Escalator Press and young writers

Escalator Press describes itself as a ‘learning press’. Learning is in its DNA – encouraging new authors, working alongside them at every stage of the process, providing authors with media training, workshops on websites etc, working with the publishing students at Whitireia, taking on interns – it’s quite a long list. But over the last month we’ve had another role, as part of the ‘Creative Writing for Youth’ programme at the Hutt Library. In fact, we’re a big part of the programme.

Escalator authors Rudy Castañeda Lopez, Trish Harris and Rob Hack all talked about their writing experience, and Adrienne Jansen talked from the publishing point of view. And that’s a big point of view these days, when the options for publishing have really opened up. Most of this group of young writers are working on their first novel, so we might see them before long!

On the experience, Rudy Castañeda Lopez writes:

Rudy at the launch of Open Your Eyes, Jackson Ryder

Rudy at the launch of Open Your Eyes, Jackson Ryder

It was a very pleasant experience. I didn’t know what to expect, whether there would be two that showed up or thirty. As it turned out there were a very respectable dozen high school students.

I did a brief reading (one minute) then they did an exercise. In this case they chose an image from a carefully chosen wide variety of possibilities then they had to write for seven minutes from the point of view of one of the subjects in the photo. Then, after that, write another seven minutes from the POV of another character, then another. I was invited to participate and, despite my fear of being shown up, I plunged in with satisfying result. I might even make it into a short story.
Some of the  students read from their efforts and I was very impressed at the quality of their work. Afterwards I told them about my own journey in writing, my methodology, talked a bit about short stories vs novels and finally tips I wished I had been given when I started writing – basically to write a lot, take risks, embrace failure as a catalyst of growth and to read.
They were very attentive and asked intelligent questions. In all, I was there for two delightful hours and would go back in a second.

 

See Hutt City Libraries website for more information on this great programme.

Book offers valuable insights 

 

Arthritis New Zealand Policy Advisor, Jane Wilson, is finding The Walking Stick Tree a valuable resource.

‘I had made the decision over Christmas to buy some new books which I could learn from. The Walking Stick Tree was one of those books. I found it useful to hear of historical treatment methods, to hear Trish’s lived experience from diagnosis as a child to present day and found her sections where she reflected on arthritis and disability really insightful and useful in my work.’

Jane and author Trish Harris can be seen here at the ‘Let’s Talk: our communities, our health’ forum where they met by chance recently. ‘It was great to meet and chat to Trish. Her book’s a recommended read for people to understand the lived experience of arthritis, but also just as a fantastic read. I particularly liked the cover!’

Erin Donohue book launch

Erin Donohue shares the story behind her bestselling YA novel.  This powerful coming-of-age story follows 17-year-old Caleb Evans as he struggles to hold his life together while everything around him is falling apart. It comes as no surprise to us that it was recently the 2nd highest-selling New Zealand children’s fiction title on the Nielsen bestseller list. There was barely a dry eye in the house as Erin shared the experiences that inspired her novel; we are sure you will be moved by her speech too.

To read the speech click here

A thoughtful review of The Walking Stick Tree

Low Visionary, a blog with a focus on disability rights and a passion for accessibility,  has written a review of Trish Harris’ memoir that is well worth a read. 

“…there was much anguished discussion among disabled people about the need to tell better, more realistic and more nuanced disability stories. The Walking Stick Tree makes an excellent contribution to filling that aching void. It establishes a place for disability and disabled writers in the literary world in general, since the themes are universal, but it makes a place, with its familiar setting, in the New Zealand literary world.”

Read the full review here.

Latest news on The Walking Stick Tree

Trish Harris’s memoir The Walking Stick Tree has received wide media coverage. It featured on RNZ’s Nine toNoon programme and on the Stuff news website with articles also appearing in journals, magazines and blogs. We’re delighted to see the book—which contains not only a great story but also four essays and quirky illustrations—has made it onto the recommended reading list for Massey University’s Disability Studies course this semester. That’s a first!

Hooked on NZ Books

Over the summer it was great to see LJ Ritchie’s Like Nobody’s Watching listed in the top ten books for the Hooked on NZ Books He Ao Ano summer reading & reviewing challenge.

Hooked on NZ Books asked readers to nominate their favourite NZ Young Adult titles. Over the summer, the challenge to readers was to read as many titles as they could, and to review them for the website if they wanted to. The challenge was for readers 13-18.

Newsworthy: Chris Tse and Rob Hack talk poetry

'Everything Is Here' by Rob HackRob Hack’s first collection of poems, Everything Is Here, explores his relationship to his Rarotongan heritage and the places where his family lived while growing up. Rob spoke with award-winning poet Chris Tse about the intricacies of writing poetry and the challenges that come along with it. Chris was the winner of the Jessie Mackay Prize for Best First Book of Poetry (2016) and shortlisted for the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for his first book of poems, How to Be Dead in a Year of Snakes.
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