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Writing tips

A friend who helps me with the garden asked yesterday if I could give her some tips for writing a children’s story. ‘A chapter book,’ she said. I have never written a chapter book for children, but I made suggestions which have been made to me over the years and which seem to work whether... Continue Reading →

Festival season continues

This seems to be the season for writers’ festivals. I’m just back from a lovely day at Featherston, speaking to a lively group there. And just before that was in Christchurch, receiving the NZSA Heritage Literary Award for Fiction! Harbouring won which was a thrill for me. Now the Verb Festival is about to launch... Continue Reading →

Godwits return

The godwits have arrived back in New Zealand. I love it that any church bells still surviving in Christchurch ring out when the first godwits arrive  from Alaska – usually in Rocking Horse Bay. Some years ago Laughton and I were transfixed, as were many New Zealanders, by the story, of a returning godwit which... Continue Reading →

Recharging

I’ve been on tour promoting Harbouring these last few weeks. First a couple of appearances at the large Auckland Writers’ Festival and then, at the other end of the scale but just as exciting, at the Central Hawkes Bay Festival. My gig was at the amazing Gwavas Homestead out in the country far from towns.... Continue Reading →

Writers & Readers Festivals

It seems this is the season for writers’ Festivals. I have four appearances lined up between now and the end of the year. The first is the mighty Auckland Writers’ Festival this week. I will be appearing on Thursday 25th in the gala opening at 7 pm and the next day Friday at 11 am... Continue Reading →

The New Zealand death

Driving back from Upper Hutt recently after one of our many storms I marvelled at the way the usually placid Hutt River was bank-to-bank, rushing muddily toward the sea. Harbouring mentions some of those floods back when there were no stop banks to regulate the flow. In the early days death by drowning was known... Continue Reading →

Parrots

This morning a family of five kākā were squabbling outside my window. Boy they were loud. There didn’t seem to be a fight on. Or sex. Just pure joy, it seemed, at making a racket. When we came to this house almost fifty years ago kākā were never seen or heard. They are large, browny... Continue Reading →

Four Denniston Rose Songs

Near the end of The Denniston Rose novel are the words of a song about her. I called it a West Coast Ballad  by ‘Anon’ but actually I made it up. At the launch the family sang it to music Laughton had composed in Victorian style. Bill Manhire (my creative writing tutor) was at the... Continue Reading →

Names

Naming places can be a very important way of claiming ownership. The New Zealand Company when they arrived in Port Nicholson in 1840 busily set about naming every bay, hill, beach and rise. When it seemed the town which is now Wellington was going to be settled at Petone (Pito One in those days, the... Continue Reading →

Stony ground

Today I planted a taupata seedling out on the park. First I used a sledgehammer to make an indentation in the rock below my fence. Then I added soil and mulch and lovingly planted the shiny-leaved little thing, staking it and piling some rocks back on to guard against the ferocious wind – and the... Continue Reading →

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