Dame Fiona Kidman is the Honoured New Zealand Writer at the 2017 Auckland Writers Festival, which runs from May 16-21.
When I need extra inspiration to write… I close my eyes sometimes and am transported back to places like Menton in the south of France where one wonderful year I held the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship, or Greece where I have spent sunlit writing holidays. Other times, I take a brisk walk down
the street where I live, looking out on the ocean and mountains, and marvel at living in such a beautiful world. The fictional literary character
I would bring to life is… Becky Sharp from Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. She’s not particularly nice and needs some lessons in good parenting, but she is witty and determined, and pokes fun at staid conventional society.
My ultimate indulgence is… A train trip through the North Island that ends at National Park, where Ian (my husband) and I are picked up and taken for two blissful nights to the Chateau Tongariro. The person who has most influenced my work is… Kit Spencer, the head librarian I worked for in a small town when I was young. She introduced me
to a wide range
of European literature that opened my eyes to other cultures. The piece of advice I’ve never forgotten
is… “Drive by your mirrors.” As an older driver, I try to stay alert to what is behind me as well as
ahead of me on the road. If I could invent one thing it
would be… A machine that irons shirts. If I could have only three books on my shelf they would be… Opened Ground, Poems 1966-1996, by Seamus Heaney, Selected Stories, by Alice Munro, and the handwritten book left by my mother, Flora Eakin, recording her and my forebears’ story. My advice to my 15-year-old self would be… Don’t let go of your dreams, even when you are up against things. If I could have any five people to a dinner party they would be… Canadian short story writer Alice Munro; the poet Lauris Edmond, who was my friend for many years; former Prime Minister Helen Clark; Sir Peter Ustinov; and Australian novelist Patrick White. Two have eaten at my house and I wish they could come again. I raise my glass in memory.
For tickets to the Auckland Writers Festival, see writersfestival.co.nz