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Five questions for Pirate and Queen

Sarah Chandler · 21 September 2017

The Spinoff described them as "the royal couple of making fun and exciting literary things happen", and from 10-12 November Pirate and Queen (aka Claire and Andrew) are back with their fourth LitCrawl weekend for Wellington.  

Claire Mabey and Andrew Laking

Claire Mabey and Andrew Laking


LitCrawl runs 10-12 November 2017. Plot your course for the weekend at the LitCrawl website

The programme for LitCrawl 4.0 looks bigger than ever this year. Tell us a bit about LitCrawl Extended.

Claire: LitCrawl Extended is a flash new part of the LitCrawl family. We wanted to create a series that would complement the crawl itself, and allow people to make a whole weekend of it. The Extended series happens throughout the day on both Saturday and Sunday at the City Gallery. At a full 60 minutes each, the Extended sessions are longer than the crawl sessions and are created to be enjoyed at a more leisurely pace. They’re also ticketed, so that you can be sure to secure a seat (unlike the crawl where it’s a bit looser!). 

We begin the Extended series on Saturday morning with Pip Adam (New Animals) and Annaleese Jochems (Baby) talking about writing their first novels with the Australian debut novelist Harriet McKnight (Rain Birds). Other sessions include Why I’m Writing What I’m Writing, where we’ll hear Victor Rodger (Black Faggot), Eleanor Bishop (Body Double), Harriet McKnight, and Brannavan Gnanalingam (Sodden Downstream) reflect on what motivates them to write, and what they think the future might hold. There will also be a session in celebration of Dame Margaret Sparrow who has worked to improve the lives of women in New Zealand, and who also has a new book out, Risking Their Lives (VUP). Chairing that session is Sasha Borissenko. 

We’re also super excited to welcome Witi Ihimaera and Hēmi Kelly who have created Sleeps Standing, a bi-lingual book that explores the battle of Ōrākau. And the guest that will have traveled the farthest to be at LitCrawl is Jan Carson (pictured below), a brilliant Belfast-based writer. I met her at the Norwich Writers’ Centre earlier in the year and just loved hearing her read her work. Jan is very funny, a fellow Bob Dylan obsessive, and did an amazing project where she wrote a postcard story to a friend everyday for a year to combat writer’s block. Jan will be talking about her life and work with Charlotte Graham, which promises to be an inspiring hour! There are ten events in the series, including a flash fiction workshop with Jan Carson so it’s a great way to offset the intensity and energy of the crawl with longer, luxurious series of conversations and writerly ideas.

Jan Carson

Jan Carson will be talking about her life and work with Charlotte Graham at City Gallery.

And what about the crawl itself on the Saturday 11 November? What's in store?

Andrew: The crawl on the night of Saturday 11 November is a whopper this year.  It's 25 events; up from 18 events in last year’s crawl. Claire and I decided that we needed to up the volume of sessions in response to the sheer number of people who have been turning out to crawl. We’ve never quite managed to fit everyone in, so this year we are stepping up the game. The crawl remains in three phases with about 9 sessions to choose from per phase and running between 6pm and 9.15pm. We're thrilled to welcome new venues Crumpet, Bicycle Junction, Slow Boat Records, Bartley + Company, Bowen Galleries, St Peter’s and Hunters & Collectors. As always, there’s an eclectic mix and something for everyone. Old favourites like True Stories Told Live, Songwriters at Alistair’s Music, Poetry in and out of Translation, and Toby & Toby Live are all coming back to the mix. New events include A cocktail with LaQuisha at Crumpet where LaQuisha St Redfern will chat with the playwright Victor Rodger. We’ve also organised a ‘fight’ over the state of book reviewing in New Zealand between Steve Braunias and Paula Morris, to refereed by Danyl McLauchlan in case things get physical. 
We’re excited about hosting the live version of RNZ’s Short Story Book Club happening at BATS and hosted by Jesse Mulligan: we’re taking submissions for short stories to be considered for discussion and publication online ahead of the event (email shortstory@litcrawl.co.nz before 30 October). We’ll be celebrating Bob Dylan with musician Finn Johansson, writer Jan Carson and poet Jeffrey Paparoa Holman. Hamilton (the city) also gets into the mix at Slow Boat Records where writers from that fair city will speak its praises. And we are looking forward to a special launch of Michalia Arathimos’ new book Aukati (Mākaro Press).  Phew! We advise having a good ponder over the programme. We will be recording some sessions and putting those up later on as podcasts so you won’t feel like you’re missing out completely when you can’t make it to everything.

"We advise having a good ponder over the programme at litcrawl.co.nz. We will be recording some sessions and putting those up later on as podcasts so you won’t feel like you’re missing out completely when you can’t make it to everything"

Litcrawlers

LitCrawlers

Women of Letters has traditionally been held on a Sunday night, the final night of the literary weekend. This year you’ve moved it to kick off the LitCrawl weekend on the Friday night. Why’s that?

Claire: The LitCrawl weekend looks a bit different this year. We decided to shift Women of Letters to the Friday for a couple of reasons: we’d had feedback that folks coming from out of town would often have to get away on the Sunday and miss being at Women of Letters, so this way there’s no fomo. We also wanted to kick off what will be a much fuller weekend than usual with this moving event. We’re delighted to announce that the all-women line-up for Women of Letters will feature essayist and poet Ashleigh Young, Aotearoa’s first transgender Member of Parliament Georgina Beyer, film-maker Gaylene Preston, columnist Rachel Stewart, and actor and writer Jess Holly Bates. We have one or two further announcements up our sleeves, too. Tickets to the event are $45 and any profits will go to the Wellington Women’s Homeless Trust. The theme of the letters the women will be writing and reading aloud will be announced soon. 

"We’re delighted to announce that Women of Letters will feature essayist and poet Ashleigh Young, Aotearoa’s first transgender Member of Parliament Georgina Beyer, film-maker Gaylene Preston, columnist Rachel Stewart, and actor and writer Jess Holly Bates"

What does it cost to attend LitCrawl?

Andrew: Entry to the Saturday night Crawl events is by donation, $5 is about right but whatever you can afford. Events for LitCrawl Extended programme at the City Gallery are ticketed at $15 (or $18 if you want to give LitCrawl extra support).  We’re also hosting a couple of special events including Iceland author Dominic ‘Tourettes’ Hoey and musician Skyscraper Stan at Meow on Saturday night. This is the only ticketed event within the crawl and is $15. On Sunday 12 November Totaranui Productions is presenting a performed reading of the show Rowley Habib: Portrait of an Artist Mongrel at the Māoriland Hub in Ōtaki. This show is written by Nancy Brunning (Hāpai productions) and we loved it in the Kia Mau Festival earlier this year, so we are very happy to be part of the chance to see it again. Tickets are $15 or $5 for Māoriland Social Club members. 

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LitCrawl 2016

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