NZ Book Month – Rosalind James blog about Loving NZ

What I Love About New Zealand

Reposted from Rosalind James websiteRosalind


I love New Zealand, and so do my readers! Here are a few things we find fascinating about you.

1)      The Tall Poppy thing. Where I grew up (hint: rural!), bragging about yourself was considered obnoxious. But U.S. popular culture is increasingly full of that. Randy Moss announced before the Super Bowl that he was the greatest wide receiver ever to play the game. Yes, that remark was met with derision (he isn’t), but the fact that he’d even say it is illustrative. Can you imagine an All Black calling himself the “greatest ever”? They go out of their way NOT to say that.

2)      Behaving well. Especially amazing to us: the high standard of behavior to which NZ sportsmen and sportswomen are held, and the outrage when they behave badly. U.S. athletes will tell you that they aren’t role models—and trust me, with some exceptions, they aren’t! I’ve found the least attractive quality I can show in New Zealand is arrogance, the attitude that “I’ve got a problem, and it’s your job to fix it RIGHT NOW.” You’re polite! We love that!

3)      Safety and quality of life. Yes, I know that there’s more crime and social unrest in New Zealand than is evident in my books. Still, it always makes me chuckle to hear Kiwis (or Aussies) complain about things like public transit, crime, litter, etc. It is just so much NICER where you live. In the U.S., public toilets are virtually nonexistent. That might seem like a frivolous issue–until you need one.

4)      Being responsible for yourself. The simple fact that you can’t sue for personal injury changes everything. The first time I swam at Mission Bay, I kept looking around for the markers that would show me where I could go. It took me the whole swim to realize that there weren’t any! It was up to me to keep myself safe.

5)      The “she’ll be right” thing. A B&B operator was talking to me about Americans. She described them coming into the main house all worried, saying, “There are no forks! What should I do?” And her bemused response, “Well, you can ask me, and I’ll give you one.”

6)      Work/Life balance. We don’t have it and you do. When I was working at a, you know, JOB, I expected to put in a good 60 hours a week. My husband still does. Everyone has such a good time when they come to Australia or New Zealand to work! The idea that you can take the weekend off—believe me, that’s novel.

7)      Maori culture is cool.

 8)      It’s pretty. And the All Blacks are good looking, and wear tight jerseys and short shorts. What can I say. It’s true.


KiwiWriters Blog Week – Day One

So once more, I have signed up to do an entire week of blogging… what have I got myself in for?

So where do we start… I have discussed writing in length in some of my earlier posts, about why, when, how, what for etc… and I really don’t want to repeat myself.

I did have a fantastic idea about what to blog – during one of my 4am wake times… but it can’t have been that brilliant, because I can’t remember it now…

And I don’t like to ramble!

So perhaps, what does KiwiWriters mean to me?

I discovered KiwiWriters  just over 4 years ago, and for me, it was a sense of relief.  At the time, I had only just decided to start writing seriously, and while there were lots of support groups out in the big wide web, I struggled to find one that really catered for my needs.  When I stumbled across KiwiWriters, I could not contain my excitement.  Here was a group, situated in NZ, who understood my struggles, my dreams and my goals, so I decided to join.  And then about two years ago, I asked to become a member of the team behind KiwiWriters, because I was that passionate about keeping the work going.

I live in a small rural community, about 45 minutes drive from a City.  I only visit the city when I have to, so I couldn’t just drive in and attend meetings at night, besides, there wasn’t really anything available in town, unless I was into Romance writing.  At least with KiwiWriters, I was able to connect with other writers throughout NZ, some of whom are in the same situation as me, or there was no writing group in their area.  Instead, we could communicate via KiwiWriters.  Our hopes, fears, problems were all freely discussed on the forums.  Everyone had experienced the same problems as me, or had problems I had already been through.

A sense of community is a great thing, and unless you use KiwiWriters on a regular basis, we may lose this wonderful local tool.

How does NZ’s landscape inspire Speculative Fiction?

An interesting question you might ask, but one that lends itself to so many ideas and concepts.

NZ was once a place thriving with birds.  Moa, as tall as modern houses once stomped around the forests and swamps that NZ once was.  Haasts Eagle, with a huge wingspan of up to 8 metres once flew the skies.

Adzebill’s and other prehistoric birds used to live on the forests floors, much like the Kiwi still do.  Huia filled the trees with beautiful music.

These birds are all extinct, but could you imagine if they still survived today?  What would NZ be like if Moa still roamed the countryside?  Haast’s Eagle’s flew away with screaming unattended babies?  Adzebills taking huge chunks out of sleeping sheep…

What would NZ have looked like prior to European migration, even Maori migration?  Who were the Maoriori and where are they now?  Did anyone else discover NZ before the Maoriori or Maori did?

Is there still moose in the southwestern most corner of the South Island?  Deer can swim across Tory Channel, surely Moose can swim across to the outer islands… Has anyone checked those?

What about the volcano’s that created a lot of NZ’s landscape?  Was there anyone present when the first one went up?  Would Auckland survive if the volcano’s became active again (would anyone south of the Bombay Hills care???).

NZ just lends itself to Speculative Fiction.  I hope that I have given you food for thought.

SpecFicNZ Blogging Week!

Avatar CatherineWow, doesn’t time fly when you are having fun…

I thought I would start the week with a look at what is Speculative Fiction. 

Speculative fiction is a fiction genre speculating about worlds that are unlike the real world in various important ways. In these contexts, it generally overlaps one or more of the following: science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural, superhero, utopian and dystopian, apocalyptic and post – apocalyptic, steampunk, cyberpunk and alternate history.

Basically if it doesn’t fit into any other mainstream genre, it will probably fit within the broad definition of Speculative Fiction.

 The term is attributed to Robert A Heinlein.  He first used ‘speculative fiction’  in 1947 in the Saturday Evening Post to describe a piece of Science Fiction.  Later he explained that it did not include fantasy.  However this might have earlier been suggested as Speculative Literature in 1889 in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine.  (thanks for Wikipedia for a simplified version)

Wherever it originated from, it has firmly planted itself into the literature of the modern times and does not show any sign of weakening any time soon.

Also known as spec-fic, (to make a difference from sf – which is the universally accepted abbreviation of science fiction), it is becoming popular these days as people try to escape the everyday lives they lead.

 The most popular piece of Science Fiction is of course Star Wars and Star Trek, both have become hugely successful in their own rights.  Probably the most recognisable to everyday people as Science Fiction

 Jules Verne, a well known Science Fiction writer, brought us 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, an early version of Steampunk, a genre recently popularised by Will Smith in Wild Wild West.

Fantasy – think JRR Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) and CS Lewis (The Narnia Chronicles), JK Rowling for the Harry Potter Series, which would also fit into the subgenre of magical realism.

 We can always list horror writers with Stephen King very near the top with his specialty psychological slasher movies.

 Neville Shute is an unlikely Speculative Fiction novelist, but he wrote On the Beach about the citizens of Melbourne, Australia lying in wait for the end of the world after an atomic bomb was exploded (?) in the northern hemisphere.

 One of my favourite authors wrote an alternate history novel – Fatherland by Robert Harris.  Germany won  World War Two  and one man’s attempt to show the world the atrocities that Germany had committed and covered up, during the war.

That is just to give you some idea of what Speculative Fiction is all about.  And yes, I may have some wrong, but for the average Joe Bloggs, at least they have a better understanding of what is meant by Speculative Fiction.

Next blog will be how New Zealand, little Aotearoa, could feature in Speculative Fiction.  We also have an interview with NZ own horror writer, Lee Pletzer, and a discussion on whether NZ is undervalued as a Speculative Fiction producer.