This year's Auckland Writers & Readers Festival takes place at the Aotea Centre from May 9-13. Nicky Pellegrino highlights the sessions she doesn't want to miss.

Rhys Darby

Darby takes a break from the Comedy Festival to talk about the book that inspired his one-man stand-up show, This Way To Spaceship. Though An Hour With Rhys Darby on Saturday afternoon is bound to be packed with laughs, hopefully chair Tim Wilson can get him talking more seriously about comedy, creativity and fame.

Kathy Lette


The queen of the quip takes on a very personal subject in her latest novel, The Boy Who Fell to Earth. Having raised a son with Asperger's, there's a lot of emotional truth in Lette's story of a single mother coping with the challenges of lovable yet difficult Merlin. It's unlikely to calm Lette's raucous humour though. She's primed to talk about everything from menopause to Hollywood, the royal family and what the Brits really think of Antipodeans. I'll most definitely be at Saturday evening's An Hour With Kathy Lette as I'm chairing the session. Lette is hosting a wine tasting first, which should help set the mood.

Fiona Kidman

A treasure of our literary scene, I watched Kidman at the Wanganui festival a few years ago and she is a wonderful speaker. If you're thinking of writing a memoir yourself, then her Sunday workshop on the topic will be invaluable. Or treat yourself to An Hour With Dame Fiona on Saturday afternoon. She'll talk about her recent collection of short stories - and her life as a writer - with Carole Beu.

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young

A woman with an amazing personal story, Arrowsmith-Young developed a series of innovative brain exercises to beat her severe learning difficulties and has written about them in The Woman Who Changed Her Brain. If you have a child with similar issues then her Saturday morning session Helping Children With Learning Difficulties is a must. And her Sunday afternoon session hosted by Michael Corballis should be fascinating to anyone with an interest in the way the mind works.

* For information about times and tickets go to