Getting to Know Elizabeth Knox

23rd December 2020

Author of thirteen novels, three novellas and a collection of essays, Elizabeth Knox is a national literary legend. She also teaches a World-Building workshop at the International Institute of Modern Letters here on campus. Her latest book, Monsters in the Garden, which she co-edited with David Larsen, has flown off the shelves this holiday season - a perfectly timed escapist collection of the best sci-fi and fantasy from across New Zealand. We were lucky enough to interview Elizabeth for this week's Journal, in-between the famous VUP party, Christmas prep and working on overseas editions of her other books! Watch out for Elizabeth at Verb Wellington's Garden Party in February too!

 

 

What is your day job?

Writer.

What is your connection to Vic Books?

Customer.

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment, I’m signing 2000 tip-in pages for a special book club edition of The Absolute Book in the UK.

What's your latest publication?

The anthology I co-edited, Monsters in the Garden.

You worked together with David Larsen on the anthology of Monsters in the Garden - how did you find the process of curating a collection of sci-fi and fantasy from across Aotearoa?

It was a fun process. We read a lot, then asked people for stories, and when they came in it was like unwrapping presents. We didn’t get stories from everyone we asked though — it’s been a busy year all over!

What makes the stories in Monsters in the Garden distinctly New Zealand sci-fi and fantasy?

New Zealand writers! Beyond that there are numerous correspondences and commonalities that readers can notice and enjoy.

Working on this anthology must have given you the opportunity to work with writers that you have always wanted to collaborate with?

I’m very happy to have brought a fragment of Margaret Mahy’s so far lost 1980’s fantasy book to readers. In a way my finding a good stretch of story in the fragments I had was a kind of collaboration — between me and a writer I loved and admired.

You are working here at VUW teaching a World-Building Workshop - do you see emerging talent in your courses for a potential Monsters in the Garden Volume 2?

There are two students from earlier years of my course in the anthology. And I’ve encountered a number more in recent years who are promising, and whom I’m watching closely.

Some quick fire book recommendations please!

Pip Adam’s Nothing to See.

Megan Whelan Turner’s 'Thief' books. 

Natalia Ginzburg’s The Little Virtues.

What are you reading at the moment?

Suppose A Sentence by Brian Dillon.

What do you like about it?

It’s very personal, nitty-gritty parsing of what some brilliant writers do with sentences.

Which literary character do you most identify with? Why?

Apart from various of my own characters I’d have to say Anne Elliot in Persuasion.

Hardback or paperback?

Both!

Favourite coffee?

I like many coffees (many every day).