Christine Leunens and Alexandra Tidswell discuss how they work with both research and imagination when creating characters from the past.
A New Zealand-Belgian novelist, Christine Leunens is the author of Caging Skies, which was adapted into Taika Waititi’s Oscar-winning film, Jojo Rabbit. She has also published two other novels, Primordial Soup, described by the Sunday Times as remarkable debut novel, and A Can of Sunshine, selected by the NZ Herald for Best Books of the Year 2013. As well as the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, Jojo Rabbit also won the BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as the Humanitas Prize for writing intended to ‘promote human dignity, meaning and freedom’.
Alexandra Tidswell is a seventh generation New Zealander who has always been interested in the stories of early New Zealand and how they have shaped our culture. Her first novel, Lewisville, was published in 2016 and is based on true events, inspired by the story of her great-great-great–grandmother, Mary Anne Luxford, who had been born into poverty in Willoughby in the United Kingdom. She loves writing historical fiction because of its capacity to bring history alive through telling little stories that add up to make the bigger picture of who we are. She has an LLB and a BA in Māori from Otago University, and is a former diplomat with postings in New York and Washington DC.
In this session, both authors will reveal how they weave together research with imagination to create intriguing and authentic characters from the past. You will also get a glimpse into their current works in progress: Christine is currently finalising an upcoming historical novel and film script for the same story, set at the time of the Rainbow Warrior bombing, and Alexandra is writing a novel about a highwayman in Wellington in 1859.
This session will be chaired by Kerry Sunderland.