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Eastbourne Writers To Discuss Trials And Tribulations Of Getting Books Out During A Pandemic

The three writers and their books. From left: John Horrocks, Anne Manchester and Pete Carter.

The three writers - Pete Carter, John Horrocks and Anne Manchester - have written three very different books, one fiction, two non-fiction, but all three spring from a love of the Eastbourne community and desire to capture its uniqueness.

At a matariki event at Rona Gallery on July 17, Carter, who lives in Lowry Bay, will describe how lockdown prevented his book This is us – New Zealanders in our own words getting to New Zealand from the printing presses in China. Copies are still being held up in Sydney, having to make their laborious way to New Zealand by sea.

This is us represents more than 200 New Zealanders offering insights into their lives in their own words. It features a number of well- known Eastbournites, two of them pictured on the front cover.

John Horrocks launched his novel Dark Empire – Wellington 1916 a few weeks before Covid-19 plunged the country into lockdown. The work riffs on three characters in Katherine Mansfield’s short story At the Bay – the sinister Harry Kember and his wife, and pompous businessman Stanley Burnell. Involving meticulous research, the novel swings between Days Bay, to some of Wellington’s seedier streets and more salubrious suburbs, to Somes Island and Rotorua.

Horrocks had hoped to take copies of the book to a conference on Mansfield in Germany only days after his launch in early March, but the pandemic put paid to any travel, as well as the ability to sell and distribute the book within New Zealand.

Anne Manchester was working on the final edits to her memoir Memory Stick, hoping to launch it in April, when all but essential printing ground to a halt. The delay in printing meant she had time to include reference to the pandemic in the book. After weeks of waiting, she held the first post-lockdown live book launch in the country, as soon as the country moved to level 2.

“Zooming had become second nature to us by then,” she said. “My launcher was able to zoom in from Nelson, with family and friends from other parts of the country also able to feel part of the live event.”

Memory Stick tells a deeply personal and surprisingly candid story set in the thick of 70 years of cultural, political and societal change. Manchester has lived in Eastbourne for more than 40 years – the setting provides the backbone for much of the book’s content, with the last chapter describing her close connections to this community.

The Rona Gallery event, 5.30-7pm, will be MC’d by Mary McCallum, a former Eastbourne resident and founder of two presses – Makaro and Cuba Press. Mulled wine and nibbles will be served.

The three Eastbourne writers will hold a similar event at Unity Books on August 6, 12.30pm.

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