Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Ngā mihi o te tau hou

The joy of reading - me reading to my daughter and her 2-year-old cousin about goddesses and legendary women, during my first festive season without my father.

Craig, once again every second Tuesday. 

Kia ora and gidday everyone.

I hope you've all had a wonderful festive season with friends and family, and a good start to 2023. After a longer-than-expected hiatus dealing with the final months of a terminal illness in my close family, I'm very glad to be back writing at Murder is Everywhere. "Ngā mihi o te tau hou" as the indigenous people of my home country say. 

Greetings for the new year. 

After a planned two-week trip back home to Aotearoa New Zealand in early October that turned into a little over three months spent there, today I've returned to London and am looking ahead to what 2023 may bring. It's been a tough time as you'd imagine, in several ways expected and not, but my heart is full of love and gratitude too. 

A sunrise walk along Waikuku Beach to mark my parents' anniversary - good bookish t-shirt on there too, for any Michael Connelly fans.

As I've said to several friends and relatives over the past few weeks, my father's passing was the best version of a very bad thing. It's amazing how even in the hardest times, there can be plenty to be thankful for. I've had three months of 'my cup being filled', as one friend put it, while being back home, so even though it's all drizzly and wintry here in London now, I'm looking forward to what 2023 may bring. And feeling like even if there are bumps and bruises along the way - as each year can bring - there'll be plenty of good and great moments too. Some of the things that helped me in recent months included nature, creativity, exercise, storytelling, and time spent with good people.

Feeling connected to people and our world, things bigger than ourselves.

Clear eyes, full heart, for the Friday Night Lights fans.

I didn't mean to get too philosophical this first post back, so here's a few snapshots from my spring and summer (northern Fall/Autumn and Winter) in Aotearoa New Zealand, and a few bookish thoughts. Kia ora rawa atu (thanks heaps) too to the Murder is Everywhere team - Jeff, Stan, Annamaria, Michael, Zoe, Caro, Ovidia, Sujata, Kwei, Susan - who were very understanding about everything I had going on. Books people are pretty great, in general, and the crime fiction community is often particularly welcoming, supportive and collegial overall. (From my experience at a range of books and arts festivals over the years). 

Jo, owner of the award-winning Page & Blackmore bookshop in Nelson, NZ, with DARK DEEDS DOWN UNDER, my first crime fiction anthology as an editor. 

Sunrise in the Bay of Islands in late December. The awe we can get from being in nature helps me appreciate life and put plenty of things in perspective. 

Hanging out with some wonderful book peeps after Nelson Arts Festival in October, including Māori filmmaker turned crime writer Michael Bennett (centre) and my old Waimea College drama pal Doug Brooks (back), who chaired Michael in a fun panel about screen and page storytelling

After not seeing each other for 10 weeks, Miss Seven and I enjoyed lots of exploring and adventuring and plenty of beach walks and sea, river, and pool swims in Nelson/Tasman, Auckland and Northland during the festive season.

A view across my hometown following a dawn walk up trail on a 'wee hill' behind it that I later realised was higher than anything in southern England. I think I miss the views of the mountains as much as the sea, living in London.

A classic 'real fruit ice cream' at Mapua Wharf - local boysenberries blended into ice cream, or in this case frozen yoghurt. Yummy! 

I think that's enough of the holiday snaps from a non-holiday visit back home. Thanks for reading. I'll be bringing plenty more bookish stuff your way, as well as general Australia and New Zealand-related content and other storytelling thoughts, here at Murder is Everywhere in the coming months. 

Oh PS, happy US publication day to my pal Michael Bennett, an extraordinary Māori filmmaker and award-winning author whose debut crime novel BETTER THE BLOOD is released in hardcover and e-book in the United States today.

Michael's debut crime novel in good company at McIntyre's Books in North Carolina

As far as I'm aware, it's the first novel starring a Māori detective that's written by a Māori storyteller (we've had Māori authors write psychological thrillers or amateur sleuth tales before, and Pakeha - European descent - Kiwi authors write books with Māori detectives before. The latter akin to Tony Hillerman writing his excellent Navajo series.) So that's kind of momentous - it's great to see more talented indigenous writers bringing their keyboards and perspectives to crime fiction. But more than that, it's just a great read, as Publisher's Weekly and many others have been raving about pre-release, exploring modern life for indigenous peoples and ongoing impact of colonization through a page-turning thriller with a fabulous lead, Detective Hana Westerman, who struggles to balance duty and heritage - and single motherhood of a precocious teenager. Give it a go, booklovers.

Whakamihi (congrats) Michael. 

Until next time. Ka kite anō. 

Whakataukī of the fortnight: 

Inspired by Zoe and her 'word of the week', I'll be ending my fortnightly posts by sharing a whakataukī (Māori proverb), a pithy and poetic thought to mull on as we go through life. 

He tini ngā whetū e ngaro i te kapua iti
(Many stars cannot be concealed by a small cloud)

A starry sky above the Church of the Good Shepherd near Lake Tekapo in New Zealand's South Island - we used a similar image for the cover of DARK DEEDS DOWN UNDER

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