There is nothing wrong with Mark Chamberlain's imagination, but he didn't need to tax it greatly to produce his latest novel, 'Pure,' which he launched at Kaitaia's library last week.
It's the sequel to 'Dangerous,' the story of a violent man who takes, not always with alacrity, one last shot at redemption, in the care of his grandparents. That story was set in the Far North, and apparently based on true events, Chamberlain drawing on his experiences both as a member of the community and his time spent years ago as a Probation officer in Kaitaia.
'Pure' takes the reader back to the Far North farm that Zac Sullivan inherited from his grandparents in 'Dangerous,' and is perhaps even more closely linked with real people and events than its predecessor.
One of the characters is very easily identified, others not so much, and Chamberlain wasn't giving much away at last week's launch, and he made it clear that while it was a novel, it offered a genuine warning to the Far North reader.
The story is billed as offering an insight into the challenge of "coming off meth" and the power of whānau. It was directly inspired by a film, 'Taken,' which Chamberlain said carried a "mother lode" of emotions when someone threatened a man's daughter, but if that was the catalyst, his own experiences, and fears for the damage methamphetamine was doing and would continue to do, were the motivation.
He also wanted to help the reader recognise the extraordinary work done by the counsellors who wean addicts off the drug, the efforts of police in the Far North, and the very real, ongoing threat posed to society by P.
Writing the book had taken on a new, very personal aspect when one of his own family "became involved" in it.
Meth, he said, last week and in 'Pure,' made the user feel all-powerful, unstoppable, complete as a person, as one of his characters says, like a runaway train. The train, he said, was very much running away in the Far North.
And he wasn't offering any sort of quick fix, in the book or at the launch. Then list MP Shane Jones had been quoted in the Northland Age weeks earlier as recalling a warning from Hawaii 20 years ago that the "tsunami from hell" was heading for New Zealand, and it had now arrived.
"The police will never contain it," Chamberlain said.
"It is up to communities to do something. And if this book helps people come to understand the extent of the problem, and the effect it is having on their lives and loved ones, then I will have achieved what I set out to do."
Zac Sullivan certainly "does something," although his response might not be everyone's cup of tea.
Only four copies of the first print of 'Pure' remained unsold last week, but more were on their way. They will be available at McCarthny Mitre 10 and Rider's Sports Depot in Kaitaia, the Bakerman in Awanui and the Northland Age. Alternatively, go to the publisher (shihvillage.com), email the author (marknelle—chamberlain.com), or go to his website (mochamberlain.com).