From fermentation to fantasy

22:20, Feb 16 2014
barrel scene hobbit
SCRIPT TO SCREEN: Martin Freeman as Bilbo in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Weta Digital will talk about the visual effects as part of Writers Week.

Members of the team behind the visual effects for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will reveal how they created the dragon and more with a special talk as part of the New Zealand Festival's Writers Week in March.

While Weta Digital, which creates the digital effects for Sir Peter Jackson's films, has given talks at conventions and elsewhere on its work, it will be a rare opportunity for the public in Wellington to find out more. The talk will be held at the Embassy Theatre on March 8.

It is one of several new events, along with additional writers, that will be part of Writers Week, March 7-12. While several guest writers, including Man Booker Prize winners Eleanor Catton and Thomas Keneally, were announced in October, the full programme was unveiled last night.

New guests include British historian Diarmaid MacCulloch, who has written several award-winning books including Reformation, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2004. MacCulloch has also presented three BBC TV series and, along with being professor of church history at Oxford University, is a Church of England Deacon. MacCulloch's book looks at silence throughout Christianity. He speaks at the Embassy on March 11.

Indian writer and former research scientist Jaspreet Singh, based in Canada since 1990, will talk about his latest book, Helium, which looks at the anti-Sikh pogroms in India in 1984 (Embassy, March 10).

American writer Sandor Katz champions fermentation to preserve food and is known as a "fermentation fetishist". His third book, The Art of Fermentation, is a New York Times best seller. He will talk at the Hannah Playhouse, the former home of Downstage, on March 8.

Dr Marco Sonzogni, who is director of the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation, will look at the art of translating works (Embassy, March 12).

The modern myths of motherhood will be tackled on March 11 at the Embassy by Australian writer Monica Dux, author of Things I Didn't Expect (When I Was Expecting).

Fellow Australian and former IT consultant Graeme Simsion is the author The Rosie Project, about a socially challenged genetics professor on a quest to find a wife. He talks on March 10.

Other guests include Kiwi writers Elizabeth Knox and Renee, and Belgian illustrator and writer Leo Timmers. Among the themed events is Comicsville, with a lineup that includes graphic novel creator Dylan Horrocks.


For more on Writers Week, March 7-12, go to


The Dominion Post