Monday, 19 May 2014

Auckland Writers Festival 2014 and what I learnt from my day out ....

On Saturday I went into the City and used my new and universally-touted-as-super-convenient AtHop electronic ticket card to go across the harbour on the ferry.   Tag on, he told me so I did but at the destination there was no visible tag off so I didn't.   Bad move Margaret!   My super-convenient ticket is also intelligent and it locked me out and required me to visit the ticket office and plead for assistance.   Problem soon solved but the raised blood pressure took longer to subside.
The second hand bookshop on Devonport Wharf had a couple of shelves of Frances Parkinson Keyes books -  I've never seen so many at once since the days when my grandmother had an immense collection.   For nostalgia's sake I purchased two.
One day when I am rich, one day when I have money to spare,  I will buy a ticket to every event at the Writers Festival and sitting back in the comfortable chairs, indulge my bookish desires.
However that day has not yet come so I am required to limit my ticket purchases and this year went to hear Camilla Lackberg and Alexander McCall Smith.
First Alexander.   I knew what he looked like from publishers blurbs on the back of the book jackets but in my mind I had him with a broad Edinburgh accent and that is just not true!   A minor disappointment though as I was entranced from his very first words.   We had the occasional tantalising reference to Isabel Dalhousie and to Mma Ramotswe, but the title of the talk was about his book  "What W H Auden Can Do For You".   Obviously quite a lot, as Alexander talked for a full hour and answered several questions at great length and told us he not yet exhausted the subject.   Methinks  I need to read Alexander's book (I am first on the request list at the library) and to become acquainted with Auden.   I think I might like his poetry as two small quotes made their way into my notebook -

If equal affection cannot be
Let the more loving one be me.
Love made him weep his pints
Like you and me.

Watch out "Hard To Find Bookshop" I am coming and I expect you to have an anthology of Auden verse.
Second Camilla Lackberg.   Well actually, she was first but just as she confused her audience over ex-husband number 1 and ex-husband number 2, and their appearances in her books - not in that order - I have confused the order here ;-)
The convenor for the "Hour With Camilla Lackberg" was Jonathan Krebs, president of the NZ Law Society and well prepared he was too.  His obvious experience at cross-examination of interviewing people showed and he had given himself an in-depth crash course in Camilla's eight books.   Furthermore, he had insisted that his teenage daughters and friends also read them and had collated questions from them as well.   Even having read all eight books, he told us that being a criminal barrister meant he knows depravity in all its forms and the written efforts known as crime fiction pale into insignificance compared to reality!   Surprisingly, Camilla agreed.   Witty, charming, photogenic and highly personable, Camilla told us that her introduction to writing was the gift of a writing course given to her as the 'best Christmas present ever' by her mother, brother and ex-husband number 1.   Two and a half years in completion, the first manuscript was printed off in three copies to mail to a small, medium and large publisher respectively.   Apparently she held the packages so long over the postal slot, that passing Japanese tourists thought she was an art installation and took photographs!   However, the manuscript was accepted by the small publisher in the same week that her first child (5 kilogram son number 1) was born.   "How can you top that" she asks?   "Only with a Nobel Prize and giving birth to twins"! 
Not being a 'Large Plan and Post-it' type, she is however obsessed with maintaining 5-10 pages of writing per day.   She writes logically from the first page to the last, trying to maintain the progression that would happen in a real police investigation.   And the final question was "do you prefer Kindle or a real book".   Her reply -  "anything that sells but personally I like turning the pages of a real book".
And a final item of trivia.   Sitting in an audience at these functions one notices satorial aspects of both writers and convenors.      Camilla had zebra print trousers and loads of bracelets and gladiator style skyscraper high sandals.   Two years ago I remember being fascinated with Peter James' red silk socks.   Well, Jonathan Krebs wins this year's Satorial Contest for his paisley shirt, dark suit and grey and black striped socks.   Alexander's pink shirt shouldn't rate a mention.

So what did I learn from my day out?
- I don't like wandering around the city in the cold on my own  (you are a NZ'er, wear merino girl!)
- I don't like super-convenient semi-intelligent transport tickets (get with it Margaret, this is the 21st century!)
- Second hand bookshops can absorb time very rapidly (you don't have to read it you can buy it!)
- I like Writers Festivals and two sessions are not enough (Broaden your horizon's next year book three!)
- I need a pair of grey and black striped socks like Jonathan's (well, in the winter I wear basic black daily!)


  1. Such a sweet post:)
    Big hugs x

  2. Sounds like an adventureous day. You are a brave woman :)

  3. What a great day for a book lover.

  4. Thanks for sharing! Reading about the event was like being there?