An­tique shop inspires novel

Central Leader - - NEWS - By LAT­IFA DAUD

The story be­hind Do­min­ion Rd’s An­tique Al­ley has inspired a new book.

Kirsten McKen­zie de­cided to write a piece of fic­tion based on her fam­ily’s an­tique shop, af­ter her youngest daugh­ter started school. Her work was ac­cepted by pub­lish­ing house Ac­cent Press af­ter five re­jec­tions else­where.

‘‘Ev­ery­one asked me what I was go­ing to do with my spare time, so I said I’ll write a book. They say write what you know, and I know about an­tiques, so I wrote about an­tiques.’’

McKen­zie and her brother took over the shop af­ter their fa­ther David Bret­tel died in 2005. The book Fif­teen Post­cards is about a girl named Sarah whose fam­ily owns an an­tique store. Af­ter her par­ents dis­ap­pear, she trav­els through time to when the 15 vintage post­cards were brand new.

‘‘My fa­ther had col­lected post­cards – that was one of his pas­sions – and a lot of them are just sim­ple mes­sages. ‘Meet you to­mor­row at grandma’s house’, that sort of thing.’’

‘‘I just got think­ing about how ev­ery­thing in our shop was once new and once loved by some­body.

‘‘By the time it gets to the an­tique store it could’ve gone through 20 dif­fer­ent hands or it could’ve been in the fam­ily for a hun­dred years.

‘‘I just tried to weave the story of the an­tiques and their trav­els from when they were new to when they’ve now been dis­carded in the an­tique shop.’’

Sim­i­lar to McKen­zie’s own fam­ily, Sarah also grew up in the up­stairs of an an­tique store, The Old Cu­rios­ity Shop.

‘‘The back­story of that shop is the back­story of when dad started An­tique Al­ley in 1971. Mum and Dad lived up­stairs so it’s al­most a homage to my fa­ther.’’

With their per­mis­sion, her cus­tomers’ sto­ries are also briefly in­cluded in the story.

‘‘There’ll be one sen­tence about Ewan the post­card guy, one about Vicky the textile lady and there’s a chap­ter about Manos who is a col­lec­tor of New Zealand pot­tery.’’

McKen­zie also drew in­spi­ra­tion from her ex­pe­ri­ence of an armed rob­bery.

She found writ­ing about was ‘ cathar­tic’.

‘‘It just brought it all back. Writ­ing that chap­ter felt again like I was on the floor be­hind the counter with a gun to my head.’’

The book spans three con­ti­nents and two cen­turies, which meant count­less hours spent in the li­brary.

‘‘I have never been to In­dia and a third of the book is set in In­dia.

‘‘I spent lots of time at the li­brary and paid many dol­lars in li­brary fines be­cause my books were al­ways late back.

‘‘The New Zealand part is set in Bruce Bay in the West Coast of the South Is­land and I’ve never been there ei­ther.’’

She did work as a cus­toms of­fi­cer in Lon­don how­ever, which is the set­ting for a third of the book.

The se­quel is a work in process and a third book is also on the cards.


Kirsten McKen­zie wrote Fif­teen Post­cards as an homage to her fa­ther.

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