Audiobooks New Zealand
This week I’m stoked to have my long-time dear and close friend Ghazaleh Golbakhsh chiming into the show remotely - gosh darn Covid levels aye.
Ghaz is: a kick arse writer, screenwriter, director/filmmaker, academic/Fulbright scholar, and she completed her PhD by creative practice in Media, Film and Television at University of Auckland, researching the topic ‘Monsters, Slackers, Lovers: Exploring cultural identity in Iranian diasporic cinema from 2007-2017.’ Oh, she is also a current director and actor in New Zealand’s longest running soap ‘Shortland Street.’ (Had to get that in there babes.)
She moved here at 6 years old, and her lack of understanding of the English language led her to read everything she could get her hands on. She believes it was this, coupled with her animated family and cinephile father, that developed her love for storytelling - in all of its genres and forms. Though she would write stories for friends and do extra literary work in high school, she became obsessed with becoming an actor. When she really gave it a good go in her 20s, she realised how few roles there were for women, least of all decent roles, least of all for women of colour. This drove her desire to change that and write roles into stories that reflected the sort of New Zealand she saw and experienced, and to direct these stories successfully as a feminist challenge to our male dominated industry.
She has travelled and worked extensively all over the world, gaining the life experience she believes is vital for the depth of any artist's work. Ghaz is of the mind that stories are about the world around us, not just our life experience living in a vacuum. Her time spent at Fulbright University in LA, as well as her many work placements, taught her much about this. As well as how much longer and fuller an experience it is, being afforded the luxury of diving into academia with like minded people. We both have strong political opinions, and aren’t ignorant of the fact that our privilege gained us these experiences. Through Ghaz’s work she is able to be active in expressing those viewpoints, whether feminist, racial or political, that may not be what the usual Kiwi audience is used to.
Publishing was an eye-opener and fast paced learning process for Ghaz, being accepted by Allen and Unwin and the whole planet of literary business that goes along with that, including extensive publicity tours, talks and festivals. (One could almost say she’s living the actors dream..?) She is very complimentary of our publishing industry, and applauds how many of our houses take unsolicited works. I remember when the recent memoir, ‘The Girl from Revolution Road’ published after lockdown last year, was just an idea around the outdoor table as we sipped pinot noir. Now, it’s in circulation and due to be up for sale on Amazon by the end of the year.
Her first audiobook experience was live, around the tables of their family home where her aunties and other family members would tell animated tales of their lives, perhaps this is what feeds her visual style of writing. Either way, she doesn’t necessarily believe in ‘inspiration’ for stories, more in the natural ability to generate ideas. Her biggest trick for this is to do the work of surrounding yourself with similar works, then, actually do the work. Writing her memoir, she was influenced by other essayists such as Rose Lu and Ashleigh Young, and she wrote a series of shorter essays for the Villainesse blog before committing to the longer form she’s completed now. Simply put, ‘you can’t write a good screenplay if you’ve never read a good screenplay.’
We’ve worked on a few things together over the years, including her Melbourne Women’s Film Festival short, ‘Waiting Room,’ (photo happens to be the ep image...lol) and we spent a few years typing up some epic treatments and storylining docs for a TV show idea of our own that we had..stumbling home one night after seeing a particularly appalling play.. Ideas can come from anywhere, and her advice to emerging writers is to have them, and make them into content. More than that, have content you believe in so you can be persistent with it. People are savvy and will see through drivel. The more you put yourself into it the more authentic and interesting the voice becomes.
She also advocates doing the actual work. Putting the time that it takes into getting it out there, research how to get it out there. There is a lot of content around, people won’t come to you so you have to make them see you. To that end; APPLY FOR EVERYTHING YOU CAN.
Two last things; it takes time, and it’s ok to change your mind.
To get a copy of Ghaz’s memoir ‘Girl from Revolutionary Road’ Allen and Unwin 2020, and to get in touch with her, visit her website www.ghazalehgolbakhsh.com
This week we’re lucky to be joined by Craig Gamble of PANZ and Victoria University Press. (And yes, it was another Zoom so sorry for the screen snap..and showing off your room Craig.)
PANZ, otherwise known as The Publishers Association of New Zealand Te Rau o Taakupu,
represent 80 trade, educational and digital publishers, and suppliers and consultants to our literary industry. The members range from local independents to large international publishers, educational and trade publishers, publishers for adults and for children. Collectively they create more than 2600 new, locally produced titles a year.
Craig is the Vice President of PANZ and holds their communications portfolio, which really means he’s the guy who deals most with the way they’re perceived, and how they’re doing at achieving their goals. Chris has always loved books and is an avid reader and writer himself. His favourite audio-read is Penguin’s ‘Travels with Charley: In Search of America’ by John Steinbeck, narrated by Gary Sinise.
Representing the publishing world in government, he is actively working to make a more diverse and sustainable literary industry. He and his colleagues advocate for a range of voices and authors to have their voices heard, and strategise ways in which we can be more responsible for our carbon footprint - when it comes to what we print, and how it gets distributed. He works in the nitty gritty space of where we’re actually at, and looks for patterns and trends in people’s reading preferences to inform the decisions about what should be in print through annual Market Sizing Reports.
He mentions the plateau in eBook sales, how everyone imagined them to take over the world of reading. Well, they did, till they didn’t. Educational and trade and ecommerce material embraces digital, but there need to be better ways to digitise all of our other literary resources if we’re to be able to sustainably continue to print books for future generations. It’s areas like this, as well as Copyright Law that he and his partners (Booksellers NZ, NZ Society of Authors, Read NZ, Copyright Licensing NZ to name a few,) work in advocacy for, to support the sector’s economic wellbeing, and the wellbeing of our authors.
The Covid pandemic impacted most publishers, authors and book shops from the first lock down. While there was a big pick up once stores reopened and people were allowed to emerge from their living rooms, Craig predicts most entities would have been operating at less than 30% based on their previous years. With scientific evidence telling us that reading is good for our physical and emotional wellbeing, it’s something he believes links us all in a societal way. He is even working to get books deemed as essential items/services that need to retain production despite changing Covid conditions. Pretty timely given we’re now in the midst of weeks at alert level 4 thanks to Aunty Rona inviting Aunty Delta to cross the ditch for a visit. And, a pretty epic boss in my opinion.
Craig treats every new relationship as a creative exercise, because the process of publishing is. The editorial relationship you have with the author is special, and you’re working very closely on all aspects like book design, font choice, artwork, review quotations. It’s as creative as the writing of the story itself. He recommends for anyone keen to get involved in the publishing world to look at Whitireia as a course option to hit the ground running, (check out this link for more info: https://bit.ly/2VxEidL)
Otherwise PANZ love being dropped a line, head to their website publishers.org.nz or visit this link: https://publishers.org.nz/contact/
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