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Kiwi authors find their 'voice'

“As a writer, I’m the end product of everything I’ve read,” said respected New Zealand author Lloyd Jones to an audience of 30 BDS members on Saturday night (1 September).

Lloyd, a shortlister for the 2007 Man Booker Prize, spoke as part of a collaborative event between WORD Christchurch and BDS during the city’s literary festival. Five of his titles are in the BDS Catalogue.

The other speaker was author and Massey University lecturer in creative writing, Tina Makereti. Her first novel Where the Rekohu Bone Sings is proving popular with BDS book groups.

The hour-long evening session, called ‘Conversations with Lloyd and Tina’, was held at The Piano in Christchurch’s CBD. Members had the opportunity to enjoy a wine and nibbles while hearing from the two authors about their careers.

Director of Hagley Writers’ Institute, Morrin Rout, acted as ‘question meister’ by posing members’ pre-submitted questions (and fielding a few live ones as well). She invited the guests of honour to book-end the session with a reading of their choice. Attendees were treated to an extract from Tina’s second novel The Imaginary Lives of James Poneke and Lloyd selected a passage from his memoir, A History of Silence.

As the evening progressed, it was discovered that the writers each prefer a different time of day for their craft (Lloyd’s a morning person; Tina, categorically not so!) and gravitate towards different writing tools (Lloyd transcribes handwritten notes but Tina heads straight for the computer).

Beyond the superficial differences - of age, writing style and their canon of published work -  both authors agreed that writing is about finding a voice, not a story.

“Once you’ve got the voice, everything clicks,” said Tina, who figures out each character as she writes.

She highlighted the personal nature of her first novel and how it reflected her own whakapapa, which she described as Moriori, Pakeha and Maori.

"I’m not part-Maori, part-Moriori and part-Pakeha,” she clarified.

Lloyd, too, described his writing as an “act of discovery” and an "act of persuasion". All his books are about identity, he said.

Some members were left slightly unnerved by Lloyd's rather mercenary approach to his characters. One reader expressed how she sometimes felt 'haunted' by his characters after finishing a book. By contrast Lloyd said he's quite happy to leave them all behind. 

Members travelled from as far away as Ashburton to attend the one-off event. 

  

Morrin Rout (L) kept the conversation flowing between authors Tina Makereti and Lloyd Jones.

  

BDS staffer Megan Blakie (in pink) welcomed everyone in Te Reo before handing over the reins to Morrin.  

The Book Discussion 
Scheme is a member of the Federation of Workers Educational Associations in Aotearoa New Zealand
BDS is a member of the Federation of Workers Educational Associations
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