Saturday, July 30, 2011

Whanganui Literary Festival embraces Kiwi crime fiction

Anyone who's a regular reader of this blog will be aware that one of my pet peeves is the way that some people within the New Zealand books community seem to overlook the quality crime writers we have. We have some fantastic crime writers here that can stand alongside their peers from overseas, but for some reason we have been a little reticent when it comes to buying their books (even if they do well overseas, ala Paul Cleave) - although this has improved recently, along with better media coverage - or including them in book festival line-ups and other celebrations of all things reading. The latter is particularly galling.

For the past three years I have been back in New Zealand, the Auckland Writers Festival has included only one crime fiction event - one event in three festivals that have included hundreds of writers and events. That was a 'special event' with Michael Connelly earlier this year (outside of the festival proper). That was a terrific event that drew a sold-out crowd, and I commend the organisers, but gee, it would be great to see more crime writers, and particularly more local crime writers, featured in the various books, writing, and arts festivals that are regularly held throughout the country. If we don't promote our own quality writers, then how can we expect overseas writers festivals to invite them, or overseas readers to learn about them?

The team at the Christchurch Writers Festival (and this year, the Christchurch Arts Festival), have of course embraced crime fiction, which can only be a good thing, and hopefully other festivals around the country will start to follow their lead. As such, I'm very pleased to see that the Whanganui Literary Festival, which will be held from 16 to 18 September, has included one of our great Kiwi crime writers in this year's line-up.

Dunedin author Vanda Symon, who's fourth Sam Shephard novel, BOUND, was published to good reviews earlier this year, will be headlining an event on the Sunday of the festival. Here are the details:

Whanganui Literary Festival 2011 — Whodunit?
Spend an hour with New Zealand writer Vanda Symon as she talks crime fiction during Whanganui Literary Festival 2011.

Sunday 18 September, 2011, 11.30am – 12.30pm

Vanda Symon is a rising star of New Zealand crime fiction. Her first novel, Overkill, published in 2007, introduced the series heroine, Sam Shephard. Since then she has written three more gripping novels and has gained international success with a German translation. Vanda also features on Radio New Zealand National as a literary critic. In this session, Vanda sheds some light on exactly whodunit…

Booking essential. Tickets $10. Tickets are available from the Royal Wanganui Opera House.

You can read more about the Whanganui Literary Festival here.

Do you enjoy going to author events? Do you go to literary festivals? How important do you think it is for New Zealand festivals to embrace New Zealand writers, including crime writers? Comments welcome.

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