Event with H. G. Parry today – 22nd July

Catalogue link: Hannah Parry's A Radical Act of Free Magic

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that we will be hosting an event with Hannah Parry, in conversation with Casey Lucas-Quaid, to celebrate the launch of her latest novel A Radical Act of Free Magic.

Facebook event for Hannah Parry, in conversation with Casey Lucas-Quaid

Where? Te Awe Library, 29 Brandon Street

When? Thursday 22nd July at 6pm

Event on Facebook

Hannah's website
Hannah Parry

The internationally acclaimed and hugely popular H. G. Parry is truly a star of the New Zealand speculative fiction scene. Her first novel, The unlikely escape of Uriah Heep, quickly gained her a devoted fan base with its Wellington setting and magical host of characters. She has since followed up with A declaration of the rights of magicians, and we’re looking forward to the forthcoming A radical act of free magic — which advanced reviews have already described as “absolutely superb”.

Hannah holds a PhD in English Literature from Victoria University and currently lives in a book-infested flat on the Kapiti Coast, which she shares with her sister and an increasing menagerie of small animals. She lists her hobbies as: books, travelling, history, rabbits, tea, windy days, and Oxford commas (hooray!).

Casey Lucas-Quaid
Casey Lucas-Quaid

H.G. Parry will be in conversation with fellow science fiction and fantasy author, Casey Lucas-Quaid, winner of the 2020 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Short Story (as well as ice hockey reporter, games writer and NaNoWriMo devotee).

It promises to be an entertaining, enlightening, enthralling, and unmissable event, so put it in your calendar and come along!

Browse Hannah’s books:

The unlikely escape of Uriah Heep / Parry, H. G.
“For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob – a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life – hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing. There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A declaration of the rights of magicians / Parry, H. G.
“A sweeping tale of revolution and wonder in a world not quite like our own. It is the Age of Enlightenment — of new and magical political movements, from the necromancer Robespierre calling for revolution in France to the weather mage Toussaint L’Ouverture leading the slaves of Haiti in their fight for freedom, to the bold new Prime Minister William Pitt weighing the legalization of magic amongst commoners in Britain and abolition throughout its colonies overseas. But amidst all of the upheaval of the early modern world, there is an unknown force inciting all of human civilization into violent conflict. And it will require the combined efforts of revolutionaries, magicians, and abolitionists to unmask this hidden enemy before the whole world falls to darkness and chaos.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A radical act of free magic : a novel / Parry, H. G.
“The Concord has been broken, and a war of magic engulfs the world. In France, the brilliant young battle-mage Napoleon Bonaparte has summoned a kraken from the depths, and under his command, the Army of the Dead have all but conquered Europe.  In Saint Domingue, Fina watches as Toussaint Louverture navigates these opposing forces to liberate the country.But there is another, even darker war being fought beneath the surface: the first vampire war in hundreds of years. The enemy blood magician who orchestrated Robespierre’s downfall  to bring about a return to dark magic to claim all of Europe. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Find Casey’s work in…

Year’s best Aotearoa New Zealand science fiction & fantasy. V2
“Ancient myths go high-tech a decade after the New New Zealand Wars. Safe homes and harbours turn to strangeness within and without.Splintered selves come together again – or not. Twelve authors. Thirteen stories. The best short science fiction and fantasy from Aotearoa New Zealand in 2019. With works by: Juliet Marillier, Nic Low, Rem Wigmore, Andi C Buchanan, Octavia Cade, A.J. Fitzwater, Nicole Tan, Melanie Harding-Shaw, Alisha Tyson, James Rowland, Zoë Meager, and Casey Lucas.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Flight, model aircraft, drones and more

Flight and our ability to put ourselves up in the atmosphere is both an inspirational topic, but also one that can allow for such a mastery and level of skill that it intrigues expert hobbyists. If you are this hobbyist, the list of books below can help you take your hobbies to a new height, or even turn your abilities to a new challenge.

Whether your passion is constructing model plane kits, crafting your own radio control plane, drone photography or even model rockets — there’s something here for every flight hobbyist. And if you’d like to watch your plane taking off and gliding in the air, compete with  professional RC racers, or just find some like-minded flight enthusiasts, make sure to also visit the website of our local Wellington Model Aeroplane Club.


Model aircraft aerodynamics / Simons, Martin
“Presents standard aerodynamic theory, as applied to model flight, in a concise and practical form. An excellent introduction to aerodynamics not only for model flying enthusiasts but also for those concerned with full-scale light and ultralight aircraft and sailplanes, remotely piloted surveillance and research aircraft, wind surfers and land yachts, and the designers of wind turbines. Revised and updated to reflect significant developments in model aircraft. 4th ed.” (Catalogue)

Modelling scale aircraft / Green, Brett
“Brett Green, one of the hobby’s leading names, provides a comprehensive introduction to all of the basic techniques and materials needed to build scale aircraft, from opening the kit box to displaying the finished model, all in one clear and easy-to-follow expert guide. The many detailed photographs with step-by-step captions and the accessible and informative text cover every aspect of aircraft kit construction, from initial preparation through all stages of assembly to detailed finishing. This is an essential resource for any aviation modeller.” (Catalogue)

Drones : teach an Arduino to fly / McGriffy, David
“Make: Drones will help the widest possible audience understand how drones work by providing several DIY drone projects based on the world’s most popular robot controller-the Arduino. The information imparted in this book will show Makers how to build better drones and be better drone pilots, and incidentally it will have applications in almost any robotics project. Why Arduino? Makers know Arduinos and their accessories, they are widely available and inexpensive, and there is strong community support. Open source flight-control code is available for Arduino, and flying is the hook that makes it exciting, even magical, for so many people. Arduino is not only a powerful board in its own right, but it’s used as the controller of most inexpensive 3d printers, many desktop CNCs, and the majority of open source drone platforms.” (Catalogue)

Modelling the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A, F and G / Coughlin, Geoff
“The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 is regarded as one of the best fighters of World War II. Designed by Kurt Tank, it first saw combat in the summer of 1941 and went on to be produced in several variants. It remains a hugely popular subject for aviation scale-modellers. This book, the first of two to cover the Fw190, provides a detailed, step-by-step guide to modelling the Fw 190’s A, F and G variants in 1/72, 1/48, and 1/32 scale. Key aspects such as creating mottled camouflage patterns, undercarriage and cockpit detailing, final weathering and finishing, and diorama bases to display your models are covered.” (Catalogue)

Above the world : earth through a drone’s eye.
“Very rarely does a new technology level a playing field in an art form, allowing unknown talents to share headlines with established artists. Drones are one of these great equalizers. With this book, we are shining a spotlight on some of the world’s best aerial photography. The subjects of those showcased range from a volcanic eruption to the abstract patterns of fish farms as seen from above, and from never-before-seen views of Patagonia to powerful impressions of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Above the World is an ode to the beauty of the aerial image as it can be seen and captured by anyone. Let yourself be inspired.” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

The Airfix book of scale modelling / Mock, Jonathan
“Produced in full collaboration with Airfix and Humbrol, this book explains how to build scale models to suit all levels of modelling skill. With full colour photography throughout, different kits in a range of scales are reviewed and evaluated, along with a comprehensive overview of the paints and accessories that are available.” (Catalogue)

Great to share with family:

The flying machine book : build and launch 35 rockets, gliders, helicopters, boomerangs, and more / Mercer, Bobby
“Shows readers how to turn rubber bands, paper clips, straws, plastic bottles, and index cards into amazing, gravity-defying flyers. Each project contains a material list and detailed step-by-step instructions with photos. Mercer also includes explanations of the science behind each flyer, including concepts such as lift, thrust, and drag, the Bernoulli effect, and more”–Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

50 model rocket projects for the evil genius / Harper, Gavin D. J
“Plans, diagrams, schematics, and lists of parts and tools for model rocket projects.” (Catalogue)

Graphic novels for NZ Music Month

One of my favourite things about the art of comics is how they depict sound. Since the medium is completely mute, comic artists have to come up with novel visual tricks to portray music.

In Ed Piskor’s Hip-Hop Family Tree, the colouring will go into a shaky ‘double-vision’, giving the panel the disorienting effect of looking at a 3D movie without the glasses, to depict the rattling bass of a sound system. In Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Phonogram, music fans called ‘phonomancers’ turn pop songs into magic spells to illustrate (without music) that feeling of power and invincibility you get from listening to your favourite song.

It seems more and more comic artists are going to bat for this technical challenge, as the graphic novel music biopic has become a popular subgenre in the 2010s. Sitting somewhere between documentary and written biography, it allows artists to exaggerate and caricature the details of an artist’s career. Mike Allred’s pop-art inspired drawing style is a perfect match for his most recent work Stardust, rayguns & moonage daydreamswhich gives David Bowie a cosmic career odyssey worthy of the work that he put into building the myth of Ziggy Stardust. Similarly, The Fifth Beatle sees the Fab Four through the eyes of their humble manager Brian Epstein; the comic’s colouring accentuates the efforts Epstein went through to take four lads with the marks of musical greatness from the grey pallor of Liverpool to the bright shiny vistas of international stardom. The graphic novel biography makes bands and artists seem larger than life in a way that photographs or concert films can sometimes struggle to capture.

From the mega-pop stars, to the unsung heroes of music history, to the fans that keep the passion burning, there’s a graphic novel for every audience in our collection!


The complete Phonogram / Gillen, Kieron
“Collected in a single volume for the first time, the first critically beloved work from the creators of The Wicked + the Divine. Includes RUE BRITANNIA, THE SINGLES CLUB and THE IMMATERIAL GIRL, with RUE BRITANNIA coloured for the first time. The world where Music Is Magic has never looked better.” (Catalogue)

Hip hop family tree [2] : 1981-1983 / Piskor, Ed
“The second instalment of this acclaimed graphic novel hip-hop history (originally serialized on the popular website Boingboing) covers the years 1981-1983. Hip Hop has made a big transition from the parks and rec rooms to downtown clubs and vinyl records. The performers make moves to separate themselves from the paying customers by dressing more and more flamboyant until a young group called RUN-DMC comes on the scene to take things back to the streets.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The fifth Beatle : the Brian Epstein story / Tiwary, Vivek J.
“The Fifth Beatle is the untold true story of Brian Epstein, the visionary manager who discovered and guided The Beatles — from their gigs in a tiny cellar in Liverpool to unprecedented international stardom. Yet more than merely the story of “The Man Who Made The Beatles,” The Fifth Beatle is an uplifting, tragic, and ultimately inspirational human story about the struggle to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Brian himself died painfully lonely at the young age of thirty-two, having helped The Beatles prove through “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” that pop music could be an inspirational art form. He was homosexual when it was a felony to be so in the United Kingdom, Jewish at a time of anti-Semitism, and from Liverpool when it was considered just a dingy port town.” (Catalogue)

Blue in green / V, Ram
“The dark and haunting portrayal of a young musician’s pursuit of creative genius — the monstrous nature of which threatens to consume him as it did his predecessor half a century ago. From creators Ram V (Grafity’s Wall, These Savage Shores) and Anand RK (Grafity’s Wall). BLUE IN GREEN is an exploration of ambitions, expectations, and the horrific depths of their spiraling pursuit.” (Catalogue)

Bowie : stardust, rayguns & moonage daydreams / Allred, Mike
BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams chronicles the rise of Bowie’s career from obscurity to fame; and paralleled by the rise and fall of his alter ego as well as the rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust. As the Spiders from Mars slowly implode, Bowie wrestles with his Ziggy persona. The outcome of this internal conflict will change not only David Bowie, but also, the world.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Gunning for hits. music thriller / Volume 1, Slade : / Rougvie, Jeff
“In the 80’s NYC music business, Martin Mills, a record company talent scout, jumps at the chance to make a comeback album with his favorite rock legend. When it goes sideways, Martin is forced to use deadly skills from his past” (Catalogue)

Redbone : the true story of a Native American rock band / Staebler, Christian
“Brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas were talented Native American rock musicians that took the 1960s Sunset Strip by storm. Determined to control their creative vision and maintain their cultural identity, they eventually signed a deal with Epic Records in 1969. But as the American Indian Movement gained momentum the band took a stand, choosing pride in their ancestry over continued commercial reward. Created in cooperation with the Vegas family, authors Christian Staebler and Sonia Paoloni with artist Thibault Balahy take painstaking steps to ensure the historical accuracy of this important and often overlooked story of America’s past. Part biography and part research journalism, Redbone provides a voice to a people long neglected in American history.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Total jazz / Blutch
“In these freewheeling short stories, vignettes, and sketches that originally appeared in Jazzman magazine, the famed French cartoonist examines not only the genre and its creators but the nature of the subculture. The grumpy festival-goer, the curmudgeonly collector, the anxious auditioner, and many others are his targets. As improvisional as Coltrane and Mingus, Blutch captures the excitement of live performance and of creating and listening to music.” (Catalogue)

Topp : promoter Gary Topp brought us the world / Collier, David
“As with all of Collier’s work, his latest graphic novel is a combination of memoir and biography. This time, he explores his involvement in the cultural landscape of Toronto in the 1970s and 80s, specifically focusing on the life of Gary Topp, a concert promoter and founder of the pioneering Canadian repertory cinema. Topp emerged from an immigrant background, abandoned the family textile business, and became an influential figure in the lives of an entire community. He was also Collier’s first boss and mentor. Though outspoken and opinionated, Gary Topp inspired love and devotion, not only in those who worked for him, but also in the acts he booked — including the Ramones, The Police, and the Dixie Chicks. This graphic novel looks at a rapidly disappearing past and uses Topp’s ability to see beyond the mainstream for a look at where our culture is heading.” (Catalogue)

Please, sir, I want some more? New fiction additions in May

Please, sir, I want some more

Charles Dickens from Oliver Twist

Below you’ll find some of our picks of the newly added fiction titles, including a timely modern-day reimagining by Keisha Bush of Charles Dickens’ Oliver TwistNo heaven for Good Boys, set in Senegal. Drawn from real life events, the novel, like its inspiration, explores the links between extreme poverty, cruelty and exploitation and the power of small, tender acts of kindness. It’s all very unsurprisingly Dickensian and sadly shows that whilst time moves on, in many ways human cruelty will always be there — a poignant and moving work.

Other highlights this month include The Great British Bake Off’s Mel Giedroyc‘s debut novel — The best things — about a family who lose everything financially only in turn to find themselves. The book is  loosely based on Mel’s own personal experiences. Also this month on our list is bestselling author Mike Gayle’s latest outing — All the lonely people — which looks set to be another very popular book from  the author of Turning forty.

Brother sister mother explorer : a novel / Figueroa, Jamie
“In the tourist town of Ciudad de Tres Hermanas, in the aftermath of their mother’s passing, two siblings spend a final weekend together in their childhood home. Seeing her brother, Rafa, careening toward a place of no return, Rufina devises a bet: if they can make enough money performing for privileged tourists in the plaza over the course of the weekend to afford a plane ticket out, Rafa must commit to living. If not, Rufina will make her peace with Rafa’s own plan for the future, however terrifying it may be. As the siblings reckon with generational and ancestral trauma, set against the indignities of present-day prejudice, other strange hauntings begin to stalk these pages: their mother’s ghost kicks her heels against the walls; Rufina’s vanished child creeps into her arms at night; and above all this, watching over the siblings, a genderless, flea-bitten angel remains hell-bent on saving what can be saved.” (Catalogue)

The best things / Giedroyc, Mel
“Sally Parker is struggling to find the hero inside herself. All she wants to do is lie down. Her husband Frank has lost his business, their home and their savings, in one fell swoop. Their bank cards are being declined. The children have gone feral. And now the bailiffs are at the door. What does an ordinary woman do when the bottom falls out? Sally Parker is about to surprise everybody, most of all herself.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

All the lonely people / Gayle, Mike
“In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship and fulfilment. But Hubert Bird is lying. The truth is day after day drags by without him seeing a single soul. Until, that is, he receives some good news – good news that in one way turns out to be the worst news ever, news that will force him out again, into a world he has long since turned his back on. Now Hubert faces a seemingly impossible task: to make his real life resemble his fake life before the truth comes out.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The vanishing half / Bennett, Brit
“The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

No heaven for good boys : a novel / Bush, Keisha
“Six-year-old Ibrahimah loves snatching pastries from his mother’s kitchen, harvesting string beans with his father, and searching for sea glass with his sisters. But when he is approached in his rural village one day by Marabout Ahmed, a seemingly kind stranger and highly regarded teacher, the tides of his life turn forever. Ibrahimah is sent to the capital city of Dakar to join his cousin Tienne in studying the Koran under Marabout Ahmed for a year, but instead of the days of learning that Ibrahimah’s parents imagine, the young boys, called Talib, are forced to beg in the streets in order to line their teacher’s pockets. To make it back home, Tienne and Ibrahimah must help each other survive both the dangers posed by their Marabout, and the darker sides of Dakar: threats of black-market organ traders, rival packs of Talib, and mounting student protest on the streets. Drawn from real incidents and transporting readers between rural and urban Senegal.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Continue reading “Please, sir, I want some more? New fiction additions in May”

New science fiction and fantasy titles

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

Robert Louis Stevenson

This month’s science fiction and fantasy showcase features five-time Nebula award-winner Greg Bear‘s latest epic historical fantasy novel, The unfinished land, which evokes the seafaring spirit of Robert Louis Stevenson’s work. Also included this month is The burning god — the fantastic finale to R. F. Kuang’s acclaimed Poppy war trilogy, partly inspired by 20th century Chinese history. On a much stranger and weirder note, Nino Cipri’s Finna sees carnivorous furniture running amok and elderly customers slipping through portals in a box furniture store to find themselves ending up in other dimensions. And if Finna is your cup of tea, you should also try Grady Hendrix’s Horrorstör. Have a browse of these and other exciting new titles below!

The unfinished land / Bear, Greg
“Reynard, a young apprentice, seeks release from drudgery in the English village of Southwold. His rare days off lead him to strange encounters — not just with press gangs hoping to fill English ships to fight the coming Spanish Armada, but strangers who seem to know him — one of whom casts a white shadow. And after a fierce battle at sea, Reynard finds himself the sole survivor. For days he drifts, until he is rescued by a galleon, also lost– both are propelled by a strange current to the unknown northern island of Thule. Here Reynard must meet his destiny in a violent clash between humans and gods.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The burning god / Kuang, R. F.
“After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead. Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much – the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges – and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Finna / Cipri, Nino
“When an elderly customer at a Swedish big box furniture store — but not that one — slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but those two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago. To find the missing granny, Ava and Jules will brave carnivorous furniture, swarms of identical furniture spokespeople, and the deep resentment simmering between them. Can friendship blossom from the ashes of their relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Horrorstor, Grady Hendrix (ebook)
Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.
To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

The mask of mirrors / Carrick, M. A.
“Renata Virdaux is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadezra — the city of dreams — with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune and her sister’s future.But as she’s drawn into the aristocratic world of House Traementis, she realises her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as corrupted magic begins to weave its way through Nadezra, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled — with Ren at their heart.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The bone maker : a novel / Durst, Sarah Beth
“Twenty-five years ago, five heroes risked their lives to defeat the bone maker Eklor — a corrupt magician who created an inhuman army using animal bones. But victory came at a tragic price. Only four of the heroes survived. Since then, Kreya, the group’s leader, has exiled herself to a remote tower and devoted herself to one purpose: resurrecting her dead husband.  Maybe the dead don’t rest in peace after all. Five warriors — one broken, one gone soft, one pursuing a simple life, one stuck in the past, and one who should dead. Their story should have been finished. But evil doesn’t stop just because someone once said, “the end.”” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Remote control / Okorafor, Nnedi
“The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa—-a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past. Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks–alone, except for her fox companion–searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers. But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion? ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The swimmers / Womack, Marian
“After the ravages of the Green Winter, Earth is a place of deep jungles and monstrous animals. The last of the human race is divided into surface dwellers and the people who live in the Upper Settlement, a ring perched at the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. Bearing witness to this divided planet is Pearl, a young techie with a thread of shuvani blood, who lives in the isolated forests of Gobari, navigating her mad mother and the strange blue light in the sky. But Pearl’s stepfather promises her to a starborn called Arlo, and the world Pearl thought she knew will never be the same again.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Upright women wanted / Gailey, Sarah
“Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her — a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda. The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing. A good old-fashioned horse opera for the 22nd century. Gunslinger librarians of the apocalypse are on a mission to spread public health, decency, and the revolution” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Featherston Library events at Booktown Karukatea Festival, 6-9 May 2021

Featherston Booktown (the only book town in New Zealand Aotearoa), will soon be hosting its sixth annual book festival. We’ve had a good perusal of this year’s programme — and what a fabulous line up of authors are going to be in attendance!

This year’s festival, like previous years, is aimed at book lovers of all ages — so there should be something for everyone. Featherston Library is hosting several events as part of the Featherston Booktown event that will appeal to families, including events featuring Donovan Bixley and Kimberly Andrews.

As a special, pre-festival taster for anyone considering attending, we thought we’d spotlight below just a few of the exciting authors who will be there, as well as some of their books to whet your appetite. Other amazing authors who will be there (not featured below), include Selina Tusitala Marsh, Gavin Bishop, Rose Lu and so many more.

Joy Cowley

We honestly can’t imagine that the wonderful Joy Cowley needs any introduction, but we’ll certainly attempt to provide one!

Joy is a prolific and celebrated author of both children’s and adult books (more than 600 titles!) and a patron for many years of the Storylines Children’s Literature Foundation. In 2018 she was awarded the Order of New Zealand, and over the years Joy has been very generous with her time and appeared at a number of events at Wellington City Libraries. Joy is a resident of Featherston and in 2017 she agreed to be Featherston Booktown’s Patron.

You can watch Joy below being interviewed by Wallace Chapman on National Radio in 2018:

David Riley will also be launching his latest biography in his Wāhine Toa series about inspiring New Zealand women at the festival, and the subject is none other than Joy Cowley. More information — David Riley Joy Cowley Book Launch Event.

It’s honestly impossible for librarians to choose a single favourite Joy Cowley book, but we’ve included one of our best-loved titles below with the caveat that there are so many more to enjoy!

Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s farm / Cowley, Joy
“Tired of being washed by Mrs. Wishy-Washy, a cow, pig, and duck leave her farm and head for the city.” (Catalogue)

More from Joy Cowley

Madison Hamill

Madison Hamill is based in Wellington. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters. Her work has appeared in The Spinoff, Sweet Mammalian, Turbine Kapohau and Pantograph Punch, and you can find her book of essays Specimen : personal essays on our catalogue (and a description below).

A reading from Madison of her Specimen collection featured in our Home with Ghosts video series last year — you can watch below:

Specimen : personal essays / Hamill, Madison
“A father rollerblading to church in his ministerial robes, a university student in a leotard sprinting through fog, a trespass notice from Pak’nSave, a beautiful unborn goat in a jar… In scenarios ranging from the mundane to the surreal, Madison Hamill looks back at her younger selves with a sharp eye. Was she good or evil? Ignorant or enlightened? What parts of herself did she give up in order to forge ahead in school, church, work, and relationships, with a self that made sense to others? With wit and intelligence, these shape-shifting essays probe the ways in which a person’s inner and outer worlds intersect and submit to one another. It is a brilliantly discomfiting, vivid and funny collection in which peace is found in the weirdest moments. ‘I never felt that I was looking at fine writing – only at astonishing writing.’–Elizabeth Knox.” (Catalogue)

Rachel Kerr

Rachel Kerr is a Wellington writer who lives in Island Bay with her family. Her debut novel Victory Park was published in 2020, and she was kind enough to appear at a Newtown Library writer’s panel earlier this year (‘Writers on Newtown’).

She is studying te reo Māori, has degrees in film and creative writing, and has worked as a librarian for Te Kooti Whenua Māori and Judicial Libraries. Watch Rachel share her writing tips as part of NaNoWriMo in 2020 below:

Victory Park / Kerr, Rachel
“Kara lives in Victory Park council flats with her young son, just making a living by minding other people’s kids – her nightly smoke on the fire escape the only time she can drop her guard and imagine something better. But the truth is life is threadbare and unpromising until the mysterious Bridget moves in to the flats. The wife of a disgraced Ponzi schemer she brings with her glamour and wild dreams and an unexpected friendship. Drawn in, Kara forgets for a moment who she’s there to protect.” (Catalogue)

Ben Brown

Ben Brown was awarded the 2011 Maori Writers’ Residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre. This book’s English edition was shortlisted for the 2005 Russell Clark Award, and the Maori edition was shortlisted for LIANZA 2005 Book Award.

Ngā raukura rima tekau mā rima / Brown, Benjamin
“This is the Maori language edition of Fifty-Five Feathers. Pukeko is worried about her friend Gecko who seems to be suffering in the cold of winter. So she asks Wise Old Tree for some advice. ‘Make him a cloak of fifty-five feathers,’ she is told. So Pukeko sets out to help her friends. A delightful and beautifully illustrated story, brought to you by the author-illustrator team who produced Natural New Zealand ABC Wallchart and The Thief of Colours” (Catalogue)

Upcoming Event: Capital Crimes – Karori Mystery in the Library 9th April

Are you a fan of mysteries? The Ngaio Marsh Awards, in association with Wellington City Libraries, invites booklovers to a fun evening of criminally good conversation, featuring four acclaimed local storytellers. This is a free event.

Event details

What? A panel discussion with local authors Jennifer Lane (2018 Ngaio Marsh Award Winner, panel chair), Rajorshi Chakraborti, Helen Vivienne Fletcher, and Rodney Strong, on how they craft memorable characters and page-turning storylines, and infuse their books with real-life issues and insights into people and society

When? 6pm, Friday 9 April 2021

Where? Karori Library, 247 Karori Road, Wellington

Pictures of authors together with their book covers, superimposed over a picture of Wellington harbour

About the panel

Jennifer Lane

Catalogue link: All our secrets, by Jennifer Lane

Jennifer Lane is a copywriter, short story writer and author. Her short stories have been published in journals and magazines in New Zealand and Australia. Jennifer’s debut novel, All Our Secrets, won the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel.

Rajorshi Chakraborti

Catalogue link: Shakti, by Rajorshi Chakraborti

Rajorshi Chakraborti is a novelist, essayist and short story writer who grew up in Calcutta and Mumbai. The author of six novels, he was longlisted for the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. His latest novel Shakti is a supernatural mystery thriller set in India.

Helen Vivienne Fletcher

Catalogue link: Broken Silence, by Helen Vivienne Fletcher

Helen Vivienne Fletcher is a playwright, poet, writing teacher and children’s author. She has been shortlisted for the Joy Cowley Award, was named Outstanding Young Playwright at the Wellington Theatre Awards and was a finalist for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards.

Rodney Strong

Catalogue link: Troy's possibilities, by Rodney Strong

Rodney Strong is a Porirua author who left his day job in 2016 to follow his lifelong dream of being a writer. He has now published ten novels for children and adults, including four Ghostly Hitchhiker mysteries and three Silvermoon Retirement Village mysteries.


Don’t forget to check out our second Ngaio Marsh Awards event later in the month — A Capital Crimespree – Newtown Mystery in the Library (6pm on April 30th at Newtown Library), featuring Brannavan Gnanalingam, Dame Fiona Kidman, Sally J Morgan and New York Times bestselling writing duo Dr Judy Melinek and T.J Michell. Both events are unmissable!

Monsters in the Garden Event…. Now exclusively online

Back at the tail end of 2020 we had the very special privilege of hosting an event to celebrate the recent publication of Monsters in the Garden: An Anthology of Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy.

In attendance were four of the most accomplished writers in New Zealand who all contributed works to the anthology: Elizabeth Knox, Tina Makereti, Dylan Horrocks and Craig Gamble.

The ensuing discussions were entertaining, informative, lively and a real insight into the inner workings of these fabulous authors as well as the current status of speculative fiction in Aotearoa.

If you missed the live event or want to re-experience this fascinating conversation you can watch below.

And keep your eyes peeled on our various social media channels for future events coming in 2021. Enjoy!



Monsters in the Garden : An Anthology of Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy / Knox, Elizabeth
“Casting its net widely, this anthology of Aotearoa-New Zealand science fiction and fantasy ranges from the satirical novels of the 19th-century utopians – one of which includes the first description of atmospheric aerobreaking in world literature – to the bleeding edge of now. Spaceships and worried sheep. Dragons and AI. The shopping mall that swallowed the Earth. The deviant, the fishy and the rum, all bioengineered for your reading pleasure. Featuring stories by some of the country’s best known writers as well as work from exciting new talent, Monsters in the Garden invites you for a walk on the wild side. We promise you’ll get back safely. Unchanged? Well, that’s another question.” (Publisher’s description)

Dreamhunter / Knox, Elizabeth
“Set in 1906, Dreamhunter describes a world very similar to ours, except for a special place, known simply as the Place, where only a select group of people can go. these people are called Dreamhunters and they harvest dreams which are then transmitted to the general public for the purposes of entertainment, therapy – or terror and political coercion. Fifteen-year-old cousins Laura Hame and Rose Tiebold both come from famous dreamhunting families, but only Laura proves to be blessed with the gift and once inside the Place she finds out what happened to her missing dreamhunter father .” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The imaginary lives of James Pōneke / Makereti, Tina
‘The hour is late. The candle is low. Tomorrow I will see whether it is my friends or a ship homewards I meet. But first I must finish my story for you. My future, my descendant, my mokopuna. Listen.’ So begins the tale of James Poneke – orphaned son of a chief; ardent student of English; wide-eyed survivor. All the world’s a stage, especially when you’re a living exhibit. But anything can happen to a young New Zealander on the savage streets of Victorian London. When James meets the man with laughing dark eyes and the woman who dresses as a man, he begins to discover who people really are beneath their many guises.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Sam Zabel and the magic pen / Horrocks, Dylan
“A burned-out superhero comic artist goes on an adventure that spans time and space–with two female companions. Cartoonist Sam Zabel hasn’t drawn a comic in years. Stuck in a nightmare of creative block and despair, Sam spends his days writing superhero stories for a large American comics publisher and staring at a blank piece of paper, unable to draw a single line. Then one day he finds a mysterious old comic book set on Mars and is suddenly thrown headlong into a wild, fantastic journey through centuries of comics, stories, and imaginary worlds. (Adapted from Catalogue)

The 2020 Booker prize winner has been announced

Shuggie Bain on our Catalogue

Rain was a natural state of Glasgow. It kept the grass green and the people pale and bronchial.

Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart

The 2020 Booker prize has been won by Scottish-American author Douglas Stuart with his debut novel Shuggie Bain.  He is only the second Scot ever to have won the prize — the first being James Kelman in 1994 with his book How Late It Was, How Late, which incidentally is a book Douglas cites as having “changed his life”.

Shuggie Bain is semi-autobiographical — set in 1980s Glasgow, it deals with some weighty issues including poverty, parental alcoholism and a young boy’s struggle to come to terms with his sexuality. It’s a challenging read written in an emotionally nuanced style, but it’s ultimately also a very compassionate read. Shuggie Bain was turned down by 30 editors before finding a publisher and going on to win the Booker.

Shuggie Bain / Stuart, Douglas
“It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest.” Also available as an eBook and an Audiobook (Summary adapted from Catalogue)


Below are a few other books set in Glasgow. Enjoy!


How late it was, how late. / Kelman, James
” “How Late It Was, How Late” opens one Sunday morning in Glasgow, Scotland, as Sammy, an ex-convict with a penchant for shoplifting, awakens in a lane and tries to remember the two-day drinking binge that landed him there. Then, things only get worse. Sammy gets in a fight with some soldiers, lands in jail, and discovers that he is completely blind. His girlfriend disappears, the police probe him endlessly, and his stab at Disability Compensation embroils him in the Kafkaesque red tape of the welfare system. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The cutting room / Welsh, Louise
“An auctioneer by profession, Rilke is an acknowledged expert in antiques. When he comes upon a hidden collection of violent, and highly disturbing, erotic photographs, Rilke feels compelled to unearth more about the deceased owner who coveted them. What follows is a compulsive journey of discovery, decadence and deviousness.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

Garnethill : a novel / Mina, Denise
” There the unlucky Maureen O’Donnell wakes up one morning to discover her therapist-boyfriend dead in the living room. She now finds herself the prime suspect in his murder. Maureen O’Donnell wakes up one morning to find her therapist boyfriend murdered in the middle of her living room and herself a prime suspect in a murder case. Desperate to clear her name and to get at the truth, Maureen traces rumors about a similar murder at a local psychiatric hospital, uncovering a trail of deception and repressed scandal that could exonerate her – or make her the next victim. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Buddha Da / Donovan, Anne
“Painter and decorator Jimmy McKenna develops  an keen interest in Buddhism after a chance meeting in a Glasgow sandwich bar with a Buddhist monk, but how will Jimmy’s family react to his new found faith and how will this new approach to life change Jimmy?”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Strange loyalties. / McIlvanney, William
Strange Loyalties begins with Jack Laidlaw’s despair and anger at his brother’s death in a banal road accident. But his nagging doubts about the dynamics of the incident lead to larger questions about the nature of pain and injustice and the greater meaning of his own life. He becomes convinced there is more to his brother’s death. His investigations will lead to a confrontation with his own past and a harrowing journey into the dark Glasgow underworld.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine / Honeyman, Gail
Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything. One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook.

Pitch black / Gray, Alex
“The new DCI Lorrimer novel When Chief Inspector Lorimer returns from his holiday on the Isle of Mull, he feels a welcome sense of calm. But it doesn’t last long. Kelvin FC’s new midfielder is found brutally stabbed to death in his own home and, with his wife apprehended trying to leave the country, a seemingly straightforward new case begins.” (Catalogue)

Half of a Yellow Sun voted Winner of Winners for the Women’s Prize for Fiction

“You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?” Aunty Ifeka said. “Your life belongs to you and you alone.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in Half of a Yellow Sun

Congratulations to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose 2006 novel Half of a Yellow Sun has been voted the ‘Winner of Winners’ for the Women’s Prize for Fiction — the best book to have won the prize in its illustrious 25-year history. The book was selected by popular vote as the best work from all the 25 previous winners.

The novel, set during the Biafran war in Nigeria, explores some of the most important issues of our time — female and racial empowerment, ethnic allegiances, and the end of colonial rule. On publication, it won universal praise and shot Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to global acclaim. Widely hailed as a modern masterpiece, it was also subsequently turned into a movie.

Below is a very small selection of the twenty-five books that have won the annual award. Enjoy!


Half of a yellow sun / Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi
“This sweeping novel  is set in Nigeria in the 1960s, at the time of a vicious civil war, three main characters in the novel get swept up in the violence . One is a young boy from a poor village . The other is a young middle-class woman, Olanna. And the other is a white man, a writer who lives in Nigeria for no clear reason .As these people’s lives intersect, they have to question their own responses to the unfolding political events. This extraordinary novel is about Africa in a wider sense: about moral responsibility, about the end of colonialism, about ethnic and tribal allegiances, about class and race; and the ways in which love can complicate all of these things.” (Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook . Or to check movie availability click here.

Hamnet / O’Farrell, Maggie
“Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.  Maggie O’Farrell writes Hamnet as a luminous portrait of a marriage and at its heart the loss of a beloved child.” (Catalogue)

The tiger’s wife / Obreht, Téa
“‘ In the war-shattered Balkans, a young doctor searches for her grandfather, who has abandoned the entire family at a field hospital. To find him, she realizes that she must track down a strange character called “the deathless man,” using clues from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Sounds partly fantastical, partly rooted in realities we should attend to, and completely original. Set in war-torn Yugoslavia, ‘The Tiger’s Wife’ is a tale inspired by one woman’s experience of the never-ending violence that swept the Balkans.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

How to be both / Smith, Ali
“This is a novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths, and fictions. There’s a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance.” (Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook .

May we be forgiven / Homes, A. M
“Harolds younger brother George has it all-a fabulous job, family, and home. He also has a fabulous temper, and one day when he really loses it, he manages to lose everything else, too. Then Harold inherits a family. The forthright Homes, excellent at fractured families, makes serious readers sigh. With a five-city tour. A darkly comic novel of twenty-first-century domestic life and the possibility of personal transformation.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A spell of winter / Dunmore, Helen
“Catherine and her brother, Rob, do not know why they have been abandoned by their parents. In the house of their grandfather, “the man from nowhere,” they forge a passionate refuge for themselves against the terror of family secrets, and while the world outside moves to the brink of war, their sibling love becomes fraught with dangers. But as Catherine fights free of the past, the spell of winter that has held her in its grasp begins to break. The novel’s imagery moves between the stark, harsh winter world that Catherine loves and the summers she loathes, when the air is thick with the scent of roses and painful memories.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Small island / Levy, Andrea
” It is 1948 in an England that is still shaken by war. At 21 Nevern Street, London, Queenie Bligh takes into her house lodgers who have recently arrived from Jamaica.  Her husband, Bernard, whom she married to escape her dreary upbringing on a farm in the Midlands, was posted to India with the RAF during the war, but when the conflict was over he did not return. What else could she do?” “Among her tenants are Gilbert and his new wife Hortense. Gilbert Joseph was one of the serveral thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to fight against Hitler.” (Catalogue)

The glorious heresies / McInerney, Lisa
We all do stupid things when we’re kids. Ryan Cusack’s grown up faster than most – being the oldest of six with a dead mum and an alcoholic dad will do that for you. And nobody says Ryan’s stupid. Not even behind his back. It’s the people around him who are the problem. The gangland boss using his dad as a ‘cleaner’. The neighbour who says she’s trying to help but maybe wants something more than that. The prostitute searching for the man she never knew she’d miss until he disappeared without trace one night . . . The only one on Ryan’s side is his girlfriend Karine. If he blows that, he’s all alone. But the truth is, you don’t know your own strength till you need it.” (Adapted from Catalogue). Also available an an eBook

An American marriage : a novel / Jones, Tayari
“Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream . He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

The power / Alderman, Naomi
“In THE POWER, the world is a recognizable place: there’s a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power–they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Mikaela Nyman shares her writing hints and tips for NaNoWriMo

With NaNoWriMo now in full swing and scores of people busily writing away at various branches of our library network throughout Wellington, we thought now might be an excellent time to step back for a moment and check in with some New Zealand authors for any helpful suggestions they might have to help people on their way.

Next up, debut novelist Mikaela Nyman — author of Sado — shares her writing hints and tips for NaNoWriMo.

Sado, by Mikaela Nyman on our Catalogue

What personal tips or hints would you pass on to new writers?

I would say: just start writing to find out the nature of the beast you’re dealing with and your own writing style. Don’t overthink it in the beginning. You might be surprised where it takes you. Depending on the project and your personality you might want to do some background research first, but at the end of the day nothing will come of it, unless you start writing. Even 150 words a day is a step in the right direction. If you feel passionate about an issue that’s fertile territory to lean into and explore further. Passion can carry a writer through a lot of rough patches. If you get bored with your own text, readers are likely to pick up on it too.

Do you have any writing rituals you follow before starting writing ?

Kids off to school so I can get some peace and quiet at home. Breakfast. Coffee. Apples in the fridge. I’ve found that I can’t write in cafes, unless I bring a small notebook. With a laptop I feel too conspicuous and become very self-conscious that I’m taking up space. All these people wanting my table, glaring at the woman with the laptop who’s pretending she’s still drinking her coffee …

Are there any writing traps that people fall into you can warn them about? 

It depends on the writer’s own personality and experience. Anyone who is the “constant editor” type, compelled to go through what they’ve already written from the very beginning every day, may struggle to get to the end of a first novel draft. I find I need to get to the end to know what I’m really dealing with; what to cut out, what’s missing. Find out what time of the day produces the best writing and block that time out to write. I used to hit my stride around midnight, now I find mornings produce the sharpest prose, which is exactly when friends want to meet up for coffee. Whereas poetry writing follows its own impulses.

Are there any best practices you follow when starting to write or to keep you focussed whilst writing? 

I write most days, even if I don’t feel like it. At least I have something on the page that I can edit later or discard. I also try to give myself a real break every now and then, without having a bad conscience. Specific music can be a great way to get into the right mood and time period. Other days quiet works best. But peace and quiet is hard to come by in a family of five, where both adults work from home, so I’ve invested in headphones to shut out TV, games and kids.

Is there anything you do to keep motivated when things get bogged down strategies, approaches etc ?

I read widely, in different languages, for inspiration and to see how other writers have resolved things that I’m struggling with. I derive pleasure and satisfaction from a beautifully crafted sentence, an astounding insight, and try to hold on to the joy of writing whenever it starts to feel like a slog. Alternating between long and short fiction, non-fiction and poetry is a way to come unstuck.

We wish to thank Mikaela for her invaluable advice! Check out her novel Sado on our catalogue below:

Sado / Nyman, Mikaela
“Tropical Cyclone Pam makes landfall with devastating consequences. Vanuatu is bruised but not broken. . Cathryn is an NGO worker from New Zealand who has a ruined home, a teenage son and a Ni-Vanuatu boyfriend she hasn’t heard from since the phone lines went dead. Faia is a community organiser, a radio journalist and a survivor who fights for women to be heard. Together and apart they navigate their places in the complex cultural and social systems of Vanuatu, where tradition clashes with modern urban life.” (Catalogue)

Coming soon: award-winning author Catherine Chidgey shares her NaNoWriMo hints and tips.

For more helpful suggestions, have a read of our interview with author Breton Dukes.

Don’t forget as well, we have ‘Come Write In’ sessions happening at some of our libraries, with dedicated space set aside for NaNoWriMo writers during these sessions. Find out more on our Event Calendar.

Come Write In for NaNoWriMo

2020 Ngaio Marsh winners announced

Ngaio Marsh Awards on Facebook

Congratulations to the finalists and winners of the 2020 The Ngaio Marsh Awards!

The Ngaio Marsh Awards are presented annually and promote and celebrate excellence in crime, mystery and thriller writing by New Zealand authors.


Best Novel

This year’s winner for best novel was:

Auē, by Becky Manawatu
“Taukiri was born into sorrow. Auē can be heard in the sound of the sea he loves and hates, and in the music he draws out of the guitar that was his father’s. It spills out of the gang violence that killed his father and sent his mother into hiding, and the shame he feels about abandoning his eight-year-old brother to another violent home. But Arama is braver than he looks, and he has a friend and his friend has a dog, and the three of them together might just be strong enough to turn back the tide of sorrow. As long as there’s aroha to give and stories to tell and a good supply of plasters.” (Catalogue)

Shortlisted were:

Best First Novel

And the Best First Novel was won by:

The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald.
“Tippy Chan is eleven and lives in a small town in a very quiet part of the world – the place her Uncle Pike escaped from the first chance he got as a teenager. Now Pike is back with his new boyfriend Devon to look after Tippy while her mum’s on a cruise. Tippy is in love with her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books, especially the early ones where Nancy was sixteen and did whatever she wanted. She wants to be Nancy and is desperate to solve a real mystery. When her teacher’s body is found beside Riverstone’s only traffic light, Tippy’s moment has arrived. She and her minders form The Nancys, a secret amateur detective club. But what starts as a bonding and sightseeing adventure quickly morphs into something far more dangerous…” (Publisher description)

Shortlisted were:

We wish to extend a big congratulations to all of this year’s finalists and winners. Well done all!

We recently were lucky enough to get some of the shortlisted authors to give us some exclusive interviews and readings from the books – have a watch below:

Dance Prone and Invisible Mile author David Coventry in conversation

I was staring out a window
I was standing by the sea
Standing by the sea.

Grant Hart From Zen Arcade by Hüsker Dü


We are totally stoked to announce an exclusive interview with Dance Prone and Invisible mile author David Coventry, in conversation with his friend and fellow New Zealand musician Greg Cairns.

David had a rich and fascinating career in the New Zealand music industry before taking a right-turn and becoming an award-winning author. His first book, The Invisible Mile, is about the rigours of cycling in the Tour de France, and his second novel is about the hard core punk scene in America (you’ll hear more about this in the video). At first glance you might think these themes are poles apart, but — as David discusses — not so far apart as people may think.

In Dance prone David captures lightning in a jar by describing the psychological, physical and visceral experience of playing live in front of an audience — a remarkable feat many authors have tried and with a few notable exceptions have largely failed.

David and Greg in coversation is entertaining, insightful, wide-ranging and free form. It encompasses many topics, including David’s writing process, life on the road, and first hand recollections of legendary New Zealand bands, gigs and musicians, not to mention the genius of Husker Du.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to both David and Greg for such an entertaining, frank, and insightful behind-the-scenes conversation.

Watch the full extended  version of their discussion below:

David also put together a Dance Prone Spotify playlist.

You can catch David at his upcoming Verb Wellington Festival event on the 8th of November.

Below are just a few of the Bands and albums mentioned in the David’s  interview:


Dance prone / Coventry, David
“During their 1985 tour, two events of hatred and stupidity forever change the lives of a band’s four members. Neues Bauen, a post-hardcore Illinois group homing in on their own small fame, head on with frontman Conrad Wells sexually assaulted and guitarist Tone Seburg wounded by gunshot. The band staggers forth into the American landscape, traversing time and investigating each of their relationships with history, memory, authenticity, violence and revelling in transcendence through the act of art.” (Catalogue)

The invisible mile / Coventry, David
“The 1928 Ravat-Wonder team from New Zealand and Australia were the first English-speaking team to ride the Tour de France. From June through July they faced one of toughest in the race’s history: 5,476 kilometres of unsealed roads on heavy, fixed-wheel bikes. They rode in darkness through mountains with no light and brakes like glass. They weren’t expected to finish, but stadiums filled with Frenchmen eager to call their names. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

This is Memorial Device : an hallucinated oral history of the post-punk scene in Airdrie, Coatbridge and environs 1978-1986 / Keenan, David
This Is Memorial Device, is a love letter to the small towns of Lanarkshire in the late 1970s and early 80s.It follows a cast of misfits, drop-outs, small town visionaries and would-be artists and musicians through a period of time where anything seemed possible, a moment where art and the demands it made were as serious as your life.  Written in a series of hallucinatory first-person eye-witness accounts that capture the prosaic madness of the time and place.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ready to fly / Verlaines

Doolittle. / Pixies (Musical group)
“After 1988’s brilliant but abrasive Surfer Rosa, the Pixies’ sound couldn’t get much more extreme. Their Elektra debut, Doolittle, reins in the noise in favor of pop songcraft and accessibility. Their most accessible album, Doolittle’s wide-ranging moods and sounds make it one of their most eclectic and ambitious. A fun, freaky alternative to most other late-’80s college rock, it’s easy to see why the album made the Pixies into underground rock stars. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Horses. / Smith, Patti
“It isn’t hard to make the case for Patti Smith as a punk rock progenitor based on her debut album, which anticipated the new wave by a year or so: the simple, crudely played rock & roll, featuring Lenny Kaye’s rudimentary guitar work, the anarchic spirit of Smith’s vocals, and the emotional and imaginative nature of her lyrics — all prefigure the coming movement as it evolved on both sides of the Atlantic. Smith is a rock critic’s dream, a poet as steeped in ’60s garage rock as she is in French Symbolism.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Evol. / Sonic Youth

The last few titles are not currently available from our collection, but we hope to have them available very soon!

The Frozen Borderline, by Nico.

Land Speed Record, by Hüsker Dü.

Zen Arcade, by Hüsker Dü.

Our Exclusive Q and A with Ben Aaronovitch

This is your brain on magic.

Ben Aaronovitch

We recently approached international bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch about the possibility of doing a Q and A, very much expecting a polite ‘no’ in response. So when he kindly agreed, we were thrilled!

Thinking about how best to compile some really good questions for Ben, the answer was obvious: we would ask our library patrons to send in their questions for Ben. The questions we received ranged widely — from enquiries about the Rivers of London series, to examples of how to do research, to experiences writing for Doctor Who.

So, below we now present our interview with Ben Aaronovitch. In our opinion, he was hugely entertaining, insightful and really funny to interview and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We wish to extend our most heartfelt thanks to Ben, and of course to our users for supplying the questions. Enjoy!


False value / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Peter Grant is facing fatherhood, and an uncertain future, with equal amounts of panic and enthusiasm. Rather than sit around, he takes a job with émigré Silicon Valley tech genius Terrence Skinner’s brand new London start up – the Serious Cybernetics Company. Drawn into the orbit of Old Street’s famous “silicon roundabout”, Peter must learn how to blend in with people who are both civilians and geekier than he is. Compared to his last job, Peter thinks it should be a doddle. But magic is not finished with Mama Grant’s favourite son.” (Catalogue)

The October man / Aaronovitch, Ben
“If you thought magic was confined to one country-think again. Trier: famous for wine, Romans, and being Germany’s oldest city. When a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. But fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything. Enter Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police which handles the supernatural.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Rivers of London [3] : black mould / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Something dark and slimy is dripping through the walls of suburban London. Not the usual stuff that smells funny and can be hell on the lungs, this mould is possessed by some dark power full of bad intentions. Looks like it’s another case for London’s one and only trainee wizard cop, Police Constable Peter Grant, and his reluctant partner, Sahra Guleed.  Black Mould ties directly into the Rivers of London continuity, set between Foxglove Summer and The Hanging Tree.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Remembrance of the Daleks, Ben Aaronovitch (ebook)
“With unfinished business to attend to, the Seventh Doctor returns to where it all began: Coal Hill School in 1963. Last time he was here, the Doctor left something behind – a powerful Time Lord artefact that could unlock the secrets of time travel. Can the Doctor retrieve it before two rival factions of Daleks track it down? And even if he can, how will the Doctor prevent the whole of London becoming a war zone as the Daleks meet in explosive confrontation?” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

For more information on Ben Aaronovitch’s books visit his website. And again, a big thank you to Ben!

Everything Ben Aaronovitch on our Catalogue

The Wild Card: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Renée

This year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist is full of outstanding New Zealand novels that cover a wide range of styles and tones in stories entwined with crime, mystery, thrills, and suspense. And it is going to be a really difficult task for the judges to pick a winner.

Amongst the shortlist for this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards is New Zealand writing icon and legend Renée. Born in 1929 in Napier. After she left school age 12 Renée went on to work in a wide variety of jobs including in a dairy, as a cleaner in an Auckland’s Theatre and as a feature writer and reviewer. After completing a BA in 1979 Renée became more closely involved in community theatre and started writing for the stage. Having written so far over twenty  plays many of them featuring women in leading roles and works that often humanise working-class people.

Renée describes herself as a ‘lesbian feminist with socialist working-class ideals’ and nearly all of her written works expound these beliefs.

As well as numerous plays Renée has published nine fiction works and in 2018 was awarded the Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement. And her fascinating, funny and insightful memoir These Two Hands, initially published in 2017 has been released in a new edition with three new chapters and an index

Renée has also tutored creative writing classes and also presents an annual writing guide for those who have or have had cancer and want to write about that experience.

Astonishingly The Wild Card is her first crime novel. Ruby the female lead in The Wild Card is a strong rounded character and the plot revolves round a crime against a Māori state ward. Described by reviewers as “Superb… a gripping read that covers some brutal topics”.

We wish to extend our most heartfelt thank you to Renée for her time and such a great interview. And we wish her and his fellow shortlisted authors good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November. Enjoy!

The wild card / Renée
“Ruby Palmer has been dealt a rough hand. She was left in a kete at the back door of the Porohiwi Home for Children when she was a baby, and then at seven she discovered that Betty who stopped the bad stuff happening to Ruby at the Home has drowned. Now in her thirties, Ruby suspects her friend was murdered ¿ her only lead is a notebook that uses the symbols on playing cards to tell a story she can’t understand, but there are other clues too: the man in the balaclava who attacks her when she starts to investigate, and break-ins at the local theatre where Ruby is playing Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. As Ruby goes deeper into the mystery of Betty’s death, she starts to find answers to questions about herself that she hadn’t dared ask before. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The skeleton woman : a romance / Renée
“A baby on the doorstep, a skeleton woman biding time before the truth comes out. Rose Anthony’s life has just become much more complicated. Renee’s latest novel carries the reader on an entertaining roller coaster ride of mystery and intrigue. A rich tapestry of a tale guaranteed to keep the reader hooked from start to finish. Rose Anthony’s life has just become more complicated. There’s a baby abandoned on her doorstep, and long-kept secrets are about to fly into the open…A tightly plotted literary lesbian romance, delightfully told by New Zealand writer Renee.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Kissing shadows / Renée
“When Vivvie Caird is faced by the sight of her beautiful, strong-willed mother lying limp and speechless in a hospital bed, she feels empowered to begin unlocking the mystery that is her fathers legacy. Vivvies nave undertaking soon finds a parallel in her mothers own account of what happened when her husband left home one day, never to return. A family, and a court must confront a devastating event that occurred in the midst of the hard times of last century. This fast-paced, page-turning novel takes the reader into an absorbing and moving world of shadowy relationships and intrigue.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Wednesday to come : trilogy / Renée
” In Wednesday To Come Renee takes four women of four generations in a single family and looks at how they cope with the Great Depression of the 1930s. In Pass It On, Jeannie and Cliff, the two adolescents joined the hunger march in Wednesday to Come, have each grown up and married. Pass It On explores the very different experiences of Jeannie, the political activist, and Cliff’s wife Nell, and traces their relationship from initial distrust to a firm allegiance against the political and economic forces which threaten their families. Jeannie Once, tells the story of Jeannie’s great grandmother living in Victorian era Dunedin.” (Catalogue)

These two hands : a memoir / Renée
“Renee Paule lives in Otaki and teaches her Your Life, Your Story and her Poem a Week workshops there. This is just one version of her life, her story, told in patches, like a quilt.” (Catalogue)

 

 

And below some of the books Renée mentions in her interview.

Gaudy Night : A Lord Peter Wimsey mystery with Harriet Vane / Sayers, Dorothy L.
” The third Dorothy L. Sayers classic to feature mystery writer Harriet Vane, Gaudy Night features an introduction by Elizabeth George, herself a crime fiction master. Gaudy Night takes Harriet and her paramour, Lord Peter, to Oxford University, Harriet’s alma mater, for a reunion, only to find themselves the targets of a nightmare of harassment and mysterious, murderous threats.
Chicago Tribune ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

And then there were none / Christie, Agatha
“Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide. The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again… and again…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Artists in crime / Marsh, Ngaio
“In the movies, it’s known as a “meet cute.” But for Inspector Alleyn and Miss Agatha Troy, it’s more like irritation: On the ship back to England, she finds him tedious and dull; he thinks she’s a bohemian cliché. They may be destined for romance, but there’s a murder in the way: No sooner has Alleyn settled in to his mother’s house, eager for a relaxing end to his vacation, then he gets a call that a model has been stabbed at the artists’ community down the road. And the artistic Miss Troy is one of the community’s most prominent and outspoken members. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The mind readers / Allingham, Margery
“Sam Ferris is an ordinary English schoolboy. Well, except for a few things. One: His father is an eminent scientist, based on a military research island off the English coast. Two: Sam is about to be interviewed by a solicitor, giving evidence, in a serious legal matter, against one of his favorite teachers. And three: Sam can read minds. But there’s a four: Sam’s uncle is Albert Campion. And Sam’s story, in all its seemingly unrelated elements, gives his Uncle Albert quite a lot to be curious about. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The broken shore / Temple, Peter
” Shaken by a scrape with death, big-city detective Joe Cashin is posted away from the Homicide Squad to a quiet town on the South Australian coast. Carrying physical scars and not a little guilt, he spends his time playing the country cop, walking his dogs, and thinking about how it all was before. When a prominent local is attacked and left for dead in his own home, Cashin is thrust into a murder investigation. The evidence points to three boys from the nearby aboriginal community, whom everyone wants to blame. Cashin is unconvinced, and soon begins to see the outlines of something far more terrible than a simple robbery gone wrong.”(Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.