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April 30, 2015

Recollections of Ngaio Marsh



Even as a small child, I found something incongruous in the friendship between the tall and imposing Ngaio Marsh, with her resoundingly deep voice and wide, dramatic gestures, and my much-loved fluffy pink marshmallow of a godmother, Joanie Pullen.
Ngaio, a cousin on my father’s side of our extensive New Zealand family, appeared and disappeared from our London life with comet-like regularity and drama, as she met with publishers, received awards, gave talks and went, as often as she possibly could, to the theatre.
Art, writing and the theatre were Ngaio’s driving passions, and, much as she adored New Zealand, she also loved coming to England as often as she could, to meet with colleagues, family and friends, and to see new plays, new productions, new paintings. (more…)

April 29, 2015

Ben Winters interview


Last fall we talked to Ben Winters, author of the “Last Policeman” trilogy of mysteries set in a near future in which the end of civilization is near, courtesy of an asteroid set to collide with earth. In the midst of the chaos the ensues, the hero of the trilogy, Henry Palace, a newly promoted detective, somehow continues to do his job, solving cases even as the world falls apart around him. Henry is a quietly determined, profoundly decent young man, the sort of person you would want around as the apocalypse approaches. Last summer Julia read through the entire trilogy at speed and, having enjoyed the books, interviewed the author via Skype. Below is that interview, split into two parts. Winters is up for an Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original tonight, for the last novel in the trilogy, World of Trouble; we wish him the best of luck.

Part 1:

Part 2:

April 28, 2015

Ngaio Marsh in her voice

Marsh as Hamlet web optimized

A while back we talked to Sarah Rayne about her choice of the early 20th century as a favorite time period to set her novels in. It was the voice, she said: Because recordings from that time exist, we know what people sounded like back then in a way that we don’t with, say, the Victorians. There is indeed something charming about hearing what a person sounds like. True, Ngaio Marsh was turning out “Inspector Alleyn” mysteries into the early 1980s, and is thus much more of a contemporary than one imagines at first given her association with the Golden Age of mystery. Even so, hearing her voice in a scratchy, casual recording not intended for publication is an experience of both historical distance and intimacy. In other words, we think it’s pretty cool to listen to Marsh’s voice. Here, for example, is a collection of audio bits and pieces from Radio New Zealand. And here is Ngaio Marsh describing how rain and boredom led to her writing A Man Lay Dead, from Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

That photo, by the way, is Ngaio Marsh as Hamlet, taken by William Baverstock (courtesy of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa).