Wairarapa author Julie Lamb is returning home from Melbourne to launch her first book, The Discombobulated Life of Summer Rain: a novel for 8-13 year olds set in the place she calls home.
Wednesday, April 06, 2016
LAMB BRINGS SUMMER HOME
Lamb has lived in rural places most of her life: Whitemans Valley, Reikorangi and the Wairarapa, so she says it’s no wonder she’s written about a girl who lives with her grandfather on a rundown farm. His stingy ways drive her nuts – he cooks up possum stews and turns the neighbours’ chicken scraps into school lunches – but then he gets a dangerous girlfriend with a mysterious past and the girl, with the wonderful name of Summer Rain, has to do something.
She calls on Apple who works at the crystal shop and knows a thing or two about love potions (and un-love potions), and Juanita who has real sandwiches in her lunchbox and rescues greyhounds.
Anyone who’s spent any time in rural New Zealand will recognise the life Julie describes and might even think they recognise some of the characters! ‘The people in Summer Rain tend to be based on someone from somewhere I know or once knew,’ says Lamb. ‘I think it gives them credibility, a depth, perhaps not so easily conjured up entirely from the imagination.’
Moving to Melbourne in 2014, Lamb says she appreciates more than ever the life she lived in the New Zealand countryside because it gave her so much to write about. ‘The terrifying storms and rising rivers, flooding in the blink of an eye,’ she says, ‘the heartbreaking and devastating droughts, lambing heralded by the usual murderous cold snap, the back-breaking hay season. Then there are the farm animals – what is more hilarious than a chicken? – and the old timers and their old dogs; and the farm kids out on quad bikes and tractors, and killing possums or rabbits, all before reaching double digits.’
Lamb says she loves returning to the Wairarapa especially to Greytown, where she lived with her two children. Back then she was known as Julie Charman; her children, Louis and Bella, attended the local schools, and Bella especially enjoyed hanging out at Greytown library.‘You walk out from the town centre in any direction,’ say Lamb, ‘and in ten minutes you hit paddocks, and there are the hills and a huge sky. The place I live now has no horizon, just fences and roof tops, which is probably why coming back I can’t take my eyes off it.’
The Discombobulated Life of Summer Rain is to be published under the Makaro Press Submarine imprint, and was launched yesterday (April 6) at Greytown Library, by leading author Fleur Beale, who has also worked as Julie’s mentor. The launch is in association with Wairarapa Word and Almo’s Books and all are welcome.
Summer Rain is a smart, funny tale for smart, funny 8 to 13-year-old readers. About crazy families and weirder friends, it has a good dose of mystery and mayhem, and a hint of magic.
Publisher Mary McCallum also has Wairarapa links with a family olive grove near Martinborough.
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