Thursday, 8 May 2014

May newsletter

Vincent O'Sullivan must be one of New Zealand's most catholic writers when it comes to form. He is the current New Zealand Poet Laureate, wrote the libretto for Ross Harris's latest work Requiem for the Fallen, and this month has a new collection of short stories out, The Families.

Vincent says that families are a natural starting point for fiction.

"I'd guess that five out of six fictions, long or short, are likely to be about families in some way. After all, you can't have characters who don't have one, even if they don't know about them. It's the one inevitable framework, and its possibilities are enormous. Take a family of four, and already you've got twelve variables of relationship to work with. And yet something that often strikes me is how little we may understand about the family context of most people we know, how guarded that part of their lives may be. So it's a marvellous if obvious place to play with light and shade."

The Families is available now, p/b $35

Breton Dukes's second short fiction collection, Empty Bones and other stories, is a novella and five short stories. Many of the characters in his stories are ordinary New Zealanders in seemingly ordinary situations, then something goes wrong.

Breton says he likes characters who are stuck in their own brains and disconnected from other people.

"Bad things happen to this sort. They generate real and emotional danger for those close to them. This creates intensity and energy and you establish the potential for momentum, which is vital to a short story."

Dukes knows how to ramp up the tension in the space of a short story, but he says any menace that grows in a story must also happen in the space between the page and the reader's imagination.

"If you come home from the supermarket to find a strange man waiting, menace is immediate. From there, I think it's about making him real. Having him clear the egg from his lips and try to hide a fart by coughing. Giving him a hairy little tummy and bare feet and a knowledge of cheese making. The reader will grow their own fear from there. As for that part – the reader's part – I think that is about space. Too much telling and the reader doesn't get her chance to add her own detail, to draw from what she knows of the real world, from her world. Fear grows there."

Empty Bones is available now, p/b $30

In May we also release Framing the Commons: Cross Cutting Issues in Regulation, edited by Susy Frankel and John Yeabsley.

Framing the Commons analyses the challenges of developing regulation in New Zealand, including how to work with New Zealand’s unique features; the role of experimentation, monitoring and review; finding the balance between certainty and discretion in regulation; and the pros and cons of the analytical techniques (such as cost-benefit analysis) that are used for evaluating regulations once they are implemented. It makes a strong case for focusing on the early stages of the regulation-making process and building in better processes to learn from existing regulation, in order to improve the flexibility and durability of regulation in New Zealand.

Framing the Commons is available now, p/b $50

Our new editor

photo by Robert Catto

We are delighted to announce that Ashleigh Young is joining the small VUP team, and will start work as an editor on 19 May.

Ashleigh brings to VUP a wealth of experience, primarily her seven years in professional publishing, in New Zealand with Learning Media, and in the UK with the Institute of Ismaili Studies and Aga Khan University. She has worked with many publishers and writers on a freelance basis, and her commitment to the profession of editing is also demonstrated by her founding of the Concerned Editors Support Group on Facebook.

Ashleigh says she couldn’t be happier about joining the VUP team.

“Helping to shape or gently nudge into position the work of VUP's writers is such a pleasure and a privilege, as is watching their books unfold into the world. For me, editing is about standing on the very edge of a manuscript with the writer and looking together at all of the possibilities stretching ahead of it.”

Ashleigh’s commitment to the development and encouragement of new writers is also shown in her work with the IIML, where she has supervised MA students and currently co-teaches an undergraduate workshop in Science Writing.

Ashleigh is also an outstanding poet – we were honoured to publish her first book, Magnificent Moon, in 2012 – and essayist. Her blog is a must-read.

We are also of course delighted that Victoria University has shown its belief in VUP by adding to our numbers.

Very good things

Dylan Horrocks's Hicksville is number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine's 50 best non-superhero graphic novels list

David Eggleton enjoys Tim Wilson's "fast, farcical and feverish" novel News Pigs – review in NZ Listener

"Writing fiction, there's also the element of being someone else, or a number of someone elses" – Elizabeth Knox's very interesting interview with Helen Speirs of the ODT

5/5 for Marty Smith's "gutsy book of poems", Horse with Hat

Laurence Aberhart's moving and insightful interview about his 'digger' photographs with Richard Langston on Radio New Zealand

May giveaway

This month we have two short fiction collections to give away: The Families by Vincent O'Sullivan and Empty Bones by Breton Dukes. To win these books, please tell us briefly what it is you like about reading short fiction. Click here to enter.

Congratulations to Lindsay Pope for winning last month's giveaway of Laurence Aberhart's Anzac and Tim Wilson's News Pigs. Lindsay correctly identified David Verrall as the man in the top hat. Thanks to all who entered.

To receive this monthly newsletter and invites to our book launches please subscribe on our homepage