Auckland Writers & Readers Festival Writers: Past and Future

ARTS, Books
Highlights from The Lumière Reader’s past coverage of writers speaking at the forthcoming Auckland Writers & Readers Festival.

Steve Braunias

The Braunias Interview (Tom Fitzsimons, interview, 2007)
“You can’t be frightened of people. You’re not in journalism to make friends.” His columns, he writes, have, “imagined different kinds of maps of New Zealand—of the things and pleasures that are right in front of us, that tell almost a secret history of the place, that maybe even reveal an emotional truth about the place.” Read More

Eleanor Catton

Eleanor Catton on The Rehearsal (Brannavan Gnanalingam, interview, 2012)
“What happened to me with The Rehearsal [was] I wrote what is now the first monologue in an evening, and that presented a stylistic gambit, that I produced from somewhere. The words just fell out, or they arranged themselves in that way. It’s not something that exists that you can excavate, it’s something you’re building, the more you stick to it, the more momentum it gains.” Read More

Hamish Clayton

Hamish Clayton on Wulf (Brannavan Gnanalingam, interview, 2012)
“I like writers who have this cinematic quality—Ondaatje, Lloyd Jones at times, people who had that lyrical quality to their writing. There’s this sumptuous beauty in the words, but they’re also putting something right up there.” Read More

Alyx Duncan

Home Truths with Alyx Duncan (Tim Wong, interview, 2012)
“Of course, part of the beauty of cinema is that you’re capturing life, and so you need to be able to realise that something amazing is happening, and that you should capture it.” Read More

Annie Goldson

Annie Goldson on An Island Calling (Brannavan Gnanalingam, interview, 2008)
“I’m always drawn to incidents that if unpacked, reveal a lot about a moment and a culture, and I felt this was one of them.” It was “emotional and exhausting dealing sensitively with the families but also pursuing what one thinks needs inclusion in such a film.” Read More

Paula Green

Making Lists for Frances Hodgkins (Amy Brown, review, 2007)
The specific images in Green’s opening poems (“Our garden is on the edge / of falling, plunging away from us / in this moment of departure”) apply both the potential and the restrictions of painting—colour, perspective, light—to her words. Read More

An Interview with Paula Green (Joan Fleming and Sarah Jane Barnett, interview, 2008)
“While my writing may reflect certain darknesses, I do not primarily engage in a poetry of the negative. My use of colour comes from my subconscious in some mysterious way but is open to after shocks.” Read More

Charlotte Grimshaw

Opportunity (Laura Fergusson, review, 2007)
The overall effect is a cross section of Auckland, an exploration of intertwined lives and the unexpected impact each of us has on the experience of those around us. Read More

Renee Liang

Renee Liang on Lantern (Alexander Bisley, interview, 2009)
“The majority of New Zealanders come from a migration background, if you think about it, and there are so many amazing histories out there. They’re all stories that need to be explored for us to really build a sense of ourselves as New Zealanders.” Read More

Bill Manhire

Paula Green on Bill Manhire (Amy Brown, interview, 2007)
“I feel that poetry has its life on the page, but it also has its life in the air. When you get to hear Bill Manhire read “Hotel Emergencies,” it lifts you! For me, once you hear a poem read by the poet who wrote that poem, whenever you then read it for yourself, it’s like putting on an album. I’ve got that poet’s voice in my ear.” Read More

Don McGlashan

Don McGlashan & Seven Sisters (Simon Sweetman, review, 2007)
He should, by virtue of doing his own thing, go without comparison (though it’s meant sincerely as a compliment) but there are only three other songwriters working in and around the country who could, on any given night, throw out a setlist that could compare. Read More

Paula Morris

Trendy but Casual (Amy Brown, review, 2007)
Morris’s contempt for the celebrity-obsessed and belief in the healing power of literary classics is gently pushed throughout the novel and is, in the end, the factor which makes this a parody rather than genuine chick-lit. Read More

Ten Questions for Paula Morris (Amy Brown, interview, 2007)
“Some academics or critics may want to guard the borders of our national literature, but I don’t know if New Zealand readers care that much: we’re used to reading books set in other countries. Nobody would demand that Peter Jackson only film New Zealand stories, or accuse him of being cynical or unpatriotic for choosing to adapt The Lovely Bones, for example. Writers should have the same artistic freedom.” Read More

Interesting Tension: Observations from the Intellectual Brothel (Paula Morris, essay, 2007)
“Novelists write novels and reviewers write reviews; paranoia and personal attacks stifle both. Good novels have a longer life than bad novels, a longer life than good or bad reviews. We must publish and be damned.” Read More

Sue Orr

Etiquette for a Dinner Party (Sarah Jane Barnett, review, 2008)
Orr’s quiet but sharp observations of human behaviour and addictive dialogue make the characters likeable, even when the reader may not want to like them. Read More

Sylvie Simmons

I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen (Saradha Koirala, review, 2013)
Through a combination of letters and interviews with the man himself, his muses, companions, producers, and family members, Simmons provides us with a comprehensive back-story to so many of the famous Cohen songs and myths. Despite its length, this is a well constructed biography, with Simmons’s own touches of Cohenesque poetics capturing the mood of the protagonist. When describing a young Leonard Cohen arriving at the Penn Terminal Hotel: “A New York noir movie of a hotel, it was cheap and it looked it: dark brown brick, dark narrow corridors, an elevator just big enough for a man and a corpse.” Read More

Ian Wedde

Chinese Opera (Jolene Williams, review, 2009)
The blurb promised big things. Strange things. Things that would test boundaries of expectation. Like its musical equivalent, Chinese Opera proved suited for a very specific, very flexible, readership… The novel is coloured by unusual, if not incongruous characters: the unnervingly polite Dr. Smiles, body-part pirates, Asian heavies and an enigmatic Chinese opera singer…Wedde’s world is alive and eccentric. Read More

Peter Wells

Iridescence: Peter Wells (Melody Nixon, review, 2006)
We are left with a sense of how Wells might be as a person, and with a glimpse of his current work-in-progress. Our questions about writing, about identity issues and about the merits of scandal are left hanging and frustrated. Read More

Penny Ashton

A Hot Pink Interview (Renee Liang, interview, 2008)
“To sound all Hallmark, feel the fear and do it anyway… When I went to Edinburgh I felt like I was jumping off a cliff and I wasn’t entirely sure my parachute was attached.” Read More

The 2013 Auckland Writers & Readers Festival runs from May 15-19 at the Aotea Centre.