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Publishers Picks of 2020

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2020 has been a year of uncertainty but one thing remains certain, the quality and breadth of publishing in NZ.  To celebrate we asked our members to pick the book they were most thrilled to publish. The we flipped the coin and asked which other publisher’s title they wished they’d commissioned.  From uplifting novels and thrillers, to inspirational memoirs and picture books celebrating the connectedness of the universe as well as translations of international best-selling books into te reo Māori the range is astonishing. If you still need some summer reading ideas check out the suggestions below.

Sam Elworthy, Director Auckland University Press

Sam’s favourite book of the year

J.K. Rowling, Hare Pota Me Te Whatu Manapou.

I never thought I’d get to publish Harry Potter. I also never thought I’d have a hand in getting high quality books in te reo Māori out and selling through Whitcoulls, the Warehouse, PaperPlus as well as the indies. And I LOVE our cover. Great te reo Māori translations of great books selling like hotcakes is fun.

Sam’s book he would have loved to publish:

Sara McIntyre, Observations of a Rural Nurse. This was one of those books you turn down when you love the stuff but can’t see the market. Then some other publisher loves it too and can see the market and succeeds. Ka rawe, Nicola.

Nicola Legat, Publisher Te Papa Press & Massey University Press

For Te Papa Press I so loved working with the legendary photographer Jane Ussher on Nature – Stilled. There couldn’t be a more luscious and evocative way to share the magic and mysteries of the museum’s vast natural history collection of one and half million specimens. The design by the team at InHouse is just remarkable, making this a perfect package.

At Massey University Press I’m not going to choose one – they were all amazing in their own way and I can’t choose between them. But if you push us I would venture Sara McIntyre’s Observations of a Rural Nurse. We were so privileged to introduce her astounding talent to a wider audience, and that audience has loved it.

Books we would have happily published are the kids’ books published by AUP for the Kotahi Rau Pukapuka programme, Upstart’s Charlie Upham biography by Tom Scott, PRH’s new Chelsea Winter cookbook (for the loot it would have delivered into our bank account), VUP’s marvellous Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey and, for HarperCollins, the Stan Walker memoir.

Kevin Chapman, Director, Upstart Press

I don’t think that I can pick a favourite, but obviously Searching for Charlie by Tom Scott is a standout for us. The response to the book has been incredibly heartening, especially for Tom who battled through a lot to get this finished. We thought our first print was aggressive but it disappeared in just over four weeks, and then the reprint got caught in the shipping delays. But travelling the country and seeing people come out to listen to Tom, with their stories of some connection to Charlie, has been very touching.

On what I would like to have published, One Minute Crying Time by Barbara Ewing was a book that told an important story. The reaction to a Māori-Pakeha relationship in the 50’s was shocking even if you thought you expected it. Barbara is a national icon, and it was great to see her get the coverage she deserved.

Claire Murdoch, Head of Publishing, Penguin Random House

This is such a cruel task, Shanks & Ferguson! Not least in a year when I’ve had the chance to work with that legend, Chelsea Winter, on her biggest book ever – the vegan Supergood – and see Vince O’Sullivan’s Hotere bio published at long last — but I have to say I’m proudest to produce the audiobook of Māori Made Easy – all 24 hours and more – read by the author Scotty Morrison himself, and made with the amazing roopu at Māori Television. It’s a step-by-step, immersive, introductory te reo class anyone can do – and people are just loving it.

And my stan is Stan Walker’s Impossible: My Life. What a perfect piece of publishing, beautifully written, of course, and such a killer read. Hats off to HarperCollins. 

Margaret Sinclair, Publisher – General Non-fiction, Penguin Random House

Stop Surviving Start Fighting by Jazz Thornton is my highlight of the year – I was extremely proud to see the success of this

book with its intended young audience and its huge success in both audiobook and ebook formats. Jazz’s voice of lived  experience and the hard times she has been through is both grounded and inspiring.

I wish… Bella: My Life in Food. We always knew Annabel had a great story to tell, along with her superb recipes, but hesitated too long and ‘snap’ she was taken!

Harriet Allan, Fiction Publisher, Penguin Random House

I listened to Karlo Mila reading from her new poetry collection Goddess Muscle at the wonderful Women’s Litera-tea this year and was taken back to a similar event after she published A Well Written Body back in 2008: she’s still as impressive and expressive, provocative and lyrical – it’s been worth the wait.

From my own list, Navigating the Stars by Witi Ihimaera is one of those books that leaves you with a much deeper understanding of life, the universe and everything. These are our founding myths, and Witi Ihimaera conveys their relevance, richness and complexity with humour, insight and delight. It is a momentous work. And The Tally Stick really excited me when it came in, given it was 7 years since I published Carl Nixon’s previous novel. It blew me away, and I think it’s his best novel yet. It is tense and intense, cinematic, astute, thought-provoking and utterly compelling. It was particularly pleasing having so many of the staff raving about it as well.

Catherine O’Loughlin, Children’s Publisher, Penguin Random House

2020 highlights include Vasanti Unka’s amazing I am the Universe. Prepared to be dazzled by her illustrations and the minimalist power of her words. If ever there was the perfect time to publish a story demonstrating our connectedness to everyone on the planet and everything in the universe, this is it. And it’s going global – rights sold to Penguin Random House Germany before it hit the shelves here.

I’m loving Where Is It? A Wildlife Hunt for Kiwi Kids by Ned Barraud. What a fantastic and innovative concept and lovely piece of publishing. Congrats to Ned and to Potton and Burton.

Rachel Scott, Publisher, Otago University Press

Among my many favourite books of 2020, the one I am the most proud to be publishing is Letters of Denis Glover, selected and edited by Sarah Shieff.

We contracted this book in 2014 after I shamelessly pursued Sarah, on hearing that she was working on it. I have always loved Glover’s poetry and always been intrigued by the contradictions inherent in this hugely entertaining and talented yet disastrously flawed wastrel. Since once finding him asleep on the sofa in my mother’s home (I was about 10), and passing him the gin bottle at his request (it was about 8am), I have held an ambivalent fascination for all things Glover. I knew Sarah would do a superb job, and I was delighted to read the intro to the Listener’s review: ‘A brilliant collection of Denis Glover’s letters reveals the poet’s talent, sharp observations and bad behaviour, says his contemporary, Peter Bland.’ Job done.

A book I would love to have published is Leonard Bell’s magnificent Marti Friedlander: Portraits of the Artists (Auckland University Press). It is so good to see these classic portraits given the treatment they deserve.

Carolyn Lagahetau, Editorial Director, Oratia Books

With insect populations declining in much of the world, here in Aotearoa we need to be doing our bit to help our own little critters. I was delighted to work with author Dawn McMillan and illustrator Stephanie Thatcher to celebrate weta and friends beetle, huhu and others as they make mischief in the second of Dawn’s nature-themed picture books, There’s a Weta on my Sweater – He Wētā kei runga i tōku Paraka, which we published in early November.

Did that book make me bug-eyed? It might have, because one of the books I’d love to have published is George Gibbs’ An Exquisite Legacy: The life and art of New Zealand naturalist G.V. Hudson (Potton & Burton). Photography of insects has improved immeasurably in recent decades, but there’s something truly wondrous about hand-drawn illustrations like those Hudson produced.

Jenny Hellen, Publishing Director, Allen & Unwin

The Book of Overthinking was published at the very start of the year, before we even knew the word Covid, and it’s turned out to be one of the year’s most essential books for coping with life’s insecurities. I’m enormously proud to have published it, to be able to help Gwendoline get her excellent advice out in such an accessible way. It’s helped so many people struggling with all the what ifs and worries that this year has thrown at us. In publishing terms, it’s a phenomenon with over 25,000 copies sold so far and rights sales in key territories.

And hats off to Scholastic NZ for their creative ongoing publishing in the ‘Wonky Donkey’ genre. It’s great to see such success.


Alex Hedley, New Zealand Publisher, HarperCollins NZ

Well February seems like a long time ago now but working with Kaiora and Francis Tipene on Life as a Casketeer at the start of 2020 was an absolute joy. As it was with Tom Sainsbury, and his side-splitting book about typical New Zealanders. Our December title on the rise of organised crime in New Zealand, Gangland, definitely fits the tag ‘thrilling’! But if I have to pick one, it’s hard to go past the inspirational Stan Walker and his book Impossible. When I first had the opportunity to meet him, I could see there was something really special about Stan. His book did not disappoint. It’s an inspirational, compelling, and important read.

As for the competition! It’s been a really strong year for all publishers, but I’m most envious I think of Tom Scott’s book Searching for Charlie. Tom is such a talent, and big ups to Upstart for treating booksellers with phenomenal sales leading into Christmas.  

Julia Marshall, Publisher, Gecko Press

Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King was the result of three year’s work, and it is worth every second of wait.

Since its release, I have had librarians tell me it is ‘always out’. Last week Jonathan received a letter from a mother who says her autistic daughter just can’t get enough of it. “As an individual who has struggled with reading, she really sunk into your book.”

At Gecko Press we never know that a book is truly good till it is in the hands of the readers, so this feedback is the best end of year present for us!

A book I would like to have published:

There are many! What a year for good books. In order to encourage a sale, the book I hope I may be given in my stocking is:
We Are Here An atlas of Aotearoa by CHRIS MCDOWALL AND TIM DENEE. I love a lateral approach to information and knowledge, and this seems to me to be poetry, knowledge, critical thinking, philosophy, art, all in one.

Louise Russell, Publisher, Bateman Books

The book I was the most thrilled to have published this year is Addressed to Greta by Fiona Sussman. This funny, moving and uplifting read was just the tonic in a year deprived of international travel. It also marked the launch of Bateman’s fiction list, which we’re extremely excited about. The book I would most like to have published is Dead People I Have Known by Shayne Carter. The best kind of memoir, in my opinion, is well written and unflinching in its honesty – this book has all that in spades.

Kat Quin, Director, Illustrated Publishing

Kuwi & Friends Māori Picture Dictionary is our most thrilling pukapuka to publish, of 2020.

We released her in February 2020, and even with the year that has been, it has been our best-seller, and most widely acclaimed title. We have also received incredible, positive feedback from readers. It was our most challenging to create, and rewarding pukapuka to date!

 

 

Alison Shucksmith, Product and Publishing Manager, Hachette NZ

The book I was most thrilled to publish in 2020 was the new edition of Margaret Mahy’s The Boy with Two Shadows with gorgeous illustrations by Sarah Greig, the winner of the inaugural Margaret Mahy Illustration Prize. This edition combines Mahy’s iconic text with timeless beautiful illustrations to create a perfect gift for adults and children alike.

The book I would have loved to publish is Kat Merewether’s Kuwi & Friends Māori Picture Dictionary. It is a beautiful piece of publishing that effortlessly combines fun and energy with the sharing of knowledge; it is the highly successful mix of a book which will be used every day yet is special and so beautiful to also be the perfect gift.

Robbie Burton, Publisher, Potton & Burton

No one is going to persuade me to risk insulting my authors by choosing one favourite book from our list this year. But I can single out one title that was particularly rewarding to publish, largely because of personal association. This was Tamatea Dusky: The Remarkable Story of Fiordland’s Dusky Sound. Beautifully written by Peta Carey, it was very easy to become completely absorbed in its publication, as some years ago I spent an extremely memorable week down there living on a yacht, as part of a small eco-tour. The mix of landscape, human and natural history was intoxicating, and I relished reliving this trip through this illuminating book. With Covid forcing my hand, I also finally learnt the basics of InDesign during and after lockdown, and Tamatea Dusky is the first book I have ever laid out. I relished the process, a silver lining to this mad, turbulent year.

A book I would have really liked to publish in 2020 is VUP’s In the Time of the Manaroans, by Miro Bilbrough. The work immerses the reader in her complicated, messy time as a teenager living in a variety of counter-culture communities at the Top of the South in the late 70s and 1980s. Both funny and at times, heart-breaking – too often the supposed freedom of the hippy life felt periously close to neglect  – I found it an astounding, dazzling piece of writing. It’s a book I would have been proud to shepherd out into the world.

Fergus Barrowman, Publisher, Victoria University Press

I’m proudest of the four astonishing first books we published at the beginning of the year: Eamonn Marra’s novel in stories, 2000ft Above Worry Level, Madison Hamill’s memoir in essays, Specimen, and Freya Daly Sadgrove’s Head Girl and Oscar Upperton’s New Transgender Blockbusters, both poetry. Four very different books that share vibrancy and self-possession. It was such a bright moment and it seems so long ago!

The book I wish I’d published is Vincent O’Sullivan’s The Dark Is Light Enough, a biographical portrait of Ralph Hotere. When I proposed publishing this without paintings a few years ago, Vincent thought it wouldn’t work, and I’m pleased he changed his mind because it really does. What moved me most is the richness of Vincent’s account of Hotere’s family and childhood up north, and his careful tracing of how important they remained throughout the years down south.

Sally Greer and the Beatnik Publishing Team

Hare & Ruru is our favourite book of the year at Beatnik Publishing. Laura Shallcrass is an exceptional artist, but as well as being visually beautiful, her book is a gentle story that will help anyone who suffers from anxiety. In the story, Hare struggles with an un-named mental malady self-described as ‘noise’. Hare goes on a journey to try and find a solution. Just when Hare thinks there’s no hope, a friend, Ruru, flies calmly down and gives a suggestion, and Hare learns some valuable lessons about the value of talking to someone, focusing on breathing and connecting with nature. We have also published a Te Reo edition.

The book I wish I’d published is Hiakai by Monique Fiso, which is a breathtaking account of Māori food.

 

Odessa Owens, Senior Tutor, Whitiriea

Specimen by Madison Hamill (published by VUP in March) – Maddy is a graduate of our course, as well as IIML and this collection of personal essays is insanely well written and genuinely original.

A Vase and a Vast Sea (published by Escalator Press in October, produced by our publishing students) – a gorgeous collection of new and established writers, all of whom have a connection to Whitiriea through the now disestablished Creative Writing Programme

 Marie Hodgkinson, Tutor, Whitireia

I’d like to nominate No Man’s Land by AJ Fitzwater as my most thrilled to publish – a queer love story that combines NZ’s forgotten wartime and queer histories with magic and the gorgeous landscapes of Central Otago.

 

 

 

 

Beau Davidson, DHD Publishing

Our favourite thus far published in October 2020 is Grandma Lost her Corgis and the one we wanted to publish but have to wait until next year is Hatty and Tatty.

Theo Gibson, CEO, Audiobooks NZ

I think one of the favourite audiobooks we have made so far this year is classic A Good Keen Man by Barry Crump Narrated by his son Martin Crump.

https://soundcloud.com/theo-gibson-642007912/a-good-keen-man-by-barry-crump-audiobook-extract

Renee Hollis, Exisle Publishng

Exisle Publishing are thrilled to have published…

The Reality Slap: How to survive and thrive when life hits hard by Dr Russ Harris and Guiding Lights: The lives and legacies of lighthouse women by Shona Riddell

Exisle Publishing wishes that we had published: A Promised Land by Barack Obama 

 

 

 

Kiwi readers spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful books

By Media Releases, News

COVID-19 disruption has forced many aspects of life online, but when it comes to books the appeal of a beautifully designed, tangible object has not waned.  Luckily, New Zealanders are spoilt for choice with a stunning line up of finalists just announced for the 2020 PANZ Book Design Awards.

A recent report from the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) found physical books make up 93% of the domestic market. So the Association was not surprised by the record number of entries for this year’s awards, with the high quality of titles submitted speaking to both a buoyant domestic market and commitment to local storytelling.

“It’s a clear sign that the New Zealand public continues to value beautiful, world-class books. Adding to the buzz, is the number of submissions to the Emerging Designer category, confirming there is plenty of fresh talent to invigorate the industry in the future,” says Mel Winder, PANZ Councillor for Awards.

In mid-July, four judges with interests spanning book design to bookselling spent a day together in Auckland pouring over the 2020 entries.

“It’s such a pleasure spending a whole day holding, smelling, touching and looking at books and enjoying every fine detail — from typography to endpapers,” says convening judge Anna Brown.

“The discussion was robust, but you would be surprised how easy it was to agree on a shortlist despite our different interests and ‘design’ particularities.”

The judges particularly enjoyed exploring a new category introduced for this year’s awards. The Allen & Unwin Award for Best Commercial Book for Adults is designed to acknowledge the innovative work being done in this area of the market and extend the discussion around book design.

Across all categories, the judges were thrilled at the diversity of design and array of sizes, formats and bindings chosen to enhance the content.  Now they face the hard task of narrowing down the winners and selecting the Gerard Reid Award for Best Book sponsored by Nielsen Book, which will be announced at a special ceremony on Thursday 22 October.

The industry’s design talent will assemble the next day for the PANZ Book Design Workshop which provides the opportunity to dissect the awards, enjoy panel sessions led by leading book designers and network with peers.

The PANZ Book Design Awards were established by the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) to promote excellence in, and provide recognition for, the best book design in New Zealand.

The 2020 PANZ Book Design Awards Finalists are:

PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE NEW ZEALAND AWARD FOR BEST ILLUSTRATED BOOK

Crafting Aotearoa edited by Karl Chitham, Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai and Damian Skinner (Te Papa Press), Alan Deare, Area Design

Eileen Mayo: Nature, Art and Poetry by Peter Vangioni and Jillian Cassidy (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū), Peter Bray, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

One Year Drawn by Pete Bossley (Point Publishing Limited), Alan Deare, Area Design

Promises Promises: 80 years of wooing New Zealand voters by Claire Robinson (Massey University Press), Cover: Xoë Hall. Interior: Gideon Keith and Carly Johnson, Seven

Protest Tautohetohe by Stephanie Gibson, Matariki Williams and Puawai Cairns (Te Papa Press), Gideon Keith, Seven

We Are Here: An atlas of Aotearoa by Chris McDowall and Tim Denee (Massey University Press), Tim Denee

 

UPSTART PRESS AWARD FOR BEST NON-ILLUSTRATED BOOK

Finding Frances Hodgkins by Mary Kisler (Massey University Press), Kate Barraclough and Megan van Staden

Hell Fire Poetry Anthology 2017–18 edited by Andy Coyle (White Wolf Black Rabbit in association with Ilam Press), Aaron Beehre

Somewhere – Women’s Stories of Migration edited by Lorna Jane Harvey (Beatnik), Sally Greer, Beatnik

The Spinoff Book edited by Toby Manhire, illustrations by Toby Morris (Penguin Random House NZ), Cover: Toby Morris. Interior: Katrina Duncan and Simon Chesterman

 

ALLEN & UNWIN AWARD FOR BEST COMMERCIAL BOOK FOR ADULTS

The Book of Knowing by Gwendoline Smith (Allen & Unwin New Zealand), Megan van Staden

The Brilliance of Birds by Skye Wishart and Edin Whitehead (Penguin Random House NZ), Cat Taylor and Rachel Clark

Garage Project: The Art of Beer by Garage Project (Penguin Random House NZ), Cover: Tim Gibson. Interior: Tim Gibson and Katrina Duncan

Little Books of Art (series 2) edited by Sarah Pepperle (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū), Aaron Beehre

The New Zealand Wars / Nga Pakanga o Aotearoa by Vincent O’Malley (Bridget Williams Books), Cover: Neil Pardington. Interior: Neil Pardington and Tina Delceg Neil Pardington Design

 

SCHOLASTIC NEW ZEALAND AWARD FOR BEST CHILDREN’S BOOK

The Gobbledegook Book by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Giselle Clarkson (Gecko Press), Vida Kelly, Vida and Luke Kelly Design

Māui’s Taonga Tales edited by David Brechin-Smith (Te Papa Press), Jodi Wicksteed, Bolster Design

Mophead written and illustrated by Selina Tusitala Marsh (Auckland University Press), Vida Kelly, Vida and Luke Kelly Design

Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi by Ross Calman, Mark Derby, and Toby Morris (Lift Education), Simon Waterfield and Toby Morris

What Can I Do When I Grow Up? by Alain de Botton (The School of Life Press), Cover: Studio Katie Kerr and Tyla Mason. Interior: Studio Katie Kerr

Wildlife of Aotearoa written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop, Vida and Luke Kelly

 

EDIFY AWARD FOR BEST EDUCATIONAL BOOK OR SERIES – PRIMARY

New Zealand Nature Heroes by Gillian Candler (Potton & Burton), Floor van Lierop, This is Them

Ngāti Manawa Taniwha Stories, Big Books for Shared Reading by Lianne Bird (Huia Publishers, Pem Bird and Lianne Bird), Christine Ling, Huia Publishers

Te Kura i Monoa (Māori edition) | The Treasured Plume (English edition) by Brian Morris (Huia Publishers), Scott and Leonie Pearson, Visual Evolution

Toitoi: A Journal for Young Writers and Artists, Issues 16-19 and the Latin America and Southeast Asia Special Issues, with Teacher Support Materials edited by Charlotte Gibbs (Toitoi Media), Kelvin Soh and Sam Wieck of DDMMYY with Grace McFarlane and Vicki Birks, Toitoi Media Ltd

 

EDIFY AWARD FOR BEST EDUCATIONAL BOOK OR SERIES – SECONDARY / TERTIARY

Dragonflies and Damselflies of New Zealand by Milen Marinov and Mike Ashbee (Auckland University Press), Cover: Carolyn Lewis. Interior: Carolyn Lewis and Katrina Duncan

Exploring Society: Sociology for New Zealand Students, 4th Edition edited by Ruth McManus, Steve Matthewman, Chris Brickell, Gregor McLennan and Paul Spoonley (Auckland University Press), Cover: Kalee Jackson. Interior: Katrina Duncan

Hindsight: Pivotal Moments in New Zealand’s History by Mandy Hager (OneTree House), Vasanti Unka

 

1010 PRINTING AWARD FOR BEST COOKBOOK

The Camping Cookbook by Sara Mutande and Andrea Lo Vetere (Beatnik Publishing), Andrea Lo Vetere and Sara Mutande

Pass It On by Shobha Kalyan and Keryn Kalyan (self-published by Shobha Kalyan and Keryn Kalyan), Jesssica Read in collaboration with Shobha Kalyan and Keryn Kalyan

The recipe by Josh Emett (Upstart Press in association with Blackwell & Ruth), Cameron Gibb, Blackwell & Ruth

Two Raw Sisters Changing Perceptions of Plant Based Food by Rosa and Margo Flanagan (Bateman Books), Cheryl Smith, Macarn Design

 

HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS AWARD FOR BEST COVER

Bullseye Bella by James T. Guthrie (Scholastic New Zealand), Leon Mackie

Hell Fire Poetry Anthology 2017–18 edited by Andy Coyle (White Wolf Black Rabbit in association with Ilam Press), Aaron Beehre

Louise Henderson: From Life edited by Felicity Milburn, Lara Strongman and Julia Waite with Christina Barton, Maria Lluïsa Faxedas, CK Stead and Linda Tyler (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū/ Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki), Aaron Beehre

Mophead written and illustrated by Selina Tusitala Marsh (Auckland University Press), Vida Kelly, Vida and Luke Kelly Design

Pass It On by Shobha Kalyan and Keryn Kalyan (self-published by Shobha Kalyan and Keryn Kalyan), Jesssica Read in collaboration with Shobha Kalyan and Keryn Kalyan

 

PANZ AWARD FOR BEST TYPOGRAPHY

Crafting Aotearoa edited by Karl Chitham, Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai and Damian Skinner (Te Papa Press), Alan Deare, Area Design

Eileen Mayo: Nature, Art and Poetry by Peter Vangioni and Jillian Cassidy (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū), Peter Bray, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū

Hell Fire Poetry Anthology 2017–18 edited by Andy Coyle (White Wolf Black Rabbit in association with Ilam Press), Aaron Beehre

One Year Drawn by Pete Bossley (Point Publishing Limited), Alan Deare, Area Design

Protest Tautohetohe by Stephanie Gibson, Matariki Williams and Puawai Cairns (Te Papa Press), Gideon Keith, Seven

We Are Here: An atlas of Aotearoa by Chris McDowall and Tim Denee (Massey University Press), Tim Denee

 

HACHETTE NEW ZEALAND EMERGING DESIGNER 2020 SHORTLIST

Christine Ling

  • Santa’s Worst Christmas / Te Kirihimete i te Whakakorea by Pania Tahau-Hodge and Bryony Walker (Huia Publishers)
  • Te Rua o te Taniwha by Brian Morris (Huia Publishers)
  • Awatea and the Kawa Gang by Fraser Smith (Huia Publishes)
  • Ngā Kōrero Taniwha o Ngāti Manawa | Big Books for Shared Reading by Lianne Bird (Huia Publishers)

 

Jessica Read

  • Pass It On by Shobha Kalyan and Keryn Kalyan (self-published by Shobha Kalyan and Keryn Kalyan)

ENDS

For more info and book images please visit: www.bookdesignawards.co.nz

High-res images are available here

FOR INTERVIEWS OR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Gemma Finlay on behalf of PANZ, gemma@notablepr.co.nz

THE JUDGING PANEL

Associate Professor Anna Brown is a tertiary design educator and researcher, who works with visual artists, curators, art historians and musicians investigating through form, materials and typography how the vehicle of the book can animate and amplify the content it contains. Her international research profile in book design includes a commission for New Zealand’s official Venice Biennale project in 2013. Anna is an Associate Professor in the College of Creative Arts where she is Director Toi Āria — Design for Public Good. For many years she ran her own design business with a specialisation in book design.

Aaron McKirdy is Design Director at Chrometoaster, a multidisciplinary design studio based in Wellington. He has over 20 years experience designing some of New Zealand’s most recognised brands. It was his love of typography and books, though, that saw him work alongside some of the UK’s leading authors such as Lauren Child, Neal Layton and Cressida Cowell at Hodder Children’s Books. Aaron received The Purple Pin for Public Good and collected Australia’s Good Design Award supreme prize “Design of the Year” — the only time this has been awarded outside Australia — for the educational game, Game of Awesome.

Writer and reviewer Kiran Dass is the buyer for Time Out Bookstore in Auckland and reviews books regularly on RNZ and 95bFM. Her writing has appeared in NZ Listener, NZ Herald, The Spinoff, Pantograph Punch, Sunday magazine, Sunday Star-Times, Landfall and The Wire (UK). Dass has chaired sessions at the Auckland Writers Festival, Verb Wellington and WORD Christchurch. She co-hosts the books podcast Papercuts.

Nick Turzynski studied English Literature and Language at Aberdeen University before working in London as a journalist and in advertising, branding, packaging and magazine design. He moved to New Zealand with his family in 1995 where he worked initially at Cuisine magazine, and then as Art Director at Hodder Moa Beckett, when publishing upwards of 60 titles a year was not unusual. In 2003 he started his own company, redinc. Book Design, and enjoys working with a huge variety of authors and publishers. In 2008 he returned to writing with the publication of his first book, How to Eat a Huhu Grub, illustrated by his son Conrad.

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Mark Sayes citation for Life Membership

By News

Mark Sayes citation for Life Membership by Tracy Strudley outlines his contribution to New Zealand educational publishing and copyright:

PANZ Life Member, Mark Sayes

Mark’s service to our industry is long and his knowledge is deep. He was the PANZ council representative on the CLNZ Board from 1999 to the end of 2014 and chair of that board from 2003 – 2007. He was on PANZ council from 2013 – 2015 which is where I was fortunate to work along-side him.
Mark I think you started ESA publishing in 1994 and grew it to become a well-recognised and important brand by both teachers, students and book stores. ESA was acquired by The Open Polytechnic of NZ in 2015.
Mark has always been willing to pass on his deep knowledge of publishing, of Copyright freely. He served us well on Conference sub committees and on a number trade missions. He represented us at a government level, lobbying our causes and building important relationships within Education NZ, MFAT, and with ministers. He would meet any of us just for a cup of coffee to catch up and to assist in any way he could.
Mark’s knowledge, his passion and respect for education, his personable approach with authors, his people, and the publishing process, is one I and many others have a huge admiration for.
Mark Sayes you have truly served us all, so very well and in such a humble and unselfish manner.
Your qualities are of a standard we need to retain in our industry Your experience and passion for building and promoting excellence, must not be lost and it’s for these reasons and your fine personal qualities that you are the recipient of the 2020 Honorary Life Member of the Publishers Association of NZ.

REPORT SHOWS KIWIS OVERWHELMINGLY PREFER PHYSICAL BOOKS

By News

A new report from the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) has revealed Kiwis still vastly prefer print books, with sales of physical books growing while demand for ebooks has shrunk.

Despite significant investment by publishers in digital formats, ebooks make up just 7.2% of total trade and education sales in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Publishing Market Size Report 2019, completed by Nielsen Book Research for PANZ, shows that in the trade market (books for the general consumer) print book sales increased by +7.1% in 2019, while digital books declined by -4.5%.

“The report confirms that New Zealanders continue to prefer the experience that a physical book has to offer,” says PANZ president Julia Marshall.

The report provides a snapshot of an industry that was in good heart at the end of 2019, experiencing a +6% increase in total revenue on the previous year. An impressive 21.1 million books were sold in the country that year.

But the closure of physical and online bookshops in Level Four lockdown from late March 2020 caused a -20% decline in domestic book sales to the end of May 2020.

Consumers clearly missed access to books: Nielsen reports that in the second week of Level 2, domestic revenue through bookstores was up +22% compared to the same week in 2019, although sales overall are still down year-on-year.

The book trade is an important contributor to New Zealand’s economy, generating $292.2 million in total revenue last year with content exported around the world.

Last year New Zealand publishers issued 2662 new books, accounting for 23% of all domestic sales. That figure was up +11% on 2018.

The report also shows a renewed interest in books written in te Reo Māori (either directly or in translation), with these titles seeing +61% growth in unit sales over 2018.

“In the post Covid-19 world, we hope to consolidate the gains made as many consumers rediscovered the pleasure of reading, at a time when they needed it most,” Marshall says.

“The publishing industry is determined to encourage new readers and serve existing ones — providing them with the education, entertainment, reflection and challenge that good books offer.”

 

Book publishers struggling to keep Kiwi stories alive through Covid-19

By Media Releases, News

Kiwi book publishers are struggling to regroup after seeing sales obliterated in April.

The Publishers Association of New Zealand/Te Rau o Tākupu (PANZ) says members are reporting zero or minimal sales for the month of the Level 4 lockdown.

The risk to the book industry is at its greatest since the Global Financial Crisis.

“Publishers, along with our authors, illustrators and booksellers, are caught up in a negative spiral,” says Julia Marshall, PANZ President.

Unlike in most countries, in New Zealand books were not classed as essential items during Level 4.

“Online sales of books made a massive difference to sustaining publishers in many markets, including Australia,” Marshall says.

“While New Zealand publishers have remained at work remotely, preparing books for 2020 and 2021, they couldn’t sell print books until Level 3 permitted online and click & collect sales.”

Despite some short-term rescheduling due to the lockdown, Marshall says that PANZ members are on track to produce many fine books this year.

Publishers have also stepped up to make content available digitally to schools and families, recognising the vital role of books in home-based learning and personal wellbeing.

Educational publishers entrusted design files for many textbooks to the Ministry of Education so it could print and despatch books to schools, ensuring students could go on studying.

Others have given free licence to libraries, booksellers and schools across the country to provide readings and content from New Zealand books during the lockdown period.

Now that it’s ok to shop for books, Marshall encouraged New Zealanders to support the Kiwi booksellers and authors who like all of us are facing major challenges with the Covid-19 epidemic .

“This is the year to buy New Zealand books, if you want to be sure our books are still around in the future.”

ENDS

 

About the Publishers Association of New Zealand

PANZ represents educational, scholarly and trade publishers in New Zealand, from large international publishers to local independent presses. The book publishing industry produces over 2,000 New Zealand titles a year, contributing almost $400 million to GDP.

For any queries please contact:

Craig Gamble, Councillor

Email: craig.gamble@vuw.ac.nz   Tel: 021 402 977

http://www.publishers.org.nz

Catapult Sustainability Leadership Programme scholarship recipient announced

By News

Photo credit: Tom Donald

We are delighted to announce that Alex Hedley, Publisher at Harper Collins has been awarded a scholarship from PANZ to participate in the recently advertised Sustainability Leadership Programme run by Catapult. Alex will be supported by a small group of publishers focused on environmental sustainability and mentored by a member of PANZ Council.

Alex said, ‘I’m so pleased to be awarded this sustainability leadership programme scholarship. It will be a huge privilege to help map the strengths and weaknesses of our industry at this critical time. I believe we can make quick progress, and I feel confident we can put in place guidelines to ensure the environmental sustainability of the work we do, for the futures of our authors, our booksellers and our readers. I’m so pleased PANZ has taken this initiative, and I can’t wait to get stuck in!’

We wish Alex all the very best with the course and look forward to working with him on this vital issue.

 

Catapult designs and delivers the Sustainability Leadership Programme on behalf of the Sustainable Business Council (SBC). The SBC is a member organisation made up of organisations committed to making significant progress on environmental, social, and economic sustainability issues.  More details on the programme can be found here.

PANZ Workshops round-up

By News

It was a full house at the PANZ Promotional Writing and Non-Fiction Editing workshops held in Auckland last month.  With around 50 industry professionals attending both the morning and afternoon workshops the wide range of subjects up for discussion were enthusiastically received by all of our participants.

The morning session featured a frank and open panel discussion, led by Becky Innes, Publicity and Marketing Manager at Penguin Random House, looking at book publicity and how to get your book noticed. Joining Becky on the panel were freelance publicist Rebecca Simpson, Tania Mackenzie-Cooke, Publicity Manager at Hachette New Zealand and Spinoff Books Editor Catherine Woulfe.

It turns out that the fancy wrapped book and box of chocolates might not be the best way to get publicity for your book.  Doing your research and targeting the right person, and at the right time (before the meagre books budget has been spent) is key according to Catherine Woulfe.

Michelle Hurley, Publisher, Allen & Unwin and previously editor of Canvas Magazine, Weekend and Spy then gave her insights on how to make a killer pitch and draft press releases that really work.

The morning sessions concluded with an engaging and interactive workshop from master blurb writer Madeleine Collinge.  Participants were encouraged to bring along a copy of a book with ‘good’ and one with a ‘bad’ blurb and then had the opportunity to rewrite the ‘bad’ copy using the tips and tricks from Madeline’s tutorial.

Following lunch, we headed straight into the Non-Fiction Editing Workshop, which began with a lively panel exploring trends in NZ non-fiction publishing. The discussion was expertly chaired by Claire Murdoch, Head of Publishing at Penguin Random House who was joined by Jenny Hellen, Director NZ Publishing Allen & Unwin, Alex Hedley, Publisher at Harper Collins and Ashleigh Young, Editor at Victoria University Press. The panel generously shared their insights into what’s hot in non-fiction right now and shared some of their publishing highlights of recent times.

Then Stuart Lipshaw, Managing Editor at Penguin Random House NZ led an insightful and fascinating discussion on some of the nitty gritty aspects of behind the scenes publishing. He was joined by Leanne McGregor, Editor at Allen & Unwin and Anna Bowbyes, Managing Editor at Massey University Press.

The formal part of the workshop concluded with an interactive workshop on copy-editing and rewriting, where participants were given support and advice on honing their skills from Leanne McGregor, Stuart Lipshaw and Jenny Hellen.

Finally, the day was wrapped up with a glass of wine and nibbles as participants took the opportunity to mingle and chat informally before braving the Auckland traffic.

We’d like to thank everybody who attended and our wonderful presenters who made the day such a success. We hope to run run a similar workshop in Wellington later in the year, so watch this space for further details.

Publisher reports from Guadalajara International Book Fair 2019

By News

The full team starting the day at Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara, Mexico. Brian Morris, Executive Director, Huia Publishers, Charlotte Gibbs, Publisher, Toitoi Media, Peter Dowling, Publisher, Oratia Media, with stand assistants Max Zecchini Dowling and Alejandra Elena Delgadillo Aceves

Charlotte Gibbs, Publisher, Toitoi Media reports: 

On Saturday, I returned from the Guadalajara Book Fair – la Feria Internacionál del Libro de Guadalajara – which was held at the Expo Guadalajara Centre from 30 November to 8 December. Organised by the University of Guadalajara, it is the second largest book fair in the world and the largest in Latin America. It was an incredible experience – not only was it my first-ever book fair, it was also my first visit to Mexico. I was lucky enough to be guided by veteran publishers – Peter Dowling and Alessandra Zecchini from Oratia Media and Brian Morris from Huia Publishers. As an added bonus, Peter and Alessandra’s son Max assisted on the New Zealand stand, along with Guadalajara-native and recent publishing graduate Alejandra Elena Delgadillo Aceves.

Before arriving in Guadalajara, we spent a few days in Mexico City. At the invitation of the New Zealand Embassy, we met with people from the Mexican Ministry of Education and Ministry of Culture to talk about the New Zealand experience of revitalising an indigenous language. There are 68 indigenous languages in Mexico and over 30 are under immediate threat of extinction. The current government – only one year into a six year term – has made saving them a priority. Brian shared his insights into the Māori experience and initiatives to ensure the survival of te reo Māori. There was a real sense of comradeship and connection, and the exchange of ideas and challenges was heartfelt. It was a privilege to have been there.

We then headed to Guadalajara for the fair. The first few days were overwhelming and, while Peter introduced Brian to publishers, agents and old friends, I tried to get my head around it all. Toitoi has just published a Latin American Special Issue, translated into Spanish and Portuguese and it was well received. Brian presented some of Huia’s beautiful publications, including national award winners The Bomb and Legacy. As well as showcasing his own books, Peter also represented some incredible work from other New Zealand publishers. His long experience of Latin America and this fair, and fluency in Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese, was such an asset to the NZ stand and everyone who came by was made very welcome.

It is lovely to have an opportunity to reflect on my time in Mexico – the colour of the cities, the kindness of its people and the intensity of the fair made it very exciting. Everyone said that it is the very best book fair on the publishing calendar, governed by the warmth and friendliness of the Mexican people and their culture. More than anything, I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know my Kiwi colleagues better and for the chance to zoom out and consider my business from new perspectives. It was professional development at its very best. Every conversation sparked ideas, analysis and a realisation of the enormous opportunities out in the world for New Zealand publishers. It would be fantastic to have an even bigger presence there next year!

2019 Publishers Picks

By News

 

2019 has been a year of exceptional publishing in NZ and to celebrate we asked our members to pick the book they were most thrilled to publish. We also flipped the coin and asked which other publisher’s title they wished they’d commissioned.  There are a few commonalities with books embracing the diversity of New Zealand’s history among the favourites.

Don Long, Publisher, Lift Education E Tū

Lift Education was thrilled to publish Te Tiriti o Waitangi | The Treaty of Waitangi in 2019.

New Zealand’s first non-fiction reorua (dual-language) graphic novel about our founding treaty — a collaboration between Toby Morris (Pākekā), Ross Calman (Māori), Mark Derby (Pākehā), and Piripi Walker (Māori) that demonstrates just how far we’ve come as a society since Witi Ihimaera and I put together Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing back in 1982. What a difference four decades can make. Now, it’s almost unthinkable that such an important part of our history could be tackled solely in English.

The Herald says Te Tiriti o Waitangi | The Treaty of Waitangi is destined to become a classic. Ako calls it “exceptional”. Magpies says it’s “equally subversive, engaging, and exciting.”  The Project and Booksellers New Zealand say, “It should be in every home.”

The book I would most like to see published in the future is a reorua edition of Mona Tracy’s historical novel Rifle and Tomahawk; a novel for young adults that was so far ahead of its time first published by Whitcombe and Tombs in 1927.

Mona Tracy was an extraordinary New Zealand writer and journalist. She and her brother went to Paeroa School and graduated fluent in te reo Māori. As a journalist, she wrote for newspapers such as the Auckland Weekly News, the Weekly Press, and the Sun. She was the secretary of a refugee committee in Christchurch that helped people who were escaping fascism.

In her novel, she takes us into the midst of a vicious guerrilla war being fought in the North Island — the war that featured Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Tūruki and the Pai Mārire forces fighting elements of Ngāti Porou and colonial troops. Her teenage protagonists are both Pākehā and Māori. We aren’t always sure which side we’re on. Right and wrong quickly become blurred.

As we move into an era of finally teaching our history honestly to every child in our schools, we are going to need many more bilingual writers such as Mona Tracy — and will they need to be equally brave when they tell our stories. But will they brave enough to be ahead of their time, too?

Mophead cover imageSam Elworthy, Director, Auckland University Press

The book most thrilled to publish, Mophead: How Your Difference Makes A Difference by Selina Tusitala Marsh. One of those great voyages of discovery for author and publisher as Selina found her hand, her line, her voice to tell her own story in words and pictures.

What would most like to have published: Chris McDowell, We Are Here. I love maps and Chris is a wild genius, so I love this book’s inventive approach to understanding Aotearoa visually.

Jenny Hellen, Publishing Director, Allen & Unwin NZ

It’s so hard to choose just one book – it’s been a year of riches for us: Magnolia Kitchen, The Book of Knowing, A Note Through the Wire, Someone’s Wife, Jacinda Ardern and many others. But the book that most has my heart this year is The Adventures of Tupaia – it’s a crucial yet overlooked story for Aotearoa. Mat Tait’s artwork is phenomenal, Courtney Sina Meredith’s text sings, and our collaboration with Auckland Museum was terrific – we all feel so proud of this book, which was created with much aroha and care.

The book I’d have liked to have published is Selina Tusitala Marsh’s Mophead. What a cool approach to a memoir and that is my favourite cover of the year.

Peter Dowling, Publisher, Oratia Books

Possibly because it’s the last of our 2019 books, and certainly for sentimental reasons, I was thrilled to publish Shipwrecked: New Zealand maritime disasters this year. We were working on the project with Gavin McLean when he passed away in April, and it was truly a labour of love by Ky Gentry to pick up the reins and complete a book that we know that old bibliophile Gavin would have been proud to have in hand. Including superb colour prints by the now 96-year-old artist Eric Heath adds to my feeling that this is the final word on wrecks and sinkings around our coasts.

And it’s definitely because I’m an atlas nut that among a fine field this year, the book I’d really like to have published is We Are Here: An Atlas of Aotearoa by Chris McDowall and Tim Denee (Massey University Press). So great to see that printed maps and imaginative renderings of data are still possible in this digitally mapped-out age, and it’s done beautifully!

Lynette Evans, Publisher, Scholastic NZ

Scholastic is delighted to extend the legacy of New Zealand’s all-time favourite digger by reinvigorating the much-loved and bestselling Little Yellow Digger series by Betty and Alan Gilderdale, first published in 1993. Now, for the next generation of readers, a new fleet of Little Yellow Digger adventures has begun with Betty and Alan’s son Peter having taken up the storytelling baton with a brand-new picture book in the series.

The Little Yellow Digger ABC is written with the same, perfectly attuned rhyme and rhythm of his mother’s classics. Working with a selection of his father’s original art, Peter has cleverly composed a playful Little Yellow Digger alphabet adventure, enhanced by his own hand-drawn
calligraphy alphabet that children can lift the flaps to find. Scholastic couldn’t be prouder to publish this handsome and sturdy new addition to the iconic LYD range.

Regarding what we wish we’d published, let’s be honest and say anything written by David Walliams or Jeff Kinney! Haha.

Alison Shucksmith, Publishing Manager, Hachette NZ

The book we are most thrilled to have published this year is the Edmonds My First Cookbook. With over 600 illustrations, it has been a labour of love for the entire team. The feedback from kids and grown-ups has made all that work well worth it.

As for the book we wished we had published, that is so hard. There are so many wonderful books out there that we can’t pick.

Craig Gamble, Publishing Manager, Victoria University Press

Our favourite book this year from VUP was The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox, and our favourite non VUP book was We Are Here: An Atlas of Aotearoa by Massey University Press.

Alex Hedley, New Zealand Publisher, HarperCollins Publishers NZ

I am so pleased to have published Perform Under Pressure by Ceri Evans this year. We all deal with pressure in our own way, but Ceri’s method is a proven formula for success for those crunchy ‘make-or-break’ moments we all have from time to time. And if it’s good enough for Richie McCaw, it’s good enough for me!

What do I envy… the first book that comes to mind when I think about other publishing this year is All of This is For You by Ruby Jones (Penguin Random House). It’s a gorgeous package and feels like the perfect response to a year that has, at times, been very distressing.


David Brash, Country Manager, New Holland Publisher (NZ)

Although we had quite a number of strong titles this year, Trevor Bentley’s “Pakeha Slaves, Maori Masters” garnered discussions not generally discussed in open forums.  Contentious. Encouraged debate and lively discussion (and was a huge seller for us).  Fourteen publishers initially rejected the manuscript (so Trevor advises).

Adrian Kinnaird, Senior Editor, Bateman

It was really hard to narrow this down to just one title, but in terms of ‘thrill’ factor, it would be Monty Souter’s Whitiki! Whiti! Whiti! E!: Maori In the First World War. It’s a colossal achievement that was years in the making for Monty and the dedicated team of editors and designers that assembled it. It’s an important chapter in our national history told on a grand scale – almost 600 pages, highlighted by rare war photography that has been colourised by Peter Jackson’s Wingnut Films. A true taonga for any bookshelf.

The book we would have most liked to have published? Bill Bryson’s The Body. Our publisher recently picked this up to read on a long-haul flight to the US, and the rest of the editorial team is keen to read it over the summer break. History, science, domestic life, Shakespeare, and now the human body – is there any subject this author can’t make a must-read?

Christine Dale, OneTree House

The book we were most thrilled to have published this year:

Hindsight: Pivotal Moments in New Zealand’s History – Mandy Hager

Because it contributes to New Zealand’s history and because the first printing sold out in under 60 days.

We would liked to have published: Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh.

We are wishing for: more female lead characters at ANY level but especially Junior Fiction.

Three Festivals

By News

Vanda Symon has the time of her life at UK crime festivals
by Vanda Symon

First published in the NZ Author which is the magazine for NZSA members. The New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc) Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa  is the principal representative for the professional interests of writers. Reprinted with permission.

Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate

I couldn’t believe my luck when I received the invitation to be a guest at the Newcastle Noir Crime Festival. An invitation to an overseas festival! Me?! My publisher amped up the excitement levels even more by saying Crimefest was in Bristol the weekend after Newcastle Noir in May, how about we see if we can get you involved in that too, and we can do some events in London in the week between.

She didn’t have to ask twice.

For me, being invited to the festivals in Britain was a huge thing. It signalled a rebirth of my writing career which had been on hold while I completed my PhD in science communication. I found the intensity of research and writing for academia meant I had nothing left in the tank for creative writing so I had produced no new work in the five years that it took to become Dr Vanda. But I was in the incredibly fortunate position of having found a UK publisher for my Detective Sam Shephard novels, so they had gained a second life at the best possible time. Overkill was published in the UK in September last year, and The Ringmaster in April this year – in time to coincide with the festivals.

Then to top off an amazing year, via a very excited email from my publisher, Karen Sullivan, I was invited to The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival at Harrogate in July. As she put it, “No one gets invited to Harrogate, Vanda!” I had heard fabulous things about Harrogate over the years, and here I was, about to experience it. Well, if I could afford it.

So, let’s talk turkey. It is all well and good being invited to overseas festivals – but as anyone who has tried to organise an overseas holiday is aware – travel is expensive. There was no way I was in a financial position to be able to get to these festivals if I was completely paying my own way. The festival organisers were not in a position to pay my airfares, and my publisher, Orenda Books, was not in a position to pay my airfares either. Fortunately there is funding available. PANZ, in association with Creative New Zealand, administer the International Promotional Fund for Literature. This fund is to assist New Zealand writers to attend international literary festivals to promote their books and awareness of New Zealand Literature. I feel extremely grateful and fortunate that I applied for and received funding for both trips. Thank you!

One of the fabulous things about having three festivals in quick succession was being able to see and appreciate the different flavour each festival had.

Newcastle Noir was a lovely, intimate festival held at the City Library in Newcastle. Its programme was a single stream line-up, with a wonderful range of topics and authors. I liked being able to attend every session I wanted. The panel I was on was “Do you come from a land down under?” – the sessions were all named after song titles – and we took the very casual antipodean approach, with spot quizzes and dishing out Toffee Pops to the crowd. As well as the fabulous panel line-up, some of the side events were great fun. I got to experience my first ever silent disco. Wasn’t going to attend that, but went along for a look – then lo and behold someone slapped some headphones on my ears, and what do you know? I boogied the night away.

CrimeFest in Bristol was a different kind of a festival – a convention where there were two to three sessions running at once, so there was a lot of choice. I had the pleasure of being on a session called “A Question of Guilt: How clear-cut is crime?”, and moderating a session on “Worldwide Police Procedurals: differences and similarities”. The convention was held in The Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel, which had a multitude of rooms and ballrooms and spaces for the huge number of participants.

Antipodean Noir panellists L-R: Vanda Symon, Stella Duffy, Jane Harper,Christian White, Craig Sisterson

Harrogate was another scale up again, but incredibly managed to feel intimate and very friendly. It was held at The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate, famous for being the place Agatha Christie disappeared to in 1926. This grand old hotel was set up beautifully with the ballroom accommodating the single stream sessions. As well as spaces within the hotel, there were marquees and tents on the lawn set up as bars, bookshops and breakout venues. The session I was involved in – “Antipodean Noir” was packed out, with close to a thousand people there. As well as attending sessions with crime writers of great renown, a highlight was boogying away to the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers – a band consisting of crime-writing stars Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Doug Johnston, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste. (Although their catch phrase is “Murdering songs for fun”, they are damn good and were invited to play Glastonbury this year.)

The personal value I got from attending these festivals was immense. Writing is so much about output, so it was wonderful being able to wallow in the festivals and experience all of this fabulous input. The writers were inspirational, thought-provoking, entertaining and occasionally alarming! I got to meet and chat with fellow authors, publishers, readers, bloggers and reviewers. I was able to step out of my life and my day job, and be Vanda the writer. My batteries were recharged.

The festivals also came at a pivotal time in my life when I was questioning what I wanted to be. It reinforced in my mind, that yes, writing is what I wanted to do, what I needed to do.

If you get the opportunity to travel to international festivals, do so. And do remember there are funding opportunities available to support this if you have been invited. Newcastle Noir, Crimefest and Harrogate were life-changing events for me – it’s been a special year.

Details of the International Promotional Fund for Literature can be found here.