Murder in the Library – Nelson

Ned Kelly Award winner Alan Carter will be joined by three-time Ngaios winner Paul Cleave for an event at Nelson Library on Thursday 24 May. It’s the first time that Paul Cleave has taken part in the Murder in the Library series, so we’re very excited. More details to follow soon, and more event announcements.

Murder in the Library – Kapiti Coast

The Ngaio Marsh Awards, in association with the New Zealand Book Council, Kāpiti Coast District Libraries and the Friends of the Library, invites booklovers to an event featuring four talented local writers.

2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards entrants Penelope Haines, Suzanne Main, David McGill, and Helen Vivienne Fletcher will discuss where their writing inspiration comes from, how they create interesting characters, craft page-turning storylines, and infuse their tales with real-life issues as well as touches of crime and mystery.

WHEN: Monday 30 April 2018
WHERE: Paraparaumu Library, 9 Iver Trask Place, Paraparaumu
WHEN: 6.30pm

This is a free event. Coffee, tea and refreshments will be served.

Murder in the Library – New Lynn

The Ngaio Marsh Awards, in association with the New Zealand Book Council and Auckland Libraries, invite Auckland booklovers to an event featuring four talented local crime writers.

Over the past century, crime writing has evolved from puzzle-like reading into modern novels delving deeply into people, places, and psychology. Still the world’s most popular form of storytelling, crime fiction can take readers into all aspects of society, providing page-turning entertainment and memorable characters while also addressing real-life social issues.

2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards contenders John Ling, Kirsten McKenzie, and Gary Paul Stephenson will be joined by 2017 Ngaios finalist Simon Wyatt to discuss how they craft authentic characters and narrative tension, and the impact of setting on tales of crime and mystery. Auckland lawyer and Ngaio Marsh Awards judge Darise Bennington will play referee and prosecute the offenders.

WHEN: Thursday, 12 April 2018
WHERE: New Lynn War Memorial Library, 3 Memorial Drive
WHEN: 6.15 for a 6.30pm panel discussion

This is a free event.
RSVP: newlynn.library@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz 

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Why We Don’t All Like the Same Books

We welcome our guest blogger Nōnen Títi …

Why do we go around saying that one or another book “is good”, “is fascinating”, “is realistic”, or, alternatively, “is stupid”, “is simplistic” or “is not proper literature”? Why do we express our opinion about certain genres of books as if they are factual?

I am not talking about books that can justifiably be labelled “not very good”, because they have problems with grammar, punctuation, cohesion, pace, tone and characterization – problems related to the ability to use language or the craft of writing itself – which are somewhat objective measurements.

I am talking about our assumption that, despite referring to different genres and believing that “all people are unique”, we can somehow judge the quality of a story according to its content.

For example, fans of science fiction, especially hard science fiction, tend to dismiss everything that has a sense of magic as “unrealistic”, while their own books tend to be dismissed as having “cardboard characters”; many intellectual readers have a habit of calling action or romance stories “simple” or “stupid”, while others believe that books that focus on dialogue are “just talk and not story” or characters are “not really human” if they lack the expected desire for sex or adventure. And many still believe that a story that is not filled with a lot of high-brow words is “not literature”.

In other words, we assume that “a good book” must comply with our personal sense of reality, human nature and importance.

In short, we tend to believe that our picture of the world is the only correct picture, because we have lived with that picture our entire life, and we will righteously dismiss the others as “wrong”.

Worse than that, we tend to judge not only the book, but its writer and the readers of those books according to the same standards, so that we might think that people who read ‘simple’ stories are simple people.

But people are not all alike – and they are not all unique either – so that the attraction we feel towards certain genres of books (and characters) are a direct result of our inborn differences. These differences come in types that are like “genres” of books, while each person is as unique as different books are.

Now, it turns out that people of the same type tend to like similar books or contents.

For example, those “hard science fiction” readers I mentioned above, are usually people who are themselves quite technical and much better at math or computers than they are at dealing with people. This is why their characters tend to be a bit flat in the eyes of those people who tend to be naturally empathic, and whose deep (and sometimes dark) characters and their relationships are prominent in their stories, while they tend to brush over the technology. Whether as readers or writers, both might like science fiction, because their attention is not on today, but on what they imagine to be possible in the future, yet they emphasize either the technology or the people.

You could say these “future-people” are either “data-people” or “people-people”.

Alternatively, people who are naturally practical and who live for the here-and-now are not usually very much interested in stories that take either science and technology or human nature to the far reaches of the possible. They prefer stories they can relate to, like family or animal stories, action, adventure and they might read historical novels or biographies. We’ll name them “today-people”, and they also come in two types: “data-people” and “people-people”.

So now we have four groups of people, and each naturally feels more at home with some genres and not with others, although there is no clear boundary.

However, contrary to the common belief, fantasy does not belong with the “future-people”. Fantasy has many facets; it can focus on adventure, on people or on magic, each of which will attract different readers.

“Today-people” tend to accept the facts of the (fantasy) story as real for the duration of the book. They don’t care whether it is realistic or possible in the future; they accept the facts of the fiction and they enjoy the story exactly because it is intangible – because the story allows them to step out of their real world for a little bit. For example, they accept that the hero can fly.

“Future-people” are forever imagining what the future might look like, so that they will take the ‘facts’ of today or of science, and they create the fiction from those facts. They enjoy the fantasy, because it gives them new ideas. They might contemplate how people could fly in the future and use that as a basis for a new story or invention.

In this way, different genres are naturally attractive to different ‘genres’ of people and instead of dismiss books that don’t match our own nature, we might try and learn something about each other if we get a little bit brave and try something different for a change. The great thing about fiction is that it allows us to step into the mind (the perspective) of those different people for a little bit.

And this wonderful little book shop is the perfect place to give it a try.

Of course, these types of personalities are not really known by the names I gave them in this post. They are known by letter indicators, and instead of “genres’, I have used musical styles to explain those differences in my non-fiction books.

Thank you for reading.

Nōnen Títi

Murder in the Library – Christchurch

Entry: Free event but bookings required
RSVP: LibraryEvents@ccc.govt.nz
The Ngaio Marsh Awards, in association with the New Zealand Book Council and Christchurch City Libraries, invite booklovers to an event featuring four talented Canterbury authors.

Crime writing has evolved from the puzzle-like mysteries of Agatha Christie and Christchurch’s own Dame Ngaio Marsh to modern novels delving deeply into people, places, and psychology. It has continued to be the world’s most popular form of storytelling.

2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards entrants Edmund Bohan, Katherine Hayton, Justin Warren and Bill Wicks will discuss what drew them to crime writing, how they craft memorable characters and page-turning stories, and the impact of our New Zealand setting.

WHEN: Wednesday, 11 April 2018
WHERE: Sydenham Room, South Library, 66 Colombo Street
WHEN: 6.30pm panel discussion

Murder in the Library – Lower Hutt

The Ngaio Marsh Awards, in association with the New Zealand Book Council and Hutt City Libraries, invites booklovers to an event featuring four talented and acclaimed Wellington writers.

2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards entrants Annaleese Jochems, Jennifer Lane, and Kirsten McDougall will discuss how they create memorable characters, craft page-turning plotlines, and infuse their exciting storytelling with real-life issues. Ockham Awards shortlisted author Brannavan Gnanalingam will prosecute the offenders.

WHEN: Friday 6 April 2018
WHERE: War Memorial Library, 2 Queens Drive, Lower Hutt
WHEN: 6.15 for a 6.30pm panel discussion

This is a free event.

Murder in the Library – Dunedin

The Ngaio Marsh Awards, in association with Dunedin Public Libraries and the New Zealand Book Council, invites local booklovers to a thrilling event featuring four talented Otago authors.

2017 Ngaio Marsh Award winner Finn Bell will be joined by 2014 Ngaio Marsh Award winner Liam McIlvanney, 3x Ngaios finalist and current Ngaio Marsh Award judge Vanda Symon, and award-winning young adult mystery writer Ella West. The panel will discuss how setting and social issues can be explored through page-turning crime tales, what drew them to mystery writing, and all things noir.

WHEN: Thursday 5 April 2018
WHERE: 4th Floor, Dunedin City Library, Moray Place
WHEN: 6pm

ENTRY: free, but bookings essential
RSVP: Dunedin City Library, (03) 474 3690 or library@dcc.govt.nz

Murder in the Library – Otahuhu

The Ngaio Marsh Awards, in association with Auckland Libraries, invite South Auckland booklovers to a free event featuring a diverse panel of four talented local crime writers.

Over the past century, crime writing has evolved from puzzle-like entertainment into modern novels delving deeply into people, places, and psychology. Still the world’s most popular form of storytelling, crime fiction can take readers into all aspects of society, providing page-turning entertainment and memorable characters while also addressing real-life social issues.

2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards contender Angus McLean is joined by fellow Auckland crime writers Ian Austin, Andrea Jutson, and Kelly Lyndon to talk about what inspired them to write tales full of crime, and how they create memorable characters and bring the world of their novels to vibrant life.

WHEN: Wednesday, 4 April 2017
WHERE: Otahuhu Library, 28-30 Mason Ave, Otahuhu, Auckland
WHEN: 6.15 for a 6.30pm panel discussion

This is a free event.