Thursday, December 15, 2011

Former M15 director Stella Rimington to headline AWRF

Okay, in the past I may have quietly grumbled about the noticeable lack of crime and thriller writers on the extensive lineups of the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival (AWRF)the past three years. To recap: other than a one-off special event with Michael Connelly this year (which was outside the AWRF proper, but was an amazingly successful event that sold out, was moved to a bigger venue, and sold that out), there haven't been any crime or thriller fiction writers, international or local, invited to New Zealand's largest literary festival during the past three years that I've been back in New Zealand. This, at a time when local crime writing is going from strength to strength, and plenty of fantastic international authors have visited Auckland of their own accord at other times of the year (sometimes, very close to the Festival timeframe).

But having dealt out a few deserved brickbats to the AWRF about this ongoing oversight, now I will have to be fair and give out a bouquet to the organisers, who have just announced thriller writer Dame Stella Rimington, the first female Director-General of MI5, will attend the 2012 festival. There are many more authors, local and international, still to be announced - but hopefully this is a good sign of things to come. Rimington's attendance was announced along with two other internationals: Roddy Doyle (THE COMMITMENTS) and Australian young adult writer Emily Rodda.

Dame Stella will headline the Festival’s highly popular Soul Bar Lunch event alongside main programme appearances, is the British author of a number of gripping ‘insider’ spy novels, most recently RIPTIDE.

“It’s such a pleasure to reveal this taster of the rich line-up planned for May 2012,” says Artistic Director Anne O’Brien. “Dame Stella Rimington, Roddy Doyle and Emily Rodda will all bring fine craft, great minds and broad experiences to Auckland, not to mention providing the perfect Christmas reads, setting the tone for what will undeniably be another outstanding Auckland Writers & Readers Festival.”

The Auckland Writers & Readers Festival is New Zealand’s largest literary and ideas festival. In 2012 AWRF will run Wednesday 9 May to Sunday 13 May and will present another exciting list of international and New Zealand writers in more than 70 events, guaranteed to excite and stimulate hungry minds. The schools programme will be available in February 2012 with the full programme announced in the second half of March 2012 and tickets on sale from that time at

I've heard some whispers that the AWRF may be interested in (at long last) including some New Zealand crime or thriller writers in their line-up as well - which would be a terrific move, adding to what is already a very successful festival. Fingers crossed for some good news on that front as the fuller line-ups are announced early next year.

Who would you like to see at the 2012 Auckland Writers and Readers Festival?


  1. One year the Ak festival had Chad Taylor and Zirk van den Berg on a panel with Mark Billington from England. Might have been another overseas star, can't remember, even though I chaired it. But yes, it would be good to see more locals e.g. Paddy Richardson, Paul Thomas, Vanda Symon, Greg McGee.

  2. Oh, yes - I'm not saying the AWRF has never had crime writers Stephen. I remember back in the mid 2000s going to one at the Langham and there was an event with Jeffery Deaver, Chad Taylor and psychologist Nigel Latta (who wrote one thriller novel) - or perhaps that was two separate events.

    Anyway, that's why I've been a tad disappointed the three years I've been back from overseas (2009. 2010, 2011) that there has been very little/no crime thriller authors in the line-ups...