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
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Romy Hooper, Audiobook Narrator, Actor, Writer and Podcast Host