Quick questions with Anna Smaill – WORD Christchurch

Cover of The ChimesAnna Smaill, author of the wonderful moody and musical dystopian novel The Chimes, is coming to Christchurch.

She is speaking on the panel Imaginary Cities as part of WORD Shifting Points of view in the Christchurch Arts Festival.

Thanks to Anna for answering our quick questions.

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

Both my parents grew up in Christchurch, so we often came down for family holidays and I have many childhood memories of the city, as well as more recent ones from the two years I spent there as a student. However, I haven’t visited properly since the earthquake. What I really want to do is simply walk around for a few hours, visiting and remembering old places, but also taking in the changes and the new landscape and life of the city.

What do you think about libraries?

Libraries are lifeblood! We grew up within walking distance of our local library (Leys Institute in Ponsonby), and for my sister, brother and me it was variously a source of entertainment, education, after-school care and, finally, employment (we each worked there as shelvers then library assistants).

I always feel happy in libraries. They seem like places of equality and wondrous possibility – built around this essential humanist ideal that everyone deserves access to knowledge and literature. Now I take my daughter to Newtown Library in Wellington, and to Wellington Central, and it’s great to feel that connection starting up again.

What would be your "desert island book"?

Cover of War and PeaceAh, that’s a hard one. I’m tempted to echo the very astute Helen Macdonald and cover all bases by opting for The Complete Works of Shakespeare. But I do think I’d miss the texture and immersion of fiction. So, I’m going to take War and Peace, because it has the broadest emotional scope of anything I’ve ever read, and because its great length means I’m less likely to be driven mad by repetition before I’m rescued.

Share a surprising fact about yourself

Most of my bio notes point out that I trained as a violinist, but I don’t usually mention my brief but thrilling tenure as a trombonist in my school jazz band. I really miss the trombone – what an instrument it is! Such swagger and sensitivity! I often daydream about taking it up again.

More Quick questions with WORD Christchurch guests.

Kōrerorero mai - Join the conversation.

The Chimes

The Violinist in Spring

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