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.


NZ Book Month – Steam Press

While looking for a home for a couple of my stories, I discovered a small independent press that was set up in 2010 by Stephen Minchin.  I asked him to partake in this months interviews because he is a NZ publisher!
Why did you start your own Publishing House?
I started Steam Press because there didn’t seem to be anyone in New Zealand publishing the books that I wanted to read. I was sure that there were a decent number of authors out there writing New Zealand science fiction and fantasy, but there’s so little available, and a lot of what you can find has actually been picked up by publishers in the US or UK and then imported back into New Zealand.
The weird thing is that the local publishers who are cautious about New Zealand speculative fiction do import spec fic books – if they’ll happily sell The Passage, Twilight, and the Harry Potter books in New Zealand why do they think that locally written novels in a similar vein won’t sell here? I figured that the best thing I could do was set up a small press and try to prove those major publishers wrong about the local market.
This is all based on the assumption that these guys who’ve been in publishing for years don’t know what they’re doing, which is clearly insane. You never know unless you try, though…
What sort of stories are you looking for?

I’m looking for stories that I’d like to find as a reader – top quality science fiction, fantasy, horror etc that’s written by kiwis. Where it makes sense, I’d like stories to be set in New Zealand or have a New Zealand connection, but clearly that’ll work better for some genres than others.

There are plenty of publishers out there who will publish books that are set in the US, and plenty that’ll publish a high fantasy epic, so those aren’t what I’m really after. If there’s someone out there writing a steampunk novel set in 19th century Otago or a horror story that takes place in Wellington, though, I would love to talk to them.

Who have you got signed up so far?
I’ve got three books signed so far, and they are all coming out in 2012. The first – The Prince of Soul and The Lighthouse – is by Fredrik Brounéus. Fredrik is a Swedish guy who has been living in Dunedin since 2009, and he has written a brilliant sci-fi set in Otago and Southland. The second book is still kind of under wraps, but it’s by Matt and Debbie Cowens who are English teachers from the Kapiti Coast. This book is due out in June / July and will be… interesting. It may annoy some people, but everyone else will love it. The third book is by Auckland author Michael Morrissey, who is this year’s Writer in Residence at Waikato University. He has written a hugely entertaining, fast paced, and thoroughly mind blowing sci-fi thriller which I’ll be bringing out in October / November.
These books are very different, which I think is a Very Good Thing. I want to publish a wide range of genres and am absolutely stoked to have these books to show the public what they’ve been missing out on.
As far as 2013 goes, we’ll have to wait and see.
What is the lastest release – Prince of Soul and the Lighthouse – about?  And where can we people get a copy
The Prince of Soul and The Lighthouse is all about a Dunedin high school student by the name of George who discovers that pretty much everything that’s wrong with the world – overpopulation, environmental disasters, extinctions – is his fault, and that he needs to fix it. There is a conspiracy of global proportions, a beautiful woman, a Buddhist special-mission monk, and George’s grandfather. Who happens to be a zombie. The story is a wild ride that’ll definitely make you laugh, and may make you see Dunedin in a new light.
The Prince of Soul is available through all independent bookstores (i.e. everyone that isn’t a major chain that starts with a W), or you can buy the paperback (or environmentally sound ebook!) through the Steam Press website at

Speculative Fiction – What does it mean to me?

Avatar CatherineI have been writing now, steadily for over a year.  Before that, it was spasmodic to say the least.  Most of what I have written has not fallen within the realm of mainstream genre.  As I have said before, I use writing as escapism, it is a chance for me to get out of the mundane life.  As a result, writing has opened up a whole new world of excitement.  I can’t wait every morning to get up and start typing.  Which is all well and good if I have a new project on the go.  Otherwise I am editing, which is something I would happily forgo.  I am not generally known as a finisher, but for once in my life, I am determined to get something completed.  I am currently editing my first book, a fantasy trilogy, to as close to a perfect state before moving onto my next project (unfortunately that too is editing a novel I finished this year…)

But that doesn’t really tell you what Speculative Fiction means to me – other than my motivation for getting out of bed most mornings… which makes me sound extremely sad individual who has to escape to another world in order to cope with life.  If that is what you think of me, fine.  You are entitled to your opinion.  Those who know me, know me well, those who don’t can go to hell!

Writing Speculative Fiction gives me an opportunity to explore other worlds, other cultures, magic and how it works.  Writing also gives me the ability to break down any unresolved conflict I have had in my life.  It has been useful for helping me to see where I have gone wrong, or to even explain someone elses behaviour and explain dysfunctional relationships.

Speculative Fiction gives me a chance to be descriptive, I love wordy descriptive pieces that explain the smell of the dew on the grass, the coolness of the forest floor, the light of the sunrise on a coastal beach, the colours, the sights, the sounds, the smell, the taste, the looks, everything there is to know about somewhere that has been untouched by human.

I have notebooks full of ideas, including a NZ steampunk novel, a vampyre novel, and a whole new type of creature of my own invention… watch this space.

OK, now I am starting to ramble, but I think you are starting to appreciate the passion that I have for my craft.  I am a writer, of Speculative Fiction, and one day I want to be published in NZ and have a large NZ (and possibly overseas) readership.

The first step?  Blogging about my passion.