Writer dis­tracted by art

But she loves it


The art world was a nat­u­ral set­ting for Ti­tahi Bay au­thor Rose­mary Wild­blood’s sec­ond novel Pen­ti­mento, as she has spent the past two decades shap­ing New Zealand’s arts sec­tor.

Wild­blood shies away from nam­ing con­tem­po­rary Kiwi authors as lit­er­ary in­flu­ences, be­cause she knows them all and doesn’t want to of­fend any­one by leav­ing them out.

Af­ter spend­ing 17 years at Cre­ative New Zealand, nine of those as a lit­er­ary ad­viser, Wild­blood left full­time work to fo­cus on her writ­ing. She had al­ready pub­lished a novel, Joy­bird, in 2004, and has had po­ems pub­lished.

Pen­ti­mento took six years to write, how­ever, be­cause Wild­blood could not help but lend her time to vol­un­tary arts causes. She chairs the Welling­ton Writ­ers’ Walk Trust, is on the New Zealand So­ci­ety of Authors Coun­cil, helps choose re­cip­i­ents of the Katharine Mans­field Men­ton res­i­dency, and is on the com- mit­tee which over­sees the New Zealand Post Book Awards.

‘‘I find it very hard to say no to peo­ple, and I love to be in the thick of things, and it’s a way to keep in touch with my friends in the sec­tor.’’

She plans to slow down and de­vote more time to her writ­ing next year.

Pen­ti­mento is the story of a Christchurch artist, Cliff, who falls for vi­o­lin­ist Serena when she mod­els in his art class. Serena’s de­te­ri­o­rat­ing men­tal state has a last­ing ef­fect on Cliff, which car­ries through to his re­la­tion­ship with an­other woman, Rachel.

The 2011 earth­quake forces the char­ac­ters to take stock of their lives and try to come to terms with the past.

Pen­ti­mento is an Ital­ian word de­scrib­ing how an older paint­ing can show through lay­ers of paint on top of it, and is a metaphor for Rachel’s dis­cov­ery of Cliff’s past.

‘‘ When he meets this woman she’s not aware of the har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ences with this other woman. In the book I’m try­ing to peel back lay­ers and show what’s ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing,’’ Wild­blood says.

While the sub­ject mat­ter is se­ri­ous, English- born Wild­blood says she is a more op­ti­mistic writer than most Kiwi authors.

‘‘ I wouldn’t say I go for happy end­ings but I like things to be hope­ful.’’

Pen­ti­mento book launch, Satur­day, 2pm, Pataka. Signed books $30.

Arts en­thu­si­ast: Ti­tahi Bay au­thor Rose­mary Wild­blood’s sec­ond novel Pen­ti­mento took six years to write be­cause she spends so much time vol­un­teer­ing in the arts sec­tor.

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