Chris MacLean is the author of some of our most successful non-fiction books. His foray into publishing came about in a roundabout way, though his family business was books – his mother being from the well-known Whitcombe family (of Whitcombe and Tombs fame).
In the 1950’s and 60’s New Zealand’s main publishers were A.H & A.A Reed and Whitcombe & Tombs. Improvements in technology changed how books were written – by hand to using typewriters, then computers. It was often a long and laborious process. As technology progressed even further reproducing photos, drawings and paintings via scanning, made the process even easier.
Chris MacLean began his career as a writer in 1980 when as a designer of stained glass windows, he published a book in collaboration with his friend, historian Jock Phillips, called Stained Glass Windows in New Zealand Houses. This began a long publishing career.
I hadn’t realised until reading this book how many of Chris MacLean’s books that he went on to write and publish that I was familiar with – an interesting discovery.
A Way with Words lets the reader in on the extensive research and work that goes into writing and producing his wonderful non-fiction works. From the biography of the climber and outdoor adventurer John Pascoe (I share the same family name) to the wonderful story Tararau – The Story of a Mountain Range to Classic Tramping (I grew up tramping from an early age) and many more others.
For anybody interested in books, publishing or any of the subject matters Chris MacLean has written about, this book is a gem. I loved it from the first chapter to the last.
Reviewed by Christine Frayling
A Way with Words – A Memoir of Writing & Publishing in New Zealand
by Chris MacLean
Published by Potton & Burton