How to interview yourself – WORD Christchurch

If, like me, there is a strong possibility that you will get through life without ever being interviewed, why not do it yourself? Here's my interview with myself on WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival - now a mere nine sleeps away.

What is it with you and festivals Roberta?

I know there should be an academic booky answer for this, but I will stick to the truth. I like the buzz. I like being in a room with other readers and having books and words as the focus of the gathering. Festivals are where my tribe gathers. I must be there.

How many of these tribal gatherings have you attended?

Three in Auckland (the Big Kahuna of book festivals in New Zealand) and three in Christchurch - the smaller but perfectly formed hometown gathering.

What's the difference between the Auckland and the Christchurch Festivals?

One is big and wonderful. The other is smaller and quite perfect. I love them both but I am especially proud of the team at WORD Christchurch that brings us this festival. They have done a brilliant job in the face of some pretty earth-shattering events. Thanks.

A significant difference between the two for me is that AWF always takes place in one main venue Aotea Square, so I feel very connected to that place. I know where the good wifi spots are, where it's quiet enough to conduct an interview, the best nearby coffee outlets and the location of all the loos. Not that I'm implying for one moment that toilet availability is what makes a festival great. But you did ask.

WORD, which is Christchurch's bi-annual festival has been held at a different venue each time. It keeps you on your toes. In 2012 it took place in a tent in Hagley Park - think mud and regular small earth tremors. In 2014 the main venue was in Rydges Hotel overlooking the Cardboard Cathedral, it was a tight squeeze which only added to the atmosphere. This year I am super excited about the new venues on offer - the Isaac Royal Theatre and the brand new The Piano.

What about this year's programme?

When first I lay my hands on a programme I stroke it lovingly for a bit, then I take it out for many cappuccinos and page through it highlighting all my favourite events. I have three festival rules:

I like to attend opening night. It feels optimistic and full of promise. This year the event is Can Books Change the World? Four authors will discuss the impact of literature on the turmoil of our world.

Next I like to choose my hot favourite - this year it is Ask a Mortician - Caitlin Doughty. So young, so beautiful so mortician-y. No one suggested this in career guidance when I was at school!

Finally I select an event about which I know very little. Sometimes I choose this event because the presenter is very good looking. But I digress. This year it's going to be How To Be a Writer by the 'amazingly funny' Steve Hely because I've never heard of him, and he's not too shabby in the looks department either. After that I fill up my goodie bag until I can't fit in any more events and blog at the same time.

And the blogging, how hard is that to do at a festival?

Festival blogging is very fast paced. It makes me feel sharp, focussed and in the zone. If I could bottle that feeling I would make a million. I cancel all other engagements for that period of time. I also do a fair bit of preparation, like reading reviews and writing my drafts with the book covers and author photos ready to use. I think the actual blogging is the easy part because you don't have to think what to write about. You just pitch up (in my case on a caffeine high), listen to what the authors say and write that down. Trust me, they are always very, very quotable.

Anything else to share?

Just three words: See you there!


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