Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I'm honoured to be included as a comic book and graphic novels mentor, in the New Zealand Society of Authors' Mentoring Programme, alongside Dr Tim Bollinger, Robyn Kenealy, Ant Sang, Sarah Laing, Michel Mulipola, Matt Emery, and more. Full list here.


I'm very proud to have two poems in JAAM 32; Shorelines, "Outliers" and "The Piano", alongside excellent work from Emma Neale, Tim Jones, David Eggleton, Rata Gordon, Rachel Bush, and many other writers I admire. My gratitude to Sue Wootton for selecting my pieces and for giving "Outliers" a nod in her wonderful introduction.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Deep thanks

I'm thrilled to have received a Pushcart Prize nomination from Blue Fifth Review, for my forthcoming fiction "Deep Sea". My sincere thanks to Founding Editor Sam Rasnake and Editor Michelle Elvy.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Great full year

My thanks to Pikitia Press, who kindly asked me to review my great year in and out of comics. I'm very grateful they went to the trouble of sourcing complimentary pages from my comics to illustrate the post.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Islanded one


Day one of the Graphic Novelist Exchange Residency began with Ant Sang, Tim Gibson and me being introduced to Chuang Yung-shin, 61Chi and Ahn Zhe by Catriona Ferguson, Director of the NZ Book Council, with the help of translation from Dala Publishing's Aho Huang, at Vaughan Park Retreat Centre (you can read my introduction to the residency here).

Left to right: Dala Publishing's Aho Huang (our translator), 61Chi, Ahn Zhe, me, Chuang Yung-shin, Tim Gibson and Ant Sang.

Once the welcoming was over, we had the first of what was to become a daily ritual: the meeting.

The meeting gave us all a chance to air our initial ideas and thoughts about what form our collaboration could yield. 

Since finding out I had been selected for the residency, I had put a lot of thought into form and took along some graphic novels and stories and sketches to illustrate my ideas. cover-with-Costa

Click on images for links. 

I chose The Octonauts and the Only Lonely Monster to show how pages could be printed in different directions, upside down, for eg, to engage readers to participate physically with book and how this technique could be employed to make a reader from one culture shift their perspective, literally, to see a work from another culture's point-of-view (start video at 5:05 for demonstration of how the book has to be turned to be read).

I talked about Mary and Bryan Talbot's graphic collaboration, Dotter of her Father's Eyes, which demonstrated beautifully not only the relationship of its subjects but also is endearingly revealing about its author's marriage. 

New Zealand cartoonist Grant Buist had told me about another collaboration that involved translation of sorts: The Red Re[a]d Diary, by Teddy Kristiansen with Steven T. Seagle, where one artist, unable to read the language of the original manuscript, had made up his own interpretation for what the story was by looking at the images and text and guessing. 

And I talked about the graphic conversation Dylan Horrocks had with Emily Perkins, that resulted in All Hail Ellie Destroyer of Worlds.

I wanted to visually represent the surface image we present to strangers and the inner that we only reveal once we become friends, and how this applies to our cultures. 

I demonstrated how cut-outs could be used to hide then reveal parts of a narrative.


This idea was popular as it fit well with the overall theme of the exchange: Island to Island

The meeting gave us lots to think about. We decided a walk was in order to let the thoughts settle in. 

Vaughan Park is siutated at the edge of Long Bay Regional Park and the weather was kind to us as we took in the beautiful views....
...recorded ourselves recording and...

...recorded graphic fiction in the sand....

...encountered a little history about an earlier cross cultural exchange...

...and found our own ways to bridge our cultures.



Left to right: 61CHi, Ahn Zhe, me, Chaung Yung-shin, Tim Gibson, Ant Sang, Catriona Ferguson (Director of NZ Book Council), [taking the photograph, and translating] Dala Publishing's Aho Huang. 

October was such a successful month for me, I didn't get a chance to write much about the Graphic Novelist Exchange Residency I'm participating in as I had to scoot off to Scotland to attend the Dundee International Book Prize (though, if you click on the link, you can read brief reports from Ant, Tim and me about the first week of the residency, on Booknotes Unbound, as well as introductions to the work of 61Chi, Chuang Yung-shin and Ahn Zhe). But since I landed back in NZ, I've had time to think over the past month and realise how lucky I am. I have really landed on my feet.

Thanks to the New Zealand Book Council and the Publisher's Association of New Zealand in association with the Taipei Book Fair Foundation, I got selected to spend a week at Vaughan Park with Ant Sang, Tim Gibson, and Taiwanese graphic artists 61Chi, Ahn Zhe and Chuang Yung-shin (Sean), to work on a collaborative graphic fiction publication.

Art work from the book-in-progress will be exhibited at the Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE) in February 2015, when the second part of the residency will take place in Taiwan.

 View Illustrations exhibit.jpg in slide show      View Illustrations Hall3.jpg in slide showView Illustrations TIBE2014.jpg in slide show

When I found out I had been selected for the residency, I started a visual journal. But I thought it might be interesting to blog the experience, island to island, starting with day one of the residency.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lovetot in the way

Sheffield's iconic Castle Market is to be demolished to make way for a park. It shouldn't bother me, I live in New Zealand now, not South Yorkshire, England, and yet I feel a pang of nostalgia for the old familiar things. I bought my satchel there, on a shopping trip with my great aunt May.

I've always felt my satchel to be something of a lucky charm, despite the frequency with which the stitching has come undone, and last year I was proved right when a story it featured in won Short Fiction's Seventh Annual Competition, having been illustrated beautifully by Jo Davies.

 Jo Davies' illustration of my satchel for Short Fiction #7. 

Jo had not seen a picture of my satchel but drew her interpretation from the description in my story, "While Women Rage in Winter", and generously gave me the resulting art work, for which I'm more grateful than she could possibly know.

The Satchel of Castle Lovetot                     

What made you outlast all others, baby?
The tapestry and canvas were just fad.

But you I used and often pushed aside
because you had a broken buckle,

you snagged a hole in my cardigan,
and you had a habit,

when I ran, of flapping like a cancan,
losing things, yet still I clung to you.

Five pounds you cost in ’86.
The stall in Castle Market was hung

like a camel in a caravan
with dozens like you, but my heart

was set on you because I loved
the way your skin felt against my knuckles.

Old enough to appreciate you now,
I caress you. Daily, let you ride my hips.

There's a great history of Sheffield, including the lovely named origins of Castle Market, in Carl Lee's Home; A Personal Geography