The Crazed Wind goes to the WORD festival, Christchurch
(as told to Nod Ghosh)
Even though I don’t have legs, I have been venturing into the world since my inception in July. I’ve been in two places at once, two, three, and then four. By August I’d hit double figures. Like all books, I have a multi-faceted consciousness. We visit people’s minds through the medium of the page, via their Kindles, or poke their ears at readings. We impart secrets, whilst our stories churn inside us like indigestion.
Someone says they want to read The Crazed Wind, and I have to be ready to respond, to be there for them, so they can turn my pages.
I had a celebration a few weeks after coming out. Doesn’t everyone? People partied, drank wine, talked to old friends. I flew off the shelves, and waited in brown paper bags to share my contents. There was a cake with my picture on it. The sweet treat may have had a richer constitution than I do, but at least I don’t get stuck in your teeth, and I’m safe for diabetics to consume.
In late August, I went to the WORD literary festival in Christchurch. Oh such excitement to be amongst thousands others of my kind! On the first night, three incarnations went to a venue concealed inside a backpack. Only one came back home.
We were at the “pop-up” events at New Regent Street, a series of short readings in genre ranging from Horror, through Pasifika to “Enthusiastic Consent” (erotica). I’m about as sexy as a mushroom pancake, but was mentioned in a bio before my author read some steamy erotic stuff. I would have blocked my ears if I had any, but then I would have missed hearing Hollie McNish read ‘Touch’.
Later I had an opportunity to touch McNish’s book Plum myself, as we huddled in the backpack together. We’d visited the bookstall, where versions of me shimmied and shone in orange gloriousness. Each time we passed, the author purchased another new book, to have an excuse to see if I was still there. We watched my pile grow smaller and smaller, until I’m pretty sure I was all gone!
We wandered from venue to venue, attending sessions on flash fiction, a disgruntled United Kingdom, and one on mortification, where Irvine Welsh spoke by video link about crapping his keks.
Apart from basking in the glow of my divine cover, I’m not one to blow my own trumpet. The ‘praise for’ section nestled inside my front cover under my petticoat makes me blush. So you will understand my mortification when I was pressed into the hands of an unsuspecting Wellington author Rajorshi Chakraborti at a signing after the session on The Politics of Fiction.
Now, despite references to historical upheavals, I am about as political as a chilli-smoked mushroom pancake. Did I say that before? Oh no, that was something else. It was a shameless effort by the author to make a connection, on the basis that they’d interacted on Twitter, and Chakraborti hails from Kolkata (even though my author doesn’t). They even spoke in Bangla. Puke. I made friends with Chakraborti’s book The Man Who Would Not See in the backpack. Now I keep wondering whether his author will ever read me. And my author keeps checking Twitter.
But wait. It gets worse.
Somehow, in the complex process of making me available at the festival stall, the author inadvertently managed to inveigle themselves into reading at a panel discussion on flash fiction. The organisers requested a piece called My Son is Turning Black from Bonsai, (Canterbury University Press). The collection is described as “best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand”. It’s the green book lying flat at the front left of the picture. At least My Son has political overtones. But that doesn’t excuse the appalling behaviour I witnessed in the green room beforehand.
Acting like a total amateur, my author pulled Plum out from our backpack and thrust it under Hollie McNish’s nose requesting a signing. There is a time and a place for these things, not while someone is preparing for an appearance at a festival reading.
The last event we went to was the launch of ‘Bonsai’ itself, where the author managed to embarrass a fellow contributor through a misunderstanding. I can’t even begin to tell you what happened for fear of humiliating the other person. However, I might get a review out of it all, so I’m smiling.
Adios, (because there is no real Bangla translation for the word “Goodbye”).