There’s real magic under The Great Wardini’s hat

pp_Gareth_ward_steampunkOver his relatively short career as a bookseller, Gareth Ward has proven he can rap (okay, wrap), he can do magic, and he can come up with genius ideas (along with his wife Louise) to win his bookshop $5000 from James Patterson. But unless you know him personally, you may not be aware that he is also a writer. This is by no means uncommon in the world of bookselling – but not only is Gareth a writer, he can now say he is an award-winning writer: proving there is magic under that hat after all.

His manuscript The Sin Chronicles: New Blood has just won the Storylines Tessa Duder Prize for an unpublished manuscript. The book is intended as the first in a steampunk-inspired series of books, the first of which ought to be published some time in 2017 by award sponsor Walker Books. We asked him a few questions about this remarkable achievement, and how bookselling informed his writing.

1. Were you a writer before you were a bookseller? When did you begin writing with eventual publication in mind?
I began writing about twenty-five years ago. There were various interludes when life got in the way. Children, career changes, emigrating to New Zealand but I have always had a passion for stories. Early last year I decided to embark on a novel writing course and The Sin Chronicles is the result.

2. Can you give us a synopsis of the book?
I’m not really sure how much I’m supposed to say at this stage but I can say it’s a rip-roaring Steampunk adventure. I wrote it intending it to be the first in a series. I guess much will depend on how well it does in the shops. So if when it’s published next year my fellow booksellers could do the utmost to sell it I would be delighted.

3. How did your role as a bookseller inform your drafting of The Sin Chronicles: New Blood?
I think as a bookseller I have a feel for the market but perhaps more importantly I have a passion for books and a love of story. I think selling books for a living has helped me understand that at the end of the day I am producing a product that needs to be saleable. When I was considering what to write I thought about what books I enjoyed, what series I wished I’d written and what sells really well in the shop. This guided me into thinking ‘I wish I’d written the CHERUB Series by Robert Muchamore.’ So I guess the seed of an idea was ‘could I write a Steampunk CHERUB?’ After many drafts I think I ended up with something quite different and a bit special.

4. When did your fascination with steampunk begin? Can you point to any novelists that influenced your work?
Gareth_ward_magician
When I’m in my magician persona of The Great Wardini I always imagine myself as a performer from Victorian times and so it only took a small mental nudge to kick me over the border to Steampunk. I loved the Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve and also Leviathan by Scott Westerfield but once I decided on steampunk, I deliberately steered clear of the genre because I didn’t want to taint my imagination. Novelists that influenced me are undoubtedly J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman and Jonathan Stroud because the Lockwood books are my favourite stories ever.

5. What next – have you signed a contract with Walker Books?!
I haven’t signed a contract yet but I’ve met my editor from Walker who was delightful. The manuscript will now go through several more revisions and once we’re all happy it should hit the shelves some time next year.

We look forward to seeing The Sin Chronicles on our bookshelves soon.

Interview by Sarah Forster

The Margaret Mahy Medal for outstanding achievement in literature goes to David Elliott

Storylines Children’s Literarture Foundation warmly invite you to attend the presentation of pp_david_elliotthe Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal for outstanding achievement in the field of children’s literature and/or literacy education on Saturday 29 March 2014 at Kings School, Remuera, Auckland.

The recipient of the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal presents a lecture which is subsequently published. The Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal is New Zealand’s highest honour awarded to an individual who has achieved in the field of children’s literature.

This year’s recipient of the Margaret Mahy Medal is David Elliot. He has published more than thirty books, illustrating both his own texts and stories by writers such as Margaret Mahy and Janet Frame, and for the acclaimed American Redwall series.

Prior to the presentation of the award, the Storylines Children’s Literature Foundation of NZ Inc. holds its annual meeting, followed by the presentation of a number of awards. All AGM paperwork can be viewed online. Members must be logged onto the website to view.

These include awards for new manuscripts: the Storylines Joy Cowley Award; the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award and the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much Loved Book, one which has been in print for many years but not received a national award. Also being launched is the Tom Fitzgibbon Award winner 2013, Juliet Jacka.

Books will be available for purchase on the day and the opportunity to win a David Elliot print.

Registrations are now open and tickets can be purchased online. Alternatively, a registration form can be downloaded and posted.

ENDS