Inspired by her life
Porirua artist and author Olivia Giles will launch her first novel in May, Heart of the Tapu Stone, the first in a trilogy.
While it’s fiction, she has drawn on her own life and the ‘‘characters’’ who inhabit it.
‘‘It’s a story about connections – not just blood and family but the other people that are around you,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s a real fish-out-of-water tale, about trying to fit in and has themes of whakapapa, redemption and love.’’
Giles, originally from Wainuiomata, has been in Porirua for seven years, having studied visual arts and creative writing at Whitireia Community Polytechnic.
Before this, ‘‘ among other crazy things’’, she has been a chef, motorbike courier, administrator in Parliament and a graphic designer.
Art has been a constant and Giles was one of a dozen artists who contributed to the new mural on Waitangirua Mall.
‘‘ Porirua has an incredible environment for writers and artists, there’s a real vortex of creative energy in this city. You are constantly running into people who are working for the same goals.’’
Heart of the Tapu Stone, which is being published by the production company Giles runs with family, is the result of plenty of hard work.
‘‘I’ve had to put a lot of faith in myself; it took a long time to build up confidence in my own ability. I write for myself, so having other people read it and offer their own opinions can be hard.
‘‘But the feedback we’re getting is positive, so that’s been really great. I’m halfway through the second book and because I’m working during the day, I write at night, at least 2500 words each session.’’
The novel follows the story of teenager Laurel, who comes from a privileged background in Wellington but goes to live in a small southern Hawke’s Bay town. With no cellphone coverage, Laurel doesn’t know how she will survive, until she meets Romeo, a young Maori boy who captures her attention.
Renowned photographer Norm Heke took the cover image, a stunning photo of Giles’ niece with a patu. The novel will be print, audio and e-book formats.
Giles said she has a myriad of influences, including Sarah Mayberry, Marian Keyes and crime and mystery novels, which she calls ‘‘paperback crack’’.
Giggling fit: Karanga (Claire) Metekingi, 83, and Irinora Parata, 89, have a laugh at last Friday’s kaumatua celebration at Takapuwahia Marae.
Novelist: The inspiration for Olivia Giles’ novel came from her father’s childhood but her daughter’s patu is also a symbol of family strength to her.