Saturday, January 30, 2010

Neil Cross to appear at NZIAF

Well, I've been meaning to write a note about this for a little while, but have been holding off until a little closer to the actual event. One of my personal gripes is the way New Zealand undervalues its genre writers, and how even the ones that have had very good reviews and some sales success are still often overlooked in terms of appearing at our various writing festivals etc.

For example, there were no crime writers (local or international) speaking at last year's Auckland Writers Festival - which was a real shame. I think something could really be added by having at least some crime and thriller writers at such festivals, even if they still largely keep their literary-fiction bent overall.

Anyway, that's why I was so pleased to see that Wellington-based crime writer and TV scriptwriter Neil Cross will be appearing at the New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week, which is part of the 2010 New Zealand International Arts Festival, which runs from 26 February to 21 March 2010. The New Zealand International Arts Festival is a biennial multi-arts festival held in our capital city, Wellington. It is reportedly "New Zealand's premier and largest cultural event" and organisers say it "celebrates the best arts entertainment from around the world and within New Zealand." According to the organisers, "In 2010 a total of 930 artists from 30 countries will bring the latest in international theatre, music, dance and visual arts to New Zealand."

Although the festival is predominantly about visual and performing arts, the New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week part of the festival is also a key attraction. The full programme is now available, and you can access it HERE. Tickets for the Gala Opening, Town Hall Talks, Afternoon Tea with Jenny Pattrick, and the Concession Pass are on sale now. General bookings for all Writers Upfront sessions open on 9 February.

Neil Cross, who is noted for his dark novels (Booker longlisted ALWAYS THE SUN, BURIAL, CAPTURED etc) and his acclaimed TV screenwriting (Spooks, the upcoming Luther), will be making three appearances during the Writers and Readers Week:
  • Monday 8 March 2010: Once Upon a Deadline - look out for six playwrights and one scriptwriter (Cross) racing around Wellington in search of a story. Each will be armed with a laptop, wireless internet, and a minder to make sure they stick to the rules and keep to the clock. At the start of the day, each writer is given a route to follow and will spend one hour at each location, including a turn in the writer's cage. When time's up, every writer meets with an editor to help them polish up their 1,200 word story, and then it's off to the Wellington Town Hall for the Read-Off at 6:30pm to decide the winner.
  • Tuesday 9 March 2010: Wgtn Festival Gala Opening - 7:30pm: Join five of contemporary literature's most intriguing voices, hosted by Kiwi writer #1 bestselling Kiwi writer Kate De Goldi, as they talk about craft, character, and style. Writing across a number of genres, these novelists exemplify the many possibilities in 21st century fiction. From Gil Adamson's ‘literary western' Outlander to Chloe Hooper's A Child's Book of True Crime, from Neil Cross's psychological thriller Burial to Kamila Shamsie's political saga Burnt Shadows, and Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife, these are writers who always push the boundaries of literary fiction.
  • Sunday 14 March 2010: Writers Upfront - 2:00pm - Join Cross in a conversation with Noel Murphy, about Cross's work.
I was fortunate enough to interview Neil Cross last year for an article in Good Reading magazine. He is a fascinating and very interesting guy, and I recommend anyone in Wellington over the period of the festival, to head along and listen to him speak.
Hopefully more local and international crime writers will get opportunities to appear at New Zealand writing festivals in future.


  1. I thought Neil Cross was British? Am I wrong, or did he move to Wellington recently?

  2. He moved to Wellington about 6-7 years ago Dorte. He has written his last few books, plus been the lead writer on award-winning BBC TV series Spooks, and the lead writer on the upcoming TV series Luther, all from his New Zealand home.

  3. Ah, now I get it.

    And don´t worry, Vanda, at least I cannot steal him :D