The Psychology of a Second Draft

As I begin the second draft of my first novel, a strange sense of ending and beginning intertwines. I feel both a mourning for the old manuscript—battered and scribbled on, dog-eared and well-thumbed—and something else I haven’t felt for a long time: hope. I feel hopeful once again that this book of mine might yet live to see a library shelf or to lie bookmarked on someone’s bedside table.

Continue reading

Waiheke Literary Festival: Writing About War

Saturday 14 November, 2015

Five minutes after walking out of Waiheke Literary Festival’s session Writing About War, I read the news about Paris: the executions, the stampede outside the Bataclan theatre, the fear and the chaos. It felt somehow meaningful that I’d spent the previous 90 minutes listening to two New Zealand historians—Dr Mary Paul and Christopher Pugsley— discuss war writing and its attempt, as Pugsley said, to ‘make order out of the chaos of war’.

Writing about war

Dr Mary Paul, Christopher Pugsley and Penguin’s Jeremy Sherlock. And some swimwear.

Continue reading

Hope

Caro and I now

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul—and sings the tunes without the words—and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson

18,000 kilometres may separate us, Caro, but my entire heart and all my thoughts are right there beside you. Kia kaha, my girl.

Caroline xx

Author Interview: Elsbeth Hardie on ‘The Girl Who Stole Stockings’

Keeping great company at the book launch—with cover girl (and my cousin) Sophia, and the author (my aunt), Elsbeth Hardie. Image copyright C. Barron 2015

Keeping great company at the book launch—with cover girl (and my cousin) Sophia, and the author (my aunt), Elsbeth Hardie. Image copyright C. Barron 2015

‘The Girl Who Stole Stockings’ is the true story of Susannah Noon, a 12-year-old girl who, in 1810, was sentenced to transportation to Australia for seven years. It is the fascinating story of the women on the convict ship, Friends, and Susannah’s eventual life on a whaling station in New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds, before the arrival of the country’s first organised colonists.

This book is a unique portrait of early New Zealand life, written in a readable and compelling style, and with wonderful colour photographs.

Here, I interview author, Elsbeth Hardie, about the joy of unraveling historical mysteries and singing like Barbra Streisand. I am incredibly grateful Elsbeth unraveled this particular mystery, because Elsbeth is my aunt, and Susannah Noon my 4x great grandmother.

Available from leading booksellers in New Zealand and Australia. Online orders at www.friendsconvictship.com RRP NZ$39.99

Continue reading

The Heart of the Matter: In Conversation with Kristin Duncombe

Kristin Duncombe in Argentina, April 2015. Copyright Kristin Duncombe.

Kristin Duncombe in Argentina, April 2015. Copyright Kristin Duncombe.

Kristin Duncombe is an American writer, psychotherapist and consultant who lives in Geneva with her Argentinian husband and two children. Her award-winning book Trailing: A Memoir chronicles her experience of becoming a “trailing spouse” and following her Médecins Sans Frontières husband to the frontlines of disaster and disease in East Africa. One critic writes of Trailing: “A perfect novel for ex-pats, or for any woman who is seeking a sense of purpose”. Hello just about all of us.

Not least, Kristin was the winner of our Kiwi Writer in Paris giveaway.
Continue reading

The Heart of the Matter: In Conversation with Alec Patric

In a month long two-way email interview with award winning Melbourne author Alec Patric, I uncover writing craft inspiration and a mutual love of beautifully crafted guitars. Patric is the author of Black Rock White City (2015),  acclaimed novella Bruno Kramzer (2013),  Las Vegas for Vegans (2012) and The Rattler & Other Stories (2011).

Alec Patric. Image copyright Alec Patric

Alec Patric. Image copyright Alec Patric

Caroline Barron: Tomorrow is Saturday, the beginning of the school holidays. We’re heading off as a family to Lake Rotoiti, which is in the middle of the North Island. Maori legend has it that a young warrior was hunting for delicacies for his pregnant wife when his dog ran off chasing a Kiwi through the forest. When the dog returned a few hours later, wet and sicking up half-digested fish, the warrior realised there must be a lake nearby and searched the forest until he found Lake Rotoiti (and Lake Rotorua). So, tomorrow, I have no work commitments and it’s looking like the perfect day.
Saturday, no work commitments; how does the perfect day look?
Continue reading

Guest Post: ‘Jazz, Research and Aftershocks’ by Aleisha Ward

Aleisha Ward playing flute for students at her Laneway Learning class, 2015.

Aleisha Ward playing flute for students at her Laneway Learning class, 2015.

This week I got to meet—in real life!—two friends made through blogging and novel research: Dr. Aleisha Ward and Jonathan Burgess, both who have been incredible sources of information about U.S. and New Zealand bands during World War Two (remember, Evelyn’s U.S. boyfriend is a trumpeter in the 43rd Division). You’ll get to meet Jonathan another time (that’s an invite to write a guest post, Jonathan). But today I have the pleasure of introducing you to lovewordsmusic’s first-ever guest blogger, Aleisha Ward, who tells us about her fascinating research journey against a background of the 2010/2011 Christchurch earthquakes.

Continue reading

My New Column in North & South Magazine: Out Now

Caroline L. Barron new columnist for North & South Magazine

Caroline L. Barron new columnist for North & South Magazine

I am delighted to announce that yours truly is the new columnist for North & South magazine! For my overseas readers, North & South is ‘New Zealand’s best-read monthly current affairs and lifestyle magazine’ (Bauer Media website) and they’ve won more than 200 journalism awards to prove it. In addition to being a fantastic read, there are three inspiring women (and great writers) at the helm—Virginia  Larson, Joanna Wane and Donna Chisholm.

My column is called ‘The Heart of the Matter’ and each month I interview a high-profile New Zealander, opening with a short bio and explanation of why this person at this time. The series’ point of difference is that I reveal the private person behind the public gaze, through a set of humanising questions that remain the same or similar each issue.

Continue reading

What I Learned About Life from a 1947 Interior Design Book

'Ugly Inefficient Table vs Simple Efficient Table' from D. E. Barry's Martin's Modern Decoration and Furnishing (1947, Reed NZ)

‘Ugly Inefficient Table vs Simple Efficient Table’ from D. E. Barry’s Martin’s Modern Decoration and Furnishing (1947, Reed NZ, page 32)

Throughout the journey of researching and writing my novel, I have been fascinated, countless times, by the life lessons I uncover—or that uncover themselves to me—in the unlikeliest of places. My latest is the bizarre and fabulous advice of New Zealand’s 1940s design and style guru, architect D. E. Barry Martin (I discovered him while trying to figure out what the inside of Evelyn’s home would have looked like). Hiding within the pages of his quaint tome Modern Decoration and Furnishing: Complete Guide to Planning and Buying for All Interiors (1947, Reed NZ) are the answers to creating a peaceful New Age.

Continue reading

U.S. Soldiers’ Camp at Auckland’s Victoria Park, 1944

U.S. Camp, Victoria Park (approx. 1944). From the Ministry of Works WWII report, held at Auckland Museum.

One of the only two photos I have ever seen of the U.S. Camp at Victoria Park (approx. 1944). From the Ministry of Works WWII report, held at Auckland Museum.

One of the settings in my book is Victoria Park (Auckland, New Zealand) during World War II. Now a peaceful green-space for Aucklanders to enjoy, back in 1942 it was developed for the U.S. Marines who had arrived to protect us from a possible Japanese invasion (and for R & R after the terror of Pacific battles e.g. Guadalcanal). Towards the end of the U.S. presence in New Zealand (most U.S troops had departed by mid-1944), the camp was taken over by the U.S. Army.  Continue reading