A-Z challenge, Kotahi Bay, writing

H is for Home

dorothyHome is where the heart is. Home is where you hang your hat. Home is where one starts from. There are a lot of quotes and sayings about home – there are a lot of thoughts and feelings about the matter as well.

Kotahi Bay is home to a lot of different people, some who were born into the Bay – Melody for instance runs away to the city, but finds herself running back to the Bay, when things go to hell. Noah on the other hand is not a native to Kotahi Bay, but he finds himself there and eager to do what he can to help protect it.

Which is one of the overarching themes of the series. What makes a place feel like home, and what barriers are in place that prevent other people from making that same connection? What changes a place from being just a town to having that ineffable quality of feeling like ‘home’?

How important is your home to you? What would you do to protect it?

You’ll have to read the books in order to find out 😉

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Guest post, New Zealand, self publishing, writing

Writing a Book set in New Zealand

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 set in New Zealand.

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)

You can contact Catherine Mede through her website www.catherinemede.com and facebooktwitter and pinterest  or email her catherine@catherinemede.com – she loves to have contact with her fans.

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Musings

It’s the end of New Zealand Speculative Fiction Blogging Week, and I missed yesterdays post – I’d been going to tell you about some stuff and then today I was going to post the final version of the short story I started two years ago during the very first Blogging Week.

Yeah, not gonna happen – sorry about that. My touch pad and buttons on the laptop started failing a couple of days ago, and doing anything on the computer has been incredibly frustrating. So I avoided it. As much as possible. Which means that the house is looking very tidy (hooray for those spring cleaning vibes!), but I haven’t managed a lot of anything writing related for the last wee while and the short story is very much not in a ‘final’ state.

That’s life sometimes, isn’t it.

So while I have not been writing, I have been thinking, mostly about how one goes about bringing a Kiwi voice to their writing. I’m thinking about this because my current work in progress, Saving Tomorrow, is set in a future Wellington. I’m thinking about it because I’m still breaking down the walls I have when it comes to using New Zealand as a setting.

It’s what I know, it’s what I love, but there is very much a barrier there. I think, because most of the fiction I grew up on was from elsewhere. The TV shows, the movies, the cartoons. So much of everything we had access to growing up was from other shores, and it makes me ponder – which parts of my writers voice are New Zealand?

In some respects, I think this is a redundant question. Part of being a NZer is that we are a cross between a colony and a native race. We’ve got this blend of what was already here and what was introduced – that’s still very true for today, as it was for years gone by. So naturally, we draw from a whole range of things and our language, our way of communicating with the world is influenced by everything we are exposed to.

The thing I need to remind myself is that NZ is rich with possibilities and that if I have no particular setting in mind, then it’s a positive and not a negative to make the most of my country of origin. I frequently um and ah about where to set something, and I just need to plug ‘New Zealand’ in as my default. My writing will be stronger for it – and hell, there are less of us, so in some ways its more original than your typical medieval fantasy, or other overdone settings 😉

I hope you’ve enjoyed this weeks, and checked out some of the other posts written for it.

Tomorrow I’ll be raving about how getting a dishwasher has revolutionized my life…

And, I’ll leave you with another pic from the beach. Isn’t the blue of the sky amazing?

seagulls in flight, after eating our sandwich crusts

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Location, location, location

As I was lying in bed last night I started thinking about where Saving Tomorrow is set. So far there are no location keys. In fact, typically, I tend to write things without saying where they are. It’s in a city. In the future. On Earth.

But is that enough? Wouldn’t I gain more by placing it into a more specific setting than leaving it to the readers imagination?

This question is tumbling around in my mind a lot today, and so I’m turning to you, my dear readers, for opinions. What works for you?

I’m tossing around the idea of setting the novel in New Zealand. Because, well, it’s where I am. I love the country, I know it, and it would be nice to write something set locally. I’ve avoided writing local in the past because I haven’t read much set here. It seemed like no-one wanted to know about little old NZ. That perhaps writing it set locally would mean it was more difficult to sell to an overseas market.

This is what happens when you have publishers in NZ telling you that NZer’s don’t read fantasy, don’t read science fiction. When there are so very few places within the country that will so much as look at a piece of speculative fiction with an eye to publishing. So of course, my thinking goes, if you want to sell it to the world, you should use a location more people can identify with. Or don’t specify one.

But is that really the case? I love reading sci-fi set on other worlds. Isn’t that kind of the same thing? As long as there is enough in the story that relates to me as a human being, then I can identify with the characters and connect with the novel. That’s what really matters.

Yet, I am still undecided.

To specify, or not? That IS the question.

So tell me, my lovely readers, what do you think? How much does the setting impact on you? Does it really matter?