile a crime tour books list of New Zealand towns and cities, which I'll post sometime soon. Any suggested titles and locations gratefully received.

In the meantime, I'll look at The Independent's list, and dream, and stare at my sorry looking passport, about to expire, with no stamps in it...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Triad

The Write On radio show, and associated frantic preparatory book reading, has brought many gems, of both the people and book variety, into my world.

Last night I attended the Dunedin book launch of Facing the Music: Charles Baeyertz and the Triad, by Joanna Woods.

What a fabulous evening!

As well as the obligatory wine and nibbles put on by The Otago University Press at the Otago Settlers Museum, Dr Woods gave an entertaining and informative talk about Charles Baeyertz.

So first off, all those of you thinking of Asian gangs, no, The Triad was one of New Zealand's most successful cultural magazines, which started in Dunedin in 1893 and ran until 1927. So, for those of you who are thinking, never heard of it - I know! And again, Charles who? Exactly. They seem to have fallen out of our collective memory.

In its day The Triad was huge, and its founder, Charles Baeyertz was a household name. He was a formidable and larger than life character who had no qualms abut employing his razor edged wit and critical prowess on visiting and local musicians and artists. He was as equally generous with his praise where it was warranted, and was a huge promoter of arts and culture in New Zealand, and Australia.

Joanna's talk brought to life the man, and how extraordinary his magazine was. As he said in the very first issue - "This magazine is made to sell." He was an astute business man and he pitched the magazine at the masses, exposing them to literature, art and science from around the world, and pulling them in with music and art supplements, and competitions to win cash.

It was the critiquing that won the audience, and Charles was not afraid to wade into controversy. He famously called Dame Nellie Melba "a mechanical nightingale" and The Triad had a longstanding spat with Ezra Pound, among others.

Facing the Music is a fascinating insight into a period of history that most people seemed to think was devoid of culture. As this book shows, New Zealand, in fact had a rich and diverse cultural life, from its smallest towns to the cities. It gives a sense of this remarkable man, and in a way, for me, a sense of sadness that historically, we seem to have forgotten him and The Triad. It's a great read, and I highly recommend it.

Joanna Woods is a terrific speaker, so if you get opportunity to hear her talk, make sure you get along. It was a fabulous way to spend a wild wet and woolly Dunedin winter night.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Classic cover

Harper Collins have finally released the cover of the soon to be released Ngaio Marsh - Her life in Crime by Joanne Drayton.

What a fabulous shot of Ngaio Marsh! The epitome of a mystery writer.

Great Cover, guys.

Here's another classic cover I found while looking for Carlos Saura's Flamenco version of Carmen on youtube

Well, what can I say? It's classical music...of sorts.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lust, murder and revenge...

Murder for your ears is one thing, with lyrics laden with death and revenge, but what about murder for your eyes as well, and all cleverly disguised as high brow art?

I'm talking about opera, of course.

If you want a veritable feast of songs about lust, murder and revenge, it's hard to go past opera.

I lay no claim to knowledge about opera, and have not experienced many (hubby would rather have an anaesthetic-free arm amputation than endure one) but whenever I see advertisements for the latest performance of a famous opera there's usually blood, or a drop-dead gorgeous, buxom woman, usually the cause of the problem. Case in point, this image from the New Zealand Opera season of Lucia di Lammermoor.

Operas I could think of that involve murder, with my very limited knowledge;

Lucia di Lammermoor
Don Giovanni
West Side Story - well, it was almost opera, wasn't it?

When I googled "opera with death", as you do, I came across this interesting article called Operatic Death, which sums themes of death up nicely.

So there you go, next time you feel the need for a visual and aural treat full of lust, murder and revenge, pull out your tux, find your best frock, gloves and baubles and head to the opera.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Killing me softly, with his song.

Detectives Beyond Borders has been having a bit of fun with music lately, specifically, homicidal music. This post on Crime Songs has some great examples.

It's surprising how many song lyrics contain a murder or two, and some are downright chilling -

This segment I remembered from a Shawn Colvin song Sunny came home:

Sunny came home with a list of names
She didn't believe in transcendence
It's time for a few small repairs she said
Sunny came home with a vengeance

This particularly nasty little number one contributer tossed in, is from a song by Eminem:

It's about a guy who takes his little daughter along while he takes "mama for a wittle walk along the pier.

"Baby, don't cry honey, don't get the wrong idea
Mama's too sweepy to hear you screamin in her ear (ma-maa!)
That's why you can't get her to wake, but don't worry
Da-da made a nice bed for mommy at the bottom of the lake."

So here's the pop quiz...

Can any of the punters out there think of any examples of New Zealand songs that contain lyrics with a murderous bent?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

University, for your ears.

Otago University has gone all trendy on us and is the first university in New Zealand to offer learning on itunes U

So for those of you who have had a hankering for some extra learning, you can download selected lectures for free - yes, free.

I'm guessing, and hoping they've selected the most interesting and dynamic lecturers, (otherwise there's the risk of it being a soporific) across business, science and humanities. There's also Wild Flicks, so you can download films from the Science and Natural History film-making students.

Free brain food here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Case of the Missing...

book piles.

Conceded defeat.

Purchased another bookcase.

Piles gone

For now...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Life imitates art?

Odd spots from the news this week:

A mysterious death in New Mexico had 'em puzzled until folk suggested to the detectives it was just like a show from CSI. A little research from the video store, and, sure enough...

CSI suicide staged with the help of balloons.

Cutting edge extortion:

A New York man found a knife with a seven inch blade baked into his foot-long sub. Naturally, he's suing for a million bucks. Maybe he should have thought of his waistline and brought a six inch sub.

NY man claims Subway baked knife into his sandwich.

And speaking of dodging knives:

It was raining silverware near Oamaru.

Police dodge cutlery in high speed chase.

Their mummies clearly didn't teach them to place their knives and forks across the middle of their plates when they'd finished their crimefeast.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Old time Crime

I've been discovering the wonderful world of Ngaio Marsh.

After preaching the literary gospel of don't leave town till you've seen the country, I'm practicing what I preach by reading as much of her work as possible before I go to The Press Christchurch Writer's festival. There will be quite an accent on Ngaio Marsh, with the new autobiography by Joanne Drayton, so I'm looking forward to a wallow.

Last night in the midst of a I-can't-turn-my-brain-off insomniac session I finished reading A Man Lay Dead, and loved it. This was first published in 1934, and apart from a few unusual uses of words (they ejaculated a lot back then, in the verbal sense) it was a great read.

I've got her autobiography Black Beach & Honey Dew, lined up next and I'll try to read it before Christchurch. Her success as an international serial crime writer was amazing.

Pretty good for a kiwi gal.

Friday, July 18, 2008


The perfect evening:

Mr Eight-year-old cooked dinner.

Mr Eight-year-old and Mr Six-year-old did the dishes.

Train 'em young!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The black hole effect

Yesterday I mentioned the pile of books on my bedside table, you know, the pile that has achieved its own gravitational field. I'm one of those people who likes to be prepared; for radio interviewing, for public talks, panel discussions, anything where you could be made to look like a prized idiot if you're not.

I'm the first to admit, I'm not the worlds fastest reader. I'm more of a slow digester than a gulper, and can't bring myself to skim-read anything. It would seem somehow disrespectful to the author who slaved away for years. (Cue the memory of mother's voice at the dinner table - I spent all day cooking that meal, now slow down.) So I'm looking at this pile and thinking hmmmm, I've got a bit of work to do.

So here's what I'm reading and will be reading for the next wee while:

Facing the Music: Charles Baeyertz and the Triad by Joanna Woods. I'm pre-recording an interview with Joanna next Friday for the Write On radio show.

Beak of the Moon by Philip Temple. This is a re-issue of Beak of the Moon, and Philip has re-written parts of text where new information has come to light on the behaviour of the Kea. I'll be interviewing Philip for radio soon.

Cemetery Lake, by Paul Cleave. I'll be speaking on a panel with Paul at The Press Christchurch Writers Festival.

Towards Aotearoa by David Eggleton. I'll be interviewing David for Write On.

For recreational reading I'm going a bit retro and enjoying Ngaio Marsh's A Man Lay Dead. I plan to go and check out her house when I'm in Christchurch.

I also need to read some Mark Billingham, so if anyone has read his books and recommends one, I'd welcome a suggestion.

So there you go, a fun little mix of fact and fiction. No doubt it will be peppered with some of the books I've, ahem, succumbed to purchasing recently.

Must dash, got a good book to read...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cloak and Dagger

The British Crime Writers Association (CWA) have released the winners of their 2008 Dagger awards.

I like to kid myself that I keep reasonably up to date with crime writing, but a few recent findings have stripped me of my delusions. Firstly was the realisation I had never heard of the majority of the crime fiction and crime writers discussed on Detectives Without Borders. Secondly was this list of Daggers, and the Australian Ned Kelley Awards list which again featured writers and books I had never heard of.

Is this the curse of the small country? We have such a minute amount of writing imported, and this is chosen by a few. We see a tiny proportion of what's out there, and mostly either highly commercial or acclaimed literary fiction.

Is the internet the other curse? Ignorance was bliss, now I find myself just feeling ignorant, and lusting after titles I can't easily acquire. Perhaps it is a good thing, as my 'to read' bedside pile has reached critical mass and may soon collapse upon itself to form a small but deadly blackhole, sucking life and time into its maw...

And now for the daggers...

Duncan Lawrie Dagger:
For the best crime novel of the year, carrying a prize of £20,000 Frances Fyfield - Blood From Stone - Sphere (Little, Brown)

Duncan Lawrie International Dagger:
For the best crime novel translated into English, with £5000 going to the author and £1000 being split between the translators. Dominique Manotti - Lorraine Connection - EuroCrime (Arcadia Books), translated by Amanda Hopkinson and Ros Schwartz

The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger:
The dagger and £2000 prize money are awarded for the best adventure/thriller novel in the vein of James Bond. Tom Rob Smith - Child 44 - Simon & Schuster

The CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction
This award, for the best non-fiction book, is made biannually in even-numbered years. It carries a prize of £2000. Kester Aspden - Nationality: Wog - The Hounding of David Oluwale - Jonathan Cape (Random House)

The CWA New Blood Dagger:
Awarded in memory of CWA founder John Creasey, this dagger for first books by previously unpublished writers and carries a prize of £1000. Matt Rees - The Bethlehem Murders - Atlantic Books

The CWA Short Story Award:
The £1500 prize goes to the best crime short story first published in the UK in English.
Martin Edwards - THE BOOKBINDER’S APPRENTICE, first published in The Mammoth Book of Best British Mysteries edited by Maxim Jakubowski, and published by Constable Robinson Publishing.

The CWA Dagger in the Library:
This Dagger, worth £1500, is awarded to "the author of crime fiction whose work is currently giving the greatest enjoyment to readers"; authors are nominated by UK libraries and Readers' Groups and judged by a panel of librarians. Craig Russell

The Debut Dagger:
The Debut Dagger, is open to anyone who has not yet had a novel published commercially. The winner receives a £500 cash prize. Amer Anwar, Western Fringes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Curious and curiouser

A few interesting snippets from the news:

The old folding sofa trick:

"A Russian woman in St Petersburg killed her drunk husband with a folding couch, Russian media have reported."

So next time your wife tells you to get your butt off the sofa and do something, you'd better listen, buddy.

Even the crims have manners:

"A note with the words "thank you" and a smiley face has puzzled police investigating a break-in at a Masterton house..."

If a burglar can manage those words, why can't the kids?

World's oldest blogger makes final post.

"The Australian woman renowned as the world's oldest internet blogger has made her final post, aged 108."

For all those people out there who say they're too old - you've just run out of excuses!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Left hanging

Something momentous happened in this household yesterday. I achieved a bit of a personal milestone and had a computer free day - yes folks, you read right, a day without turning on my computer! Sure, I stole plenty of passing glances as it lay there, closed, feeling redundant and unloved. But, I resisted the temptation to flick it open for even the tiniest of peeks.

So, what does a girl do when she's not wasting hours looking at unnecessary stuff on the computer?

I got continually beaten at cards by Mr Six-Year-Old. Playing him at cards is a hiding to nothing - that boy is a shark in the making.

My ego couldn't cope with the continual thrashing so I went and finished a job that had been waiting a while. When you make curtains, they recommend you leave them to hang for a time to even out. The curtains I made in the boys' room had been hanging for three-and-a-half years! Not being willing to climb up a ladder and pull down about ten kilo of fabric, I measured and sewed the beasties still hanging up. Amazing how you can teeter a sewing machine on an ironing board propped up to its highest setting.

It also turned out to be a bit of a writing exercise. It got me to thinking about characters (as you do.) What do we know about our characters and what snippets of information build a picture of who a person is? Would, for example, the knowledge that a character can wield a sewing machine just as well as an axe add to a reader's perception they are a capable individual? Would the reader need, or want to know that?

How much information adds interest and texture to a character, and where do you draw the curtain between useful snippets and saturation?

I'll finish with this picture from my friend Erin, taken in Idaho Springs, Colorado. I wonder if this is an issue for them in the school holidays...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

But wait, there's more

Lewis Jaffe, blogger at Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie, is the proud owner of this exquisite meerkat bookplate crafted by British wood engraver Andy English. Andy's site has plenty of examples of his work to make you drool.

The picture reminds me a bit of our place yesterday, when I had the pleasure of three extra kiddies for the day. You'd think with five kids running around it would be a noisy exhausting day. Quite the contrary, it was remarkably quiet - they spent all morning playing hide-and-seek, and were so effective it was practically silent. The afternoon they spent outside building forts, chalk drawing the footpaths and gardening, as it was a stunning Dunedin winter's day. All I had to do was feed them occasionally. Easy.

Friday, July 11, 2008

More than a plateful

It's a cosy world, this blogosphere, so I was delighted when contacted by Lewis Jaffe, from Philadelphia in the US, who'd found my post on bookplates.

Check out his blog, Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie, for some gorgeous examples. I particularly liked the turtle series, and the bookplates featuring scabies.

Children's book illustrators occasionally produce bookplates - including this one by one of our favourites, Colin Thompson.

This fabulous page from the Children's Bookshop has lots of free printable bookplates by favourite New Zealand illustrators, including Lynley Dodd, and David Elliott. One of my little fantasies would be to commission David Elliott to design a bookplate or two for me. One day...

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I love reading blogs, and blog comments. You often find some pearls buried in the comments.

Detectives Beyond Borders often comes up with gems supplied by commenters. In a recent discussion on the phenomenon of the info-dump, or CSI effect, where writers feel the need to educate the reader on every technical detail, to the detriment of the plot and pace, Linkmeister referred us to this from the Science Fiction Writers Association - The Turkey City Lexicon. It's a glossary of terms, often with attributions, of shall we say, interesting plot devices, characters, structures and words.

An example: Roget's disease: "The ludicrous overuse of far-fetched adjectives, piled into a festering, fungal,tenebrous, troglodytic, ichorous, leprous, synonymic heap"

It's quite a long article, and geared for science fiction writers, but can apply to any writing. It's definitely worth a look, and a giggle.

By the way, the Sci-fi people call the info dump the "As you know, Bob."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Show day

Today was Write On Radio Show day, so over the lunch hour I had the pleasure of chatting to two lovely ladies from quite different perspectives in the writing world.

Alison Ballance is a wildlife documentary film-maker and writer, and her big and beautiful book Southern Alps is a finalist in the Montana New Zealand Books Awards in the environment category. Alison was a lively and fun guest and is so passionate about what she does she looked like she would burst out of her skin! The interview was great fun.

Pamela Gordon is the literary executor of the Janet Frame Literary Trust. As well as being executor, Pamela is Janet Frame's niece and was a great friend to her aunt. It was fascinating, as a recent convert to the writings of Janet Frame, to hear about her as a lively and cheekily humourous person, and to debunk some of those persistent myths. It was great timing to talk with Pamela as the works of Janet Frame have been in the media and the blogs recently.

One of the joys of doing the Write On radio show for the New Zealand Society of Authors has been the people I get to talk with, and the way it has expanded my horizons. Before the show I read very little New Zealand fiction (I know, I know) and so, due to my habit of liking to read a couple of the books by writers before I interview them (something to do with not wanting to come across as a complete idiot), I've discovered this amazing world of New Zealand writing.

So that is my message du jour - read New Zealand writers, people. Fiction and non-fiction. It's like that old NZ tourism slogan - Don't leave home till you've seen the country.

Buy local, enjoy.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Booked out

I recently posted about the looming Longacre Press book sale, and their cunning ploy of serving wine to would-be customers while they perused the piles of discounted books. They went one devious step further, and served chocolates as well.

It worked.

I made a few purchases, and will state at the outset, they are all titles I'd been looking at purchasing anyway, well, most of them were. (I suggested to Barbara Larsen they might like to include a bookcase manufacturer in next year's sale.)

So a little summary of my purchases, and yes, I'm kind of embarrassed about how many I brought, but hey, I can justify them.

For the Crime Writer:

Getting away with Murder: The Jennifer Beard Enquiry, by Mark Price
A City Possessed: The Christchurch Civic Creche Case, by Lynley Hood. (Lynley spoke about this at the Forensic Biology University of Otago Summer School course I did, and it was fascinating.)


Click! Portraits of New Zealanders, by Reg Graham. (The late Reg Graham was a wonderful portrait photographer and a gentleman, who we all miss)
The Art of Graham Sydney. (A book we'd purchased as gifts for others, but didn't have a copy of our own)

General Interest:

Hurricane Tim: The Story of Tim Wallis, by Neville Peat. (We're Air Show junkies)
Wild Walks: Explore Natural New Zealand, by Mark Pickering
Falling for Science, by Bernard Beckett

Not so interesting, but necessary:

Tax in New Zealand by Martin Hawes
The School of Home Truths by Martin Hawes
The New Retirement: Smart Tips for Boomers by Bill Jamieson. (No, that one's not for us. As much as Hubby would love to retire right now, he can't because he has a writer-wife to support who spends what precious little she does earn from writing on more books!)

Took one of the kids and he chose (Because it would have been rather hypocritical of me to say no, you can't get that...)

Icebergs: The Antarctic comes to town, by Dave Cull
The Plight of the Penguin, by Lloyd Spencer Davis
Winging it: The Adventures of Tim Wallis, by Neville Peat (We breed Air Show junkies too)

So there you go, an eclectic mix of the wonderful fare on offer from our local publishing house. It just goes to show, you can't trust a gal with a glass of wine in a book shop.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A word, please

I am a word-a-holic.

I love words, particularly the weird words, and collect them as far as you can pin down and display words.

So, I was delighted when a dear friend, who understands these wee obsessions of mine, gave me the gorgeous little hard cover book From afterwit to zemblanity: 100 endangered words brought to life, by Simon Hertnon. A big part of the charm of this book is not just the words, but the reasons Hernon decided to include them.

Take for example the word holophrasis, which is defined as 'the expression of a whole phrase or combination of ideas by one word'. He cites the example of a toddler being a living example of holophrasis in action... 'ball!' or 'swing' word conveys so much from the mouth of an expectant or stroppy kid.

Hertnon includes neologisms as well as archaic word in this book, including this one, which can so often apply to writers... infonesia...'an inability to remember location of information...'
Suffer from that one quite frequently.

And perhaps one more example, for the procrastinators out there... perendinate...'to defer until the day after tomorrow...'

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Science and snow

Today saw not only the kick off of the New Zealand International Science Festival in Dunedin, and the first day of the school holidays, it also brought a rather vicious Southerly blast. I had great plans to get along to the opening of the Everyday Science Art Exhibition at the Railway Station but they were foiled by an excess of snow. (I'll mention here, again, how much I love my heat pump)

The collaboration of Art and Science is fascinating, and I've had the pleasure of following the progress of the artistic and scientific conversation between friend and poet and artist Claire Beynon, and Sam Bowser, a New York based antarctic scientist. Claire spent time in Antarctica working with Sam and his scientific team, and as well as coming back with plenty of inspiration for her art, it realised a love of science and the beauty in the minutiae of nature. I've been hearing about this art and science project with Sam for ages and can't wait to see the results. But alas, I will have to be patient a few days longer to see the installation, and hope the weather eases. For a taste of their collaborations, you can check out Claire's website.

The science festival is over 9 days, and has over three hundred events, with plenty for adults and kids. There will be no shortage of things to do these holidays.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A whirring noise from underground

This headline caught my eye today:

Borat to wear Sherlock Holmes' hat

Yes folks, Sasha Baron Cohen, he who make the mankini famous is to play our beloved intrepid detective and Will Ferrell will do the honours as the trusty sidekick, Watson.

Hmmmm, will Holmes pull out the violin and play Air on a G-string?

I hope Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had a sense of humour, otherwise there could be some seismic activity centered around Minstead.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Kids Behaving Bravely

I had the great pleasure tonight of attending the book launch of Kids Behaving Bravely: Raising a Resilient Child, written by my dear friend Tania Roxborogh and Kim Stephenson.

The launch was a very convivial affair, held at the fabulous University Book Shop. There was good wine, food and conversation and I personally think book shops should serve wine more often, because I can't think of a better way to while away your time than browsing books while enjoying a glass. (Perhaps it was the glass of something nice that contributed to the spending at the recent Longacre Press Book Sale?)

Kids Behaving Bravely is a companion to Tania and Kim's 2007 title No, It's Not OK: How to Stop the Cycle of Bullying, which I thought was an on to it, practical and helpful book. This one looks to be just as good and aims to help parents to raise resilient children who are emotionally healthy and able to cope with what life chucks at them.

I look forward to reading it, especially knowing that, as Tania said in her lovely speech, her family have been like a live case study - warts, teenagers and all, and the knowledge she's been watching her friends' kids too.

Sometimes its a worry having friends who are writers.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A plate for every occasion...

Those of you who are into book plates need to have a look at the blog of Art History and Theory at Otago. There have been a couple of recent posts of serendipitous discoveries of bookplates while trolling through old books, including one for The Office of the Inspector General of Insane.

I have a bit of a thing for stationery, and have a couple of different personalised stationery sets. My ultimate indulgence would be to have my own special set of book plates made. Or may be two sets - the Crime Writer set with suitably deadly, yet stylish ornamentation. I'd also need an everyday set, so to speak, and, come to think of it, a separate bookplate for all my recipe books. I also have quite a collection of New Zealand Natural History books, so would need a little something with appropriate flora and fauna, Then there's the art books...