Lovewordsmusic interviewee Alec Patric wins Miles Franklin Award

Hooray for Alec Patric! His book ‘Black Rock White City’ just won the Miles Franklin Award for best book. And that is a big ole deal, as it’s Australia’s premier literary prize, and is worth a whopping $60,000 AUD. Not bad for a man who works in a St Kilda book store and struggled to get published.


Caroline Barron and Alec Patric at Readings Book Store, Melbourne, 2015. Image copyright Caroline Barron

I gave the book five stars on Goodreads back in June 2015—click on the link to read my review.


Alec Patric. Image copyright Alec Patric

And, after meeting Alec in Melbourne, we had a lovely, long conversation over email. Click on the link to read some wonderful insights into a writer’s mind.

Congratulations, Alec!


Book Review: The Two Worlds of Maggie Papakura (2005) by David Andrews


Maggie Papakura, probably taken in her house at Whakarewarewa. Photograph taken by William Henry Thomas Partington [ca 1910], courtesy of

 Margaret Pattison Thom, who was later widely known as Makereti (or Maggie) Papakura, (1873 – 1930) is a fascinating New Zealand historical figure, because her story spans two contrasting worlds and times. She was born to an English father and Maori mother and grew up in a traditional Maori way—living in a whare, sleeping on the floor, and cooking over a hangi. She became one of Rotorua’s most famous tour guides and hosted thousands of visitors, including the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York. Her natural charm and storytelling ability lead to international exhibition opportunities in Sydney and London, and the press of the time report her as being comparable to the most charming English woman.

She eventually married an English country squire and lived the kind of life unimaginable to her as a girl. All the while she is focussed on preserving and promoting traditional Maori culture, using this as her thesis topic for anthropology studies at Oxford University in 1926, although she died in 1930 before it was published (it was published eight years later by a friend).


A different world: Maggie Papakura, 21 July 1913, taken in a London studio, courtesy of

No wonder David Andrews was (clearly) fascinated by his subject. I am grateful to him for researching, collating and preserving Papakura’s story for future generations. He travelled far and wide and spent a lot of money piecing together her life. However, the writing often rambles and is repetitive, and the entire book is in need of a thorough edit. Don’t get me started on the random spaces before commas and other layout issues! Continue reading

Translating Impossible Beauty into Words: Nederlands Dans Theater

Nederlands Dans Theater at The Civic Theatre, Auckland, New Zealand, 29 July 2016

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Safe as Houses (Choreography by Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot)

Safe as Houses

Darkness and light
Shadow and illumination
Clock-ticking wall-chasing
Incogitable strength cranes limbs
A life in the hinge of an ankle
The vanishing ballet.


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Woke up Blind (Choreography by Marco Goecke, Music by Jeff Buckley)

Woke up Blind

An entire dance to one haunting, lingering Jeff Buckley note
“Burning holes with eyes of liquid brown”
Pulling and pushing
Wanting, hating
Hissing angry copulating frenzied love
Trapped inside the mind
Breakdown in communication
Together again. Alone.


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The Statement (Choreography by Crystal Pite)

The Statement

He’s here from upstairs.
Dancers slide and drip over the
boardroom table
Moral molasses.
The ability to proliferate conflict
light years away, from the
safety of the boardroom table.
Desperate quandary
Traitorous switched roles
Rapture and torment
Upstairs, and beneath a table.
A decision made?

Continue reading

Eulogy for Caro

2014_Apt_Caro laughing with hat girls lunch

I still go to my phone, to dial you up on FaceTime to see you folding your washing while we talk, to laugh, to talk about our children, to plan the next time we can be around a table together, to bitch, to talk work and to reminisce about the wonderful times we’ve had in six different countries over 19 years.

I’ll always remember the first time and the last time I saw you. The first time was at L’Oreal in London. You were the technical centre manager and I was the temp. You had long red hair with a fringe—only until one of the L’Oreal hairdressers took control! I forgot sometimes that you were nine years older than me. You’d had a whole life before we met. We were friends immediately, I think because we understood each other’s backgrounds, both being Kiwis. You were a hard worker; you were brilliantly funny but sensible at the same time. You were so private. Getting to know you was like unwrapping a present—first the wrapping paper, then the tissue and then opening the box. I was proud you chose me as your friend, that you let me unwrap you and be delighted at the gift of your friendship.

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Caro on I on her wedding day, 2001, Provence, France

So then, the last time I saw you. It was on FaceTime and you were lying in your bed in Prague, ten days before you died. You lay against white pillows, a plump white duvet pulled up to your chin, against a white wall, luminescent skin and cropped strawberry blonde hair, barely there after all the treatment—a beautiful white angel. I’d had one of those awful, yelly, afternoons with my children and, as sick as you were, you gave me the best advice, as always. You were scared about going to Paris for treatment but knew you’d go. At one point you looked down at your hands, then said quietly, ‘I’m ready to go’, and I knew you were saying goodbye.

I couldn’t have loved you more at that moment. Your braveness astounded me.

And in between the first and the last times I saw you was every conceivable celebration—our weddings, the births of our children, and crisscrossing the globe for catch-ups. I am so grateful for the week our families had together at Castellet in 2014, where I was reminded that you were a wonderful mum, a great cook, still hilarious. It was wonderful to see that after years abroad, you’d found your home in that small village in Provence, surrounded by the lavender you so loved.

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The treasure hunt Caro organised for our children, August 2014, Castellet, France

Be at peace, darling friend, and know that you will always be remembered.

Thank you for being my brilliant friend.

2014_Apt_Caro CROPPED striding ahead gorgeous


Louise Maich on The Psychology of a Second Draft

We don’t often have the privilege to get inside another writer’s mind to see how they fared throughout the arduous process of beginning writing, then finishing, a book. Louise Maich wrote this wonderful letter after reading my post The Psychology of a Second Draft. She has agreed for me to publish it here. Thank you, Louise.


Dear Caroline,

Firstly, congratulations on winning the Lilian Ida Smith Award. I was shortlisted into the final six, and that has given me a huge boost of confidence to continue on and see this manuscript through to publication. As for this next draft, your post, The Psychology of a Second Draft, caught my attention.

Continue reading