I grew up in the flat lands at the bottom of Te Wai Pounamu. Southland, New Zealand. It was a place of wild winds and lots of rain and when the sun shone, we were in heaven. My father was an engineer and we lived in the midst of a farming community in houses that were usually old, and until I was at High School, rented. Wherever we were was fine by me. Some places had enormous trees and soft hedges, others were by the river, or a short walk to the swamp but they all had two things in common – a view of the wildfire bouncing magically around the hills, (Aurora Australis), and a place to read.  With a book I could be at ballet school, or boarding school or shipwrecked on an island. I read so much that my mother, herself an avid reader, would get annoyed.  “Get your nose out of that book and go outside. It’s a lovely day out there.” I would put down the book and take the story with me in my head. No-one tells me to stop reading anymore – in fact, I read several books  at the same time. Currently it’s a James Lee Burke thriller, Joan Didion’s “White Diaries” and a great YA read, “Dangerous Lies,” by Becca Fitzpatrick. Each is placed in a stragetic part of my house and when there is nothing else demanding attention, I steal a chapter here and there. Aurora Australis shoots to prominence in short, sharp bursts when the weather is fine but here, in the heart of Christchurch, I read and I write and I can’t think of anything better than that.

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