'Wealth of talent' at Marlborough Book Festival

21:36, Jul 27 2014
Karen Healey
LOCAL TALENT: Marlborough young adult author Karen Healey was a highlight at the Marlborough Book Festival during the weekend.

More than 400 people took the opportunity to see beyond the pages of a selection of New Zealand books at the weekend and hear their authors speak at the inaugural Marlborough Book Festival.

Marlborough Readers & Writers Charitable Trust trustee Sonia O'Regan said they were thrilled by the response to the festival, which she hoped would become a regular event.

"We need to have a conversation about whether we do it once a year or every two years, but the feedback has been very encouraging," she said.

Despite a predominantly Marlborough-based audience for the six sessions at the Blenheim Club, and two at Cloudy Bay Estate on Saturday and Sunday, some had travelled from Nelson and Christchurch for the event, O'Regan said.

New Zealand authors Dame Fiona Kidman, Elizabeth Knox, Karen Healey, Barbara DeLeo, Harry Broad and Ron Crosby were all on-hand for some lively discussion. Several of the sessions sold out, with all the authors and emcees garnering rave reviews.

Marlborough man Phil Morrell spent much of his weekend at the festival and said Blenheim-based romance writer Barbara DeLeo had been a stand out: "I went completely out of my area, I might have been the only man, or one of two, so that was a little weird, but it was good fun, Barbara was really good."

DeLeo, whose session was sold out, had enjoyed the chance to speak at the festival, as romance was not a genre often included at book festivals, O'Regan said.

Morrell said the festival had highlighted Marlborough's "wealth of talent".

He was intrigued by Karen Healey's session, and was surprised to discover she was a teacher at Marlborough Girls' College. "I just realised what a wealth of talent that we have in this little place . . . I think we should be very very proud," he said.


The Marlborough Express