After being deprived of bookshop contact for so long under Auckland's level 4, on the first day of level 3 I dragged my kids all the way down Mt Eden Rd on a fun (stop moaning, it's not that far, you ARE having fun) family walk to Time Out Books and bought a pile of local new releases.
I'm still only halfway through Jack Remiel Cottrell's wonderful collection of short fictions, Ten Acceptable Acts of Arson, and Angelique Kasmara's brilliant debut, Isobar Precinct, but both feel exciting and fresh, as though I'm reading not just new writing, but new ways of writing. I'm a sucker for a good opening line and I loved Kasmara's: "Symonds Street Cemetery is a secret, six hectares hidden in plain sight." From there the book rockets past Auckland's rough sleepers and down K Rd and in and out of time.
I bought some kids' books too, pretending they are for my 10-year-old, when really, they are the ones I wanted for myself. Lucky the kid's a fast reader. He's just motored through T.K. Roxborogh's Charlie Tangaroa and the Creature from the Sea, and is now on to Leonie Agnew's The Memory Thief, which I retrieve from his bedside table while he's playing Roblox and inhale. They are both evocative, engaging books.
I also have Ursula K. Le Guin's non-fiction collection, Words Are My Matter, on the go. She is perennially profound. "Imagination, even its wildest flights, is not detached from reality: imagination acknowledges reality, starts from it, and returns to enrich it," she writes. "The imagination, like any basic human capacity, needs exercise, discipline, training, in childhood and lifelong."
I run Kiwi Christmas Books, an initiative that gets books to kids who can't afford to buy their own, so I am 100 per cent on board with her thoughts on the value of fiction for kids. "One of the best exercises for the imagination, maybe the very best, is hearing, reading, and telling or writing made-up stories."
On my audiobooks playlist is Peter Wohlleben's The Hidden Life of Trees. I was chuffed to hear him speak about trees in the same way my creature characters in Spark Hunter do. My to-be-read pile is growing like a weed, to the extent that it, too, is almost developing a trunk. Laura Jean McKay's The Animals in That Country and Steph Matuku's Falling into Rarohenga are at the top.
Sonya Wilson's debut novel for middle fiction readers, Spark Hunter (Ahoy!, $25) is due out on October 11.