Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Golly, December already?!

Who stole November? Come on, fess up now, was it you?

Life has been a bit crazy of late, crazy in a good way, not a harried and hectic way. I have just returned from school camp to Queenstown with thirty twelve and thirteen year-olds. It's fun being camp mum, and the trip was fantastic - we had a gold rush theme, so there was exploring Arrowtown, gold miner's camps, Gabrielle's Gully and a great day trip taking the TSS Earnslaw across lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station. We even swam in the lake - a snow melt fed lake is rather nippy!

There have been the usual end of year get togethers, with plenty of good food and chat, and more good food and chat, and some advance planning of the inevitable New Years resolutions to get rid of the results of too much good food and chat.

There's been looking at cover art for The Faceless - and no, I'm not giving any hints, you'll just have to be patient.

Biggest buzz of the week - having Bound listed as one of The Listener's best 100 books for 2011. That is always such a thrill.

But there's no let up on the busy stuff - off to Queenstown again tomorrow for my nieces' high school junior prize giving and my nephew's high school graduation.

Before we know it, Christmas will be here...arghhhhhhh!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two reasons to celebrate

Reason number one:

Revisions for The Faceless are finished and I get my life back for a while (and will get to do a few of things I've ignored for a while like blogging, playing with the kids, gardening, cleaning the house...okay, maybe not cleaning the house!)

Reason number two:

My radio show, Write On, which I do for the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors won the best show in the Community Group category in the Otago Access Radio Air Awards! I'm an award winning broadcaster! Last night's awards night was fantastic, and highlighted the true strength of Access Radio, which is giving a voice to the community - the range of groups, individuals and shows was hugely diverse and so inspiring! One of the people I admire most in this world took out the grand prize for best overall show, which is Julie Woods, otherwise known as That Blind Woman. Julie does an incredible show called Cooking Without Looking, and everyone was rapt she took out the big one.

I felt immensely proud and humbled to win the Community Groups category and the judges comments were marvelous. So a huge thank you to the OAR staff, Lesley, Jeff and Geoff for all their support, and The University Book Shop who sponsors the show, and thank you to all the wonderful guests I've had the pleasure of interviewing over the years. Producing and hosting Write On has broadened my horizons in ways I could never have imagined six years ago when I did that first show, feeling so nervous I wanted to throw up! Looking back, there are distinct advantages to lacking the ability to say no!

Friday, November 11, 2011

11:11:11 11/11/11

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It is Armistice Day, the anniversary of the Armistice that ended the hostilities on the Western Front of the First World War. I have just listened to the boom of canon fire echoing around the hills of Dunedin, and had a huge lump in my throat at the sight and sound of a Mustang flying overhead.

As you know I have a fondness for numbers, so marking 11:11:11 on 11/11/11 was always going to be a priority.

Let this one also mark as a reminder of the waste of human life that is war.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Brave New World - SheKilda

One of the most interesting panels I was involved in at SheKilda was Brave New World: or the death of the book, which looked at the effects of the digital publishing and social media on the book world. Fellow panelists were PD Martin, Vikki Petraitis, Kylie Fox and Lindy Cameron and the session was chaired by Jane Sullivan. I was very much looking forward to this panel as there had been a flurry of great email between us all before SheKilda.

My fellow panelists had jumped into this brave new world boots and all. In fact Lindy Cameron's reaction to the oncoming age of digital books was in part to form her own publishing company, Clan Destine Press, which publishes print and ebooks. This may seem counter intuitive in an age when many writers are going it alone and self-publishing, but  Lindy recognised a need and opportunity to publish great books that were out of print, and new works too. She used the example of her company publishing Kerrie Greenwood's Medea, the first in her Delphic Woman Trilogy, and Vikki Petraitis' The Frankston Serial Killer. Lindy was also invaluable in clearing up some of the fallacies out there about the cost of publishing ebooks, which some larger publishers had used as a reason to sell ebooks and what we all considered to be too high a price, which sparked a great discussion on the pricing of ebooks. It wasn't expensive, software did the work.

Kylie Fox had a different take on the digital world as she and Amanda Wrangles had co-written Arabella Candellarbra and the Questy Thing to End All Questy Things on Facebook! They had taken social networking and used it in an exciting and fun new way to create an epic spoof, which had now been published and was fresh off the press at SheKilda.

One of the interesting points Vikki Petraitis brought up was that in the new digital era traditional large publishers shouldn't be seen as the gatekeepers of what was worth publishing, that their commercial decisions were not an indication that what they published was the only thing worth publishing. The relative ease of self-publishing and the emergence of smaller publishing houses gave opportunity for books on many fascinating topics that larger publishers may reject because they didn't deem them as being commercially worth it. The success of Vikki's The Frankston Serial Killer was a fine example of this self-published book selling very, very well thank you, when the big publishers hadn't thought it would and rejected it. Of course a progression of this is realising that with self-publishing being so easy there is an awful lot of poorly written crap out there, particularly fiction, but more importantly, there is now the opportunity for a lot of worthy work to find a place, particularly special interest, local history and non-fiction books that would not be considered wide enough appeal for big publishers.

P.D Martin talked about epublishing and how that changed how authors get paid, which launched onto an interesting discussion about where the profits go when the author has done all the work and gets a pittance. The opportunity for the author to get all of the profit in self-publishing is one that can't be overlooked! This also lead onto how to get your ebook noticed out there, amongst a sea of millions of them and how the use of social media was invaluable.

One of the most interesting discussions resulted from a question from the floor from Tara Moss about how ebooks can be value-added? We all got to flinging ideas around, from the ability of ebooks to incorporate things like more detailed background information and bibliography material, to the use of more interactive platforms such as iPads, to chucking in a walking tour map of where events in the book happen for anew slant on holiday tourism, to value adding to your print book purchase, buy the book, get the ebook free.

It was a fascinating session, which I learned a lot from, and actually acted on, because I was the only dinosaur in the panel who wasn't using social media and on facebook, so as a result of being nagged by my wonderful fellow panelists I did embark upon that brave new world...

Friday, October 28, 2011

SheKilda - Shamini Flint

Singapore based writer Shamini Flint completed the happy trio of international guests at SheKilda. Once upon a time she was a corporate lawyer, but now keeps even busier as a writer, mum and, well, that's busy enough, isn't it, let alone chucking in the other things she does. She writes children's fiction and the Inspector Singh Investigates crime fiction series. The over-riding impression of Shamini at the festival was how very funny she is, make that hilarious. Her performance at the Davitt awards night was brilliant and immensely entertaining. Both she and Margie were great fun to be around.

I had the pleasure of being on the A World of Crime session with Shamini, and it was fascinating to see what makes her Inspector Singh tick. Where Margie Orford came from South Africa, which was rife with crime, Shamini lives in Singapore, as does her character, which she complained was ridiculously safe, and the biggest chance you had for getting arrested was for littering. But perceived safety aside, it was harder issues in many Asian countries she traveled to and worked in that compelled her to dig a little deeper into their histories and to embed her stories into the echoes of those. Her most recent book, A Deadly Cambodian Crime Spree was prompted by her feeling bad about her lack of knowledge of the Khymer Rouge and Pol Pot regime. Writing was a constant learning process.

Inspector Singh as a character is fascinating, she created someone who was an outsider, a food loving, fat, sweaty Sikh in Singapore. This was an advantage for her as it meant his bosses were never sure quite what to do with him so took every opportunity to send him away somewhere else, hence his adventures in many Asian countries, and, of course, their cuisine.

Shamini's children's books  were also selling well at SheKilda and I enjoyed listening to her talk about the rationale for writing them, her environmental books and in particular her Sasha series of picture books, which follow the travels of a little girl in many interesting and well known places around Asia. I learned a lot from Shamini, who is a great writer and a very savvy business woman to boot.

Shamini was also rugby mad, make that sports mad in general, so with a Rugby World Cup happening at the same time as SheKilda we were both getting plenty of score updates from our respective spouses, although Shamini may have missed a session or two to watch... Anyway, one of my favourite memories of SheKilda was sitting in the Rydges bar with Shamini, Margie and I barracking for South Africa in the quarter final against Australia surrounded by a room full of Aussies. We are brave women.

Friday, October 21, 2011

SheKilda - Margie Orford

One of the great joys of SheKilda was meeting so many fabulous women, many of whom were writers. Margie Orford, from South Africa, was one of the three International Guests of Honour, along with Shamini Flint and myself. I had the pleasure of listening to Margie on a number of occasions over the convention, in panels and as the star of the show, and every time she was on stage her humour, knowledge and wealth of experience shone through.

Margie opened the convention with the keynote address on Saturday morning, and I have to say afterwards I told her off for raising the bar so high for us fellow international guests to follow! Her talk about the nature of life in South Africa and her own experiences on the business end of the law when she spent a short time in prison as a twenty-one year old for treason captivated us all.

At the A World of Crime session Margie spoke of the immense rate of crime in South Africa, which is so high the difficulty for the writer was to make the reader actually care about this murder over any other. Some how the topic of crime tourism came up and Margie told of some folk who brought their partners or spouses to South Africa to knock them off, thinking that everyone would take it to be yet another random murder in SA and being sorely mistaken because all South Africans knew a pretty woman, or a tourist would never do that or go there and they were inevitably caught out. Takes dumb tourists to a whole new level. She also gave a beautiful description of describing settings in fiction, in response to an audience question. I liked the analogy she gave of using a camera, taking broad shot in scenes that took the wider view, but focusing in on detail in close scenes between people that needed that tension of the minutiae.

In An hour with Margie Orford we heard a bit more detail about that imprisonment, and a few hair-raising moments in the name of research, but also more about her character, Dr Clare Hart, and the story behind the woman. One of the intriguing comments from Margie was how difficult she made life for herself by making her lead character a woman, because in the books Clare puts herself in situations that in reality no woman with a shred of safety awareness and society would do, and she had to find a way of doing this credibly. She would have been far better off making Clare a man. (Although, I think most of us disagreed, in light of her books.) We also enjoyed Margie's honesty about the reality of trying to combine motherhood with writing, and the ways writing won!

It was a great pleasure to be around Margie, who is an extraordinary woman, and this writer certainly learned a lot from her. And yes, one of her books added to the immense weight of my luggage!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

When life imitates art - sort of.

The news in New Zealand has been full of images of the environmental disaster playing out off the shore of Tauranga, with the grounding of the container ship Rena. We have all watched transfixed and horrified as images of oil coming ashore and polluting pristine sand and containers washing up at Mount Maunganui beach and Motiti Island flood the media, usurping even the Rugby World Cup for headline space.

Containers washing up on beaches...hmmmm, that rings a bell. I have had several phone calls and texts from folk commenting on the similarities between reality and a certain novel I happened to write, Containment.

In Containment the containers of the grounded vessel Lauretia wash up on Aramoana Beach near Dunedin. The Rena has struck the Astrolabe reef at Tauranga.

In Containment the locals looted the heck out of the containers, the beginnings of very bad things for a few. In Tauranga the locals have shown far more restraint, and the containers have been well guarded.

Phew, plenty of dissimilarities to make me feel not quite so bad, except for one little coincidence... I was born in Tauranga!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

About facebook

Okay, you know how I've said I wouldn't join facebook? Erm, courtesy of the Brave New world panel at SheKilda and nagging from certain parties (you know who you are) I now have an author page.

I'm waiting for the lightening bolts to strike from on high...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

SheKilda - Wow!

I'm back in the real world, sitting at my computer with a happy smile on my face thinking of the fabulous time I had at SheKilda in Melbourne.

Firstly congratulations to the wonderful group of women brave enough to organise a second SheKilda Australian Women Crime Writers convention, it was a fabulous occasion and I felt privileged to be a part of it. (And yes, Lindy Cameron, there were plenty of witnesses who heard you say you'll happily do it again!) There was a very full programme, too full in fact as there were sessions I wanted to go to but missed because I couldn't be in two places at once! There was something there for everyone, and it was great to be around so many fabulous Australian women writers. Margie Orford and Shamini Flint, my fellow international guests were amazing, funny and very clever, and I learned a lot from them. In fact I came away from the weekend feeling happily knackered and mentally invigorated, it's left me dying to get back to my writing.

The body in the pool - yes that is a green stiletto sticking out of her eye!

A sense of fun infused the whole convention, as was evident by the 'body in the pool' which had to be the body by the pool due to the inclement weather - her death was a mystery we enjoyed trying to solve, and the perpetrator of the crime surprised us all, but no one was as surprised as she was. Carmel Shute, I didn't know you had it in you!

I also loved the fact it was one of those conventions where lunches and morning teas were provided there, so you had a great opportunity to mingle with the readers and writers and chat over a bite to eat and a drink, it made it feel very intimate and personal.

I'll report over the next few days on individual sessions I attended, and the Davitt Awards Night.

But for now, I'll sit here smiling, remembering, and marveling that I managed to sneak in 200gm under the weight limit for my luggage considering how many books I brought!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

SheKilda - almost here!

Counting down the days now until the fabulous SheKilda, Australian women's crime writers convention  in Melbourne. It kicks off this coming Friday, which means I get to hop across the Tasman on Thursday. I'm so excited about it all I can't stand myself.

For a full list of their programme and guests check out the SheKilda website here.

Naturally there is a lot of preparation for me to do, ie, figure out what I'm going to wear. Although, I hear the shopping's quite good in Melbourne... and the food...

As you can guess from the above comment I have never been to Melbourne before (I've only been to Australia once before, two years ago, to Sydney.) So if any of you have some must see recommendations, especially for specialty stationery shops, book shops, or chocolatiers let me know! I'm already going to make getting to the Tutankhamen exhibition at the Melbourne Museum a priority - I can't believe my luck that it is there at the same time I will be.

Most of all I am looking forward to wallowing in the world of crime fiction with lots of fabulous women writers - it is going to be a blast.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Whanganui Literature Festival

The weekend before last I had the pleasure of being a guest at the Whanganui Literature Festival. Joan Rosier-Jones and her crew of trustees and volunteers put together a interesting and varied programme over the three days of the festival, with writers Elizabeth Knox, Elizabeth Smither, Jenny Robin Jones, Peter Wells, Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, Masterchef Brett McGregor, myself, Bill Manhire and Joseph Romanos.
One of the things I love about smaller festivals is the milling around and chatting with attendees and the happy buzz that permeates the whole affair. One of the things I particularly loved was having breakfast each morning with Jenny Robin Jones and Elizabeth Smither and friends. For a gal from a male dominated house (even the cat is a bloke) breakfasting with the ladies was wonderful.
I am very fond of Wanganui. Every time I go back the town has improved and there's always something cool going on. Festival weekend also coincided with the Wanganui Festival of Glass - the town has a vibrant art glass community and their work was on display throughout the shopping centre. Lets just say that I added to the local economy, ahem.
I had a great time at the Whanganui Literature Festival. Congrats to Joan and the organisers for a great event. I arrived back home feeling happily weary but invigorated.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


By Jo Nesbo.

Roger Brown is a headhunter - a recruiter for big-business, a man who has it all - a high power, high paid job, a beautiful wife. When he thinks he's discovered the perfect candidate for Pathfinders best client in the form of Clas Greve he thinks he's got it made. Even more so when he discovers Greve owns one of the holy grails of the art world, a long missing Rubens paining - The Calydonian bear Hunt. For Roger Brown has a double life, when he is interviewing potential clients, he is also seeking potential victims, he is an art thief, and of course he can't resist the big one. But from then his life turns on its head, and too late he realises he has bitten off more than he can chew with Clas Greve, and he has to think and react fast to survive.

There were parts of this book I really enjoyed, and parts of this book where I had to suspend belief too much for my tastes. I think my main problem was that I didn't warm to the narrator, which meant I generally felt a bit ho hum about it all. There were some great twists, and I can see that it would make a great movie, which is coming out next year. But for this reader, it was ok but not great.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The cover art of Justin Todd

I've been quiet on the blogging front as I've been frantically working on the novel revisions...almost there, thank heavens. When I have had a moment to spare I have strayed dangerously to troll on Trade Me, and have made one or two, ahem, purchases - all in the name of research, honest.

As you know I'm a bit of a Ngaio Marsh fan, and have been collecting her books, and in particular those of one or two cover artists. Here are three recent acquisitions, Fontana editions featuring the work of Justin Todd, who manages to capture an almost comically gruesome atmosphere in his work.

Death at the Dolphin (1976 edition)
I like the nice teeth theme he has going on here.

Singing in the Shrouds (1976 edition)
Again, plenty of teeth, and some seriously filmed over eye action.

Death in a White Tie (1977 edition)
Not quite as dramatic as the first two, but there's still plenty of eye bulging happening.

Can't wait to find some more...

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Ngaio Marsh Awards Event!

I know it's a week after the big event, and the announcement Paul Cleave won the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime fiction, but hey, some of us are a bit slow at this time of the year! But better late than never, so here's my report on the Setting the Stage for Murder.

First up - the venue. I was delighted they kept the event in Christchurch, despite the physical limitations of a city still coming to grips with the aftermath of the earthquakes. With so many venues destroyed Christchurch has come up with a great idea which is the Events Village in Hagley Park - temporary but beautifully functional places to allow those all important social and cultural activities to happen. We were at the TelstraClear Club, which was like an enormous yurt. This large, circular marquee was warm and welcoming, with the inside lined with stained glass windows and leadlights, and a huge chandelier suspended from the centre. The raised circumference was lined with wooden dining booths and the central portion filled with seating. There was a cafe/ bar serving food and drinks, and the University Book Shop had set up a sales table. It was a fabulous venue. Well done Christchurch!

First on the billing were award-winning crime writers Tess Gerritsen and John Hart, ably chaired by Graham Beattie. The crowd enjoyed the candid and often very amusing conversations with these two popular authors. I loved the fact they disagreed on so much! Tess Gerritsen was all for working from home, John Hart had to have an office away from the house and the distractions of wife and kids. Tess advocated belonging to writing groups to get critiquing on your work, John was absolutely against. It was great to hear their differing opinions, and realise that all writers have their unique ways and quirks in how they approach their work.

Then we got to see the finalists of the Ngaio Marsh in action on the stage - Paul Cleave, Neil Cross, Paddy Richardson and Alix Bosco (AKA Greg McGee). Craig Sisterson, the driving force behind the awards, fired the questions, and this year he must have been relieved to know the winner would actually be at the awards! The results were interesting, often funny (Neil Cross has the split-second timing of a comedian) and entertaining. Again, I find it interesting when writers disagree, and one of the questions from the audience on whether they would use Christchurch post earthquakes as a setting made for lively discussion, with Paul Cleave adamant he couldn't do that at this stage as he would find it distasteful. Most of the other writers agreed. But it was John Hart who piped up from the audience that he felt it would be wrong not to include the hugely impacting event in fiction. Lots more discussion followed.

Finally we came to crunch time - the announcement of this year's winner of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Fiction....Paul Cleave, for Blood Men. Congratulations to Paul! His Dad looked so proud I thought he'd burst.

Congratulations to Craig Sisterson and the Christchurch Writers Festival folk for organising the event and keeping it in Christchurch, and it was great to see it well supported. It was wonderful to see Auckland crime writer Ben Sanders come down to support the event, and also local Christchurch writers Rachael King and Grant Shanks in the crowd.

It was a wonderful day, and well worth the hideously early start to catch the plane up from Dunedin. After the event, and a lovely lunch with the finalists, and international writers and local literati, and then an impromptu and emotional tour around the perimeter of the earthquake ravaged central city (crammed in the backseat of Dave Batterbury's car with Neil Cross and Paul Cleave, and with Craig Sisterson occupying the front seat)(it was very cosy and very very noisy!) I was a tired girl plonked in the plane home that night. Here's hoping I'm on the stage for next year's awards!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Death and the Dancing Footman

by Ngaio Marsh

Jonathan Royal thought it would be great fun to invite a group of acquaintances along to Highfold Manor for a weekend of socialising. He was gleeful at the prospect as his flair for the dramatic lead him to carefully handpick the invitees - The disfigured Sandra Compline and her two sons, William and Nicholas. Chloris Wynne - William's fiancee and Nicholas's ex. Plastic surgeon Dr Francis Hart (the disfigurer) and his wife, beautician Elise Lisse (also Nicholas's lover). Lady Hersey Ablington, competing beautician. Aubrey Mandrake - a man with secrets of his own. Royal is delighted with the powder keg of emotion and hatreds he has created, and with a snow storm preventing anyone from escaping the confines of the Manor the fun turns rather sour with the murder of William Compline.
 Throw in further attempts at murder and a spot of mistaken identity, and with everyone having motive and many opportunity, the whodunnit leaves everyone guessing as to the identity of the murderer under his roof. A mercy dash across the snowy roads brings Detective Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn on the scene to sort out the mess before anyone else dies.

I enjoyed Death and the Dancing footman - it certainly kept me guessing right to the very last. My only quibble is that Roderick Alleyn doesn't make an appearance until 3/4 of the way through the novel, so I felt a bit cheated as I really am rather fond of him and his sidekick Fox. It did seem very appropriate to be reading a novel about people trapped in a house by snow when we were trapped in the house by the snow! Although we managed to get through without killing each other.

The cover art on this novel is by one of my favourite cover artists, Philip Hood. Fontana 1975 edition.

This novel also counts towards my tally for the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge run by Bev Hankins at My Readers Block

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Books that give you the chills?

The Christchurch earthquake was several months ago, and for the vast majority of the country life is unaffected and we tend to forget. But for many of those in Christchurch life is far from normal, and the things we take for granted, like books and libraries are still unreachable. This is where little articles in the paper, like this one a week or so back make me smile.

Resourceful Cantabrians have come up with a great way to get books to people, and a bit of community spirit happeneing along the way, with book exchanges in fridges - yes, you read correctly, in fridges - unplugged of course. Fridges have appeared on vacant sites stocked with books people no longer want, and if you need a read you can pop along and grab one, and even better, chuck in one of your old reads for someone else. Brilliant.

You can read about it here:

Fridge a Magnet for Book Lovers.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A bit blue

It's been an odd few weeks. Novel-wise I've been a bit in limbo land, I have the publisher feedback for the new manuscript, and know I need to crack on and do revisions, but I've needed to create a bit of space between drafts, that mulling time that requires distance, which is hard with a new pressing deadline, but I think I'm finally there.

Also a dear old writery friend died last week, and although I'd been expecting it, as she had been quietly declining for a while, I still feel like the world has a Joan sized hole in it now. There are some people in your life who, even though you know they are elderly, ill and frail, their indomitable spirit means you just expect them to keep on going and always be there, that the normal rules of mortality don't apply. Joan was one of those. So I'm sharing with you an obituary I wrote for this very special lady for the NZSA weekly newsletter.

Joan de Hamel (1924-2011)

It is with great sadness we pass on news of the death of NZSA Otago/Southland member Joan de Hamel.

'Joan de Hamel was the award-winning writer of many wonderful books for children and teenagers. She was one of the first authors to write books specifically for teens that were set in New Zealand amongst our unique flora and fauna with X Marks the Spot in 1973. Take the Long Path won the Esther Glen Award in 1979 and her children’s picture book, Hemi’s Pet, won the A.W. Reed award in 1985. Her books brought the gift of adventure and of laughter to generations of young New Zealanders.

Joan was born in England and educated at Oxford University. She and her husband, Francis, and their three young sons moved to New Zealand for what was supposed to be a short period of time in 1955. The emigration proved to be rather more permanent, and they added two more sons to their family here. The family lived a while in Christchurch before finally settling in Dunedin. As well as a love of writing, Joan had a passion for the donkeys and angora goats she bred on their Otago Peninsula farmlet by Paradise Rd. Joan was a hugely valued member of the writing community in Dunedin, and was one of the founding members of PEN in the city. She was integral in helping foster the warm and vibrant community we enjoy today. Her contribution was recognised with her being named the NZSA President of Honour from 1999-2000.

Most importantly, Joan was a person who genuinely cared about and supported others, offering advice and help to many writers when needed. She was practical too, opening her home to host writers’ luncheons and supporting events. A number of years ago the Otago Southland branch of the NZSA held a fundraising auction, and where the rest of the members brought along books to auction, Joan fronted up with bags of gorgeous wool from her beloved angoras. Joan was very knowledgeable about literature and a thoughtful reviewer, and until very recently reviewed books for the New Zealand Book Council Booknotes magazine.

Joan will be remembered with great love and affection as a wonderful writer, supporter and friend, and as her family wrote in her death notice, ‘she died peacefully after a long and happy life.’  Joan’s cheerful and adventurous spirit and love of nature shines through in the plaque dedicated to her in the Dunedin Octagon Writer’s Walk which quotes her 1992 novel Hideaway: ‘What more could anyone want than their own land down to the shoreline and the whole Pacific Ocean as a boundary fence.’

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Libraries rule!

I'm sitting at my desk watching the snow fall outside the window with the glee of a kid. Don't know what it is about snow, but it always makes me smile.

Yesterday I took the boys in to the Dunedin City Library to stock up for the next few days of predicted bad weather (the Met Service got it right!) So far, so normal. What I absolutely loved was that when we arrived about 10 minutes before opening time it wasn't just us waiting to get in - there were 40 to 50 people all lined up, chomping at the bit, queuing. And when the doors did open it was like what I imagine is like on sale day at Harrods - a stampede! I commented to one of the librarians about libraries being closed down in Britain and America and what a huge loss to a community that was. If you wanted evidence of how important libraries are to people you only had to look at the crowd eager to get into our library. It warms a girl's heart.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Win great NZ crime fiction!

I'm a sucker for competitions, I enter lots of competitions, and win enough bits & pieces to urge me to keep on entering more. I've won lots of chocolate and books over the years, but are still waiting for that car...

Here's your chance to win a set of books of the long listed novels in the 2011 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best fiction. (Unfortunately I didn't have a book published in the relevant year so wasn't eligible to be in the running this time. Next year...)

Visit the excellent Crime Watch Blog for details. All you have to do is email Craig a photo of yourself reading a NZ crime fiction novel. Too easy. Go on, you know you want them...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I'm back...

...not that I actually went away! After all that busy time racing for a book deadline, I then had two weeks till an academic deadline! So now both are passed and handed in, I finally get to breathe...briefly. I've got my feedback on the novel from my agent and publisher, and it's great, but of course, there are a few revisions to do, and soon, so it's straight back into it. But I will do a bit of relaxing with the kids over the school holidays, and I will continue with operation 'sort the shambles.' We've been in this house for over a year now and there are still boxes unpacked and things that haven't moved since we bunged them there on the day we shifted in. Then there is the disaster that is my desk - apparently there's a wooden surface under there somewhere - but it's all rumour...

Friday, July 1, 2011


It is always such a wonderful feeling...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday fun - more 'honest' book stickers

My previous post about book cover stickers provoked this glorious response from one of my favourite bloggers - Margot over at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist.

Go on, check them out, have a laugh - make some suggestions of your own!

Ah, fabulous Friday, which means the weekend is here, which means after a hard, solid week of editing the novel, for a change I'll get to...edit the novel, and perhaps I'll even do some editing on the novel. So that I don't go completely insane I will take a short break to go attack people with swords, but then I'll do some fun weekend things like...editing the novel.

Fourteen days till deadline...

But to prove that it's not all loneliness and hard work, locked away in my office with only my slightly raving mad self for company, here's a gratuitous cat shot.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Those pesky book cover stickers...

Publishers seem to be a little obsessed with putting pesky little stickers on books in an effort to boost sales. There have been many examples discussed in the blogosphere, with the unanimous opinion we all hate them. There have been Jo Nesbo books covered in 'the next Steig Larssen.' Well actually publishers, that is not correct, Jo Nesbo is still Jo Nesbo, no amount of stickers will cause him to have an identity crisis. It seems every new crime fiction novel has a sticker on it somewhere exalting it as the next ......................... (insert biggest selling name you can think of, even if inappropriate)

Anyway, I thought I'd take a new approach to the sticker method of increasing book sales, something a lot more truthful...

Do you think it will help?

Thursday, June 9, 2011


A flat white from The Fix today...

It's keeping me going...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Surfacing for air...

My life has been utterly consumed by the looming deadline, and the new novel is finally taking shape the way I want it too, my panic-o-meter has inched down a few clicks. This weekend was Queen's Birthday Weekend in New Zealand, so I indulged in a few frivolous things to escape from the writing.

Hubby and I were invited to a friend's 40th birthday party on Saturday night. The theme was the 70's, so being a bit of a Star Wars fan I jumped at the chance to go as Princess Leia. Who wouldn't want to go as a kick-arse princess with a iconic hair-do? So I hauled the sewing machine out and whipped up the white Princess Leia dress in the morning, which turned out really well, and with the hired wig I was completely incognito. It took a few people a while to figure out who the heck it was! And so weird for a girl with a massive head of curly frizzy hair draped all over her face to suddenly have a sleek, dark brown do and no fringe to hide behind. It was weirdly liberating. Hubby went as the biker from the Village People!!!

Today, as well as doing some writing, I had a day in the kitchen as we had friends coming for dinner and I felt like having a Julia moment so I made a cassoulet. I've always wanted to make one, and although time consuming it was great fun and very satisfying. It took all day, in fact the recipe recommended taking a few days to make it. The bottom of the casserole dish was occupied by a perfect spiral of Toulouse sausage hand made by Hubby, so what with that, pork, bacon, lamb and chicken it was the perfect meat-a-thon with beans! So great food, great company, wine and a G & T made for a perfect evening.

Back to the full on writing tomorrow, and some awesome left-overs for lunch...

Monday, May 23, 2011


What are you doing 7-9 October? If you happen to be in Melbourne, you could come see me in action at SheKilda!

I'm absolutely rapt to have been invited as an International Guest of Honour to SheKilda, the Australian Women's Crime Writing Convention, which marks the 20th anniversary of Sisters in Crime Australia.

You can find out more about SheKilda at their website here.

And you can find out more about Sisters in Crime Australia here.

Come and join us, go on, you know you want to!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I have a fondness for numbers. Numbers are comforting and predictable, far more predictable than words! Although I am not always predictable about numbers. For example, I tend to prefer birthdays that are even numbered, for me there's almost a sense of relief at turning from an odd into an even number. But then, for my lucky numbers, or the numbers I feel attracted to, I prefer odds - go figure! Maybe it's because, with the exception of the number 2, all prime numbers are odd, and I like primes.

Anyway, some numbers I've noticed this week:

The car's odometer ticked over 175571 (the kids & I like playing spot the odometer patterns.) I know, I can hear you say, shouldn't you be watching the road?!

When editing The Faceless the word count number 31113 was on page 103 and the word was 'feet' which is measurement and thus a number.

3 - The number of 'gifts' Louie the cat brought in this week. The first was a huge rat, fortunately dead. The second a skink, fortunately alive and liberated back to the wild. The third, a cicada - he likes to hold them in his mouth and go slightly cross-eyed while they buzz!

5 - The number of branches I saw break off our neighbour's big gum tree and fly off in the strong winds we had the other day. I found that a little disconcerting!

So you're probably thinking so what? Numbers schmumbers. But they all do a good job of distracting me from this little number...

6 - Weeks till my deadline - Arggggghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

I have been rather lax on the blogging front of late. Due in most part to the fact I have a looming book deadline, and between the craziness of daily life and the demands of the novel I'm feeling a little consumed by everything. So it is great when occasions like Mother's day come along and offer some topping up in the energy stakes.

Like all good spoil someone days it began with breakfast in bed and pressies. The darlings know me well, and know how to look after their own best interests at the same time so I was given an Italian cheese making kit so we can make ricotta and mozzarella among other things. Mmmmm home made pizza with home made mozzarella, lasagne with our own ricotta and home made pasta. I feel some great kitchen moments coming on...

I got to be queen of the remote control and did something I never do - I watched television in the day time! Well, not television, strictly speaking - DVD. Simon Schama's A History of Britain. While I enjoyed blobbing in front of the tele, Mr Nine year-old and Mr Eleven year-old spent the afternoon cooking up a storm. They made cupcakes, with pink icing and even made little love heart and star decorations out of chocolate. There's a lovely sample, soon to be consumed on this morning's tea tray.

This morning's tea tray...

They then cooked a roast chicken dinner, for me and Gran - a celebration of many Mummies.

While this was going on Hubby was outside attacking overgrown trees and restoring our lovely view of the harbour.

So a great day, and good for restoring a flagging mummy and author.

Watch out novel, here I come...well, after the tea and cupcake...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Book voucher heaven...

I am often given book vouchers as a thank you for speaking or doing things for folk, and I like to hoard them up until there is an impressive amount and then go and blow them ceremoniously on something grand and flashy, you know, the books you wouldn't normally buy yourself, but that you have lusted and drooled over in the book shop.

This week I went and had my splurge...

I have often confessed a love of historic fashion, and this two volume set by Taschen has been beckoning and calling me for such a long time. Titled Fashion it is a history from the 18th to the 20th century, from the collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute. So it has sumptuous dresses and men's garments from the seventeen hundreds through to vintage Dior, and also modern things that I'm not sure what they are supposed to be!

So I am a happy girl.

Of course, I couldn't stop there, because I was in a book store after all, so I brought a few novels to add to Mount TBR. I have the self control of a kid in a candy store!

So thank you to all those who added to my gift voucher stash - I had fun!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spoilers be damned.

I really enjoy going out to talk to book groups, and I've realised there are two kinds of book groups. Of course, they all give me wine, so they are all the same there, oh, and cake too. Where they differ is in their approach to book selection.

Some book groups every one gets together each month and talks about whatever they have been reading - it's the individuals choice, and the books they read are often snapped up by other members who've liked the sound of them. I know I've come away from these groups with lots of titles written in my little 'must read' note book.

The other type of group is where everyone reads the same book, then they have a lively discussion about the merits and otherwise of the books. last week, I had my first outing to one of these book groups, and the book they had all read was Bound! I had my sister-in-law to thank for the invitation and she enjoyed the kudos she got by nonchalantly saying to her group, oh, I know the author, I can get her along if you like. What I really enjoyed about this group was they had all read the book! So for the first time, I didn't have to tiptoe around, not trying to give things away and spoil it for the people who hadn't read my books. It was so liberating! I could tell a few nifty anecdotes that I can't disclose to general public talks because of the spoilers. It was great fun.

My sister-in-law also reminded her group why it wasn't good being related to or friends with an author because they borrow bits of your life. Oops! I'd forgotten she'd provided me with a few gems over the years.

It was a great night out, and it was lovely to be able to blather about everything - no tongue biting required.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Many as One

There have been some very generous initiatives that donate money to the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery, and a wonderfully artistic one has been Claire Beynon's Many as One. Claire, who is a wonderful artist and poet, has set up a website where her fellow artists have donated works, which then go in a raffle for those who donate money to the Christchurch fund.

Our family donated some money and I was delighted to get an email from Claire to say we had been drawn from the hat and won this fabulous perspex sculpture by Australian artist Lisa Roberts.

The sculpture is called Coccoliths, Carbon Sequesterers and it is so beautifully apt as I have a great fondness for unicellular organisms. So much so that I put a foraminfera into one of my novels - and I had to fight hard for that foram because my editor thought it should be an amoeba, because everyone knows what an amoeba is, but no, I wanted a foram, because they are amazing and tough little blighters and I stood my ground!!!

The Many as One initiative is still going, and Christchurch's need is immense, so if you would like to donate to this worthy cause, and have the opportunity to win some beautiful art, go to the Many as One website.

I love my little sculpture, it sits on the window ledge in my office and every time I look at it I smile. It reminds me that simple can be beautiful, and small can be mighty!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In the sticks

Writing by it's very nature is a solitary thing, you get to spend a lot of time by yourself (which might explain a bit about writers!) So I really enjoy the opportunity to get out and speak to groups, it's me out of the house and gives me the chance to meet new people and engage with readers. If I'm really lucky they give me food or wine, or even better, food and wine.

Last week I had the pleasure of going to talk to the West Otago Dinner Club, at Heriot. If you're wondering where Heriot is, it's close to Tapanui, if that leaves you none the wiser, it's kind of close to Gore, if you're still confused, do what I did and look it up on Google maps. Heriot is typical of many New Zealand country towns - it has a pub and a farm supplies store, and that's about it. It also has a great community centre, which was where I got to talk to a wonderful group of ladies. The West Otago Dinner Club is a group of 100 or so farmer's wives and rural women who meet every two months for a catered dinner and guest speaker. The ladies get all dolled up in their glad rags and enjoy an evening of good company, dinner and entertainment. It's a wonderful group, and a great idea, so I felt privileged to be invited to talk to them. They were a great audience, with lots of questions (I love questions) and I came away from the evening with a happy buzz that wasn't just from the wine. I then got handed more wine by my rather gregarious B&B host - but that could fill up another post.

So here's to Heriot, and lots of wonderful country women.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Write On Radio Show day

Today is show day, but with a difference, it will be the first time the radio show has been broadcast on the station's new FM frequency. To celebrate the change to FM, Toroa Radio has also re-branded and is now Otago Access Radio - or OAR for short. So those blessed folk who live in Dunedin can tune into Write On at noon on 105.4 FM or 1575 AM. For those not so fortunate to live in our beautiful city, you can listen live streamed from the OAR website

Fosterling is the new novel by Dunedin writer and poet Emma Neale. The back cover blurb starts ‘A young man is found unconscious in a remote forest. He is over seven-feet tall, his skin covered in thick hair, which reminds onlookers of an animal’s pelt. When he wakes in a city hospital, he is eerily uncommunicative...Speculation begins.
American author Annie Proulx recently visited Dunedin to promote her new book Bird Cloud, a memoir. I had the opportunity to talk with Annie about Bird Cloud, as well as her other writing.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Arfully covered.

I've made no secret of my love for cover art, and my almost obsessive hunt for certain artists of Ngaio Marsh's covers. One of these is Philip Hood. I have rather fallen for the cover art that are paintings, I find them expressive and far more interesting than cover art that is photography based.

Philip Hood's cover art isn't quite as menacing as those of Justin Todd, which you can check out here. But I find Hood's work thoughtful and I think they capture the mood of the story very well. These are all Fontana paperbacks.

Hand in Glove (1974 ed) Love the interesting angle of this cover, looking up from in the hole.

Death and the Dancing Footman (1975 ed) Lots of brooding here.

Artists in Crime (1975 ed) Plenty of anatomy on display in this one! (And excuse the scratchy bit where someone had committed the crime of the price sticker on the cover!)

Colour Scheme (1976 ed) Check out the New Zealand thermal hot pools.

I'm still looking for more of Philip Hood's covers, so if you see any up for sale, let me know - because a girl can never have too many books...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Now available as eBooks!

Yes, technology has caught up and I'm delighted to say my books are now available as eBooks through In fact, to save you the bother of having to type in Vanda Symon, you can go straight to my novels here. Overkill, The Ringmaster, Containment and Bound are all there.

This means they can be read on Kobo and Sony eBook readers (and a few others), as well as via apps for iPads, iPods and smart phones.

Hell, that's so 21st century!

Friday, April 1, 2011


New Zealand Book Month has been a particularly busy time for me, and this week more so than ever. I had the pleasure of being invited to tour the West Coast, inflicting myself upon libraries and schools from Hokitika to Westport. Here's me in action at the Westport Library. If you look closely at the photo, they even gave me a support gnome on the table!

First thing I have to say is I had forgotten how beautiful the West Coast is, especially on a good day. It was sunny and warm the whole time I was away I spent most of the time traveling feeling gobsmacked at the scenery. Even the airplane flights were amazing, with spectacular views of Aoraki Mt Cook and the Alps. Here's a pic of Punakaiki or Pancake Rocks as they are also known.  I feel a family holiday coming on...

The Coaster's hospitality was fantastic and the audiences attentive and friendly. I was really impressed with the high school students I spoke to, who were impeccably well behaved and asked great questions.

So I had a wonderful time away, and even got to experience the best ever chicken and mushroom pie at Hokitika Cheese and Deli. I'd give it a 6 out of 5! And the coolest building - I loved the Westport Municipal Chambers.

It had been over twenty years since I had traveled to Hokitika, Greymouth and Westport, and I was delighted to see how much the towns had flourished since then. The libraries in all of these towns were certainly a vital community hub, and when you see the effort and passion the librarians put into their work and communities, with little in the way of resources, you realise how precious they are. So hats off to the Librarians!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Covered again...

It's been a crazy, busy time - NZ Book Month has been full on for me, last week it was the Book Lovers' Quiz Night that I organised at the Mornington Tavern. It was a fun night out, with a team from the Dunedin Library taking out the top honours for the quiz. A blokes' book group took the title for the best team name with The Novel Gazers.

Next week I'm off to do a three day tour of the West Coast for NZ Book Month, I love the West Coast, so was rapt to be invited over. The fellas here will have to survive by themselves for a few days. Mind you, Mr Eleven-Year-Old cooked the perfect roast chicken dinner the other night, so I'm sure they'll cope.

I mentioned in the last post I've now acquired all of Ngaio Marsh's novels, so I've started collecting specific cover artists, because a girl has always got to have something she wants to buy. The two I'm really interested in are Justin Todd and Philip Hood.

Here's a few of Justin Todd's...

Scales of Justice. I love this, especially the bullet hole in the man's forehead, very tasteful. Dead fish, dead man, fabulous.

Dead Water. This is one scary lady. That look says I've been sucking lemons for years, don't mess with me. But we all know Miss Emily Pride is going to ruffle a few too many feathers...

The Nursing Home Murder. There's something about a surgeon with a monocle and a hypodermic needle...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Under Cover

As many of you will be aware, I'm rather fond of Ngaio Marsh and her books. A while back I undertook to find a copy of all her books, and had such a great time trolling bookshops and Trade Me that I completely forgot to stop when I had then all. So consequently I have multiple copies of some of them. Part of the reason for that was a love of cover art.

You'll probably think it is a little over the top to own five copies of The Nursing Home Murder (1935),  by Ngaio Marsh, but I did some academic study on this book, and also it's quite interesting to see the progression of the cover art over a few decades. I should tell you in those days a nursing home was a private hospital, nowadays we think of them as geriatric hospitals. Also, this book is the only novel Ngaio wrote in collaboration with someone else, Irish physician Henry Jellett. I find it sad that none of the more modern editions mention him on the cover, although the earlier four here name him on the fly-leaf. The 1999 version doesn't mention his name at all!

This is the 1965 Fontana edition of The Nursing Home Murder. This is my second favourite cover.

1970 edition (Fontana) - it's awful! What were they thinking?!!!

1976. (Fontana) This is my favourite. In fact I've grown so fond of the cover art of Justin Todd that I'm now trying to find all the Ngaio Marsh books he did work for!

1983  (Fontana) Simple, but graphic, if a touch boring.

1999 Completely boring. Boring, Boring, Boring. And they didn't mention the co-authors name in the book anywhere! Naughty, naughty Harper Collins.

Which do you like best?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book Lovers' Quiz Night

March celebrates New Zealand Book Month, so we get out there with lots of fun book related events for young and old.

It's been busy, busy, busy, so far I've given a talk at the Mosgiel Public Library, and been a part of two events I organised for NZ Book Month along with Bridget & Jo at Kings High School, for year 9 and 10 students.

Called Teens Face Book, the first was a panel discussion with myself, Kyle Mewburn and Ella West, in front of an audience of school kids bussed in from around Dunedin. It was great fun, with lots of interesting questions from the kids. Below is a pic of some of the darlings along with the bewildered writers.

We also held writing workshops for some of the kids a week later, which was a first for me! (I was more than a little nervous at being teacher to a pile of high school students, but they survived me and I survived them, so it was all good! You can read their report on it here. )

Next up is a pub quiz with a difference, and you're all invited! OK, it may be easier if you live in Dunedin, but get your teams organised for the Book Lovers' Quiz Night. This is a pub quiz with a difference - all the questions relate to books. I'm doing MC duty - so once again, I get a microphone and to inflict myself upon an unsuspecting crowd...

Book Lovers' Quiz Night

Thursday 17 March
The Mornington Tavern
7.30 pm.

Lots of prizes and raffles, and a prize for the best team name.

$20.00 per team of four.

Registrations to

Let's see if you know your Rowling from your Rushdie!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A birthday gift...

I celebrated a birthday this week, it was an even numbered one - which I always prefer for some odd reason, don't ask me why. I was thoroughly spoiled.

One of my favourite children's picture books is this... Cloudcatcher by Sue Wootton and illustrated by Carla Braun-Elwert...

One of my favourite pages in that book is this...

And look what I got... the original...(the glass reflections were tricky, so the colour didn't photograph so well)

Happy Vanda!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Vintage Gift...

A lovely friend came across this treasure when sorting out her late Aunt's things and thought of me...

The Listener is New Zealand's radio and television guide, and it's been around a while. This edition is dated July 8 - 14 1978. Back then there were only two television channels to choose from! As well as having a great interview with Ngaio Marsh, it has the fabulous portrait by Murray Webb, one of our premier caricaturists. I didn't know this article or the picture existed, so I'm utterly rapt.

I also got to have a jolly good laugh - there are an extraordinary number of advertisements and they have provided a lot of entertainment - some things haven't survived the test of time...thank god! Looking at the television programming was great - a real trip down memory lane with my favourites of the day - The Muppets, The Tomorrow People, and Wonder Woman!

So thanks, Amanda - a treasure trove in many ways!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Strange times.

Like many New Zealanders, I have felt a little lost since Tuesday's devastating earthquake in Christchurch. I have cried, watched the news reports, turned off the telly because it all became too painful, and have felt speechless, bereft, impotent.

At 12.51 on Tuesday I was sitting upstairs in my office, working on my novel when the room started shaking side to side. My first thought was, oh shit, Christchurch. Then ten minutes later, when the room started rocking side to side again, my thoughts moved to oh, god, no. My worst fears were confirmed shortly after, and the disbelief and grieving for a city began.

I feel blessed that I haven't lost loved ones, that my Christchurch friends are safe, although they don't feel it. Like most other Kiwis I feel amazed by their resilience and courage, and baulk at the thought of the lengthy road ahead to getting their lives back to normal and rebuilding the city. For many who have lost their loved ones, life will never be normal.

Even though Dunedin is 4 to 5 hours drive away from Christchurch, life here has changed. There has been an influx of people into the city, I have watched the headlights of the constant stream of traffic come down State Highway One each night. I imagine there is even more during the day. The supermarket shelves here are pretty empty as the food is going to those who need it most. The boys' school has seen an influx of kids from Christchurch, whose parents have whisked them away from it all, for however long. Many friends have extras staying in their baches and spare bedrooms. My forensics friends and colleagues are off to help with the daunting task of victim identification.

I am buoyed and grateful to the many people who are reaching out to Christchurch and helping, and again, the international blogging community has rallied around too, with many having donation buttons on their webpages, and some even setting up appeals.

Thanks to Margot Kinberg, from the U.S.A. at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist for setting up her Lets All Do the Write Thing raffle. Also to Penelope Todd and author Dorothee Kocks from Rosa Mira Books - Until the 7th of March they will donate all the proceeds from sales of Dorothee's ebook The Glass Harmonica to Christchurch's Mayoral Fund.

I think it's the kids' questions that make it all hit home hardest. Why did this happen Mum? Did many people die? Can it happen here? Will they rebuild the Cathedral? What happened to the fish in the big aquarium?

Lots of questions I can't answer.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Barking-Mad Book Sale

This is where, yet again, I confess my utter lack of self-control when it comes to books. Once a year the Dunedin Public Library hosts its Barking-Mad Book Sale, making space for new acquisitions, and a bit of cash to buy more. I vowed to myself that this year I would resist the temptation. We don't have enough books shelves now, so we certainly don't need more books in the house.

Come Friday I twitched and obsessed, but managed to resist - even the Friends of the Library pre-sale preview. I felt most noble and virtuous.

Then, ahem, Saturday came, and I happened to have an hour to spare in town, and, um, er...

Unsolved -Classic true Crime Cases
Crime in New Zealand by Greg Newbold
Convicted - Forensic science catching killers in new Zealand and Australia
Epitaph II
Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
Rosetta by Barbara Ewing
Dream Fish Floating by Karlo Mila
The Faber Book of Science ed. John Carey
The Encyclopaedia of Coloured Pencil Techniques
The Encyclopaedia of Wood Working Techniques
History of Children's Costume by Marion Sichel
Costume Reference 2 - Tudors and Elizabethans by Marion Sichel
Dime Pentacube Puzzles - an approach to thinking in three dimensions
Land Issues in the Pacific
Rocks, Shells, Fossils, Minerals & Gems
The Spiders of New Zealand Part II by R.R. Forster & C.L.Wilton

There you go, an eclectic mix!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hitting the groove.

Despite all the excitement of a new book out, and then having it debut as the Number 1 Bestseller, this has been a damn good writing week. Hence my absence from life - I've been working, people.

I haven't been blogging.
I sure as hell haven't done any house work.
I've neglected the laundry (although had to resort to washing when Mr Nine-Year Old informed me he had no clean underwear!)
Even the cat's looking disgruntled.
I've been writing.
Writing, writing, writing.

Feels good.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bound - Number 1 Bestseller!!!!!

This week's bestseller lists are out and Bound has debuted at Number 1 on the New Zealand fiction list!

Very, very happy author.

Break out the bubbles...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Of news and reviews

It's been a hectic kind of a week, and I have been terribly quiet on the blogging front. Fortunately other media have been making up for my silence and Bound has been getting plenty of good publicity. So far the reviews have been great, which is a relief, because I really was uncertain of how this book would be received. So after a few good uns I'm finally starting to relax.

Craig Sisterson from the excellent Crime Watch blog wrote a fun article for the Weekend herald which is now up on their website here. He also makes reference to his recent acquisition of the February issue of The Australian Woman's Weekly, which features a two page interview with moi.

There have also been a couple of reviews on national radio.

Graham Beattie reviewed Bound on Critical mass with Jim Mora. The podcast is available here.

Bound was also reviewed by Louise O'Brien, which can be listened to here.

Tomorrow is Write On Radio Show day, and Dunedin writer Tania Roxborogh will be interviewing me, to avoid me having to do a monologue droning on about my own book. The show is at noon. My first guest is Helen Leach, talking about her new book From Kai to Kiwi Kitchen, then Tania will do her thing asking me the questions for a change! The show is live streamed from the Toroa Radio Website.

And what else did I do today?

Was Mum.
Wrote 1000 words on the new novel.
Pre-recorded the Tania interview.
Went to a New Zealand Book Month meeting to organise two schools events.
Made plum jam.
Two loads of washing...then it rained.
Rang my mum.

I'm tired now.

Night, night.