- Why did I want to be an illustrator?
- What is the best thing about being an illustrator?
- What is your favourite New Zealand Book?
- What do you love most about New Zealand?
- What do you love most about libraries?
I think I wanted to be a writer because I was a reader, and I wanted to be able to write a book as well as read one. It frustrated and puzzled me for a long time that writing a book seemed as if it should be so easy – but it actually it takes a lot of work on the writer’s part to make it look that easy.
There are lots of good things – can I have two? One is getting to do the best job of all, which is making stuff up and inventing places that you’d like to spend time in and characters whom you’d love to meet. The other is when someone writes or emails or comes up to tell you in person that they really liked one of your books.
Too hard! I could say any book of poetry by Jenny Bornholdt, especially The rocky shore. Also any books by wonderful NZ authors for children and young adults – too many to single out, but Fleur Beale, Mandy Hager and Jack Lasenby for starters (just to mention a few whom we are lucky to have living in and around Wellington.)
I love that we are a beautiful, free country where we can think what we like, say what we like, read what we write and write what we like. I love that we have beautiful beaches that aren’t all built up with skyscrapers and hotels. I love that we have wonderful books and great bookstores, cinemas and theatres and fabulous writers. I love that my family and friends live here, and my husband and three gorgeous daughters.
I used to be a librarian myself, and I spent hours in them as a child, so I feel very at home in libraries. Not just the libraries I use most, but any library anywhere can make you feel welcomed and belonging as soon as you walk in. I’m also grateful that I can use them to find out all sorts of information that I need for writing non fiction, and for the background to fiction as well.
Philippa Werry is a children’s writer whose non-fiction, poetry, stories and plays have been widely published, and also broadcast on National Radio. Philipp’s work has appeared in various anthologies and she has written over 100 pieces for the School Journal and other educational publishers. Her latest book is Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story (published by New Holland Publishers NZ) is a nonfiction book about Anzac Day, what it is and why it matters.
I was lucky to grow up in a family who loved books and valued reading. Although I wrote my first book when I was nine (it wasn’t very good – I’m sure many of you could do better today!) I didn’t really start writing until I had children of my own. Sharing books with them was such a delight that I decided to make my own books. I wrote and illustrated them on the kitchen table, and later mustered up the courage to send some to a publisher. It took a few years of persistence before the first one was accepted and published. Although I didn’t set out to write lots of books, once started I haven’t been able to stop. Well, not yet.
For me, it’s the pleasure of creativity. I really enjoy the process of developing an idea, or combining several, into a story that is new and original. Working with the illustrator and seeing the pages come to life with skilful artwork is also an enjoyable experience, followed by reading the finished book for the first time.
I have so many it’s hard to choose. I enjoy Joy Cowley’s warmth and surprise endings, and the delightful humour in John Parker’s Poppa McPhee Gets the Eggs. However my favourite is probably Robyn Belton’s Herbert : The Brave Seadog because it is a story with such heart and I know something of the special background to the book.
I admire the inventiveness, adaptability and creativity of New Zealanders, which I feel is a legacy of our pioneering past.
I must confess I’ve never been very good at finding my way around libraries, so what I love most is the generous response from librarians when asked “Please, can you help me…”
Jennifer Beck is the author of more than 45 children’s books. She has worked with many different illustrators, including Robyn Belton and Lindy Fisher. Her books have also won many awards, including the Elsie Locke Award and the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Award. Jennifer’s latest book is Remember That November, illustrated by Lindy Fisher.
Because I have always had a vivid imagination, and when I was small I was a real chatterbox with lots of ideas to share. Writing is sort of like talking a lot on paper.
I can put my ideas into a story and they will reach heaps and heaps of people I may never even meet! My words might make someone laugh or cry, they might even teach them something or change the way they look at the world. That’s pretty amazing.
Under the Mountain.
Oh I can’t just love one thing, I need at least two, so I’m going to cheat here. I love our beaches, and being able to swim or walk by the sea every day. I also love our own unique culture, and how much more Te Reo Maori and Maori expressions have become part of everyone’s culture.
I love being able to read lots and lots and lots of books. Is it weird to say I also love the bookish smell of libraries, yum, all those words wiggling around in their books and making their own special smell.
Melanie Drewery is an author, illustrator and artist who writes primarily for children. Koro’s Medicine was a finalist in the Picture Book Category of the 2005 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults, and the Maori translation of this title, by Kararaina Uatuku, won the 2005 Te Kura Pounamu Award. Melanie won the Picture Book section of the 2008 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults for her book Tahi: One Lucky Kiwi.
I have always loved writing. I wrote my first book when I was seven – I have it still; it’s called ‘Stories of the Little Elf’ – but it still took me quite a long time to get around to writing fiction as a job. Instead I had a range of jobs that involved editing or non-fiction writing. It wasn’t until I left full-time work to raise my kids that I really found the right space and time for writing fiction. From that moment, there was no looking back!
The very best thing is being able to spend not just hours but weeks and months following your characters through the twists and turns of their lives. It’s almost like living lots of different lives yourself.
‘The Changeover’ by Margaret Mahy. This is a perfect book: it captures the challenge and discovery of negotiating adolescence; it was one of the first novels I read set in my own country, which is highly affirming of your place in the world; and the writing is absolutely flawless.
I’ve lived in various places around the world but always knew I’d come back to New Zealand. We have beautiful and varied landscapes, we have clear air and a great climate, but we also have our own way of being. I fit in here! For better or worse, New Zealanders are outspoken, hard working, down to earth, determined. We believe anything is possible – and so we make the world that way.
The limitless possibility that lies on the shelves! I remember a moment of sorrowful realisation when I was about ten and it struck me that I would never have time to read every book in the library. I love that libraries make so much available to anyone who walks through the doors.
Anna Mackenzie is a full-time writer who writes young adult fiction. Her first novel, High Tide, was published in 2003 and her third novel, Sea-wreck Stranger, won the Young Adult Fiction Honour Award at the 2008 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Anna’s latest book, Cattra’s Legacy, is published in April by Random House New Zealand.
I’ve been writing since I was a small girl. Telling stories is just something I do and want to do and as a small child had to do. We didn’t have many books…we were poor (as many were way back then) so we wrote our own stories (and illustrated them!). We loved writing to the children’s page of the NZ Herald…and later as I grew I wrote stories for the local newspapers and various magazines.
I think the greatest fun is finding a way to tell a story in a new way or to find a new and different character. I still love the story I wrote where one of the characters in the story talks to me the writer! She gets mad because she doesn’t want to say what I want her to say! So I threaten to write her out of the story…sadly the story has never been published!
I always dislike this sort of question. I love many many books for many many different reasons. And there are SO many marvellous books written by New Zealanders.
Again I have many reasons for loving NZ. I particularly love the outdoors…our beautiful wild coastline, the lush and glorious bush, rugged mountains and hills country and the growing interest in our ‘wildlife’. I also love that we have so so many opportunities for education, sport, the arts etc. and rejoice that we can have very full and interesting lives as well as helping the less advantaged.
When I was much much younger I used to find libraries a little daunting…no longer. Libraries these days are so welcoming. The staff are wonderfully helpful and almost any book we would like to read a librarian can find it or order it for us. Libraries don’t just have books…there are CDs and now electronic readers. I have written a couple of historical fiction books and the archivists at the libraries I have visited have been wizards at finding me information. Libraries are busy friendly places. Make sure you get to know yours. The books are free as well!!
Kath Beattie is the author of two books in the My New Zealand Story series, Gumdigger and Cyclone Bola (released this month). Kath has also had her stories published in anthologies, including Dare and Double Dare and Mischief and Mayhem.
Stories are one of my favourite things in the whole world (as are books), so it made sense to me that I would enjoy writing them, and I do. I have carried the stories I read as a child with me into adulthood, and as I got older I read stories that I considered so incredibly beautiful (or moving, or sometimes funny) they were like sunsets or landscapes or other natural wonders. That’s a pretty amazing impact to have, and I wanted to give it a try. Imagine being able to create something that had that effect on another person! I haven’t managed it yet, but I’m still trying.
Writing stories. Entering, and dwelling in, the fabulous zone they come from. Playing with the words (endlessly) until they make patterns and poems on the page.
Oh, hard. For children, it’s probably Peter and the Pig by Simon Grant, because every single time I read it, I laugh. I wish I could write something that funny! For adults, anything by Patricia Grace, but then she writes wonderfully for children too.
The colour and clarity of the light, the emptiness of the sky, the smell and the air of the bush. I lived in Scotland for a while and these were the things I missed. They were in my bones and they sung to me while I was away.
How excited I feel every time I enter one. All that interest, all those stories, all that knowledge, sitting on a shelf waiting for me to find it. And knowing that I’m going to walk out the door with a book in my hand and a new possibility in my life. Libraries are portals. They should house them in a tardis.
I can’t seem to help making images. I’ve done it forever! I enjoy texture and colour and playing with it. Sometimes my images are used to illustrate children’s stories, sometimes to feature on NZ postage stamps and other times on peoples walls in their homes.
Being able to do what I love for my job and introducing other people to the fun I have so they can enjoy it too. Either using their imagination to interpret my pictures or using my techniques to make their own new ones.
Always the one I am working on or have just had published. At the moment it is “Remember that November” by Jennifer Beck.
Living by the sea on its gorgeous coast line under some pohutakawa trees.
That books are free! BUT I never want to take them back!!
Lindy Fisher is an illustrator who has created the illustrations for stories by Jennifer Beck and Dot Meharry, including Nobody’s Dog, A Present from the Past, and Remember That November.
It’s the way I best communicate and helps me to unravel all the issues that concern me.
Sharing ideas and experiences with readers – and researching lots of things that fascinate me. I also have to add the magical way that my sub-conscious can deliver up thoughts and images that I didn’t know were in my head until they suddenly present themselves!
Shonaugh Koea’s ‘Sing to me, Dreamer.’
The dry, understated kiwi humour. The environment. What Māori culture has gifted to us all.
They allow anyone who can read, listen or interpret pictures to enter new worlds through shared stories and knowledge.
Mandy Hager is an award-winning author who has written novels for young adults and adults, non-fiction resources for youth, scripts and short stories. Her books include Smashed, the Blood of the Lamb Trilogy, and her most recent book, Nature of Ash.
To fundraise for charities. My first hand-written cookbook I sold to raise money for the Christchurch Earthquake Relief Fund, and then I hand-wrote two books to raise money for the True Colours Charitable Trust in Hamilton. “Nic’s Cookbook”, which has been published by Scholastic is raising money for the NZ Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The great experiences I have had, like meeting Simon Gault and Brett McGregor and going on “What Now” to do a cooking demonstration.
Taste of a Traveller, by Brett McGregor.
The great people that live here. And luging in Rotorua.
They are quiet and full of books.
Nic wrote Nic’s Cookbook, which was published last year by Scholastic, when Nic was ten years old. You can check out www.nicocool.com and www.facebook.com/nicscookbook for details about Nic and his cookbook.