The New Zealand-born, Scotland-based writer's fictional works are routinely complimented by literati including the Guardian, New York Times, Scottish Review of Books and the Times, and her latest work, Thorndon: Wellington & Home, My Katherine Mansfield Project, charts a period of emotional discovery born out of an unexpected trip back to Wellington.
Gunn explores the meaning of home, assisted by the experiences found in the writing of Katherine Mansfield, another Wellington native. As Gunn returns to New Zealand, she answers a few of Viva's questions:
In what way is your book a "Katherine Mansfield Project"?
It's an ongoing investigation of my relationship as a writer to the work of Katherine Mansfield. It is a finished book, as such, but also represents the site of future work - stories, letters and essays - that I continue to collect around it and will add to over time. I talk about this kind of writing - an activity that is continually present, rather than a piece of text that is fixed and finished - in my introduction to Thorndon.
You are to host a walking tour of Thorndon, Wellington - where are you most looking forward to visiting?
I am looking forward to the entire walk! From starting off at Randell cottage where I spent such a productive and creative time with my daughters that winter, to going up the zig zag and down Tinakori Rd to my old school. It will be dreamy.
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Why did you never expect nor want to return to Wellington?
We all make big decisions when we are young - and I had personal as well as literary reasons for needing to put space between my past and present.
How does your meaning of home differ from Katherine Mansfield's?
I'm not sure they do. Both of us share a deeply ambivalent idea of home. Many writers do, actually.
• Gunn, alongside author Martin Edmond and publisher Tom Rennie, will be at Auckland Library from 5.30pm next Monday October 6. More details here.