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Back from Australian Book launch

The last ten days have been hectic.  The Sydney BAD festival was very enlightening and I enjoyed each of the sessions andmeeting the very different authors. Our session went well..although I did disagree somewhat on what is a NZ book…..I dont think it is totally about setting….does a kiwi or a toi toi or a flax bush..or even a NZ author make this a kiwi book…I think there is more..what is the culture….what makes this place tick….that seals the deal for me.

When I first returned to NZ after living overseas for over 20 years, I knew the scenery..the mountains, the lakes the ferns and animals, but I didnt know the people anhy more….the culture ( customs, ideas and social behaviour) had changed significanlty and that meant I couldnt capture the authentic thoughts of the characters!!   I knew more about Australian culture,…which to my mind essentially hadnt remained patriachial, white and western.  I recall a friend of mine telling me when she was working with Indigenous australians when “closing the Gap” was the social catchcry over an almost ten year period….she was asked by one old fella… “what part of the gap are you closing?”

All I can say is thank goodness NZ has was colonial, white centred and frankly, boring which was why I left all those years ago. Now we are developing into a rich and vibrant country that is nourishing, inclusive and pure NZ. …we arent quite yet the entwined and strong rope that Whiti Ihemara wants for us…but the strands are being woven and I am happy with that.

We all agreed that there is no competition between authors..even though the arena of finding a publisher is very challenging…we are all writers of very different characters and stories and there is room for all of us.  I was particularly interested in the session on Why First Nations dont Write Crime. This is because I have an Australian Indigenous character in my novels, and also because i have worked with indigenous communities in remote areas when I was a nurse.  The answer from one of the indigenous panel members was heartrendering simple. We dont write fictional crime because we are constantly exisitng in a world where crimes surround us and social injustice are perpetrated against us from the time we are born, they happen to us every minute of the day….why would we write fiction!!

The NO referendum vote is a sad indictment and i suspect every indigenous person is feeling overwhelemingly dejected.  The other hard hitting message from one of the speakers was the use of the word resilient..a word bandied about but rather meaningless is this unstable world of climate change. The speaker argued that Indigenous people dont want to be them all it means is..punch me down, kick me, dispossess me..and you want me to get up and face you so you can have another go…no…we want to thrive..we dont want to be resilient..

I swear I will never use this word again without thinking of that very moving session.


On the second day I read out part of my book..and I will admit….my oral reading skills need improving.  But here is three minutes of For Reasons of their Own.

Crime Fiction and Fact

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