Thursday, December 13, 2012

A collection of letters sent by Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger to his secret lover in the summer of 1969 sold for around $300,000 at a London auction on Wednesday, trumping their pre-sale estimate. Purchased by a private collector over the telephone, the letters sold for £187,250 (about $301,000 or 231,000 euros) at a Sotheby’s auction, trumping their pre-sale estimate of £70,000 to £100,000.  The letters were written to black American singer Marsha Hunt, aged 23 at the time, while Jagger was filming the movie “Ned Kelly” in Australia, and were presented as a window into a different side of the rock-and-roll legend.  “We are delighted with the result of today’s sale which reflects the great significance of these letters, written at such a vivid moment in social and musical history,” said Sotheby’s books specialist Gabriel Heaton. 
“There has been enormous international interest in the letters, which depict Mick Jagger, not as the global superstar he is today, but reveal him as a poetic and self-aware 25-year-old with wide-ranging intellectual and artistic interests.” Hunt, who starred in the original London cast of hit musical “Hair” and was the poster girl of the “Black is Beautiful” movement, had an initially clandestine affair with the rocker when interracial relationships were taboo.  “1969 saw the ebbing of a crucial, revolutionary era, highly influenced by such artists as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, James Brown and Bob Dylan,” Hunt said after the sale. “Their inner thoughts should not be the property of only their families, but the public at large, to reveal who these influential artists were — not as commercial images, but their private selves.” Written after the Stones’ historic Hyde Park gig, the letters illustrate Jagger’s musings on topics like the moon landing, his future relationship with Hunt, his impressions of the Outback and John Lennon and Yoko Ono.  Hunt said: “Despite his high profile and my own… our delicate love affair remains as much part of his secret history as his concerns over the death of Brian Jones and the suicide attempt of his girlfriend, Marianne Faithfull.”  Hunt is the inspiration behind the Stones’ 1971 hit “Brown Sugar” and became the mother of Jagger’s first child, Karis. (From Inquirer Entertainment)

Anthology of New Zealand Literature. Edited by Jane Stafford and Mark Williams (Auckland University Press, RRP $75).

The New Zealand Herald and others make a lot noise about this "Doorstop anthology of Kiwi writing", especially about what's being talked about - what's missing, not what's present. And, to be honest, I find that a stupid and immature debate. Who wants yet another facsimile of the "Oxford Companion to New Zealand's Well Trodden Path To Self Flagellation"?

I am bored to death with our literature of unease, our need to discover 'Self' and our scramble for 'Identity'. I'm also sick of the commercial implications. It's still happening. The Hobbit, for example, was hi-jacked to become a massive promotion for New Zealand Tourism. How did that happen? I thought it was a little quirky tale from a retiring English Professor!

Anyway - 'We', the people, know who we are. We don't need a film about magical faeries and frolicking gnomes in capes banging on about our wondrous landscape to highlight that once again. We know we are the greatest and we live in the best place in the world. Every Steinlager commercial on telly has affirmed that since the year 'dot'.

Commercialism and national identity have been racing away for decades. Yet it seems the academics are still puffing up the hill, sweating away in their brown cardigans, walk shorts and tweed jackets, trying to catch up! Ask any publisher today and they will tell you: New Zealand Literature is about us. Not looking in, not looking out - but looking 'at'. 'At' ourselves; 'at' what we do; 'at' what we say. And this is what this Anthology is all about - the business of getting to it.

We open up at Charles Heaphy, recording an interview with Te Horeta, who witnessed James Cook's arrival in 1769, and we close at Andrew Johnston in 2007 (his poem Sol). From just last year there is an extract from Hamish Clayton's 2011 debut novel "Wulf".

Despite some omissions, credited to difficult estates, unfinished contractual obligations and the like, the editors have still managed to tick off works by most of the big names of New Zealand literature. What is great is to see many of the earlier documents reprinted here - the 1835 Declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Waitangi - but also whimsical flourishes - baking hints from the Edmonds Sure to Rise cookery book or an entry on soil from the Yates' 1897 Gardening Guide. For the historian in me I find his stuff to be much more interesting than Mulgan banging on about being alone n the bush or John A Lee picking fights with the early Tories and dispelling the myth that thre is no poverty in Godzone. I like the emphasis on the ordinary and the day-to-day, because this is the identity we know and we remember. And we want! It's where our real identity is at!

And credit should be given to Jane Stafford and Mark Williams (Victoria University English lecturers/husband and wife) for their decisions to stretch beyond the printed word, including five black-and-white illustrated pages from cartoonist Dylan Horrocks' Hicksville, for example. Coming across the strip is both a revelation and an acknowledgement that finally this is an accepted artform in the dusty halls of academia. We down here at street level have devoured Horrock's work for years. But up in the ivory towers, I wonder, what have they thought to do with this? It's good to see his acerbic, dry wit appear in the chapter drawn from the 1990s - a section the editors oddly call "playful" - "where the real and the fantastic collapse in on one another". Hmm. My memory of the 1990's was a turbulent time, where protest was high, thinking was radical and the electronic age was becoming part of our lives.

Through out this book you will find songs, book extracts, letters, journal entries, fiction, non-fiction and poetry - all laid out thematically, like the 1990's in decades, as if these were borders of intellectualism. Like a tourist bus travelling chugging around the greater and lesser known literal landmarks the sections provide a beacon for the gaze, and by their very subtitles define the thinking behind the curation of each. The 1950's, for example, is full of post-war identity, the labour struggles, the introduction of serious home baking, and the embrace of art and poetry.

What is missing in the Tiki tour is Janet Frame, Alan Duff and Vincent O'Sullivan. Duff declined - perhaps over exposed, or not wanting to be sampled, like a wine or a new yoghurt flavour. In Frame's case, her estate trust, which owns copyright and the AUP could not reach agreement on "how to represent Frame's work". That would make sense, and given that she's virtually every where, I don't miss her.

There are one or two omissions that were the editor's choice - and I have to quibble these, if only because their work is just as worthy. However space and time for permissions may have hindered this and they well could be included in a companion version down the line?

Poet Peter Bland, who I studied at Uni is a rare treat not to be savoured. He may fade to the obscurity of second hand book shops if someone doesn't collect him quickly. His observations on Wellington, in particular will be missed. I was also bemused to see Charlotte Grimshaw left out - is she not worthy, despite being a more commercial success. Do we still shun the populist writers in favour of the artists? And what of Dame Anne Salmond, Judith Binney and or Ngaio Marsh? Populist they are, too but their contribution to the New Zealand psyche is far beyond any others here. Still by focussing on some of the more obscure we get a nice mix, because these omissions have had plenty of time in the sun already - so in a way, they are overexposed.

I did find it odd that Michael King didn't make the cut, nor does Roderick Finlayson, who engaged with Maori issues 50 years before King wrote about a bicultural land. You would expect the selections have stirred vigorous discussion in literary and publishing circles, as much for the inclusions as the omissions.

It should be noted that the word "anthology" refers to 'a collection of songs or musical compositions issued in one album' (Oxford Dictionary). Not 'the definitive collection' - just a collection. So when we challenge the editorial choices, remember that it's just one collection, in the same way your collection on your book shelf is a 'collection'. And do we challenge you for not having Janey frame on Michael King on those shelves? Perhaps we should.

The other word revisiting is 'literature'. Oxford defines it as: " written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit" I wonder how much of this anthology is worthy of artistic merit? And who decides that. In this case it's to Jane Stafford and Mark Williams.

You may also be interested to know that it's origins emerge from late Middle English (in the sense 'knowledge of books'): via French from Latin literature, from littera (i.e. letter). That is, a description of leters, on a page, compiled to make sense, I guess. So literature is virtually anything. In this day and age, we should probably start to think about literature as also blogs, online articles, online poetry (of which there is plenty to find).

Finally the words "New Zealand". I started this review by challenging the sense of identity that traditional collections focus on. And I wonder how, in the future, such anthologies would work. With e-books, self published works, and the borderless world we are moving towards, how can we claim anything is actually a possession or product of New Zealand. Just as we argue that an actr who's made himself famous overseas belongs to New Zealand because he was born here, how can we claim our literature to be a possession or product on New Zealand? One has many times argued that Katherine Mansfield, who did her best stuff abroad, cannot be a New Zealand writer simply because she was born in Thorndon and lived in Karori! She may have written extensively about living here but she had to leave to trigger the inspirations. Modern Kiwis often leave and write about things that have nothing to do with New Zealand. Nicky Pelligrino, another omission (perhaps because she writes lo-brow romantic airport novels) never writes about home, always about her ancestral home Italy. If she were included what would the criteria be?

In other news, Dunedin-based Philip Temple (winner of the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement for non-fiction) has taken issue with this anthology's dust jacket claim that "for years to come this anthology will be our guide to what's worth reading and why". He feels it weighs too heavily towards graduates of Bill Manhire's Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University. Bill, whose retiring this year should be proud of that, though, as he's worked slavishly for 40 years to get literature, particularly poetry, to the rock'n'roll status it enjoys today. Take a walk around Wellington Harbour, those poems floating around the rocks could never have happened even 15 years ago. Now we look to our poets for comments on every aspect of life. The respect is growing. Bill needs his credit noted here at least.

Temple does have one point that there is plenty of terrific writing about mountaineering and sport that's been left out. I suspect this is not deliberate but simply that the editors' sphere of knowledge simply didn't extend that wide. Also thin on the ground is writing about music. Grant Smithies and Colin Hogg are absent, Simon Sweetman and other reviewers like Tom Cardy won't appear either. In fact anything journalistic is left off the table. Journalism is the populist vote and this rabble must be ignored in favour of the hight arts.

The AUP publishers have said, in their defence that this anthology will create a "conversation…Great anthologies offer just one path into a country's literature - they are 'a knife through time' as the editors say. Lose the knife, include all your friends, and you'll produce a handy doorstop but not a great book."

"At 1200 pages, this anthology is a big old waka with 'a multifarious collection of crew and passengers', as the editors write. But it's just one rather interesting, illuminating path through New Zealand writing. There are other paths and people should take them." That's the usual response when choices are challenged. Read another way, it says "if you don't like it - make your own book!." In the Ipod-Kindle world of tomorrow, where individual songs, poems and novels can be randomly picked'n'mixed with a door stop like this still hold its value. I wonder.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mick Jagger - Philip Norman

You can't always get what you want: Norman wanted a proper Interview with Jagger.  But Jagger hates talking about himself, so Norman was forced to piece together a life witnessed and recorded in the press, on the page, in the papers and on the net. 

As I advanced wearily through this book, I could have sworn I'd already read it. That's because most people over the age of 40 could recite the two-timing-table of Jagger's life without even having to think twice. A PE teacher dad; meets Kef on the train; starts singing in that funny voice as an imitation of an American black man of a certain age; Andrew Loog Oldham; Altamont; Bianca; Jerry Hall; lifelong penny-pincher, life long rock star - won't ever give up!  i recently go hold of GRRRRR the compilation of well played hits from 4 decades and was still surprised to find them enjoyable, there's a reason why dad dances around the living room on Xmas evening, after 4 sherries.  That ass cant stop shakin'! 

From what I can gather from slightly older friends, young people mainly dug the Stones initially because parents didn't care for them. They were the grunge to the Beatles Suave.  they were the devil, and eventually sung about him, too. Blues was cool, enduring, sexy.  Twee songs about holding hands was smultz.  But, i note most parents don't care for measles, mumps or chickenpox either – so that doesn't mean youngsters should embrace them as totems of lust. And surely Jagger is one of the most cold-blooded conservatives ever to pose as a red-blooded rebel. Sure, he had his 60s flirtations with Tom Driberg and Angela Davis but he was off to the south of France like a shot in the 70s when the chance to avoid paying tax raised its ugly head.  His attitude to money as much as his idiot-dancing which renders Jagger so unattractive but still you've gotta give him his dues!  His most frequent query whenever a tour is coming up is the peevish "Are we paying for that?". The Marsha Hunt episode sums up MJ's inherent slipperiness horribly.  He sees a photo of her and fancies her: she soon gets a phone call from the Stones office, which is looking to promote the forthcoming single Honky Tonk Women by asking her to pose in "tarty clothes" alongside the whole band. She declines, explaining that she prefers not to look as if she's "just been had by all the Rolling Stones". She was sleeping with the far prettier Marc Bolan at the time (so that's a bit of a have), and finds old Liver Lips easily resistible.  Still she was won over by "shyness and awkwardness", this seemingly intelligent woman is persuaded by the slimeball to have his baby.  He called her "Miss Fuzzy" and was still shacked up with Marianne Faithfull.  But in retun he writes the 'tender' love song entitled Black Pussy  ( later changed to Brown Sugar - i can't see that making it to AOR radio, or any radio for that matter!)  Later he meets Bianca, thinks better of it, denies paternity and claims he's broke!  – this superstar, already a millionaire many times over.  A decade later he is still griping about the events on the title track of the Some Girls album – "Some girls give me cheeld-run … Ah never asked them faw" (Always looks silly when you see the phonetic translation of Jagger's preposterous Delta-blues-bad-boy singing voice is one of the book's modest delights).

Also, in the Hunt episode, Jagger's stinginess and misogyny combine to reveal him as a truly unappetising creep. But as one who stole his vocal and his dancing style from others, this most tricky of shadow puppets seems insubstantial compared to the women in his life, whether it is Faithfull making him read books, Bianca making him talk French or Jerry Hall making him look like a Lothario.  And of course, casting the biggest shadow of all, like some epic scarecrow, is Keith Richards, a man whose glamour and charisma increase at the same rate as his wrinkles!
Large though this book is, it labours in the shadow of other tomes.  Nothing new here except the cover and the font.  But If you want to combine the others into one, then you can justify the price

Still this is all we have, for now.  Because the autobiography which Jagger himself (albeit with a ghostwriter) promised and failed to deliver in the early 80s on account of the interview tapes being too boring, never comes.  It must have hurt him to hand back a million pounds but he bore it bravely: "This isn't working, is it?" he concedes to the book's distraught editor before they even sit down. It is always admirable when someone admits that they do not have a book in them; let us hope that Mr Norman learns from his subject's example!

Who Am I - Pete Townshead. (Biography)

Townshend's world is complex, perhaps enough to turn the rock dream sour. His relationship with his fans is awkward; he has an inability or unwillingness to recreate the hits of one's heyday with the Who and there's a paranoid insecurity associated with that: sustaining a loving marriage is an overwhelming ordeal for him; His childhood in post war UK was unhinged by early interventions from his wayward grandmother. Plus there's the auto-destruction, far more effective than smashing guiitars - a sybolic point, a trademark and an albatross.

I think this is an important book. It's fearless. It's an account by an influential cultural figure from a period when rock music could still transform lives. Today rock has lost that. Rock gods live for thirty seconds. The X factor and the Voice have proven anyone can wail to a decent over produced backing track. Anyone can cry on stage and claim what it means to be adored, to be larger than life, to be a leader or thoughts and inspiration. But none of those people have the charisma created by the actions - not the way Led Zeap did. not the way the Stones did. not the way The Who did. No body became so big that it took the Sex Pistols and Punk to big big and ugly enough to tear them down. Today you can dismiss a rock star’s on facebook with just two characters - :( [ Rock'n'Roll is Dead - Long Live Rock'n'Roll! ]

The writer Nik Cohn was the first to nail the Who's significance, observing in 1971 that they had made themselves into both the epitome and the entirety of rock music. The best thing the who was that they were disaffected and they were loud - often with rock that's all you need. Sure we judge them as a template, a renewable rebellion that has led – via the Clash – to Nirvana and beyond. And Townshend's chords resonate still. With the greats, Keith Moon and John Entwistle gone, Townshead and Roger Daltrey still fly the flag defiantly at their rousing live shows. Townshend calls them the "celebration machine".

But despite being an ungainly and a coruscating performer on stage, his writing is mostly the reverse - well-behaved and ordered, a catalogue of uppers and downers. Does the book lack the fiery eloquence of Townshend's windmilling mind? Perhaps. but after Sten Tyler's anarchic literal vomit, that could be a good thing. Though I wonder that given all he's done there's still a sad lack of "hell-yeah!" enjoyment to his life. Occasionally, irony flashes around but too much straight-faced telling without showing, and an uncharacteristic lack of imagination in the architecture of the narrative can ake t a little boring at times. Also, as many rock stars are prone to do - Townshead refers to some incidents of debauchery, scandal or misbehaviour without decribing them or giving his point of view - leaving them to previously reported stories. i find that just lazy and annoying. If you are going to comment - give me context - I might not know the story. And if there was blood, alchohol, nudity, sex, telivisions and motel balconies then I want the whole unvarnished, not just a passing comment.

But I did find myself laughing at the excesses, something Townshend also now finds absurd. In 1967, for example, he was worried that the Who are no longer the loudest group on Earth, threatened by the auditory explosions of that Vanilla Fudge, of all people. "They had found a way of amplifying a Hammond organ up to rock guitar decibels," he writes. "We were actually upset by this."

Townshend's story is essentially one of searching. Who songs powerfully reference the act of seeking. He’s always been keen to engage his own followers with this spiritual quest. But it's a mission that has barely concluded at the volume's close. So we find insightful vignettes on the creative process in all its haphazard and accidental fumblings. Tommy only made sense to its creator once it was performed live. On vinyl, he found a collection of oddities, beheaded dreams awaiting a body of performance.

Overall it’s a worthwhile, comprehensive and culturally valuable account of a life. Yet it’s also a solidity, slightly enervating book, too. A bit miserable, here and there – no celebration machine.

Add this to the Xmas Book List: Rod: The Autobiography by Rod Stewart

He's a strange figure, Old Spiky hair.  Massively successful but, despite having been in the Faces and the Jeff Beck Group, never quite cool enough. He doesn't feel part of the the world of rock and pop – or at least never has in my lifetime – despite selling a staggering number of vinyl.

On paper he's the perfect rock star. The book even starts with a down to earth moment of a bird strike during the take off of his private jet, which his was wisked off to following a concert in Europe.  Very Rock'n'Roll - as was the life-reality check on his own life, position and the all emcompassing question: "How did I get Here?" 

It should be noted and praised that the best rock star memoirs steer clear of nonsense about personal journeys, formulaic expressions of regret over drug use and sexual highjinks, or emetic tributes to the love that saved their lives. This is not a Woman's Weekly anthology.  I don't want to hear about the anguish: I want somewhere for fantasy to flourish. The spirit should be: "How sad and bad and mad it was – / But then, how it was sweet!"

I wonder if a Ghost Writer was on board, did Stewart wriote all of Rod himself?  If he did he did he deserves respect and if he didn't I hope his spectre – rumoured to be journalist Giles Smith – gets a decent slice! The writing is a cut above the workmanlike "I was there" stuff!   The tone is pitched right, jokes good. Each chapter's got a whimsical 18th-century-style subheading, beginning with the dry: "In which our hero is born, just over six years of global conflict ending shortly thereafter ..."  Stewart clearly doesn't take it all too seriously.  I like.

Tossed around are digressions on various pet subjects like the subject of his hair.  He's had the same hairstyle for 45 years ("It's what I have in common with the Queen" Right!). He paints delightful portraits of early days: he and Ron Wood spending hours tenderly arranging each-other's barnets apparently.  MMMM.

The heart of the book is in the opening 100 or so pages: the fierce excitement of young manhood and the crossing-over from fandom to performance; the exhilaration of American folk, blues and soul; the buzz of that germinal Stones/Who/Yardbirds/Faces/Jeff Beck Group scene. All well encapsulated.  Actually this is the best part of Rod's life. If you care not for the Wives, the day-glo and the excesses of the 80's or the Sinatra impersionations and Xmas smultz (out now, apparently) then stop now.  If you NEED to know about the relationshps and his connection with our Rachael then read one.

Note there is plenty of sex. Blonde on blonde! they have more fun! Yeah, I know!  At one point he swanks about cheating on one Playboy model with another Playboy model; at another, about sneaking out for a first date with Kelly Emberg while still married to his first wife, then leaving that date (smitten, he tells us) to climb into bed with his mistress.

What is his secret? "Hello darlin' – what you got in that handbag?" is the chat-up line he swears by, apparently. During his relationship with Britt Ekland (she called him "Soddy" and he called her "Poopy", for reasons we are left to guess at) he sent her the following telegram in response to her request for a love-letter: "Tired of pulling me plonker. Please come home."  Yep, that'll do it!

"Romantic" though such details are, you find yourself souring a little at quite how badly he behaved: ending long-term relationships by publicly and humiliatingly flaunting his infidelity - "Less than gentlemanly – This, clearly, was the behaviour of an arsehole." Still, he's also kind of pleased with himself.

Nota : Rachel Hunter broke his heart. She was 21 when they met. They spent eight years together and she was the only woman to date he didn't betray: "I've put my last banana in the fruit bowl," he assured reporters. Sadly, that fruit bowl went off in search of fresher fruit.  Now, he assures us, he's found the love of his life (his third wife Penny Lancaster. Right.  Let's See how that goes, eh!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Take Five to think about Dave Brubeck - The Story of the song.

In 1961, Dave Brubeck told Ralph Gleason on the TV program Jazz Casual that jazz had lost some of its adventurous qualities. He said it wasn't challenging the public rhythmically the way it had in its early days.

"It's time that the jazz musicians take up their original role of leading the public into a more adventurous rhythm," he said.
Brubeck said it's a good idea to shake things up a bit, and that's exactly what he did with the song "Take Five."
"Take Five" was the third track on the album Time Out, recorded in 1959. That was the year Miles Davis and Gil Evans introduced the jazz audience to modal music with the landmark album Kind of Blue, John Coltrane released Giant Steps and Art Farmer and Benny Golson formed their first jazztet. A lot of new things were happening in jazz in those days, but rhythmically, the music was still being played mostly in four-four time. Brubeck had always been interested in polyrhythm and polytonality. The first theory is what drives African music; the second is tied closely to classical.
Brubeck had been playing in odd time signatures back in the late 1940s, but it wasn't until he returned from a trip to Turkey in 1958 that he thought about doing an entire album in different time signatures, like six-four, three-four, nine-eight and, in "Take Five," five-four. Brubeck's label at the time, Columbia, didn't know about his plans. When he finally let them in on what he was doing, the marketing department became nervous about releasing the album, and not just because of the strange meters.
"I had a painting on the cover, and that hadn't happened in jazz," Brubeck said. "It may have happened in classical, I don't know. And also, it was all originals, and they were against that. If you did all original compositions, you usually couldn't do that. You just weren't allowed to do that. They wanted you to do standard Broadway shows and standard tunes from the love songs of the day or the hits of the day."
Of course, it did get released in 1960, but only because then-label president Goddard Lieberson intervened. Lieberson really liked what Brubeck was doing.
"I remember him saying, 'We don't need another copy of "Stardust" or "Body and Soul." We've got so many. And it's about time somebody did something like this.'"
So instead of reworkings of jazz standards or tunes of the day, you got "Blue Rondo a la Turk," a song in nine-eight, as well as "Pick Up Sticks," "Strange Meadow Lark" and "Take Five."

Much of the album was close to being worked out when Brubeck decided to add a tune in five-four time.
"Dave used to feature me all the time for the drum solo," drummer Joe Morello says. "We'd close a concert with that because we'd get 'em standing and screaming and all of that. So I would go into five-four. The tune that I was working with Dave was 'Sounds of the Loop,' but on the drum-solo part, I'd just go into five-four and that's how that all started. So I kept asking Dave — I said, 'Why don't you write a song' — now he's the composer in the group, so finally Desmond said, 'I'll write something.'"
Morello was referring to alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, who first played with Brubeck in the late 1940s before joining Brubeck's trio in 1951. Desmond is credited with composing "Take Five," but Brubeck says the tune was a group project with Desmond providing two main ideas.
"Paul came in with two themes unrelated, and I put it together as a tune and made a form out of it," Brubeck says. "He came in with two themes. He didn't know which was the first or the second. He didn't know they'd fit together. Dopa, depa, depa, dopa, lom, bom, bom, bom. That's one theme. I'm the one that put them together and said, 'We can make a tune out of this. We repeat the first theme, and then you'd go to what we call a bridge, and then go back to the first theme, and then improvise on the one E flat minor chord change.' And then have a drum solo. Joe said, 'Dave, don't ever quit playing that vamp under my solo or I'll get lost.'"

An Unlikely Best-Seller
The quartet recorded the tune in two takes, and when it was done, Paul Desmond thought the song was a throwaway — so much so that he once joked about using his entire share of royalties from the song to buy a new electric shaver. The title "Take Five" was Brubeck's idea; Desmond wasn't crazy about the title, but Brubeck persisted.
"So I said, 'Well, we got to have a title. Why don't you want to use it?' And he said, 'Nobody knows what it means.' And I said, 'Paul, you're the only person probably in the country that doesn't know what it means.'"
"Take Five" became the A side of a 45 record, Brubeck says, only because the other popular song "Blue Rondo a la Turk" was too long of a title for disc jockeys to say on the air. The album Time Out sold out almost immediately. Desmond once said the thing that made its title song work was the bridge.
And it almost wasn't used. Both Brubeck and Morello say they can't pinpoint what it is about "Take Five" that has made it the biggest-selling jazz single ever. Brubeck guesses it was the catchy repeated vamp. Morello says the whole thing just clicked.

"It just worked," he says. "You know, if anyone could ever predict what's going to be a big seller like that, my God, they'd be driving around in Rolls-Royces; you know, living in castles."
"Take Five" spawned a number of jazz compositions in five-four time from lots of musicians, but you'd probably be hard-pressed to name any as memorable as "Take Five." It's a jazz standard in its own right. It is now a requisite for Dave Brubeck anytime he plays live, as well as Joe Morello.
"Gene Krupa said to me one time — he said, 'That's your "Sing Sing Sing."' He said, 'That's the same thing.' He said, 'You're stuck with that one for the rest of your life,'" Morello says. "And I think he's right, but it's always a joy."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

On Song - by Simon Sweetman/Penguin. About $51.00

On Song: Stories Behind New Zealand's Pop Classics

Tonite we talk with Simon about his new book.  On Song - a lively journey through New Zealand's diverse pop landscape. Simon's a prolific music, almost manic consumer and writer on Muisc in Aotearoa and beyond.  For this book he's interviewed the writers and performers of beloved Kiwi classics, presenting 'in conversation' text that illuminates the fascinating stories behind the pop songs we all know and love, all complemented with a plethora of artists' personal imagery and archival photography. A stunning portrait of modern New Zealand through music.

Simon Sweetman is a freelance music writer. He is the popular music critic for the Dominion Post and writer of 'Blog on the Tracks', daily music musings for His work has also appeared in the New Zealand Listener, North & South, Rip It Up, Sunday Star-Times, Herald on Sunday, Salient and The Package. He has provided comment for Radio New Zealand National, RadioLIVE, Newstalk ZB, Radio Active and TVNZ's 'Good Morning'. He lives in Wellington with his wife Katy and their son Oscar. They share the house with far too many records and their cats Sylvie and Baxter. On Song is his first book.

Blog on the Tracks: Simon's Blog on the NZ Hearald Site

Off the Tracks - Simon's other Blog

Friday, November 16, 2012

Piano Forte: Stories and Soundscapes from Colonial New Zealand - By Kristine Moffat - Otago University Press $45

Kirstine Moffat is convenes English and is the senior lecturer at the University of Waikato, with reasearch on nineteenth and early twentieth-century feminist writings.  In particular she's interested in the motif of music and what it conveys about feminity, which led to this book.

Piano Forte looks at the time when the piano was at the centre of private, social and cultural life for many New Zealanders. Comprised of many voices, being based on memoirs, diaries, letters, concert programmes, company records and other accounts, her stories begin in 1827, with the arrival the first piano, through to the 1930's - when the increasing popularity of the phonograph, the radio and the talkies diverted us away.

I love these alternative little histories, viewing things from another perspective.  If you'veseen Jane Campion's The Piano then you can imagine how strange this instrument must have felt arrivinging as it did in it's crate onto the sands and being dragged off into the damp, overgrown bush to a shanty hut, where it was expected to warm the rooms with the sense and sensibilities of 'home'. 

For Maori it was not only an new sound but a crazy new look.  Instruments with mechanisms and machinery.  You can also imagine their surprise to find that pulleys, levers and such could make sound that to the Maori ears was very radical.  For a culture that was raised on nose flutes and taiha this is a massive departure and perhaps their first brush with the automaton and the impending industrial revolution of England.

The Piano was also the istrument of the church, and the pub and the town hall and the home. The protocols, the music the time and the place.  This is what I really love above this book, the research that finds the connections and shows us, once again that technology and our response to it shapes up, as we shape it. 

My only niggle really is about the amauerish design of the book jacket, which seems to be an issue for nearly all university Press productions.  I can not believe that budget determines style and presentation.  So if a second edition ever emerges, lets work on that.  But as an alt history this selection of historical sketches, paintings and photographs of the piano in many contexts provide a great visual essay, a great read over the coming summer months.  Not too academic but not to ght as to disregard respect of the reader.  Well done.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On a Saturday Night - Community halls of small-town New Zealand - Michele Frey and Sara Newman/Photographs John Maillard and John O'Malley - Canterbury University Press $45.00

Yeah, it's great being out with the jokers
When the jokers are sparking and bright,
And its great giving cheek to the sheilas
Down the hall on a Saturday night ...
- Peter Cape, 1958

Well, it started with Chris Bourke's book on Music before Rock'n'Roll, this nogstalgia for old-time Kiwi culture.  When I grew up we shunned those dances, full of old men, brown ale, chiffon and mothballs.  But truth be told, that's the place our grandparents and parents met, where theygot married and we went to scouts, our first disco (the Blue light ones) or acted in our first Shakespere or Agatha Christie play.  halls have hosted school classrooms, general elections, stag parties, birthday parties, film screenings, Rabbiters' Balls, flag euchre evenings, farewells and welcome-home parties for servicemen from both world wars, memorial events for those who did not return, farm auctions, clearing sales, weddings, Christmas parties, Civil Defence teams, mayoral celebrations, church services The Community Hall is vital and intricate to our culture, particularly in the country where many towns have been razed to the ground, leaving, if you're lucky, a pub, a church and maybe the community hall.

Whakapara Memorial Hall
Many of these structures were post WW1 projects designed in Wellington but adapted for the conditions, and based on the community collection plate.  The actual architecture is now so varied, due to fires, re-builds, depression year renovations etc, that you'd only rcognised the intention, and less the original design.  But somethings remain. The stark concrete foundations.  Those little pink 'lozenges' in the Men's urinals, the over use of sky blue paint in the kitchen, pine cupboard doors, and the taped down indoor netball or basketball courts indicating the multi-use aspects of the great halls.  If you are lucky you'll see a roll of honor for everything from Pasendale to the annual indoor bowls tournament.
Clearly 'On a Saturday Night' is a colourful, slightly teary-eyed celebration of the strength and spirit of small towns from Whakapara to Mossburn.  Community halls have been the focal point of these towns for as long as the towns have been on the map. 

Pohangina Hall
Michele Frey and Sara Newman visited these halls with photographers John Maillard (North Island) and John O'Malley (South Island) to talk to the locals and try to capture the essence of what each hall has meant - and means - to its community. This is the heart of the book and what makes this different from, say, a Robyn Morrison photo book.  And it's these stories and pictures that give an aspect of New Zealand's unique culture that seems to be passing into history but fortunately is still alive.

About the Authors
Michele Frey is a Strategic Planner (Natural Environment and Recreation) for Opus International Consultants Ltd in Napier. She has always had a strong affinity with the notion of community, and seized eagerly upon the idea of producing a book on small-town halls, with the opportunity it offered to gain insights into the dynamics of small New Zealand communities. Along the way she developed some lifelong friendships. This is Michele's third book for Canterbury University Press.

Sara Newman grew up in a small town and knew all about the importance of community halls. She has had articles published in magazines in New Zealand and abroad, including Takahe and New Zealand Memories. While a member of the South Island Writers' Group she won the Ngaio Marsh Trophy for fiction in 2009. Her work is included in several anthologies and her family history Living Between the Lines has been read on National Radio. She loved visiting the halls and meeting the people involved with them.

one of the committee at the Pohangina Hall
North Island Halls Featured
Whakapara Memorial Hall
Ormond Hall
Horopito Hall
Wharehine Hall
Waerenga-o-kuri Hall
King George’s Hall
Hoteo North Hall
Ruakituri Hall
Clive Community Hall
Fencourt Hall
Ardkeen Hall
Waipawa Hall
Manawahe Hall
Tutira Hall
Pohangina Hall
Waioeka Hall
Douglas Hall
Colyton Hall

South Island Halls Featured
Puramahoi Hall
Rotomanu Hall
Lincoln Community Centre
Murchison Hall
Spotswood Hall
Tai Tapu Hall
Upper Matakitaki Hall
Glenroy Hall
The Gaiety
Totara Flat Hall
Hororata Hall
Sherwood Downs Community Hall
Moonlight Hall
Prebbleton Public Hall
Peel Forest Hall
Runanga Hall
Springston Hall
Luggate War Memorial Hall
Five Rivers Hall
Mossburn Hall
The Hurunui Halls:
Hawarden - The Peaks
Masons Flat - Waikari

Down the Hall on a Saturday Night - By Peter Cape

New Zealand songwriter Peter Cape’s 1958 song ‘Down the hall on a Saturday night’ perfectly captured the atmosphere of a dance at a local country hall. The song mentions how the blokes rushed outside between dances to swig beer from a keg. The last two verses are:

I had a schottische with the tart from the butchers
Got stuck for a waltz with the constable’s wife
Had a beer from the keg on the cream-truck
And the cop had one too, you can bet your life.

Yeah, it’s great being out with the jokers
When the jokers are sparking and bright,
And it’s great giving cheek to the sheilas
Down the hall on a Saturday night.

Here's the full version:

Down the Hall on a Saturday Night - Peter Cape 1958

I got a new pair of grey strides,
I got a real Kiwi haircut,
A bit off the top, an' short back and sides.
Soon as I've tied up me guri,
Soon as I've swept out the yard,
Soon as I've hosed down me gumboots,
I'll be living it high and hitting it hard.
I'm gonna climb onto me tractor,
Gonna belt 'er out of the gate,
'Cause there's a hop on down at the hall,and
She starts sharp somewhere 'bout 1/2 past 8.

Look at the shielas cutting the supper
Look at the kids sliding over the floor
An' look at the great big bunch of jokers
Hanging 'round the door.

We've got the teacher to bash the pianna,
And Joe from the store on the drums.
We're as slick as the Orange* in Auckland
For whooping things up and making them hum.

I had a schottische with the tart from the butchers
Got stuck for a waltz with the constable's wife
Had a beer from the keg on the cream-truck
And the cop had one too, you can bet your life

Yeah, it's great being out with the jokers
When the jokers are sparking and bright,

And it's great giving cheek to the shielas
Down the hall on Saturday night

Stag Spooner - Wild Man from the Bush (Craig Potton Press) $49.99

An illustrated diary kept by a deer hunter during 1939 and 1940 lies at the heart of an exciting new biography published later this month by Craig Potton Publishing .  Neville ‘Stag’ Spooner grew up in the Wairarapa during the Great Depression. His father was an enthusiastic carver, musician and hunter who taught his whole family to shoot and also encouraged their artistic abilities.

Stag started keeping records of his daily life as a child and continued the practice during his military service in World War II, until his early death in Fiordland aged just 28. It was the illustrated diary that he kept while working as a deer culler for the Department of Internal Affairs, first in the Tararuas and then on the West Coast of the South Island, that is being reproduced for the first time as part of this new book.

Neville 'Stag" Spooner

“It’s the kind of exciting discovery of a Kiwi classic that everyone dreams about,” says Wellington based biographer Chris Maclean. “When I was first shown a copy of the original diary I was fascinated, it seemed a really significant find to me. I started out writing an explanatory essay to accompany the publication of the diary. But as I spoke with more of the family, my understanding of Stag’s creative output increased and so did the scope of the project.”

Stag Spooner: Wild man from the bush – The story of a New Zealand hunter – artist by Chris Maclean will be launched in Masterton on Saturday 28 August.

An exhibition based on Stag’s life and artworks was shown at Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History during August and September -

About the author

Chris Maclean is a Wellington historian, writer, photographer and publisher, with a keen interest in the outdoors. He has written a number of acclaimed and award-winning books, including Tararua , Waikanae, Kapiti, Wellington – Telling Tales, and a biography of John Pascoe. Chris is the great-grandson of George Whitcombe, founder of Whitcombe & Tombs.

'Stag' Spooner's diary a blend of art and history

From Wairapapa News 25/07/2012

With his shaggy dark hair and beard, and a discernible twinkle in his eye, there is something very contemporary- looking about the young man in the photo.

You could easily picture him strolling along Cuba St with all the other quirky 'Generation Y-ers'. But this photo was taken in 1939 and it shows Neville 'Stag' Spooner: passionate hunter, government deer culler, artist and diarist who grew up in Carterton, and later served in North Africa in World War II.

His remarkable story is told in a book, Stag Spooner: Wild Man from the Bush, and an accompanying exhibition being launched at Aratoi this weekend.

Neville (who earned his nickname of 'Stag' by his prowess for hunting) wrote that he was 'an artist by 7' and was well in the habit of recording his adventures by the time he was a teenager. For the Spooner family (five boys and one girl), these adventures typically involved hunting or fishing. Stag shot his first Tararua deer in 1935, aged 18, and by 1937 he had become a highly proficient hunter.

So the job of deer culler must have been a logical and attractive option, and this is the period in his life that he records in his 80-page visual diary (dated 1939-40), which he titled Those Wild Men from the Bush.

The diary shows the daily tasks involved in the life of a culler, employed to stem the decimating effects of a wildly proliferating deer population in the hinterlands. This was certainly a busy season, seeing Stag top the Westland cullers' tally, killing 525 deer in six months, including 41 in a day. He shows the various tasks involved, from hacking through the bush to make trails, tracking and shooting deer, skinning them and cutting off the tails to take back as proof. He also shows camp life at the end of a hard day, trips into town to see sweethearts, and the haircuts to make this 'Wild Man of the Bush' halfway presentable.

Aratoi director Marcus Boroughs describes the diary, passed down through the Spooner family since Stag's untimely death, as having a local focus but a national significance. 'It's like a real life Boys Own Annual . . . a fabulous blending of art and history. For a young man of that era to be out in the Tararuas not only hunting and shooting but also recording his experiences in artwork is really extraordinary.'

Ironically, the renowned sharp shooter served in a non- combat role in a Field Ambulance Unit for the duration of the war. Here, he continued writing and drawing but this time mainly in the form of decorated envelopes sent home to his family. These show his developing confidence and skill as an artist, often blending military scenes with Tararua hunting imagery, and also his keen sense of humour. They caught the attention of his colleagues and led to a side business selling selected envelopes.
Stag, along with his brothers Tory and Bryan, survived the war but he died tragically on a solo hunting expedition near Lake Te Anau, aged 28. The exhibition, which also includes a large range of trophy deer heads, carvings by Stag and other objects, begs the question as to what this talented young man would have accomplished.

Stag Spooner - Those Wild Men from the Bush, July 27 to September 30; Face Value - Portraits from the Collection, until November 4; Stephen Duncan, until July 28; Foyer Exhibits - Selected works from The Rutherford Collection & Kajsa Bckstrm.

- Wairarapa News 25/07/2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Information is beautiful - New Edition - by David McCandeless (Harper Collins, $44.99)

"Lies, lies and damn statistics".  Indeed.  Take a pause.  This book offers up both a learning tool and a cerebal pair of spectacles in which to re-visualise data.  In our lives we are bombarded by facts, fgures and data that means nothing and everything to us.  But of course, no matter what that data is, it's acuracy or its origin that data tells a story.  So if a picture tells a story of over a 1000 words in a simple line or with a splash of coulor then imagine that a whole data set could produce!  And for any one that believes that data is all boring - also, think again.   McCandless' book (originally published a few years ago and updated for the internet age) presents data in very simple ways.  In a sense the images he uses to present the data tell the story.  They are so well done that the invitation to interpret is very narrow but the equal invite to discuss is very large.  Take, for example the statistics about refugees and imigrants.  the format appears too simple - like something used for a magazine such as Time.  But the data shows the integrity and invites deeper analysis.  There are many examples in here, which McCandless doesn't actually create himself, but instead may compile, reproduce or reimage.  I'd love to know what tools he uses.

Also have a flip through the Amazon preview:

McCandless also has a website, as they all do to support and celebrate the good use and presentation of quality data - see

And on the site you can find a number of upcoming projects such as
The LOTR Project by Emil Johanssen. Statistics on the population of Middle Earth. Number of women. Average life span. Age distribution. Population demographics. Sooth! I thought was geeky…
    Data can be fun  
  Also he has TED talks, worth checking out -

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mad on Radium: New Zealand in the Atomic Age - by Rebecca Priestley AUP $44.95

Rebecca Priestley has a history of science PhD from Canterbury University and this book is based on her thesis. Priestley is one of New Zealand’s most significant science writers. She is the co-author of Atoms, Dinosaurs and DNA with Veronika Meduna, which won the 2009 LIANZA Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction; editor of The Awa Book of New Zealand Science, which won the 2009 Royal Society Science Book of the Year prize; and science columnist for the New Zealand Listener. Rebecca Priestley is a History Research Trust awardee.

Mad on Radium: New Zealand in the Atomic Age

Mad on Radium:
New Zealand in the Atomic Age
‘New Zealand is known around the world for our nuclear-free stance – banning US ship visits, prohibiting uranium mining, selling ourselves to the world on our clean, green, nuclear-free image. But have we always been nuclear sceptics?’

In this engaging and accessible history, prize-winning author Rebecca Priestley reveals the alternative history of ‘nuclear New Zealand’ – a country where there was much enthusiasm for nuclear science and technology, from the first users of x-rays and radium in medicine; the young New Zealand physicists seconded to work on the Manhattan Project; support for the British bomb tests in the Pacific; plans for a heavy water plant at Wairakei; prospecting for uranium on the West Coast of the South Island; plans for a nuclear power station on the Kaipara Harbour; and thousands of scientists and medical professionals working with nuclear technology. 
Priestley then considers the transition to ‘nuclear-free New Zealand’ policy in the 1980s. The change was dramatic: in the late 1970s, less than a decade before becoming so proudly nuclear-free, New Zealand was considering nuclear power to meet growing electricity demand in the North Island and the government was supporting a uranium prospecting programme on the West Coast of the South Island. But following the nuclear-free policy, anything with nuclear associations came under suspicion: taxi drivers referred to a science institute using a particle accelerator as ‘the bomb factory’ and Jools Topp of the Topp Twins refused radiation therapy for cancer, telling the doctors ‘I’m a lifelong member of Greenpeace, why would I let you irradiate me?’
By uncovering the long and rich history of New Zealanders’ engagement with the nuclear world and the roots of our nuclear-free identity, by leading us into popular culture, politics, medicine and science, Priestley reveals much about our culture’s evolving attitudes to science and technology and the world beyond New Zealand’s shores.   Check out a couple of 'Nuclear' movies from the 1950's"    

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This week on the Adventures of the Coffee Bar Kid - "Selling the Dream; The Art of Early New Zealand Tourism" by Peter Alsop, Gary Stewart and Dave Bamford. $79.95

This week we review: "Selling the Dream; The Art of Early New Zealand Tourism" by Peter Alsop, Gary Stewart and Dave Bamford. $79.95 Not only is this a visually stunning book, but the accompanying essays also provide great value. Senior executive, Peter Alsop is a keen collector of New Zealand art and tourism publicity - especially, hand-coloured photography and mid-century New Zealand landscape paintings. His commitment to this is very evident here in a collection that would have to be the most comprehensive in print to date, I suspect. I was not aware of the Government's early commitment to getting overseas punters into New Zealand, and behind the scenes there was a huge mechanism for doing this. Art studios and entire specialist departments produced campaigns for getting locals and foreigners out of the house and into cars, planes and automobiles. In fact, in 1901 the first government tourist office in the world institution The Department of Tourist and Health Resorts was established. So we were the first to give women the vote, first to freeze and sell our wares overseas and the first to tell every one how great it is here. Yet some how the tyranny of distance still thwarted us. Thank goodness, lest we be overrun and over populated. Interestingly, Kiwis' come of age overseas wanderlust may not just be the pull of the apron strings from the mother country but also the push from our own big brother. If Kiwis were attracting people from far away to come here then we were also firing our own desire to go there, too. Resplendent are the beautiful images, many far too good for a measly poster. Throughout the book has a number of essays. Margaret McClure talks about the establishment of tourism here from Rotorua to state ownership of assets and publicity. She's a public historian well known for The Wonder Country, a definitive history of New Zealand tourism, so she knows her stuff. . "Shaping New Zealand’s Identity: The Role of Tourism Publicity" is by Richard Wolfe, who writes on New Zealand’s social history, including most recently In the Post, a history of New Zealand stamps. His latter work is, in a way, quite similar to his topics. Stamps were mini posters, also conveying images and dreams just like the larger counterparts. The essay "Against the Odds: Attracting Visitors in the Golden Age of Travel Posters" by David Pollack touches on that tyranny of distance subject again, and looks more closely at the psychology behind the images. David is a highly regarded vintage poster dealer in the United States ( and past President of the International Vintage Poster Dealers Association. The essay "Happy Marriage: Aligning Tourism and Publicity", also by Wolfe, looks at the national strategies and how they followed national trends and the identity of the Kiwi, as we evolved. Interestingly none of our posters ever consider particular races (outside Maori) the images don’t specifically feature white people or black. Because of the stylised imagery the viewer can visualize themselves at the intended scene no matter their own race or upbringing. Radical for a time when, at home, as in many countries were we still quite xenophobic, especially to Chinese, Japanese and Germans. It isn't mentioned here perhaps because of the time range but common in the 1970's at least was the observation that those were the very people we fought a war to keep out and here they were coming in armed with cameras and travellers cheques. . "Selling Maoriland: Māori at the Centre of Tourism Publicity", by Mark Derby, who works at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and has a deep knowledge of Māori history brings in some of our earliest attempts to establish identity and a point of difference. Maori in Rororua, especially were early pioneers of tourism, sharing their thermal wonderland with visitors for a few pennies. Early poets like Thomas Bracken, who wrote our National Anthem, coined the phrase Maoriland to establish a handle on the fledgling nation. They wanted a label to hang their hat on, stand apart from the European roots and grow separately. Maori culture was unique and exotic, but in the hands of a state run publicity machine doomed to become kitsch and cheap. The plastic tiki syndrome was establish early by the assumptions and blundering of ignorant and indignant officials, who had little time for digging and delving into the images they exploited. The dusky Maori maiden was a common theme, as it had been for early artists on the Heemskerk, the Zeehan and the Endeavour. It would take years for Maori to unshackle the stereo types and take ownership of their culture and once again re-brand it as their own. . Lee Davidson in "Publicizing Peaks: Early Promotion of Mountain Tourism". looks at another aspect, one were are still proud of: adventure tourism. As a Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington with a specialist focus on tourism, leisure and cultural heritage, and the significance of mountains in particular, Davidson likes to focus on how our fauna and flora was sold - the unique approach of distinguishing Mitre peak from Westminster Abbey or Big Ben. Although I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the drivers behind why the people of the mountains wanted to visit the cities of Europe while the people of ancient crumbling cities need to be in the clean open air of our bush and mountains. . if you were wondering about the men, and they were mostly men, who produced all this great imagery then the chapter "Apprentice Dream Makers: Teenage Commercial Artists" by Gail Ross, who's also an art historian , is the best place to look. It was fascinating to look into the well planned lives of young New Zealanders who were changed into art colleges as young as 12, destined to be the commercial artists of tomorrow. If only our schools were like that now! The remaining chapters lt these posters in the context of high art, as lasting images, the roll and connection of stamps and the roll of our tourism posters in the Naturalist movement and early conservation. Behind the scenes on that one is the respect and connectivity between the Department of Conservation and the opportunities for trade and cultural value add that became greatly recognized as a viable tourism opportunity. All in all, this book is not only fascinating but enlightening. At school, my daughter is studying the art of persuasion in advertising and creating of tribes and cultural thinking portrayed through those images. Young Kiwis are fascinated by what makes them Kiwis. There is no doubt that New Zealand's own understanding of itself came from the promotion of itself, and that is self evident in the artefacts in this book.

For more information Check out :

And also Peter's own essay on Public Address:

Images provided in association with Selling the Dream: The Art of Early New Zealand Tourism


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Nalini Singh’s darkly beautiful world of archangels and immortal power

Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s darkly beautiful world of archangels and immortal power, as a pact is sealed between two souls bound by blood, stirred by desire, and driven by vengeance…
With wings of midnight and an affinity for shadows, Jason courts darkness. But now, with the Archangel Neha’s consort lying murdered in the jewel-studded palace that was his prison and her rage threatening cataclysmic devastation, Jason steps into the light, knowing he must unearth the murderer before it is too late.
Earning Neha’s trust comes at a price—Jason must tie himself to her bloodline through the Princess Mahiya, a woman with secrets so dangerous, she trusts no one. Least of all an enemy spymaster.
With only their relentless hunt for a violent, intelligent killer to unite them, Jason and Mahiya embark on a quest that leads to a centuries-old nightmare… and to the dark storm of an unexpected passion that threatens to drench them both in blood.

Published by Hachette NZ $24.99
Listen to the interview here.

Her Bio -
I've been writing as long as I can remember and all of my stories always held a thread of romance (even when I was writing about a prince who could shoot lasers out of his eyes). I love creating unique characters, love giving them happy endings and I even love the voices in my head. There's no other job I would rather be doing. In September 2002, when I got the call that Silhouette Desire wanted to buy my first book, Desert Warrior, it was a dream come true. I hope to continue living the dream until I keel over of old age on my keyboard.
I was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. I also spent three years living and working in Japan, during which time I took the chance to travel around Asia. I’m back in New Zealand now, but I’m always plotting new trips. If you’d like to see some of my travel snapshots, have a look at the Travel Diary page (updated frequently).
So far, I've worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher and not necessarily in that order. Some might call that inconsistency but I call it grist for the writer's mill.