I am chuffed (now there’s a word that should be used more often) to have been asked to be the August Star Author on the Christchurch Libraries’ Kids Blog. As you probably know, I have recently become a children’s author with my novel Red Rocks, which can be found in the Older Fiction section of the library. What you might not know is that I wrote most of the book in Christchurch libraries.
I started it at the Christchurch Central library before the awful events of last February, and spent a bit of time writing (well, staring out to sea) in New Brighton, and a bit at the Shirley library. But I probably wrote the biggest chunk in the South Library. I came to think of that library as my office away from home. I loved the leafy outlook and the café, and I loved being able to sit and write with a coffee or a cup of tea beside me, when every other library in the whole world will not let you eat and drink (understandably). I didn’t even mind how noisy it could get. I find it easy to tune out noise when nobody expects me to interact with them.
So you can imagine how dismayed I was to hear that the South Library had been closed down. Foiled by those earthquakes again!
Now I am working on a new book (for adults), and the first weekend after South was closed saw me creeping suspiciously into the new Tuam Street library. Did it have a leafy outlook? No. Did it have a café? No. Hmph.
Then something happened. One of the librarians, who is also my neighbour, pointed me in the direction of the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre, and I went into the furthest corner and hid. I felt as though nobody knew I was there and that I was the only person in the whole library. It was so quiet and peaceful. Oh, there was noise, but it seemed to be happening so far away that I barely noticed it. And pretty soon, the hours were flying by as I thought and wrote and browsed the New Zealand section for my research. I had successfully entered the world in my head, and I had that lovely place to thank for it.
In fact, I’m sitting in that very spot a week later, writing this blog post. My secret corner didn’t stay secret for long – there are two other people working beside me – but that doesn’t matter. I can hear children talking and laughing, and the sound of the people checking out their own books at the fancy new check-out stations. There is something so lovely about libraries. They bring people together. Being surrounded by books allows me to write, as if all the magic that went into making those books has seeped out and into my blood, making my fingers fly over the keyboard. These books on these shelves, they are so welcoming, to me and my books.
So if you haven’t been to the Tuam Street library, come and check it out. Maybe I’ll see you there sometime? Come and say hi.