Author re­turns to roots

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By NICKI DAVIDSON

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.’’

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