Pearls of wisdom from the Writers Festival

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Author Emily Perkins at the Auckland Readers and Writers Festival.
Photo / Natalie Slade
Author Emily Perkins at the Auckland Readers and Writers Festival. Photo / Natalie Slade

Witty words are raining down on Auckland's CBD this weekend for the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival.

We popped into some of the earlier shows to soak up some inspiration, and collect some gems to share with you.

"A book is like a door. You walk through the cover and you don't know what you're going to find." - Emily Rodda, author of The Deltora Quest and The Three Doors series of children's books.

"I have to remind myself that I survived Virginia Andrews; they'll survive Twilight." - New Zealand writer Emily Perkins on the importance of encouraging children to read widely, recalling her own teenage fascination with Flowers in the Attic.

"I don't think it's healthy for a grown man to lie on a sofa thinking about fairies for 15 years ... Every Irish writer goes through a writing-a-fairy-book phase. I think it's written into the contract." - Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl children's series.

"That's what you want with a book or play: you just want to get away with it, somehow. The good thing about bad reviews is that you give joy and solace to your contemporaries." - Sebastian Barry, Irish author

"Once again I had under-estimated something bigger than myself and I had fought to the best of my ability and I had lived... I seem to come from a people who do that every day." - African-American writer Jesmyn Ward on Hurricane Katrina.

"With our dying breath we're still trying to learn how to live. That's all we're ever engaged in." - Sebastian Barry

"Writing is a way of life. I do it because it's a way of experiencing the world, and trying to come to terms with it and understand it and express it and engage with it. And to me it's a natural extension of reading." - Emily Perkins

"With my novel The Children I was really interested in that thing: how do you remain an adult with your family when they know you too well? A friend of mine says that when she goes home to her family: "I'm 34 when I'm driving there, when I'm parking the car I'm 24, when I'm at the front door I'm 19, and by the time I'm in the house I'm 13 again." And all these old roles and allegiances and resentments rise up, and that's what happens in my story." - Charlotte Wood, Australian author.

"I felt like it had to have some kind of cost. I didn't want to write anything glib or facile or easily achieved or straightforward. I felt that it should cost me something in the act of writing it. And somehow that would portray a sort of emotional grit." - Emily Perkins, on trying something new with The Forrests.

"Eventually our attention span will end up at zero and we won't be writing or reading anything - or there will be a revolution." - New Zealand writer Greg McGee on why he's not bothered by talk of a cultural decline.

"We can't ever know what we could have done differently, and that's partly what the book's about. At a certain point you have to just give up on all those other things that didn't happen - unless there's a parallel universe out there, or several." - Emily Perkins.

"When I sold out of my production company in 2006 I thought I might live to regret how much of my creative life and energy I have devoted to television... But that regret was not so keen once I discovered there was no ****ing money in books." - Greg McGee.

"You can use high fantasy and enormous amounts of imagination and creativity but you'll still be somehow representing where you are in the world." - Kate De Goldi.

"I have three little brothers and they gave me all the inspiration I needed [for the monsters in Artemis Fowl]. It was very therapeutic because I get to kill them in every book." - Eoin Colfer

"Cooking and writing came into my life about the same time. I guess it's the pursuit of a creative life. For me cooking is a really creative act that doesn't have the constraints of writing. It's pure pleasure and it's not up for public evaluation." - Charlotte Wood.

"Look at books that are now considered classics, like Treasure Island, The Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan - all these amazing books are kids' books. I think that if it's a good story anyone should be able to read it." - Eoin Colfer.

"I don't want to write things that people don't want to read. I would have no pleasure in producing something that sold 600 copies but that was considered very wonderful. I would prefer to sell 20,000 copies because the readers loved it. When I write books I don't actually think about the market in that way. I just tell myself the story. I don't think I'm talking to a 10-year-old boy or a six-year-old girl. I just write on the level the story seems to call for." - Emily Rodda.

Have you heard any inspirational authors at the festival? Share your favourite pearls of wisdom with us.</i>

The Auckland Writers & Readers Festival is on until Sunday. All the authors mentioned above feature in events over the weekend.

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