Our Small Press, Ad Hoc Fiction is privileged to be publishing Gaps in the light, the new book by poet and hybrid writer, Iona Winter from Aotearoa, NZ. Several of Iona’s flash fictions have been both longlisted and shortlisted in our Awards and published in the yearly anthologies and it is exciting to see a whole collection of her writing. In advance praise for the book, well-known NZ author Pip Adam, writes:
Gaps in the Light is an amazing work. It uses form in innovative ways to express deeply the experience of loss and joy in ways I can’t remember reading anywhere else.
We love the rhythm of the prose,the different forms used in the collection and the inclusion of the Maori language (with glossary) which adds a beautiful music and extra depth to the work. We’re looking forward to hearing Iona read the stories when she posts videos on her social media sites. In the very moving interview below, she tells us about the process of writing the collection and her son Reuben’s death soon after she had completed the manuscript. We are very glad that it is being published as one of the first books from Ad Hoc Fiction this year, on March 19th. Gaps in the Light is now available for pre-order at a 25% discount from Ad Hoc Fiction in paperback during the pre-order period, on pre-order at Amazon kindle. And it will also be available in paperback from Amazon worldwide on publication day. It is one of two new flash fiction collections published on 19th March and available for preorder now. The other is by US based writer Fiona J Mackintosh and it is wonderful to have new flash fictionbooks from writers in two different hemispheres.
- Can you tell us how the book came together and about its themes?
I had been working on a novella-in-flash, but was having trouble with the concept as a whole. Then one day I thought, perhaps I could do another collection of my work, and it flowed from there. The morning I finished the manuscript, I had woken up with a compelling drive to complete it then. And in the afternoon I learned that my son Reuben had died.
Theme-wise, I draw much of my inspiration from being in nature, interpersonal relationships, and my observations and experience of the world. As my writing practice has evolved, I have become less attached to prescriptive forms, and trust that the kupu (words) will take the form(s) they require. I see the collection as an interconnected body of work, in that the body is very present too, it is a sensory experience. It is multidimensional and fluid yet has its feet firmly planted on the whenua.
- In your biography you talk about ‘cross modality collaboration’ in your writing, and that it is meant to be performed. It would be very interesting to hear more about this.
Most of what I write comes about through a process of writing by hand (before it goes onto a computerised page) and is always read aloud (on repeat) while in progress. I think this has a lot to do with my mixed ancestry, because my ancestors all had strong oral traditions, and when I read my work aloud their voices are entwined with mine. Rhythm, pace and tone are key to my creative process, and for the most part, I get this via speaking the work out loud (who knows what the neighbours think!).
It has become essential to share my work through performing it. I’m acutely aware that many people don’t have resources, access to, or the ability to read books. And I’ve been told that hearing my work being spoken brings a deeper layer of meaning to it.
Over the last few years, multimedia collaborations have become a regular feature. In 2019 Te Hau Kāika, an exhibition with Reuben (musician) and daughter-in-law Grace (musician/filmmaker/sculptor) where we wove (at geographical distance) music written to my poetry, and film and sculpture in response to it. I collaborated with my lovely friend Victoria McIntosh (artist/jeweller/crafter) for our exhibition a(version) in 2020. Next month I will be part of an on-the-move performance with other artists for The Dunedin Fringe Festival. Collaboration allows for increased connection with multiple artists and audiences, in ways that engage the senses, and allow for a pause within our busy worlds.
- Is there anything else you would like to say about the collection?
I dedicated Gaps in the Light to Reuben, who suicided in September 2020. Reuben struggled with fibromyalgia and chronic pain for over a decade, yet despite this he continued to create music with a phenomenal abundance, and across a wide range of genre. Coincidentally, his latest album will be released the month after my book comes out (bittersweet). Reuben was an inspiration to me (I also live with chronic and invisible health issues) to use my creativity as a tool for naming issues that are often difficult to talk about. He taught me innumerable things including: unconditional love, exploring new ideas and being unafraid to experiment with my mahi (work).
- It is wonderful to know that you can have face to face events in New Zealand and that have some readings planned. Will there be recordings that we can listen to? And are the events open to all New Zealand writers to attend?
Yes we are so lucky to be able to have events in Aotearoa, although this is unpredictable, so the events booked (at this stage) are tentative.
Friday 9th April, Blueskin Bay Library, Waitati, Dunedin – 6pm
Tuesday 20th April, Titirangi Library, Titirangi, Auckland – 6.30pm
Thursday 22nd April, Vic Books Kelburn, Wellington – tba
*I am also looking for a venue in Christchurch – tba
As with my first book, then the wind came, my plan is to do regular video readings to be shared on social media. And if we cannot have in-person events, I’ll organise something online. All events will be posted on my social media accounts, and open to everyone.
- As we mentioned at the top of this post, the books is available to buy from our bookshop and on Amazon worldwide. Will those living in New Zealand be able to buy direct from you or other places?
Yes, I will have books the public can purchase from me, at book launches around Aotearoa during April. My plan is to also get copies into our public libraries, which is also dependent on the public requesting them, but it means they are a resource for everyone to access without cost being an issue. It’s relatively easy here in Aotearoa to approach your favourite bookshop and ask them to get you a copy too.
Whakawhetai ki a kōrua Jude and John at Ad Hoc Fiction. thank you so much for publishing Gaps in the Light.
Iona’s Social Media Links