Friday, August 10, 2018

Guest Post | Writing from the Land by Lee Murray

I'm excited to welcome Lee Murray to Book Den today!

Writing from the Land by Lee Murray

Much of my writing, including Into the Mist and now Into the Sounds, is derived from, and embedded in, the land. That deep connection to our landscape and our geography is true for many New Zealanders, not just writers. It is our ‘turangawaewae’ – which translates as ‘the place where we stand’. When I set Into the Mist in the North Island’s Urewera forest, 2100 square kilometres of drifting mist and craggy grey-green mountains and swift-flowing rivers, I had hoped to conjure some of the richness of its character, to reveal some of its mysteriousness and its beauty. So, it was interesting when, about the time I was writing the story, the Te Urewera Act was passed, making the land, once a national park, a legal entity with “all the rights, powers, duties and liabilities of a legal person.” Sometimes a setting will pay such a powerful role in a story that its readers say it became a character in its own right, but in New Zealand we’ve enacted that idea into law. The landscape has its own identity. But what if that landscape, that character, is known historically to be unpredictable and dangerous as Blood Related author William Cook points out: “The Kiwi Gothic constructs New Zealand not as a place of some pastoral idyll but rather as an environment where danger and horror lurk everywhere. The Antipodean gothic is generally considered to be an expression of the settler anxiety that derived from the confrontation with a hostile and alien environment, such as the native New Zealand bush. Unlike the European gothic, which often tells ghost stories set in old castles, the Kiwi version of the gothic often deals with alienation, family traumas and uncanny experiences in very familiar places.” Uncanny experiences in familiar places. This is how we write from the land because our writers, particularly horror writers, know that darkness and monsters are an everyday occurrence in New Zealand, that the land has its own power, and mythology is a living breathing thing.
“Cinematic and evocative, Into the Mist is a tension-packed expedition into primordial terror. Murray’s writing had me feeling the damp of the forest, seeing the mist curling through the fern fronds, and sensing the danger lurking there. Ancient myths, military men and scientists placed in remote, primordial locations – it had all the right ingredients for me, and it didn’t disappoint for a moment.” — Greig Beck, best-selling author of the Arcadian series

Lee Murray
Lee Murray is a multi award-winning writer and editor of fantasy, science fiction, and horror (Australian Shadows, Sir Julius Vogel). Her titles for adults include the acclaimed Taine McKenna series of military thrillers (Severed Press) and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra co-authored with Dan Rabarts (Raw Dog Screaming Press). Among her titles for children are YA novel Misplaced, and best-loved middle grade adventure Battle of the Birds, listed in the Best Books of the Year 2011 by New Zealand’s Dominion Post. Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse, the first book in a series of speculative middle grade antics, is forthcoming from IFWG Australia. An acquiring editor for US boutique press Omnium Gatherum, Lee is a regular speaker at workshops, conferences and schools. She lives with her family in New Zealand where she conjures up stories for readers of all ages from her office overlooking a cow paddock.

Into The Sounds by Lee Murray

Into The Sounds by Lee Murray

On leave, and out of his head with boredom, NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna joins biologist Jules Asher, on a Conservation Department deer culling expedition to New Zealand’s southernmost national park, where soaring peaks give way to valleys gouged from clay and rock, and icy rivers bleed into watery canyons too deep to fathom. Despite covering an area the size of the Serengeti, only eighteen people live in the isolated region, so it’s a surprise when the hunters stumble on the nation’s Tūrehu tribe, becoming some of only a handful to ever encounter the elusive ghost people. But a band of mercenaries saw them first, and, hell-bent on exploiting the tribes’ survivors, they’re prepared to kill anyone who gets in their way. As a soldier, McKenna is duty-bound to protect all New Zealanders, but after centuries of persecution will the Tūrehu allow him to help them? Besides, there is something else lurking in the sounds, and it has its own agenda. When the waters clear, will anyone be allowed to leave?

Thank you so much for sharing, Lee!


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1 comment:

  1. New Zealand has such a gorgeous, interesting landscape, it's no surprise to me that the people who live there have a deep connection to it. Awesome post and fascinating looking book :D

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum


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