Sunday 3 March 2019

What do these two books have in common?

A non-fiction book about Antarctica and a young adult novel set in the last stages of World War One - what do these two books have in common?

I guess the answer is me! These are my two latest books, out now or soon to be released, and I'm very proud of both of them.

Antarctic Journeys tells the story of an amazing part of the world, and one that we in New Zealand feel a special connection to.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to go to Scott Base in Antarctica, and one of the things that struck me was that it is a place of journeys.  Antarctica has no native inhabitants, no indigenous language or culture of its own and even today, nobody lives there permanently. People come for a summer or winter season, or several seasons, but everyone journeys there from somewhere and then leaves again.

This book tells the stories of Antarctic journeys, big and small, animal and human, scientific and practical, journeys of art and objects and memory, journeys through the landscape and into the far distant past. It is full of photographs, maps and illustrations, and some of them are mine!

You can read more about Antarctic Journeys here on my website.

I was going to say that The Telegram is quite different, but actually the heroine of this book, Beatrice (or Beaty), reminds me in a way of those early Antarctic explorers - she shares their qualities of courage, determination, endurance and resilience and she has her own journey of self-discovery to perform.

Beatrice is a telegram girl in a small New Zealand town in World War One. It's her job to bike around town delivering telegrams to people's front doors, and often the telegrams contain the worst of all possible news to the families of soldiers who have gone away to war. Rumours of peace start to spread, but Beaty's work continues all through the Armistice, the peace celebrations and the dreadful influenza epidemic. At the same time, she's writing to her friend and neighbour Caleb, somewhere on the Western Front - until his letters stop arriving.

Bob Docherty says that Beaty is a "treasure", and I think she's brilliant!

You can read more about The Telegram here on my website.