Interview on New Zealand Authors Site
Check out the link to get to the full transcript, or check out a few highlights here!
What is it like writing in New Zealand that would be different if you lived anywhere else?
It may be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t enjoy being a writer based in NZ. I find that the culture in this country is more sport-based than arts-based (or, possibly, that’s just Auckland) and a lot of artistic and creative people end up overwhelmed with just keeping themselves out of debt and find little time to write. I’m not sure if it would be different in another country. Having traveled now, I don’t have the rose-tinted-glasses view of the world anymore, so I understand that everywhere would be a struggle. But I think that being based somewhere more central, perhaps in Europe, would allow for me to visit more places, attend more conferences, meet more people, and grow as an author, in a way that I feel I can’t here.
Why do you think readers are fascinated by books written about New Zealand?
I think to a lot of people NZ is still seen as an “exotic place” to visit, and because of that, anything set there is immediately exciting. As someone who lives here, I don’t see the country that way, but then again, anything set not-in-New-Zealand is exciting to me, so I understand why people find it pretty cool!
Who is your favourite New Zealand author and why?
I was a HUGE fan of Sherryl Jordan growing up. I think a lot of her work has influenced mine; the way she would delve into the psyche of a character, show their flaws and their faults as well as how heroic or wonderful they were. I found her books so easy to drown in and I would be lost for hours in them. I still reread a few once in a while, I have most of her works on my bookshelf.
What advice would you give for other writers in New Zealand?
I’d say: apply to overseas publications. Apply to retreats and scholarships. Apply to speak at conventions. I have found most of my success has come from getting out of NZ rather than staying in it.
What is your best experience meeting a fan?
As a writer of fanfiction before I got into publication, I had wonderful encounters with fans of my work. I’ve never been more humbled or honored than when an ex-marine write me a private message telling me how she wanted to thank me for accurately portraying PTSD and the power of returning home from a veteran’s perspective. Considering I am in no way war-inclined, and I personally don’t have PTSD, I felt it was a great reflection of the research and effort I put into my work. I’ve carried that experience with me since.
If any of your books was to be made into a film, which one would you pick and who would you have play the main characters?
I would love to see The Unmentionables picked up for a film. I think it’s a relevant story for our times and it would really resonate with a lot of people. I have casting in mind for just a few of the characters, but not all. Some haven’t quite manifested physically yet.
I would also love to see a short story I’ve written made into a film: Named. It’s a strange little tangle of personal reflection and magical realism that I would love to see brought to the screen.
Often writers get to approach some serious subjects. Which serious subject are you most proud to have written about or was the hardest to write about?
As above, I love to write about LGBT history and the effects that history has had on youth today. I love to dive into controversial topics in my work, because I feel they need to stop being controversial. I am completely open about my mental illness and my struggle to control my mental health, and a lot of my characters are thus the same. I’ve covered topics such as child abuse and trafficking, PTSD, war, murder and redemption, gaslighting, hunger for power, privilege, sexuality, and many others in my stories, and I hope to have many more such topics