Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Montana Winners and Judges ...

...sans Charlotte Grimshaw who's in France. I'm just behind Judy Siers with the red scarf in the front. We're quite a crowd this year. Perhaps more books with 3+ authors in the mix?

This was one of the riches of the evening for me -- the teams of writers working co-operatively on a range of incredible books from Maori culture to history to NZ artists, and on the other end of the scale, solitary authors who worked for years to bring a person or moment in history or other preoccupation into book form. These are all true labours of love and I felt privileged to be there to see them. My four years on a novel paled beside some of the herculean projects.

It's simply magic to me that one day Janet Hunt goes for a walk in a wetlands area and a little while later (euphemism) produces an exquisite book called Wetlands.

Another one of the evening's riches was the free and fluent use of Te Reo Maori in the proceedings from the evening's opening through the many of the greetings and speeches (of course I was so excited by the Best First Book award my Tena koutou katoa sounded rather mangled.)

I also loved the general air of excitement and a sense of approval and appreciation of all the writers there. Everybody was so nice.

I didn't say it in my speech but I should have: thanks to the Booksellers for everything they do to sell books, and for organising the awards -- especially Laura Kroesch, and Anna Hutchison, her able and friendly side-kick.

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