In­spired by her life

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

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.

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