Pavlova, Phar Lap, Crowded House and me

Phar Lap. Crown Studios Ltd :Negatives and prints. Ref: 1/2-203509-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Yesterday, my novel was released. As is the way with these things, though, the book has already been in bookshops for about a week or so (yes, I’ve been looking) , and has had its first few (very nice) reviews (here and here and here). I’m visiting Perth, Western Australia — where I grew up, and where my publisher is based — at the moment, visiting family and talking about the novel, and there’s one question that everyone (everyone) has asked me: So. Are you a New Zealander now, or are you Australian?

I really don’t know the answer to that question. Neither. Both. Either.

The thing is, that while I don’t for a moment claim their iconic status, like pavlovaPhar Lap and Crowded House, I find myself  — in reviews and in bookstores — being claimed by both sides of the Tasman. (At least, unlike poor old Phar Lap, my skin, heart and skeleton are all in the same geographic location. Most days.)

In New Zealand, Lena is filed under NZ Fiction — here she is at Unity Books Wellington. In Perth, she’s a local, too; look at her, on the Fremantle Press shelves (and piled high-ish on the floor) inside the entrance to New Edition Bookshop in Fremantle.

Lena at Parsons

I can report that it feels good, to be a local in both countries. And it feels pretty much right. Except…I think that I’m probably more of a Wellingtonian than a proper New Zealander. For all of the seventeen years that I’ve lived in New Zealand, I’ve lived in Wellington. It is — currently, and for the foreseeable future — home. Here’s Lena in the window of Parsons Books and Music in Wellington (there on the top shelf, her 300-odd pages looking svelte next to the chunky 800-odd pages of Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries).

There’s a little tag on the poster behind the face-out novel that says “Wellington based author”. That’ll do.



Sadly, Parsons closed down in 2014. Read more

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