Yesterday I went to Freemans Bay in Auckland to record a “Talking Books” podcast for the Book Council. It was about the shortlist for the 2015 Ngaio Marsh award for best NZ crime novel. The panel was Graham Beattie of Beattie’s Book Blog and Stephanie Jones who reviews books for Coast. I was the chair. Also present as an observer: Catriona Ferguson, the Book Council’s energetic CEO. (Spookily, Stephanie and Catriona both attended the editing workshop I gave for the Auckland Writers’ Festival some years ago when Kelly Ana Morey sat in the back row. Read all about it.)
The engineer for the podcast was Phil Yule who is a legend: it was quietly a thrill to be in a recording studio with him again.
We three talked about the five shortlisted novels: Fallout by Paul Thomas, Five Minutes Alone by Paul Cleave, Swimming In The Dark by Paddy Richardson, The Children’s Pond by Tina Shaw and The Petticoat Men by Barbara Ewing – or at least Stephanie and Graham did. I edited three of those books so was constrained in what I could say, and also as chair I always feel that one should, as far as possible, shut up and stay out of the way. So I did. The others were great – Graham is an old pro and Stephanie is young, startlingly articulate and had clearly thought about the books a lot. I wish all book reviewers were like her.
Afterwards I went for lunch with the usual suspects: three poets, two novelists and one magazine books/arts editor. Literary gossip and bawdiness ensued. These literary lunches are all I miss about Auckland.
Tomorrow I go to the second meeting this year of the Wintec Press Club, which stars guest speakers Mihingarangi Forbes and Annabelle Lee, both formerly of Maori TV. Forbes was a presenter at Native Affairs and Lee was producer. Should be a lively session, even by the Wintec Press Club’s elevated standards.