It’s just as well New Zealand author Graeme Lay wasn’t paying for excess baggage on his recent voyage around the South Pacific, because his luggage included four cartons of his own books.
Even better news for the Auckland-based writer was that he sold all but two copies of the books to his fellow passengers on the P & O liner Pacific Sun recently, while enjoying the ship’s three-week cruise around the Pacific Islands.
Author of the suitably named The Miss Tutti Frutti Contest – Travel Tales of the South Pacific, Lay was one of the first guest writers to take part in P & O’s recently-launched Chapters Book Club, now a feature on all its cruises.
Lay says he was surprised at the high level of interest. The five gatherings of the book club were attended by up to 50 people at a time and he gave four lectures to groups of several hundred fellow passengers, timing his presentations to preview the Pacific Sun’s arrival at the ports-of-call featuring in his books.
“I was surprised at the extent of interest people showed, but it is an opportunity for them to hear first-hand what writers set out to achieve and why they have structured their books as they have. Cruising also provides the perfect opportunity for leisurely reading, especially during the days spent entirely at sea.”
Lay says that because the South Pacific islands are a particular passion of his, he was able to give the other passengers an understanding of the ship’s ports-of-call, their history and the well-known, adventurous people who have been attracted to them, particularly during the colonial era.
In Search of Paradise – Artists and Writers in the colonial South Pacific, is another book which he featured on board Pacific Sun. A large format, illustrated book, this was a product of his own interest in the islands cast a spell over the likes of the mutineers from the Bounty, artist Paul Gauguin, novelists Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson , and poet Rupert Brooke.
A review of The Miss Tutti Frutti Contest had this to say about the book: “Educational, instructive, engrossing, transporting – these are the qualities readers seek in a travel book. Lay delivers on all levels, and adds a little something extra, because he knows these islands; this isn't the account of a one-off visit for the sake of a book.”
Sture Myrmell, Vice President, Hotel Operations at Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises, said a book club is perfectly suited to the pace of a cruising holiday.
“We trialled the book club concept with our passengers in June and it proved very popular and generated great feedback, so we have made it a regular activity in our entertainment line up. "
Graeme Lay, author of The Miss Tutti Frutti Contest - Travel Tales of
the South Pacific and In Search of Paradise, onboard Pacific Sun.