By BERNIE HALL
There is something about The Writers Tea Party, an annual literary event that delights writers.
The Hurunui Memorial Library in Amberley itself is part of the attraction.
It has historical links. Rewi Alley is there, in the RSA room, himself a writer and a poet. It is an intimate space and there is plenty of time for words to work their magic.
Last year more than 70 people turned up for the party.
There have been great moments such as in 2009, our first year, when a mother asked Charlotte Randall what she should say to her teenage daughter who wanted to become a writer. The reply was ‘tell her to cut off her hands!’ It must have been writer’s block but luckily it didn’t last.
In 2010 Fiona Farrell was asked what she would most like people to say about her work. ‘That my next book is my best,’ she said laughing and so it was.
Gavin Bishop brought along his ancient, one-eyed teddy bear to help him out. Tusiata Avia unleashed her poetry storm. Her new book, Fale Aitu, has her travelling the world again, while in 2014 the then New Zealand Poet Laureate Vincent O’Sullivan flew up from Dunedin especially.
We have given new writers a chance too. In 2012 Tanya Moir and Jane Higgins brought us their first novels. And Jarrod Gilbert, his best-seller, ‘Patched: the history of gangs in New Zealand’. None had done festivals before. All have gone on to further fame.
Now we have this years batch.
Mike Crean is a well-known and much admired journalist, originally from Hawarden. You’ll know his Heartland columns in The Press. He has written five books of non-fiction.
A new book with photographs by the late David Hallett, is due out on September 30. It is about a journey through the South Island’s Heartland.
Anna Rogers lives in Christchurch. She is a nationally acclaimed book editor who works for most of the major New Zealand publishing houses. She has some great stories to tell. She has written eight non-fiction books, including While You’re Away: New Zealand Nurses at War 1899-1948.
Rachel O’Neill is a young film-maker, writer and artist from Wellington. She works in different mediums – from online web series to experimental graphic fiction and essays. She is currently working on an audio web series with Reuben Todd whose grandparents live in Amberley.
* The Tea Party will be held in the Hurunui Memorial Library, Amberley on Sunday September 25, 2pm – 4pm. Admission $2 per person, $5 for a family. Presented by The Friends of the Hurunui District Libraries. Sponsored by the Hurunui Arts Council.