Monthly Archives: November 2015

Books and rumours of books

Phew, are we nearing the end of the year, or what? We’re having to screw our thoughts to the sticking place in order to complete one job at a time of the fifty waiting. We’ve moved house but the books are waiting in boxes for shelves. The beds are waiting for legs, the garden for compost, the cooking device for an electrician. And while we wait, there are books to be launched and authors applauded.

Twister Book Cover

On Thursday evening, Jane Woodham’s Twister will be set loose on the world, starting at the Otago University Bookshop with the hard copy Mākaro Press have so beautifully put together (am expecting one to arrive in the mailbox any minute), with the ebook (and info and excerpts) available here. It’s a mystery/crime/love/LGBT genre-buster set in Dunedin. Here’s the interview with Jane, who’s very sensibly gone surfing this week.


We’re testing out RMB’s ability to manage ‘pre-ordering’ as we wait for the ebook of Maggie Rainey-Smith’s delectable Daughters of Messene to be prepared. If you buy one now, you’ll pay $1.50 less than the eventual NZ $12.

The Linen Way cover

In other RMB author news, Melissa Green recently went to St Lucia in the West Indies to visit and read poetry with her old friend and mentor Derek Walcott. Fantastic. Anyone who’s read her spellbinding memoir The Linen Way will know just how fantastic. I read this interview with her yesterday, marvelling at the intricacy of her poetry writing process, the way she handles each word and collection of words as though each were a living creature … which is, of course, the case.

Jane Woodham and Ratty go swimming

It’s not an easy time for an author, the run-up to publication. The birth analogy is apt. Things don’t ease off just because you’ve been carrying this creature for so long already. Added to the usual pre-pub twists and turns, Jane Woodham and I have been working alongside Mary of Mākaro Press so she can produce a hard copy of Twister on the 3rd December, along with the Rosa Mira ebook.

Nevertheless, Jane found time to talk with RMB about how it’s going, how it went, and who’s in the (St Clair Hot Salt Water) swimming pool these days.


Jane, it’s only three weeks until Twister is published. How’s it feeling at this stage? Any glitches or gulps you’d care to mention?

Well, Penelope, being published by two different houses, with different house styles, was, in the last hour, challenging. A case of you say tomarto, I say tomayto. But we survived. Probably best to call it a learning curve.

Yes, it’s always that. Has your sense of the book changed with publication so imminent?

My sense of Twister has been as changeable as our Dunedin weather. Originally I described it as a hybrid, and thought that was a good thing. Then I wondered if that was too oddball to satisfy anyone. Recently friends, having proofread it, said they had to stop themselves from just ripping on through it. So, I don’t know. It is what it is and it’s the best I can write, just now. The more I see images of it, on the internet, or on flyers, the more it seems a separate entity, about to take on a life of its own.

And so it will. Tell us about one of the characters: how they appeared in your mind’s eye or in the story. Did any of the scenes come about unexpectedly?

When I was being mentored by Paddy Richardson, she kept urging me to increase the drama. I’d written an emotional scene between Judd and his wife, Kate, where she told him she was leaving, but it wasn’t really working. Then I thought, ooh, what if I get Kate to tell Judd the truth about the day Beth disappeared?!! She’s about to leave him, what if she wants to get it out of her system? I emailed a friend. OMG, Kate’s decided to tell Judd what she was really doing the afternoon Beth ran off!

My friend, who had already confessed to being a little in love with Leo Judd, replied immediately: The bitch. Why doesn’t she leave the poor man alone. She’s just doing it to ease her conscience!

What a fantastic response. I knew then I had to write it.

 Yes, it’s a terrible dilemma of Kate’s. You handle it well. Now, you say you swam in the same lane as Judd the other day. How was his style? Splashy?

No, he’s not Mr Splashy… Judd likes to dive in, which does cause a bit of a tidal wave, but after that it’s minimum effort, maximum result. Some evenings, perhaps after a hard day, he turns onto his back and swims swinging both arms up and over his head simultaneously. It’s not terribly strenuous. I suspect he’s cloud-spotting.

But only briefly. I happen to know that, like DSS Judd, you’re incredibly diligent.I noticed you had a huge timeline chart to help you keep events in the story on track. Did you feel constrained by that, or more reassured?

Both. It’s impossible to write a ’crime’ novel and be vague. It’s like a stage set, everyone has to be in the right place at the right time. Even the weather has toe the line. But yes, it was constraining too. Reality kept pulling me up. I’d be charging ahead then find myself with a wedding on a Sunday, or an open home on a Friday. Reality is over-rated.

 Talking of launches, I saw you at Diane Brown’s the other night. How did you feel imagining yourself reading to us from Twister at your own launch in UBS on 3rd December?

I’d been worrying about which piece to read, then I got home that night and there on facebook was an article about public readings suggesting that, as the audience had already had a tough day, the writer should be kind, keep away from sad subjects and opt, instead, for laughter. Send your customer home happy. Now I know exactly which piece to read.

Great, thanks, Jane, and all the best for the delivery. And while I think of it, next time we chat I’ll ask you to hand over the recipe (please) for that scrumptious Editorial Tea Loaf.