How I write — Jacqueline Leckie


Which book had such an impact on you that you bought it for your friends?

Epeli Hau’ofa’s​ Tales of the Tikongs. It was witty, political, set on a mythical island in the Pacific, and written by a great storyteller, academic and personal friend. In a different mode, Alan Hollinghurst’s​ The Line of Beauty is also political, and beautifully written. But the book that has had the most impact is the Edmond’s Cookery Book. I have lost count of the number of times I have gifted this. It never fails to rise!


What books have made you cry?

Almost every European fairy tale that I heard as a child. These are gruesome stories. Even so-called revised fairy tales such as ‘The Ugly Duckling’ had me sobbing. I survived that until I came to Janet Frame’s novels, and The Bone People by Keri Hulme. More tears flooded from reading Lloyd Jones’ books such as Mister Pip, Hand Me Down World, and The Cage. The latter is profoundly relevant to the reception of migrants and the dispossessed. The thread here is my attraction to writers from Aotearoa who write of despair. Maybe this helps to explain why I am now working on a history of depression in Aotearoa.


Read the full interview here.