The Film of the Map of the Mind

Talking on radio about my books Opportunity and Singularity, writer Mary McCallum once said, “There are so many connecting strands in them you need to make a map.” She was a dream reviewer (one with imagination and brains). I could have told her, “I hold two maps in my head: the life I live and the lives that I invent.” But could I have added with certainty, “And never the twain shall meet”?


Russell Crowe on the Phone

What I Learned That Summer

'What I learned that summer' – the subject anticipates nostalgia, childhood adventures, the beach, first love, life lessons. Was there one summer where I learned something momentous, something that makes that particular year stand out? I can't come up with just one. Every summer added to the store of knowledge, every one has been packed with data. I have never been one to hang about doing nothing. Writing about a whole series of summers is the best, most accurate answer to the 'learning' question I can come up with.
Auckland: I remember childhood summers of physical freedom. We ranged and roamed, we were always outside. We lived in Tohunga Crescent, a street that runs down to Hobson Bay. With the neighbours' children we built rafts and sailed around the bay when the tide was in. At low tide we walked on the mudflats and caught eels; we stalked through the mangroves, we played in the cave in the cliff under the pohutuwakas.


City of Stories

One night, after a party, I was given a lift. In the car were Hamish Keith and two other people. Someone said to me, 'In your story "The Body," you used the phrase, "intellectual slum." But your father has already used it in one of his novels.'
There was a silence. Was this an accusation of plagiarism? It would have to be dealt with. Rolling round in the back seat I considered my response. Finally I came out with this: "Well, I stole it."
Hamish began to say something sympathetic, also subtle. "In art, we build on what has gone before. It's not so much stealing as..."
We listened. He was his usual brilliant self. He was right, but there was something more to explain.
In families there's a private language. There are in-jokes, built up over decades, that no outsider can know. There are stock phrases. 'Intellectual slum' was always a favourite of mine. My father once used it to describe the church. I inherited the phrase; it was part of the family silver. I used it with a sense of entitlement. But only in a particular place; only where it seemed to fit. In my story, "The Body," it's uttered by a father figure. An artist, the parent of three adult children. You could almost say he resembles...