Author returns to roots
It’s said that the best stories are the ones that come from your heart and even after 38 years, writing is still a labour of love for popular New Zealand children’s author Phyllis Johnston.
Mrs Johnston, who has penned classic historical stories about family life in rural 1900s New Zealand such as No One Went to Town and Black Boots and Buttonhooks and wartime inspired books such as The Fugitive Soldier and Dead Dan’s Dee visited Matamata Primary School last Tuesday as part of the New Zealand Book Council’s Writers in Schools programme. She has visited 280 schools over the years but says it was wonderful to return to familiar territory.
‘‘I lived in Matamata for 32 years. It was a lovely place to live and raise a family, so it’s rather nostalgic to come back and talk to the children,’’ she said.
Influenced as a child in the World War 2 era by not having many books to read, Mrs Johnston always knew she wanted to write and write about experiences her own family had.
‘‘You need to learn what your mother and father did, what your grandparents did, otherwise you don’t know who you are. I don’t write fantasy, I don’t write science fiction. I write about New Zealand and New Zealand people.’’
‘‘Writing is hard, so hard. I rewrite manuscripts about six times nowadays but everybody has to rewrite their work. And you do get lonely.
‘‘However there is a great deal of satisfaction too.’’