I need to clone myself: Fee’s Picks for WORD Christchurch 2024

On Tuesday night an excited crowd launched the WORD Festival Christchurch 2024 programme at Christchurch Art Gallery, complete with a free drink and plenty of nibbles. I had a three boys as I riffled through the pages. Its a well-prepared festival with lots of incredible speakers and events - making it hard to narrow down my choices.. I wish I could see everything but I'd have to clone myself and no one's invented that yet. 

Events I'm going to:

The Bookshop Detectives AND Ngaio Marsh Awards:

Catalogue record for The bookshop detectives: Dead girl goneThis double-banger combines charms with thrills. The Bookshop Detectives by Wardini's Bookshop's Louise and Gareth Ward is, I'm hoping, the first in a series following bookshop owners and their dog. Awww! I love me a bit of cosy crime, and this book may well be on the shortlist for the Ngaio Marsh Awards, which follows on the coattails of a talk about these colourful authors.

Romancing AI:

I'm biased here, as I was part of the team that trounced Chat GPT last year in AI vs Librarians. I wanted to be preserved forever as an AI Librarian (think I Am Legend), so I'm keen to see the upgrade of this interactive event, which had a lots of audience engagement. What highs (or lows) will Brian and Eamonn take us to in 2024? Come along, find out and have a lot of laughs. Who knows, maybe you'll find romance. Silver Metal Lover, anyone?

Writing Short Stories, Emma Hislop (Kai Tahu):

This is a writing workshop from an Ockham Award Winner (Ruin and Other Stories won the 2024 Hubert Church Award for Best First Book) and I am going to have to clone myself for it, or run to catch up with Amy Head's hīkoi. I've been writing a book since NaNoWriMo last year which could easily translate into a collection of related short stories, just like Amy Head's Signs of Life, or Carl Nixon's The Waters. It's a thriller about a paranoid librarian who reads too many murder books. It's totally my life, lol.

Signs of Life: Amy Head:

A hīkoi, visiting scenes from and reading from her book of the same name. Signs of Life is a unique set of short stories linked by the character Flick: the collective experience of characters who come to terms with the life-threatening Canterbury Earthquakes. The landscape is much changed, but the memories remain in the hearts of locals. I'm really looking forward to this and I love the WORD walking tours.

Events I really want to go to, but will have to clone myself for:

Strong Female Characters: Robyn Malcom and Emily Perkins

This is one of the headline events. I'm a huge fan of Robyn Malcolm, and Emily Perkins.

Robyn Malcolm, is remembered as Ellen Crozier from Shortland Street and endeared to us forever as Cheryl West in Outrageous Fortune. She's recently popped up on TV again as Penny in After The Party. Robyn's natural looking fifty-something lead doesn't pretend to be palatable to the audience, she's fierce, protective and doesn't mince words. She won't be mincing words on the stage either, I bet.

Emily Perkins won the Jann Medlicott Prize for Fiction at this year's Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, with her delicious character study, the mould-breaking novel Lioness. Perkins is a screenwriter for stage and the screen, with a writing credit for After The Party, co-created by Robyn and Dianne Taylor. I'd love to hear their views on strong women on screen and in books.

Writing Power and Inspiring Minds: 

Anything Pip Adam is in has got my vote. This year she's talking politics with Jared Davidson in Writing Power, and in a huge line-up of Inspiring Minds in the event of the same name - with international guest Sasha taqʷšəblu LaPointe

Narrative Threads:

Airini Beautrais and David Coventry's Narrative Threads looks interesting, you can't get her hands on Airini's The Beautiful Afternoon at the moment, but it will be on sale at the event. David Coventry is a local, and his book, The Invisible Mile, won the Hubert Church Award for Best First Book at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards in 2016. His latest book, Performance, is a hot potato too. The two authors find common ground exploring change, identity the harrowing journeys life takes us on.

In the Frame:

This is one of WORD Festival's opening events and marks the centenary of Janet's birth. I read Janet Frame's works as a young woman. In this event a panel of authors, Catherine Taylor (UK), Sasha taqwšəblu LaPointe (USA), Tayi Tibble (Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāti Porou) Talia Marshall (Ngāti Kuia, Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Takihiku) and Airana Ngarewa (Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāruahine, Ngā Rauru) moments of being inspired by the muse. At the ends the recipient of the 2024 Janet Frame Literary Trust award will be announced.

The Mermaid Chronicles:

Last but not least on my list is The Mermaid Chronicles, with Megan Dunn. Like Megan, I completely love mermaids, but NOT the Disney kind. I prefer mermaids of the scary, unpretty type, as portrayed in stories like The Island of Sea Women, and The Mermaid of Black Conch. Maybe I'll stream this one, as I do want to know about the type of mermaids float Megan's boat.

Whatever floats your boat, there's a lot of fish in this sea. Happy festival fishing from Fee. 

Make your own picks of the festival - check the programme online online or picking up a printed copy from your library.