Category — Uncategorized

Dear 16 Year Old Me 8

November 24, 2013

I’m going to be doing some author visits to schools in the next few weeks and it’s got me thinking about being a teenager and being an adult and whatever happens to us in between. There were times when I was writing my YA novel that I questioned the voice of my main character–was I truly in touch with how teens think and act? Was I just working with a faint memory (those terribly flawed things) and adding in bits I thought sounded good? Judgement is to come–I’ll let you know what the real live teens say.

But I’ve also been thinking about who I was as a teen. Or who I thought I was. Or wasn’t. And I kind of want to be her friend. So this is what I would say to 16 year old me if we were pen pals. (Or whatever the modern equivalent would be. But let’s face it: 16 year old me would dig old fashioned letters, even today. She was cool like that.)

This is her circa 1995. I’m sure you got that from the oversized plaid shirt and the braids.

Ria Grade 10

Dear 16 year old Ria,

I don’t want this to sound like a list of things an adult is saying you should do, but it might end up doing that anyway. Sorry. Adults often can’t help it. We are advice machines. It’s like a product of having life experience.

You have no idea how open your mind is right now. How open to creativity and possibility and impossible things you are. It’s something that gets drilled out of you as you get older, but a lucky few hang on to it. Do that. It will make all the difference. In this one thing, do not grow up. You might think others will think you’re weird or childish, but secretly they’ll wish they hadn’t been conned out of their openness either. And there’s an important difference between childish and child-like. Be the latter. It means you’re still in touch with your innate spontaneity and creativity. And once you let that go, it’s really, really hard to get it back.

This next one comes from a book you will write years from now (Yes, you end up being a writer. No, you don’t become a millionaire.) about embracing what you love, no matter what others think: be a geek. It is a secret weapon against so many things: conformity, boredom, apathy, competition… Being a geek just means being enthusiastic about and good at what you love. This is how smart people find their dream jobs.

You need to worry a lot less about what others think of you. I’ll admit, this is still a problem for me, and I should know better by now. So start young–get out of the habit of comparing yourself to others and adjusting your behaviour to fit in. Super hard to do, but super worth it.

A few quick tips. The guy in grade 11 who you want to kiss: do it. The girl who keeps talking about you behind your back: get some distance from her and realise it’s not actually you, it’s her. Do not wear those maroon pants of your mother’s from 1975. They might be comfortable, but really. Best left for Halloween.

Don’t listen to anyone who suggests dreaming is a weakness. Now is the time to dream.

Good luck and please write,

2013 Ria


In: From Ria, Uncategorized, Writing

A Box of Novels and Some Soda 6

August 14, 2013



There are two most excellent new things in our house right now.

1. A box of freshly printed copies of my new novel, The Opposite of Geek.

2. A bottle of freshly brewed cherry soda.

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In: Food, From Ria, Uncategorized, Writing

The Charm & Cheek (of a Yoghurt Pot) 3

August 4, 2013

We recently had people over for brunch. I chopped fruit for salad and mixed batter for corn fritters the night before. I made punch. I made sure the floor was clean. Ish. (Hey, I have small children, shrug) But the simplest thing of the entire brunch-a-rama, excluding blowing up balloons when the Young got Restless, was the humble but charming yoghurt pot. It stole the show! I had made them for the kids but I noticed one of the grown-ups tucking into them and the next day I cleaned up the leftover pots. Well, I tried, but B1 elbowed me out of the way in a move that makes me worry for anyone who is lining up for concert tickets near her, in about 15 years.



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In: Uncategorized

Rain 1

May 26, 2013


I do love a rainy city.

I lived in London. Then Vancouver. Now Auckland. All three cities renown for rain, rain and more rain. Sideways rain, constant rain, sheets of rain, musical night rain. Rain that upsets all the playground plans you had or the picnic date, the beach visit, the casual stroll. Rain that turns your hair to fuzz and leaves a damp chill in your bones. For all intents and purposes, rain is a pain in the (bleep). But. I love it. I love the colour of the clouds when it rains. I love the sound of it on the roof and the perfume of it, thick in the sky, just before it pours down.


Rain sends me back into memories of other rainy places and rainy times. Pushing my stroller through Vancouver drizzle, watching a grey, London sky-line from the comfort of a warm bed, running through puddles on my way home from school. Here, in New Zealand, I love to stare out at the colour of the clouds, inspiring me to paint walls in our new home grey, and the milky-green of the sea as the rain strikes upon it. I delight in watching B1 splash about in puddles and B2’s puzzled face as the raindrops find her pink, bare cheeks.

I don’t know exactly why I love the rain so much. I know a lot of keen gardeners who love the rain because it means their plants are getting nourished. But I don’t garden, not yet anyway, so it’s not that. Perhaps it reminds me of being in a shower, my holy place for creativity or, listening to jazz, the dancing rhythm of it. Maybe, because I grew up in New Zealand, it just feels right and reminds me of my childhood; a welcome relief from all the Sydney heat we had over summer. And, I’m sure, the upsetting of plans secretly appeals to my inner laziness, my longing to curl up on the sofa or while away the afternoon at the library.


Probably it is all those things and the very most important thing – rain is surely the best weather to read in. Inside, of course : sox on, snuggled up, tea close by. Do rainy cities produce more voracious readers? Has anyone researched a correlation? Surely there is one. For these rainy days I have two personal recommendations. Firstly – my favourite poem of all time – “Rain”. Here it is, animated, in case you too adore the rain and the wonderful and late Hone Tuwhare, one of New Zealand’s most loved poets. My favourite bit?

” the something
special smell of you
when the sun cakes
the ground “

I swear the scent fills my nostrils every time I read that part, a completely indescribable smell – luscious and welcome. Possibly even more delicious than cut grass or basked bread. My second rain reading recommendation is one for the Littles: The Rain Train, by Elena de Roo. It’s my Dad’s favourite to read to B1. Elena de Roo is another New Zealand author with a talent for capturing the percussion and charm of falling rain. And on that note, off I head to the couch to enjoy the wonderful pitter-patter, drip-drop, splish-splash. Book du jour tucked, firmly, under arm.

Do you have a favourite piece of writing about rain? What is your favourite reading weather?


Hannah x


In: Uncategorized

Sweet Little Something 7

May 3, 2013

An end of week ritual – a wordless post, a personal photograph that captures a moment to be savoured, relished and preserved for looking back on. One photograph from Hannah, in the Southern Hemisphere and one from Ria, in the Northern Hemisphere. Feel free to post your questions, thoughts and comments.

Don’t forget to leave a “Haikument” in comments inspired by one of these photos. We’ve had some fantastic ones! Check them out here and here

From Hannah:



From Ria:



In: Uncategorized