Interview with Graeme Lay

Photo by Jane Ussher

Name: Graeme Lay

Date of birth: 15 January 1944

Place of birth: Foxton

Now living in: Devonport, North Shore, Auckland

What is your favourite food?

Any type of seafood, but especially mussels and oysters.

Do you have a nickname, and if so, what is it?

No, I’m just ‘Graeme’.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

When I forgot to call the school assembly to attention when the headmaster arrived. (He gave me a filthy look, in front of the whole school).

How do you relax?

By reading, watching cricket and having a few beers on my front verandah as the sun goes down.

Who inspired you when you were little?

My Uncle Jim, and Enid Blyton.

What were you like at school?

Fairly lazy. I only worked at subjects that interested me, for teachers I liked.

What was your favourite/most hated subject at school?

My favourite subject was English; the one I hated most was Maths (my brain just couldn’t cope with lots of numbers).

What was the book you most loved as a child?

The Folk of the Faraway Tree, by Enid Blyton, and The Coral Island, by R. M. Ballantyne.

Which person from the past would you most like to meet?

William Shakespeare.

Who is your favourite author/children’s author?

Favourite author is Evelyn Waugh; favourite children’s author is Maurice Gee, opens a new window.

Why did you want to be a writer?

Because I always loved reading stories, and loved learning new words. Language and its possibilities always fascinated me. These things combined to give me the urge to write my own stories.

Do you have a special place where you write your books?

Yes, I have a sunny office at the back of our 1915 villa, with a ‘peep of the sea’ and a view of Rangitoto, Auckland’s volcanic island in the Hauraki gulf.

What’s the best thing and worst thing about being a writer?

The best thing is having a new book arrive, shiny and pristine, after months (sometimes years) of work going into it. The worst thing is having to put up with stupid reviews.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you like to be?

A lawyer.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read widely and as often as you can. Read everything: fact, fiction, newspapers, magazines and the dictionary. And when you begin to write, be very determined to succeed. When your work is rejected (as it will be at first - mine was for a couple of years) grit your teeth, start again and stubbornly carry on. If you show enough determination and hard work (the other essential quality), you will eventually succeed!

Read a short story online by Graeme Lay
Read some books by Graeme Lay
More information about Graeme Lay

This interview is from 2002.

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