A really good page-turner

16:00, Jan 25 2012
Anne Chamberlain
Bookworm: Anne Chamberlain can't wait for Tim Flannery's talk at the Town Hall. Flannery, chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Council, has written more than a dozen books. His latest bookifHere on Earth, pictured, charts the history of life Earth and is an exploration of evolution and sustainability.

Dr Who screenwriter Robert Shearman is coming to Wellington for Writers and Readers Week in March.

Organiser Anne Chamberlain said the British writer was invited after Richard Price, who wrote for HBO series The Wire, pulled out.

Chamberlain said it was unfortunate Price had to pull out, but it was great to be able to replace one scriptwriter with another.

"He wrote the Dr Who episode that re-introduced the daleks.

"So, we're screening that episode and then we're going to have Robert talk.

"That will draw a completely different audience, I suspect, to the usual Writers and Readers audience."


The Writers and Readers Week programme was released this week.

The week-long programme is part of the International Arts Festival and starts on Friday, March 9.

Science and environment writer Tim Flannery, who is also chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Council, opens the week with a keynote speech at the town hall.

Germaine Greer and New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman will also host sessions at the town hall.

"I'm especially excited about the sessions with Friedman, Flannery and Greer," Chamberlain said.

"It's nice to have serious issues discussed in the town hall. It's a bit like the old town hall debates."

Non-fiction sessions nearly always attracted the biggest crowds at literary festivals, she said.

"More men come to see non-fiction than fiction writers. And many people who are not great readers are attracted to non-fiction, because it's more like current affairs and ongoing debates."

For fiction lovers there will be talks and readings by Canadian Dionne Brand, Australians Kim Scott and Kate Grenville, Spanish novelist Javier Cercas, German author Jenny Erpenbeck and Man Booker Prize winner Adam Hollinghurst.

It was hard work to convince European and American writers to come to New Zealand, said Chamberlain.

"I have been working very closely with the Adelaide festival discussing who we can also get. And there's a lot of luck involved."

New Zealand's literary scene will be represented by Bill Manhire, Harry Ricketts, Eleanor Catton, Craig Cliff and Chris Bourke.

E-readers and electronic books will also get a look-in at a session about the future of books.

"It's too big an issue to ignore," Chamberlain said.

"We do have to embrace E-books, but I still think there is a place for real books.

"There's nothing better than being tucked up in bed with a book. There's something about the physicality of a real book."

The Christchurch earthquakes could also not be ignored, she said.

"I wanted to do a session about that, so we have Fiona Farrell, Patrick Evans and Jane Higgins talking about living and working through the quakes. The Christchurch quakes changed everything for people and it's good to honour that."

Chamberlain, who comes from a film and theatre background, has always loved books, and found it exciting to organise a literary festival.

She was trying to read her way through books by all the visiting authors, but said it was hard to find the time.

"Fortunately we have an advisory group, so if I haven't read a book, someone else would have."

The Wellingtonian