Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Week Away in Wanaka...

Well, that was way cool. Wanaka in autumn is stunning and the name of their biennial arts festival - The Festival of Colour - is apt. The trees had traded in their summer green for a broader palette of reds, yellows and oranges. The descending sun left haunted shadows stepping down the hills toward the town. It was beautiful. The weather was fine and mild.And I had fantastic company - history professor/author Kate Hunter and author/illustrator Bob Kerr - with whom I shared a house, great conversations, dinner making duties and events. Meeting other writers has to be one of the key highlights of tours like this.

After three days of school visiting, we met up with Wellington playwright Dave Armstrong and local writer/poet Liz Breslin for a Speed Date the Author event (always one of my favourite gigs) on the thursday, talking to school students from Queenstown, Alexandra and Arrowtown, and then True Stories Told Live at the temporary 'Crystal Palace' venue in Wanaka to a mostly adult audience on the Friday. The True Stories event involved all five of us speaking for ten minutes each, unscripted on the topic 'Don't Talk About the War'. Of course we all did. We hadn't shared our talks with each other beforehand but they seemed nicely complementary. I spoke about my Mum's childhood during World War 2. After all I'd told my Dad's story in my book A Winter's Day in 1939. I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to share my Mum's story, although it was hard to avoid the talk being taken over by my great grandmother. I believe she was a little like that in real life. The crowd was sizeable - more than 210 folk. And they'd paid to hear us talk. I think they liked it. After some nerves, especially about the unscripted aspect, I felt pretty comfortable talking. And now? I would jump at the chance to do this type of event again.

 It was a good note to end our Words on Wheels Tour on. What a week!

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