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A Great Review for Emergency Weather + Two Books I Really Enjoyed Reading

A good review is always nice to get, and especially when it’s unexpected. That’s why I was so pleased to see this review of Emergency Weather by Alyson Baker, and especially to see the praise she had for the plotting:

The plotting of Emergency Weather is brilliant. Allie’s harrowing attempt to reach Dunedin Airport, and Stephanie and Miranda’s nightmare tramping trip prepare the reader for what lies ahead. The three main characters weave around each other in passing before eventually ending up in the same place – a memorial service held after a climate catastrophe. The death toll is 43: “a good number for action: large enough to be shocking, small enough that the people killed could be distinguished in the public mind, could be seen as individuals rather than statistics.”

That is what Emergency Weather is about: how can people be motivated to act?

Want to buy a copy of Emergency Weather? Try your local independent bookstore or order direct from The Cuba Press!

PS: If your local library doesn’t stock it, please recommend it to them!



Two Books I Really Enjoyed

Light Keeping by Adrienne Jansen

Light Keeping is an understated novel of quiet power. Set against the ruthless cost-cutting that led to the replacement of lighthouse keepers with automation, it follows a family of lighthouse keepers as they navigate both personal tragedy and institutional indifference, with the latest generation trying to escape the long shadow of the past.

Adrienne Jansen does a great job of intertwining the personal upheavals of her protagonists’ lives with the vagaries of coastline, sea and weather. The boundary between land and sea on which the lonely lighthouse stands is blurred by both disaster and hope, as Jess and Robert struggle to keep the light in view.

Remains To Be Told: Dark Tales of Aotearoa, edited by Lee Murray

Remains To be Told is a very strong anthology of dark fantasy stories and poems from Aotearoa – and I’m not just saying that because one of my poems is including in this anthology! Editor Lee Murray has pulled together a group of authors known for their horror and dark fantasy work, including Neil Gaiman, and others better known for work outside the field, most notably Owen Marshall.

Many of the stories focus to be found in rural Aotearoa – this anthology shows that “New Zealand Gothic” is alive and well, yet it also has a strong and welcome focus on indigenous stories and indigenous mythology. If you want to experience what lies under the surface of the tourist promotional photos and Instagram influencers’ images of unspoiled nature and carefully curated tourism images, this is the anthology for you.

A Change in the Weather: The Climate Crisis in Poetry and Fiction

Dunningham Suite, Dunedin Public Library, Thursday 4 July, 5.30-7.30pm

Doors open 5.30pm for drinks, nibbles and conversation
Readings start 6pm
Audience Q&A starts 7pm
We close around 7.30pm

I’m reading with Dunedin writers Tunmise Adebowale, Kay McKenzie Cooke, Michelle Elvy, Mikaela Nyman, Jenny Powell and Richard Reeve

Please come along!Poster for "A Change in the Weather" event described in text of post

Fabricating Fiction, Climate Crime, and a Guiding Star

First blog of the year … yes, I know it’s a bit late, but I have news of upcoming events for my new novel Emergency Weather plus awards news!

Fabricating Fiction: Wellington novelists on the fiction they create from the facts

Tīhema Baker (Turncoat), Tim Jones (Emergency Weather), Jennifer Lane (Miracle) and Kate Mahony (Secrets of the Land) will talk with publisher and novelist Mary McCallum about the politics, events and life experiences that inform their novels and how they shaped them into compelling narratives. Novelists bring your questions!

Friday 19 April 5.30-7pm
Undercurrent, 118 Tory Street
Drinks and nibbles

Climate Crime at #MysteryInTheLibrary

The Ngaio Marsh Awards, in association with Hutt City Libraries, invites booklovers to a thrilling event featuring four Kiwi novelists.

Past finalist Helen Vivienne Fletcher is joined by award-winning poet and climate change author Tim Jones, and debut novelists Kate Mahony and Carolyn Swindell for a criminally good conversation about creating memorable characters, the importance of setting, and exploring real-life issues through fictional tales.

WHEN: Wednesday 1 May 2024
WHERE: War Memorial Library, 2 Queens Drive, Lower Hutt
WHEN: 6.15 for a 6.30pm panel discussion

“Guiding Star” shortlisted for an Australasian poetry award

My poem “Guiding Star”, which was published in the excellent anthology Remains To Be Told: Dark Tales from Aotearoa, edited by Lee Murray, has been shortlisted in the Poetry category for the Australasian Shadows Award – all the details are at https://australasianhorror.com/australian-shadows-awards/. Congratulations to all the nominees!

“Guiding Star” is having a good start to 2024, as it’s also been nominated for the 2024 Rhysling Awards: http://www.sfpoetry.com/ra/rhyscand.html

Emergency Weather: A Storm Warning

Tuesday 12 December 2023 dawned a fine summer’s day in Wellington. But in mid-afternoon, the weather changed. A southerly front raced up the country, bringing very strong winds, heavy rain and hail to Wellington and the Hutt. 

I was sitting at my desk, and I felt and saw the change: the temperature dropped abruptly, and sunshine was abruptly replaced by cascading rain. It was all over within 90 minutes, and despite over 20 mm of rain falling at our place within a few minutes, we got off fairly lightly.

But friends I’ve talked to since weren’t so lucky. One was inside a mall that rapidly flooded; another had part of their roof torn off their house – one of a number of buildings in the Hutt that suffered serious damage.

Author Andy Southall captures it well in his Goodreads review of my novel Emergency Weather:

“A day after finishing this book, a sudden and savage storm struck Wellington. At 2.50pm the sun was shining on what seemed to be a pleasant summer day. Ten minutes later the sky turned black, violent winds blew out windows, hail was smashing into the deck and sheets of water poured from the gutters. And that was in a less extreme part of the storm’s path. Elsewhere it was much, much worse.”

and this Radio New Zealand report gives the bigger picture.

My novel Emergency Weather begins and ends with storms – the first causes death and damage from north to south, while the second and stronger storm zeroes in on Wellington. Wellington has always been prone to storms, but climate change is loading the dice, making it more likely that when storms come, they will be damaging and destructive.

Emergency Weather cover at Petone beach

My novel is set against the context of a government in which (some) Ministers are at least trying to do the right thing. But the recent election, which Labour lost by a combination of its own timidity and many voters’ desire for something different, has brought to power a government including climate deniers, environmental vandals, and worshippers at the altar of the car. If climate change is on their agenda at all, it’s well below culture wars.

But physical reality doesn’t care about ideology. So long as we keep loading the climate dice by burning fossil fuels and forcing cows to produce milk, piss nitrates and burp methane, the storms and the fires and the flooding will get worse. If we stop, the climate will have a chance to recover. No amount of denialism changes that.

(Excuse me, Tim! It’s just before Christmas and you’re supposed to be encouraging people to buy your book!)

Err … buy my book if you’re looking for a good summer read – it’s not all, or even mostly, doom and gloom! – and have a great holiday! Here’s to lots of good reading, and good organising for change, in 2024.

All About “The World I Found”: An Interview with Latika Vasil

I enjoyed The World I Found, Latika Vasil’s new novel, a great deal – so I wanted to ask her more about it. Here is our interview!



Cover image of novel "The World Found" by Latika Vasil

How would you describe “The World I Found” to a potential reader?

The World I Found is narrated by 15-year-old Quinn and closely follows her journey from Campbell Island to the Wairarapa and finally home to Wellington, as she navigates a dangerous and eerie post-pandemic world. It will appeal to readers who enjoy a fast-paced adventure story as well as a dystopian setting. The familiar New Zealand environment in which the story is set may also appeal to readers who enjoy a local setting.

I really enjoyed Quinn as a protagonist. Did you enjoy writing from the point of view of a 15-year-old girl?

I enjoyed writing from Quinn’s point of view very much! I like that Quinn isn’t the perfect heroine. Like all of us she makes mistakes and gets things wrong. She has some wonderful qualities, such as her intelligence, adaptability and loyalty to those she cares about, but she is also impulsive and stubborn and these characteristics often get her into trouble. As the novel progresses, Quinn grows in confidence and also develops a love of nature and I enjoyed writing this.

I admire Quinn’s resourcefulness. Is that a case of her stepping up when circumstances demand, or is that innate in her character?

This is a tricky question and it is probably best answered as a bit of both. In the novel, Quinn finds herself in exceptional and totally unforeseen circumstances. She never expected to face the challenges that present themselves. I think we all wonder how we would react and cope if the world suddenly turned upside down, and all the many things we take for granted and which are essential to the smooth running of our day to day lives, disappeared. Quinn is faced with this reality and realises she has to step up and learn to look after herself. At first this doesn’t come easily but as the story develops, Quinn becomes more confident in her abilities and in her own judgement.

This novel is about a pandemic and its aftermath, and it was written during the Covid-19 pandemic. Did the real pandemic influence the fictional pandemic?

Funnily enough, I started the novel before the Covid-19 pandemic and then fiction became reality to some extent! Coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic I did wonder what things would be like in Aotearoa if a worse pandemic had hit us. I explored this scenario in the novel.

Without giving too much away, society reorganising itself after the pandemic in your novel doesn’t go entirely smoothly. Quinn and her friends Jeroen and Cal all respond in different ways to the situation they find themselves in. What leads them to respond in those different ways?

The trio of Quinn, Jeroen and Cal are all very different characters and all have had different upbringings and life experiences that influence the way they react to the new world they find themselves in. Jeroen, especially, has had huge trauma in his life and this impacts how he relates to people and situations. Quinn is more open and receptive to the way she feels about things. She is intuitive and this allows her to see things through a different lens than Jeroen who is very much operating on surface level and as Quinn observes ‘sees what he wants to see’.

Quinn is on Campbell Island when the pandemic hits. Did you need to do lots of research to write those scenes on the island?

Campbell Island is very remote and inaccessible. It is one of New Zealand’s subantarctic islands, 700 kilometres south of Bluff in the South Island. So, while I would have loved to travel there to get a firsthand experience of the island, I had to settle for second hand accounts. Luckily, Campbell Island is a fascinating place and there is quite a bit of material available describing the island and what it is like to live there. It is uninhabited but is occasionally visited by scientific expeditions and small cruise ships. One day I hope to visit!

You’ve previously written adult fiction. What, if anything, was different about writing YA fiction?

The main difference was being able to create an authentic voice for Quinn as a present-day young person. While all of us as adults have been 15 years old once in our lives and can draw from this experience in our writing, it is important to be in touch with what it’s like to be a young person currently, or in the near future as is the case in The World I Found. Once I found Quinn’s ‘voice’ and she began to feel fully fleshed out and real to me, the writing came easily.

Where can readers of this blog buy copies of “The World I Found”?

The World I Found is available from www.latikavasil.com and selected bookshops (see bookhub.co.nz)

Latika Vasil bio

Latika Vasil is an Indian New Zealander who lives in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington. She has worked as a university lecturer, a researcher, a creative writing tutor and currently as a freelance writer. Her fiction has been broadcast on Radio New Zealand, and published in various anthologies and magazines, including Landfall and takahē. She has written two books of fiction: A collection of short stories, Rising to the Surface (2013, Steele Roberts Aotearoa) and a YA novel, The World I Found (2023, Black Giraffe Press).

What I’ve been reading: “The World I Found” by Latika Vasil and “Famdamily” by the Meow Gurrrls

My novel Emergency Weather has got off to a great start and there is more: (“Talking Up a Storm: The Making of Emergency Weather” this coming Wednesday, 12.30-1.30, Unity Books Wellington), but it’s time to talk about two books I’ve been reading and very much enjoying.

Fiction: The World I Found, by Latika Vasil

The World I Found is available from Latika Vasil’s website & via NZ BookHub.

The World I Found is a really good read. It’s a Young Adult novel seen through the eyes of 15-year-old Quinn, who is reluctantly dragged off to Campbell Island by her Mum, who is heading there as part of a scientific expedition. While Quinn is on the island, a worldwide pandemic breaks out, which means life is very different when she returns to Aotearoa and has to make her own choices in a radically changed world while attempting to find those of her family and friends who’ve survived, and deal with her attraction to a boy who can’t be relied on.

Latika Vasil does a great job of showing the world through Quinn’s eyes. She’s brave, resourceful, but also impetuous and at times beset by doubt. She’s a very realistic protagonist – I enjoyed seeing the world through her eyes. If you enjoy YA fiction as so many of us do, or if you’re a high school teacher looking for a well-written book that touches on important issues and tells a strong story through the eyes of a relatable protagonist, The World I Found is for you.

Poetry: Famdamily – Meowing Part 2, a poetry anthology by the Meow Gurrrls

Available in Unity or Good Books, by emailing meowgurrrls@gmail.com or via NZ BookHub

I went to the launch of this new anthology from The Meow Gurrrls, six Wellington-region poets whose work I’ve previously read, admired and sometimes reviewed: Janis Freegard, Kirsten Le Harivel, Mary Jane Duffy, Mary Macpherson, Abra Sandi King and Sudha Rao.

The launch was lots of fun, and so is this anthology of poems on the general theme of family.

With illustrations by Mary-Jane Duffy and photos of the six poets as children, this little book is an attractive package, but the real star is the poetry. I like all the poems, but some particular favourites include “Bikinis plural” by Mary-Jane Duffy, “Our need” by Mary Macpherson, “Fire Mom” by Abra Sandi King, “Les Frères” by Janis Freegard, “Letter to Arun” by Sudha Rao and “After-school mothers” by Kirsten Le Harivel.

Famdamily reminds me quite a bit of Millionaire’s Shortbread, one of my favourite Wellington poetry anthologies – and that’s a definite recommendation!

Emergency Weather: Successfully Launched, Well Reviewed, and More to Come!

Successfully Launched

Mandy Hager launches Emergency Weather
Mandy Hager launches Emergency Weather. Photo: Stephen Olsen

I was nervous heading into the launch of Emergency Weather. Unity is a great place for a launch, but it looks very empty if no-one comes – and there were other launches, as well as election meetings, on in downtown Wellington at the same time.

I needn’t have worried! Around 100 lovely people came to the launch, we sold plenty of books and I had a great time. It was good to see old friends, new friends, and people I’d never seen before!

Kate from Unity Books introduced the launch, then we heard from Paul from The Cuba Press and Cadence from the Whitireia Publishing programme before the book was launched by author Mandy Hager, whose speech really moved me. Then it was time for me to speak, read the very beginning of the novel, and sign lots of copies! If you missed the launch, the YouTube video is available or you can read Stephen Olsen’s report: https://wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=155655 (he also took the photo above).

If you didn’t make the launch but would like to get on trend and buy a copy of Emergency Weather, it’s available:

* At Unity Books and Good Books in Wellington, and other independent bookshops nationwide, including UBS in Dunedin – if it’s not available from your nearest independent bookshop or Paper Plus, please ask them to order it in.

* Directly from The Cuba Press: https://thecubapress.nz/shop/emergency-weather/

* From Wheelers: https://www.wheelers.co.nz/books/9781988595726-emergency-weather/

* Through the new NZ BookHub site, launched three days after my book!

Tim Jones signs a copy of Emergency Weather
Tim Jones signs a copy of Emergency Weather (photo: Kate, Unity Books)

Well Reviewed

It’s also been good – and again, a testament to the hard work of The Cuba Press and Whitireia Publishing – to see reviews of Emergency Weather appearing. Online reviews:

Radio New Zealand: https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/2018910488/book-critic-catherine-roberston

Kete: https://www.ketebooks.co.nz/all-book-reviews/emergency-weather-jones

Aotearoa Review of Books: https://www.nzreviewofbooks.com/emergency-weather-by-tim-jones/

You can help a lot by adding the book to your Goodreads library and rating or reviewing it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/198972056-emergency-weather

More to Come

It’s not quite the Taylor Swift Eras Tour, but here are some upcoming Wellington events I’m involved in that you’re warmly invited to attend:

Unity Books Panel, Wednesday 18 October, 12.30-1.30pm: “Talking Up a Storm: The Making of Emergency Weather”: https://www.facebook.com/events/288705720676072/ (Facebook event link). Find out how a novel is written, edited, published and marketed.

Verb Wellington event, 11 November, 3-5pm – this one is for Remains to be Told, but I might weave in a mention or two of Emergency Weather as well.

Vote Climate. And Don’t Get Distracted.

Vote Climate poster image

This is a climate election. Most of the media don’t want you to think that, big political donors don’t want you to think that, and National, ACT, and NZ First most certainly don’t want you to think that. Neither, I fear, does Chris Hipkins, with the Labour leader often throwing his own party’s climate policies under the bus. But with the climate emergency spiralling out of control, voting for a party that doesn’t take climate change seriously is voting for extinction – soon.

Where do the parties stand on climate? Here are their policies, where available:

My short analysis plus climate voting recommendations:

Strong parties on climate action: The Green Party and Te Pātī Māori.
Pretty good: TOP.
Not great, but way better than National: Labour.
Very bad: National, NZ First.
Atrocious: ACT.

If you’re on the left or centre-left, I recommend voting for the Green Party or Te Pātī Māori, using both your votes strategically.

If you’re on the centre or right, and take climate change seriously, I suggest voting for those parties too – but if you can’t bring yourself to do that, vote Labour or TOP.

Talk to friends – Action Station has a great triple the vote campaign on this. The momentum of the right has stalled in the last couple of weeks – a Government that focuses on climate justice and climate action is not out of reach.

Emergency Weather update and all about anthologies! 

Emergency Weather Update

My new climate fiction novel Emergency Weather is being launched this Wednesday, 4 October! I’d love to see you at the launch – 6pm at Unity Books Wellington: https://www.facebook.com/events/667791528368999

Emergency Weather is already appearing in bookshops. In Wellington, it’s been spotted in Unity (see below) and Good Books. If your local bookshop doesn’t have it, please ask them to order it in. In case they need it, the ISBN is 978-1-98-859572-6.

The book’s also available online from The Cuba Press shop: https://thecubapress.nz/shop/emergency-weather/

Neil Johnstone of Wellington City Libraries interviewed me about EW – see the interview:

and read the blog: https://www.wcl.govt.nz/blog/index.php/2023/09/29/interview-emergency-weather-author-tim-jones/

The Herald’s Canvas magazine published my article about climate fiction and climate reality – it’s firewalled, but also available in the print edition. More coverage to come!

If you read Emergency Weather and like it, please leave a review on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/198972056-emergency-weather

All About Anthologies

Not really all about anthologies, but about two of them:

The Penguin New Zealand Anthology: 50 stories for 50 years in Aotearoa

I’m very pleased that Penguin Books selected my story “The New Neighbours” from my second short story collection, Transported, to represent 2008 in this anthology, which is on sale from 3 October.

Remains To Be Told: Dark Tales of Aotearoa

This anthology of dark NZ fiction and poetry includes my poem “Guiding Star”. Its New Zealand launch is at Wellington’s Verb Festival on 11 November and I’m looking forward to taking part, with many of the other Wellington-region authors represented. Come along if you can!

Invitation to the launch of my new novel Emergency Weather

You are officially invited to the launch of my new climate fiction novel Emergency Weather – and here’s a look at the cover!

Emergency Weather launch invitation and cover image

The launch will take place on Wednesday 4 October at Unity Books Wellington, 57 Willis St, from 6pm – please encourage your friends to come along too!

Here is the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/667791528368999

Please sign up for this if you use Facebook, as it helps us know numbers attending.

Emergency Weather will be available from all good bookshops from 2 October – and also through https://thecubapress.nz/shop/