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The Write Stuff - Shore authors put pen to paper…

Curling up with a good book somewhere warm can be a wonderful way to wile away the hours in winter. There must be something in the air this season, as several North Shore writers have all chosen this time to launch new works. Channel wanted to celebrate some of our local writing talent whose books are hitting the shelves, to share in their achievements and suggest some local reads to add to your bookshelves this season...

David Downs & Jon Bridges  // No.8 Re-Wired

‘If necessity is the mother of invention then Kiwi ingenuity is its father.’  No. 8 Re-wired celebrates the stories behind 202 home-grown creations and the crafty people who dreamt them up. From well-known innovations (human flight, the discovery of DNA, the pavlova) to lesser-known feats (instant coffee, the referee's whistle, the electronic petrol pump) to the newest in high-tech world-firsts (robots and jetpacks!), this book will give you a taste of the new era of Kiwi ingenuity. And, yes, David and Jon claim, the pav is definitely ours.  Written by Devonport’s David Downs, a familiar face in the community as a member of The Victoria Theatre Trust in the village, and co-writer Jon Bridges, No. 8 Re-Wired is a surprising and absorbing account of Kiwi can-do and celebration of the No. 8 Wire spirit on which New Zealand is built.  The book, published by Penguin, also provides a revealing look at how innovation can power us into the future.

David has had a successful career in both the private, and lately the public sector, working for organisations that create, use or promote innovation and inventiveness. He has over 20 years’ experience in the ICT industry working for Microsoft in NZ and in Asia, and he is experienced in start-up businesses in a variety of industries. He is also an author, accomplished public speaker and communicator, and an award-winning radio and TV actor.

Jon is a well known writer, TV presenter and producer in NZ, with TV credits in IceTV, Who Ate All the Pies, and the panel show Would I Lie to You? For the past four years he has been the producer of NZ’s most successful TV comedy show, 7 Days.

What did you find most challenging about bringing this book to fruition?
The most challenging thing about writing a book like this is the sheer amount of research to do; for each invention (and there are over 200!) we had to find out the key facts, talk to the inventor if they are still around, or someone who knew them if possible, find photos or illustrations and then try to tell the story in a fun, accessible way, in a few hundred words. The great news is that now that we’ve done this research, its available to everyone who wants to understand NZ innovations and inventions.

What is the one overriding message you would wish readers take from your book?
One overriding message from the book is that New Zealanders cannot continue to think of ourselves as a highly innovative nation – that was certainly true in the past, but now we need to change the way we work, the way we collaborate and the way we share knowledge and learn from others to continue to be world leaders. We call this, being ‘No.8 Re-wired’.  

Doreen Davy  //  Emotional Life

Released by UK publisher Psyche Books, Dr Doreen Davy’s book Emotional Life explores how we can learn to manage our emotions to help us make the most of life. Doreen has lived and worked on the Shore for over 30 years, after originally hailing from Liverpool, England. Doreen has a PHD in Psychology and has a particular interest and expertise in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy - she runs Cognitive Behaviour Therapy North Shore from her office in Albany. 

Her book provides readers with a variety of valuable skills and strategies to help ‘gain mastery over their emotions in order to live healthy, happy and fulfilling lives’. The subtitle to Doreen’s book is ‘Managing your feelings to make the most of your precious time on Earth.’ She explains what made her put pen to paper: “I decided to write this book because I want people to understand just how powerful emotions are and why they are such an integral part of being a human being.

“As a practicing psychologist, my job is to help unhappy people feel better. Given the knowledge I have gained over the years in regard to human happiness and misery, I believe I am well qualified to provide the reader with valuable guidance on the subject of emotions.”

Doreen is one of the ten finalists in the published book category for the 2014 Ashton Wylie Book Award. Ten authors nationwide are contenders for this award, which comes with a $10,000 prize - one of the largest monetary prizes for literature in New Zealand.

What did you find most challenging about bringing this book to fruition?
The most challenging aspect of completing this book, from concept to publication, was finding the time to actually write it. To write a book while trying to balance the conflicting demands of work, home, family and friends is not easy. For me, the momentum of writing was best maintained by making the book part of my routine, and I did this by allocating one hour every day to work on my book rather than trying to fit it into any available spare time. Time management was definitely the most challenging part of writing the book.

What is the one overriding message you would wish readers take from your book?
The overriding message I would wish readers to take from my book is that we are able to manage our emotions. We can learn to maximise emotionally positive experiences and minimise the negative feelings that affect our lives. By managing our emotions in this way, we are able to really make the most of our precious time on Earth, living a happy, healthier and more fulfilling life.

Fiona Sussman  //  Shifting Colours

Having grown up in South Africa during the apartheid years, Fiona Sussman felt her book Shifting Colours was something tangible she could do, after at times feeling so helpless within the system there. Some of her own experiences find their way in to her novel, which has been compared to The Secret Life of Bees and includes a cover quote from literary powerhouse Fay Weldon, who comments: ‘A highly emotional, instantly readable, unusually intelligent and satisfying novel about the days of apartheid in South Africa.’

Former GP Fiona gave up her medical practice about 12 years ago to go back to her first love – writing. She is a familiar face on the Shore, through her work in the medical and charity fields. Her husband Luigi’s business is in Milford and the couple run the Auckland Charity Hospital (ARCH) out of his offices. She has chosen Paper Plus Takapuna as the place to officially launch her book on August 13th.

She is Kiwi through and through and now lives in Dairy Flat but she started life in a publisher's home in South Africa (her father headed Heinemann Publishing South Africa for many years) with the likes of Wilbur Smith, Frank Muir and Charles Pick as regular dinner guests. 

Amazon UK choose Fiona, who is published out of the UK by Alison & Busby, as one of their 12 Rising Stars for 2014.  She has also just secured a publishing deal for this debut novel in the USA with Penguin USA imprint Berkley, a publishing house with a stellar list of bestselling authors including Nora Roberts, Tom Clancy and Charlaine Harris.

What did you find most challenging about bringing this book to fruition?
My greatest challenge was overcoming the uncertainties that come with being a new writer. Was I writing something worthwhile? Would it ever be published? Would it be well received? Mostly, my passion for the story overcame these misgivings; however, sometimes I'd succumb. Fortunately my husband and children never stopped believing in me; they were there to top me up whenever I was running low on staying power.

What is the one overriding message you would wish readers take from your book?
I am reluctant to suggest there is a message in Shifting Colours. My hope is that readers will engage with the characters and thereby perhaps reflect on the issues of prejudice and racial intolerance that still plague our world.

Justin St. Vincent  //  Love, Live, Forgive

Contributions from music powerhouses such as Moby, Arrested Development and Rudimental are featured in Love Live Forgive by Birkenhead-based author Justin St Vincent. Justin is the Director and Founder of Xtreme Music and has self-funded three books on the spiritual significance of music and his latest title is a collation of a myriad of musicians’ thoughts and ideas on the title topic.
His books have attracted attention from the Fetzer Institute in America and Justin was invited to be on their Arts Council, an offer he took up and has served on for the past three years.
This post resulted in the Institute commissioning him to collate another book on 'Love and Forgiveness' - how this has impacted artists and how artists can portray these ideas through their art. Love Live Forgive is the result.
The project features many New Zealand artists, as well as several highly-respected international artists. The book has already had 1000 print orders from schools and other educational organisations in America and there have been over 600 free downloads of the book since its launch at the start of June. It is downloadable for free as an e-book and printed versions are available through Amazon.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in bringing your book to fruition?
There were two main challenges: one was time-management to keep a sense of balance in my life. Any writer may also admit that it often isn’t easy keeping a full-time day-job while pursuing a full-time passion for publishing. Yet we’ve all got to carve out our time to ensure life, work, and play all get an equal share. The second challenge was making sure the book had a dynamic spectrum of artistic, cultural, and faith-based contributors. For example, over 6 months I interviewed over 130 musicians, artists, and writers from around the world to discover who were the visionaries that could share their insights on the book’s key themes: Artistry, Love & Forgiveness, Compassion & Healing, Transformation, and Unity. These five groupings then formed the chapter framework for the overall book.

What is the one overriding message you hope readers take from your book?
The one overriding message of “Love Live Forgive” is: Love is For-Giving. The book encourages us all to have happy and healthy relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and people we connect with in life. I’m becoming increasingly aware that young artists are developing a genuine and heart-felt hunger to find their own answers to the big questions of life, and yet they struggle to find a source that provides them with a signpost. I feel that this project can strongly resonate with young artists; teenagers, students, and graduates alike, to help develop their own understanding of love, forgiveness, the creative spirit, and how to practically express these essential virtues in their world today. As a daily reading or reflection, this book can offer an inspiring moment in reading the insights from artists around the world.

by Channel Editorial