Tue, Jun 14, 2022 11:30 AM

Top authors set to speak in Marlborough


Matt Brown

Book lovers are set to be treated again as famous local and national authors converge on the region for the return of Marlborough’s premier book festival.

Eighteen top writers are set to speak at the Marlborough Book Festival 2022 in Blenheim and Waihopai Valley from Thursday 7 July to Sunday 10 July.

Festival committee chair Sonia O’Regan says planning for the festival ramped up in March just as the Omnicron outbreak was starting to peak, so organisers thought twice about going ahead.

The decision was made to hold many of the sessions in the McLauchlan Family Auditorium at the ASB Theatre Marlborough to enable audiences to space out if they wish.

“We want to help people who are cautious about the risks of Covid in public spaces to feel comfortable about coming along,” says Sonia. “The theatre space is so cleverly designed it will still feel cosy and intimate while allowing those who wish to have a few seats between them and the next group in the audience,” she says.

The list of guest authors who will be interviewed in one-hour sessions over the course of the weekend includes fiction and non-fiction writers covering an array of subjects and tickets are now on sale at the ASB Theatre Marlborough or online.

The festival opens with a chance to hear from Abbas Nazari, author of After The Tampa, speaking about his extraordinary journey from Afghanistan to New Zealand and beyond. It closes with an interview with Gavin Bishop, the acclaimed illustrator and writer, whose latest book Atua: Māori Gods and Heroes is sure to become a classic cherished in homes throughout New Zealand.


Poet and novelist Ian Wedde, who was born in Blenheim and has been a major presence in New Zealand poetry since his work began appearing in journals in the late 1960s will also be interviewed at the festival. Ian will speak at one session on his poetry interviewed by Nelson poet Cliff Fell and at another session on his life and novels, in particular his recent novel The Reed Warbler, in conversation with Paula Morris.

Other guest authors include: Rebecca K Reilly, whose stunning debut novel Greta and Valdin won the Hubert Church Best First Book of Fiction at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards in May.

Rebecca K Reilly, whose stunning debut novel Greta and Valdin won the Hubert Church Best First Book of Fiction at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards in May. Photo: Supplied.

Marlborough Girls’ College librarian Colleen Shipley will talk about her historical fiction novel Wrens Under the Radar, about women spies who worked in Marlborough during WWII while Marlborough romance writer Barbara DeLeo will run a workshop about self-publishing to help those who want to get their writing published.

Festival sessions will also be held at the Whitehaven Room at the ASB Theatre Marlborough and the festival and will return to a winery venue this year, with sessions being held at Spy Valley Wines Cellar Door in Waihopai Valley on Saturday 9 July.

Sonia says she likes to get the message out that if even if you haven’t read the book, chances are you’ll love hearing from the author and be tempted to buy the book and have it signed after the session.

The annual festival, run under the umbrella of a charitable trust and supported by outstanding Blenheim businesses and audiences, has brought writers to town to talk about their lives and works over a wonderful winter weekend each July since 2014.

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