Ten Magnificent Melbourne Moments

Me and My-Friend-Jarrod. Also known as Jarrod Haberfield. Image copyright Caroline Barron 2015

Me and My-Friend-Jarrod (also known as Jarrod Haberfield) at Luxembourg Bistro, St Kilda. Image copyright Caroline Barron 2015

I’m writing this on the plane home to Auckland. Three days in Melbourne have disappeared faster than the glass of NV Larmandier-Bernier Longitude Brut we downed at Luxembourg on Saturday night. I feel rejuvenated and ready to return to life. I missed my husband and children but know I will return to them a more rested and culturally satisfied woman. My-Friend-Jarrod kept asking if we were doing enough. Darling, if you are reading this, I had a ball. To slow down, to lounge and to talk—about the finer points of grammar, the career success of Barbra Streisand, how to roll perfect seashells of cream with a hot spoon, and the echoes of parallel lives—was the salve this girl needed. Continue reading

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Book Review: On Coming Home by Paula Morris

Paula Morris (image credit Mike Brooke)

Paula Morris (image credit Mike Brooke)

On Coming Home is an elegantly-written and deeply moving essay on returning home to New Zealand after almost thirty years abroad, by the award-winning author of Rangitira and Queen of Beauty, Paula Morris.

Morris sifts through time for examples of ex-pat writers and what it meant to them and their work to return home, in order to guide or decode her own experience of coming home. Continue reading

Letters to a Friend: One Year On

One year ago, Katharine and I took time out from real life: Kath spent three months in Wanaka with her family, and I travelled to Hong Kong, France and Spain over two months, with mine. We exchanged letters, posted here under ‘Letters to a Friend’. We promised each other we’d retain the sense of peace and clear direction we garnered from our time away.

A year on we rekindle our letters to examine what remains from last year’s discoveries. Katharine is in Bali for a two-week holiday and I’m…I’m at home, sweet home.


Continue reading

Letters to a Friend: One Year On

One year ago, Katharine and I took time out from real life: Kath spent three months in Wanaka with her family, and I travelled to Hong Kong, France and Spain over two months, with mine. We exchanged letters, posted here under ‘Letters to a Friend’. We promised each other we’d retain the sense of peace and clear direction we’d garnered from our time away.

A year on we rekindle our letters to examine what remains from last year’s discoveries. Katharine is in Bali for a two-week holiday and I’m…I’m at home, sweet home. 


Continue reading

Trams, Trumpets and Trenches: Historical Novel Research

Scroll down—my first poll! 

I’ve been writing my book since February. But I’d been researching for a year before that. You know how it goes—research is a great way to distract from getting actual words on a page. To tear myself away from such fascinating capillaries of (never ending) research and get my butt in the chair and actually write, was difficult at first. Looking back from the half-way point, I know now I researched too long and too deeply. But I have no regrets—I’ll know for next time, and some of the conversations I’ve had along the way have blown my mind.

People’s generousness and willingness to help is overwhelming: I’ve talked for hours to the 90-year-old Kiwi wife of a Connecticut trumpeter based in Auckland in 1944 (incredible); I’ve had help from experts on war, adoption, jazz, the recording industry, Hawaiian music, local history, dance, military uniforms and, most recently, experts on Auckland’s transport history.

Thanks Georgina White and Sean Millar

Thanks Georgina White and Sean Millar

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I could even consider myself a fledgling expert on the social and cultural implications of New Zealand’s hosting of between 15,000 and 45,000 United States servicemen at any one time during WW2, while New Zealand men were fighting overseas.

Continue reading