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Monday, October 18, 2010


Vanda Symon has been interviewed by the New Zealand Society of Authors in their NZSA Chapbook -- as the chair of the Otago-Southland Branch.

First, they ask what GENRE she writes in.

Vanda Symon's answer:
I write crime fiction, detective crime fiction to be specific. My protagonist is a young woman, Detective Sam Shephard, who starts out in this series in Mataura, but then moves to Dunedin to undertake detective training in the big smoke. I love writing my novels in a local setting, and make full use of our New Zealand way of speaking and doing things. Some people say you can’t sell books overseas if you set them in New Zealand, but my books have sold into Germany. I think international readers like to get a taste of a foreign country. I really enjoy writing crime fiction, and am very happy in that genre.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing my first novel when my youngest son was 6 months old. He’s eight now. Where did that time go! That first novel took four years from whoa to go, as life was pretty hectic with pre-schoolers. Now the kids are older I aim to write a novel a year. I have a mental image of myself when I’m old and doddery with a gin and tonic in one hand and still writing with the other.

What originally inspired you to start writing?

I have always been an avid reader, and from childhood always assumed I’d write books some day. You have to love the innocence of youth - it had never occurred to me that I couldn’t.

What is your most recent publication?

My third novel, Containment, came out in December 2009. I’m delighted that it has been named as a finalist in the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for best Crime Fiction. I have just finished reading the proofs of my fourth novel, Bound, which will be published in February next year. My publisher is Penguin.

What advice can you offer to new writers?

Read, read, read. And read broadly, not just in the genre you have chosen to write in. It gives you a broader picture of how the world works, and how people work. Also it makes life so much more interesting to expand your reading horizons. I have only recently discovered the wonderful world of biographies and memoirs. They provide a great insight into characters, and people dynamics, as well as being straight out inspirational.
When it comes to the writing part – nothing happens unless you sit your butt on a chair and actually write. Sometimes it can be exhilarating, other times it can be a slog, but, as Stephen King put it “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
How long have you been a NZSA Branch Chair?

I think it is five years now. Time goes so fast! The Otago Southland branch is fantastic, a really warm and supportive group of writers. It’s such a pleasure to be a part of it.