Over the past few weeks, I’ve been referring to The Murrihy River Tour on my Facebook page. I coined the phrase after two events: my decision to sell my books personally at town markets along the Whanganui River and the announcement that Bruce Springsteen would be returning to New Zealand.
The Springsteen hype provided some nomenclature, but the markets have always been on my agenda – not just for selling books or for advertising – but because I want to talk to people who are interested in the book and to continue learning about this area and the craft of writing. People have been very generous with their own stories and with their feedback.
The towns on my list all feature in my novel, Redeeming Brother Murrihy: The River to Hiruharma as does the Whanganui River itself. So far, I have made appearances at Taumarunui and Owhango. I still need to book in a time in Raetihi but I am already scheduled for the Wanganui River Traders Market on Saturday 14 September. (*Now changed to 5 October).
I am really excited about this one as most of the book takes place in the Wanganui area. I have sent a press release off to the Wanganui Chronicle in hopes they will print something about the book prior to my trip down there.
Today was my second visit to the Owhango market. I was delighted to meet up with William Taylor again. He, along with my friend Margy, introduced me to Janice Marriot, in the area running a workshop on “Creative Non-Fiction” with a local writers’ group.
While I’ve been living in Taumarunui, William Taylor has been that legendary local figure everyone mentions when discussing writing, but who never seems to cross your path. Pathetically, I have only read one of his books, Agnes the Sheep, and so was poorly prepared to meet this internationally esteemed author and mentor to beginning writers, or to discuss anything of note. Regardless, he bought a copy of my book when we first met and has since read it. Read his biography on the New Zealand Book Council website and you’ll see why I am excited and humbled by this.
Janice Marriot is another prolific New Zealand author. Looking at her profile on the NZ Book Council page and listening to Margy’s description of her workshop, I reckon I missed an opportunity this weekend. Like William Taylor, she very generously agreed to pose for a photograph with me.
Again – the next stop for The Murrihy River Tour is Wanganui. I’m looking forward to meeting more interesting people and engaging in their stories. Stay tuned.
Antony Millen is a Canadian living and writing in New Zealand and the author of Redeeming Brother Murrihy: The River to Hiruharama and Te Kauhanga: A Tale of Space(s).