As a proud kiwi author, I love having the opportunity to share the space on my blog with other local writers. Today, Catherine Mede is stopping by to talk a bit about writing a book set in New Zealand. Her debut novel, Cursed Love, is releasing on the 30th of November, so we’re almost release day buddies! I’ve known Catherine for years now, and it’s really exciting that we’re getting to this point in our writing lives at the same time. Not only that, but we’re both releasing work set in our beautiful Aotearoa.
So without further ado… I’ll hand pass you over into Catherine’s capable hands.
Writing a book based in New Zealand is considered by most to be a suicide mission. Comments like ‘nobody will read a book set in NZ,’ have often been said to me, however I have watched from the side lines, with interest, a New Zealand author who has had some success with a series of romances set in Wellington.
It has often been reported that if you want a book to be popular, you must set it in the United States, because that is where the majority of the readers are and they only read books set in the US.
I beg to differ.
Readers come from all over the world, not just the United States. What about England, Europe, Asia? Surely they have readers too.
Recent articles have reported that the majority of readers, especially of romance, are looking for books that are set in exotic locations, and to some, New Zealand is exotic. How can it not be, with all the natural native bush, the clear blue lakes, the active volcano’s and the tropical weather (well, maybe in the winterless North.) More and more readers are picking up books set in New Zealand, Australia and even the islands as a means to escape reality, and enjoy a moment in a bright clean atmosphere.
When I first started writing Cursed Love, I wanted to set it in Nelson, because that is where I worked as an insurance assessor. The setting of the office is pretty much where I worked, although the name has been changed, along with the brokerage – authors are allowed some poetic licence. Nelson is a place that is close to my heart, having lived there for many years. I know the places that my characters visit, or attend. The view overlooking Nelson harbour, although the office set on the port is ficitious, because you are no longer allowed on the wharf unless you work for the Port Authorities, but my father used to work in a watchtower that had a great view over the chip tower and Roll-on Roll-off ferry berth. The office block and the ferry berth no longer exist, both being removed some years ago.
Golden Bay and the Abel Tasman National Park are also favourite places I go and I have ideas for books that are yet to be written, to be set in these beautiful places.
Nelson as the setting for a romance seems a little out there, but romance happens everywhere, not just in Wellington or Auckland. Small towns have opportunities to have love too, and with having the Maori aspect to my story, adds to the reading experience, while educating the reader a little bit about the vast and rich history of New Zealand. We might be a small country, but our history is still relatively new. We only have two hundred plus years, while cities in the US have three to four hundred years of history, compared to thousands of years in the UK, Europe and Asia.
I think New Zealand has a lot to offer as a setting for stories. There are the All Blacks, the setting for a book written by an American author (Just this Once by Rosalind James), Wellington and its vistas over the harbour (Wicked in Wellington series by Kris Pearson), the rich history of the early settlers (The Runaway Settlers and A Canoe in the Mist by Elsie Locke), marble mountain caves (Maurice Gee’s The Halfmen of O series).
Maori culture has a lot to offer the story world too. It has a beautiful language, and a unique perspective on the world, where they don’t actually own the land, but protect it for the future generations. The more I read and understand the Maori culture, the more I understand their opposition to a lot of the local bylaws and laws that the Government have made and still continue to make.
But this isn’t a political rant.
I love New Zealand, I love what it has to offer, and I can think of no better way of showcasing its beauty and naturalness than by using it as a background for my stories.
Who is Catherine Mede?
Catherine Mede lives in a rural village in the South Island of New Zealand with her husband, son and two cats. She works when she can, doing whatever is available – within reason! When not writing, Catherine likes to read, draw and work in her garden.
Having developed a love for writing when she was at High School, it wasn’t until she was in her thirties she decided to really get down and dirty with the words in her head.
Romance and Speculative Fiction are what Catherine likes to write about because she understands the need to get lost in a love that sometimes seems mythical. And adding Fantasy elements just fulfills her needs to be creative fanciful worlds.
When she was younger, she wrote to escape reality, now she writes it to allow others to enter a world where love has a happily ever after.
Catherine has a short story published in a Masters of Horror Anthology and attends writing seminars and groups in her area.
When she is rich and famous, Catherine intends to have a large library which will double as her writing space and own an Aston Martin Vanquish. (Dreams are Free)