Hol­ly­wood may be on wrong track

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Hol­ly­wood tells us that our near death ex­pe­ri­ence will in­volve a bright white light, an­gels and prob­a­bly pearly white gates.

But what if that isn’t how it goes?

This fas­ci­nat­ing idea sparked Sarah Laing’s lat­est novel The Fall of Light.

‘‘I knew this guy who came off his bike and he didn’t have a near death ex­pe­ri­ence. It re­ally both­ered him, he thought ‘ what does this mean, don’t I have a soul?’

‘‘The idea started when I was lis­ten­ing to this podcast about how pi­lots fly­ing in high pres­sure would have out-of-body ex­pe­ri­ences that were sim­i­lar to what we imag­ine as a near death ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s ac­tu­ally a neu­ro­log­i­cal phe­nom­e­non that hap­pens when the body is starved of oxy­gen and I was just in­ter­ested in that.’’

The Fall of Light fol­lows the story of suc­cess­ful in­nercity Auck­land ar­chi­tect Rudy who is calmly weath­er­ing a sep­a­ra­tion from his wife on the out­side, but pours all of his en­ergy into lav­ish, over-imag­i­na­tive build­ing projects that keep miss­ing the mark with his clients.

Af­ter an ac­ci­dent with his Vespa he is forced to take a step back and ex­plore his role as a fa­ther, an artist, and an adoptee.

Ms Laing will be speak­ing about the book at the Go­ing West Books and Writer’s Fes­ti­val which runs from Au­gust 17 to Septem­ber 15.

It’s the Mt Al­bert res­i­dent and for­mer graphic de­signer’s sec­ond novel.

The mother of three launched her lit­er­ary ca­reer in 2007 with the col­lec­tion of short sto­ries, Com­ing Up Roses.

In July she be­gan a pres­ti­gious res­i­dency at the Michael King Writer’s Cen­tre to work on her graphic novel about the life of 1920s’ New Zealand author Kather­ine Mans­field.

‘‘Ever since I first read The Doll’s House when I was a child I’ve had this fas­ci­na­tion with Kather­ine Mans­field.

‘‘And I think I share this fas­ci­na­tion with so many peo­ple be­cause ever since I’ve said I’m do­ing this so many peo­ple have come up to me and said ‘let me tell you my story about her’,’’ Ms Laing says.

The res­i­dency sees her sees her time split be­tween the Univer­sity of Auck­land and a villa pro­vided by the cen­tre in Devon­port which al­lows her to es­cape do­mes­tic clut­ter and get down to writ­ing and draw­ing.

At the up­com­ing writ­ers’ fes­ti­val she will also be chair­ing a dis­cus­sion ses­sion with au­thors Matt and Deb­bie Cowans based around their graphic novel Mans­field with Mon­sters.

Photo: EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Guest writer: Author Sarah Laing will speak about her new novel and other work at the Go­ing West Books and Writ­ers Fes­ti­val.

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