The annual New Zealand Book month is almost upon us. Starting March 1st and running until the end of the month. It's a non-profit initiative begun in 2006 to acquaint NZ readers, books and authors and has included different elements over the years. The Six Pack collections of short stories, effectively a competition open to all writers, were a great idea and showcased some new (and established) writers in a blaze of publicity. It seems not to be part of the current programme.
The month of events is a good opportunity to hear writers talk about their work and the writing process. Some of the events are community driven, featuring local authors. Some are more of the type you'd get at the Auckland Writers Festival where published authors are brought in from various centres to talk.
I recall being told many years ago that for NZ authors to be read, they should make sure they themselves read NZ authors. I think that's sage advice. And I'd add that we should support local writers at events, just by being there. We sometimes get told how to define ourselves as NZers, (the America's Cup, the All Blacks, Anzac Day) but there's often not enough emphasis on our books and our stories. Each individual writer has their own voice but there's also the collective voice of this nation and its peoples, forged in history and struggle and laughter. It makes our work different from California or Sweden. Our voice informs our stories in the way our accent informs our speech, and it's an ongoing process, the building of our voice as a people.
So I recommend you make plans to get out amongst it in your area. Here's a link to the events calendar to check out what's happening near you.
Events Calendar NZ book month
NZ Book month has a Facebook page here so have a look at it and hit the 'like' button to be kept informed of developments.