Monday, April 8, 2013

Congratulations to Helen McNeil for her new book

Helen McNeil and "A Place to Stand"
Helen McNeil has just launched her new novel, A Place to Stand

#1 Bestselling author Deborah Challinor sums it up:

‘Helen's story, set in Kawerau during the 1950s when the town is being constructed around the mill, is uniquely New Zealand. The main character, Sandra McLeod, arrives as a child from England with her ‘£10 Pom’ family, but their new life isn’t what they’d hoped for.

Cover for "A Place to Stand"
Via flashbacks recalled by Sandra when she returns to Kawerau to visit her ailing mother in 1975, Helen McNeil skilfully describes the gradual disintegration of the McLeod family in realistic, evocative and sometimes gruelling detail.

There is a sense, too, with the presence of the Maori and Catholic elements of the story, that Kawerau, perched as it is on a brittle volcanic crust, is a mystical place where both good and bad fortune can be magnified. The revelation of Sandra’s secrets is perfectly timed to keep the reader turning pages, and the conclusion is as satisfying as you could hope for. A compelling and really quite haunting read from a new and distinctive voice in New Zealand fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed it.’                                           

James interviewing Helen in "Writers & Readers Festival Style"
As part of the launch event, James George (co-director for The Story Bridge) interviewed Helen to draw her out on the fascinating themes in her book and her writing process.  The audience leaned forward in their seats and drank in every word (along with the excellent Feijoa sparkling wine). James mentored Helen during her Masters in Creative Writing.

Helen read from her book at the launch

No book launch event is complete without an author reading from her work.  Click here to listen to a pre-recorded clip of Helen reading an extract from A Place to Stand.

Helen at the launch with Jocelyn Watkin

Congratulations to Helen, who James and Jocelyn Watkin (co-directors for The Story Bridge) were also proud to support as part of The Story Bridge Writers' Coffee Club.

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  1. Memories long forgotten, some good and others I wish I had never been apart of. I’m a product of Kawarau, manufactured in Waterhouse St in 1957 and escaped this towns clutches 1973. I’m not a reader, yet Helen's book, A Place to Stand has captured me. Reminders’ of my own past captured within the construction of each and every page. To say thank you Helen hardly expresses my sincere gratitude.
    L. Mills.
    Coopers Beach NZ

  2. Thanks so much L. Mills and we're really pleased you enjoyed Helen's book. We forwarded your comment onto Helen and she was thrilled to hear from you.