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My first novel

My second post for New Zealand Speculative Fiction Blogging week (Sep 13-19).

In some ways, your first novel is a lot like your first love – it changes your whole life, you never forget it, but it is rarely ‘the one’. Lifelines was such for me.

It was the first novel I’d written since my early teens, and the first thing I’d ever set in New Zealand. The novel begins in Auckland, but soon traverses down the country into pretty much the middle of nowhere. It’s a story about family – the blood kind, and the kind you choose – and a woman who is following her sister’s dying wish, even though it will no doubt bring her into danger.

I had so much fun researching for the novel – making sure my travel times were accurate, infusing it with my personal knowledge and experience of travelling in my country, but most of all, the knowledge I gained of the Patupaiarehe. I had gone in search of some beings to use in my story, and they were a perfect fit.

image courtesy of http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/patupaiarehe

Mine aren’t blue, by the way, but it’s a neat stamp nonetheless.

I’d never heard of them before I went looking, and it proved to me that there was so much to be discovered about my own country – how many other creatures had I not heard of? How many legends unexplored?

My first novel made me a writer, it got me into the habit and changed my whole life – but it also opened my eyes to my own country.

Once upon a time I was a teenager who thought that New Zealand was boring. I mean, we have very few animals which might kill us – no lions, no tigers, no bears (oh my!). We don’t have Stonehenge, or pyramids. Psh. Boring

Now I know just how naive I was. New Zealand is full of intriguing places and stories, its history might not be as long or as well known as other countries, but what we have is unique, it’s ours and one of the ways we can own that, honour that, is through our writing.

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15 thoughts on “My first novel”

  1. Im looking forward to reading your first novel.You already have a dedicated fan in me, from the first time i read yesterdays blog.

  2. “New Zealand is full of intriguing places and stories, its history might not be as long or as well known as other countries, but what we have is unique, it’s ours and one of the ways we can own that, honour that, is through our writing.”

    Spot on, Cassie!

    1. I could totally put lions in NZ now, as an angsty teenager though, I was simply unimpressed with what we had. Now, anything is possible!

      thanks for stopping by 🙂

  3. I thought my hometown was boring, too. Actually, it still is on surface level – it’s in the middle of nowhere, with no huge superstores, the movie theater is practically ancient (which was, until a few years ago, ‘bring your own chair.’ No joke.), there are no coffee shops, only a handful of restaurants, and everything closes at 5 on weekdays and noon on Saturdays (except for the single grocery store and the few restaurants, which close around 9).

    All that to say, I appreciate those things SO MUCH MORE now that I don’t live there. It was hard to grow up there – got bored easily (but my library grew immensely, as did my piano/vocal skills) and it was hard to make friends. But the landscape is beautiful, and its lack of development is appealing now, too.

    Anyway. I soooo want to go to New Zealand.

    On my cruise, I met a few people from NZ and missed you. 🙂 Great post!

    1. aww, you were missed while you were away too Kayla! I’m so glad you had a great time 🙂 And also glad that it’s not just me who couldn’t appreciate my home until I was older. I think sometimes we need that little bit of distance to really see it for what it is, rather than what it seemed like growing up.

    1. I hope I have some ‘great contributions’ in me! It’s nice to know that there are so many other writers in NZ embracing who and what they are these days though. Watch out world, here we come!

  4. Ditto what Merrilee said.

    We learn so much about ourselves and about what it means to be a writer from the first novel and in your recalling it and sharing it with us, you have also made New Zealand sound fascinating. Now I want to know more, too!

  5. Hi Cassie,
    Thank you for revealing the Patupaiarehe to me. I had never heard of them before and, coming as I do from the UK, have always wondered where all the stories like this are in NZ. The UK has a huge heritage of old folklore, and many amazing creatures with names lie boggits, bogarts and things that simply go bump in the night.
    Glad to find there are some in NZ too.
    Marcus

    1. Hey Marcus, thanks for stopping by! I too was pleased to find our own mythology and folklore – sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper to find it I guess. The truth is that a lot of Maori culture/legend/myth was shoved down and never really resurfaced in a big way. I guess thats where writers can come in and breath new life to old stories.

  6. I loved your first novel – and always wanted a sequel to it 😦 Your own people were likened to the Patupairehe Cassie due to their tendancy to disappear when other Maori came their way. Nomadic, peaceseeking, quite different in how they lived to what is commonly thought of with Maori. I guess I also need to share with you a story I’ve told to children of the Ngangara! – imagine larger than man sized lizard type creature with it’s own language (could be learnt by humans, sounds were able to be made by us), could fly, prefers meat raw and fresh – plenty of stories up and down the country about these beings including taking humans as “mates”. Thank you for reviving these memories.

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