Term One at TGC has been full for students in the English Department.
On 4 March, local fantasy writer Sharon Manssen spoke to Year 9 students about creating new worlds with flawed characters. Her fantasy series, Realm Trilogy, follows the journey of half blind Freya to the end of her world. Freya’s life of displacement echoes a moment in Sharon’s life when at the age of 12 she moved to Belgium where she was forced by necessity to learn Flemish, French and German to complete her secondary school studies. Rather than faltering at such a challenge, a love of languages was born, a similar strength and tenacity shown in Freya’s character.
Esteemed New Zealand author, Kevin Berry, visited a group of young TGC writers on 11 March. His wide range of published novels span from Terry Pratchett-esque adventures to Crime Noir set in an alternative Christchurch. However, on this visit he spoke about his award winning novels, Stem and Kaleidoscope, both centered around young adults with Aspergers finding their way to independence. As someone with Aspergers, Kevin shared the importance of having characters who are as diverse and inclusive as the ‘real’ world, and that a writer’s first tool is their own life and experiences.
Both authors encouraged TGC students to take risks in their writing, be a part of a creative community, not to fear failure and that sharing your writing for critique is hard but it is also the only way to get better at your craft.
Their books are available from Amazon, purchased from local bookstores or directly from the authors (Sharon Manssen at srmanssen.com and Kevin Berry at kevinberrybooks.com).
In addition to our author visits this year, the English Department is excited to support one of their own, Piper Mejia, with her first YA Urban Fantasy novel - Dispossessed. Piper has been a part of the TGC English Department since 2003, during which time she, along with Carina Rumney, has organised author visits, school trips and run the TGC writing club. Piper is also a founding member of Young NZ Writers, a non-profit organisation set up to support young writers with mentorship and publication, for the past 10 years (visit youngnzwriters.weebly.com).
Dispossessed a YA novel by Piper Mejia
A review by Ash Byrne and Aaliyah Bengston (TGC Year 11)
‘Nobody likes you when you’re the ugly new kid. A hoodie and a new foster home won’t hide the creeping dread that you are dangerous. So, when you’re offered the chance to meet a grandfather you never knew, you jump on a plane to the bush-covered mountains of New Zealand.
Slate longs for a home when he finds himself living among an ancient race masquerading as travelling performers. Dispossessed and disillusioned, Slate fears being trapped in a life hiding from the world; one his own father had to run from.
However, the decision to stay or leave is taken from him when he is held captive by hunters on the trail of the ultimate game trophy. Tortured and alone Slate fears that the only way to escape is to become the monster he never wanted to be.’
TGC English teacher Piper Mejia’s astounding debut Urban Fantasy is filled with action-packed scenes, plot twists and emotional rollercoasters. Set in Aotearoa, this book does not fail to bring some of that kiwi style to an exhilarating YA plot. A must-read for people who are scared of what they must do, to stop becoming what they fear.
(Available for purchase from 15 April from Amazon or IWFGaustralia.com)