Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wellington and Perth Festivals / Chairs / Nautical Superstitions

Get with the programme

I went to the launch of the 2012 New Zealand Arts Festival's programme last night at the Opera House here in Wellington. You can now view the programme online here.

There's a bunch I'm looking forward to, including Britain's all-male theatre company Propellor performing The Winter's Tale (my novel-in-progress features a Vaudville vignette of Act Five Scene Three, so will be interesting to see it performed live again).

The music portion of the programme looks particularly strong, with banjo and piano accordion maestros, indie darlings Bon Iver and the 'desert blues' of Tinariwen.

That Deadman DanceAnd of course there's Writers and Readers Week 9-14 March. I'm stoked to be appearing in sessions at The Embassy and in Masterton, in part because it means I'll get to go and see Tim Flannery, Germaine Greer, Thomas Friedman, Jo Nesbo, Alan Hollinghurst, Kelly Link, Ron Rash and others... for free. Hopefully I'll bump into Kim Scott again too, after hanging out with him a bit at the Sydney Writers Fest (and now that I've read and loved That Deadman Dance).

The full programme for Writers and Readers Week doesn't come out till January, but there's plenty in the main programme to salivate over until then!

Out West

A couple of hours later, the Perth Festival launched it's program(me), which is also exciting for me as I'll be flying over there to take part in the writers festival. Again, the full programme won't be released until Jan, but there is info about the event I'm most looking forward to, The Feast of Words on 25 Feb:
Indulge in a gourmet three-course feast of food and Watershed wines as literary stars complement each dish with specially chosen readings. Set by the Reflection Pond at UWA's beautiful Whitfeld Court, Feast of Words has all the ingredients for a perfect summer night: good friends, great food and some of the world's most intriguing authors.
Join UK novelist Barbara Trapido (Sex and Stravinsky), Irish poet Dennis O'Driscoll (Weather Permitting), NZ's 2011 Commonwealth Writers Prize winner Craig Cliff (A Man Melting) and Norwegian sensation Johan Harstad (Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion?)
Now that's something to salivate over!

Some nautical superstitions (via

Never start a voyage on the first Monday in April. This is the day that Cain slew Able.

Don’t start a voyage on the second Monday in August.  This is the day Sodom and Gommrrah was destroyed.

Starting a cruise on Dec. 31 is bad. This is the day Judas Iscariat hanged himself.

Avoid people with red hair when going to the ship to begin a journey. Red heads bring bad luck to a ship, which can be averted if you speak to the red-head before they speak to you.

Never say good luck or allow someone to say good luck to you unanswered. If someone says “good luck” to you, the only to counter the bad luck is by drawing blood. A swift punch in the nose is usually sufficient to reverse this curse.

Behind the scenes

Now, for those of you who think the life is a writer is all trips to Perth and Masterton, think again. It involves a lot of sitting at your desk. A lot. The back of my desk chair broke last week and I had to run out an buy a new one the next day after an eight hour writing session killed my back.

M. encouraged me not to skimp on the cost of a replacement, considering the amount of time I'll spend sitting on it, and I gravitated to those leather 'executive' chairs with the high backs. I ended up finding a comfy one that didn't cost the earth, got it home and found it was too wide to fit under my desk. It would fit if I took the handles off, but the handles held the back on. Disaster.

I've since taken it back and purchased a bog standard office chair. No arm rests. No leather. I think it's for the best. The closer my set up at home is to the set up at my day job, the easier it will be to slip into 'business mode' when writing. That's the theory anyway.

Who wants to read something someone wrote in an executive chair? Next think I'd have a Newton's cradle on my desk.

Bullet dodged, I reckon.

Just because I can...
Tuatara that I spotted today at Zelandia
Female papango (scaup) just after a dive (notice the droplets of water on her feathers).

Plumb (Popular Penguins)I also spotted the above plaque at Zealandia. Harvey McQueen was a New Zealand poet and anthologist who passed away last year. He kept an entertaining blog in his final years, which often reminded me of Maurice Gee's Plumb, if George Plumb had a blog (and was less irascible). This is a compliment, in case it doesn't read like one.

Nameless purgatory

I mentioned last week that I'd be sending a chunk of THE NOVEL off to my editor on the first... well I did (at 11:31pm). I gave it a working title. It sucked. Back to the drawing board. And back to the grind... plenty more to write before I hear back whether I'm wasting my time or not.

But enough of me

Tomorrow I'll be posting my interview with Breton Duke's, author of the story collection Bird North.  Check back after 2:30pm...

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