If there is one thing we all need when reflecting on 2020, it is a good news story. We have been so inspired by the resilience of our creative community this year and the way Kiwis have rallied around small businesses by buying local and coming out to support our events.
“When we were forced to cancel our Lifestyle and Design Market at the end of March and again in August it was a huge blow. Small businesses are the lifeblood of General Collective and we knew a lot of our creatives would be hit hard,” says Rose Barbarich, Founder of General Collective. “Never in the history of New Zealand retail has it been more important for us all to pivot and adapt.”
James Russell, acclaimed author of the Dragon Brothers Books and General Collective regular has done just that, not only survived, but thrived in a year of adversity.
“I didn’t freak out when lockdown hit, the wage subsidy helped keep us going and I didn’t think people would stop buying their children books, but I was conscious of the fact I needed to write more books, and keep the income coming in,” he says.
On the first morning of level 4 lockdown he started writing his first adult novel from his Mangere Bridge home and by the time the kids went back to school it was complete. “I got up at 6am every day and wrote for two hours until the kids got up,” he says.
“The genre is something completely different for me, it’s based around the surfing world and will launch as an e-book, physical book and audio book all at the same time… along with the second novel which I’m writing now.”
Obviously not one to sit still, James also set up an audio booth in his home or more like “a mattress hut with a really good microphone.” With a lot of Kiwi ingenuity and a little help from Google he recorded the audio for his three picture books which feature cameos from his wife Rebecca and sons Paddy and Flynn. The audio enhances the 3D experience already available via the augmented reality (AR) app.
“I don’t know if I’m the world’s best narrator, but I like to give things a crack,” he says. He also recorded the first two novels of the Dragon Defenders series which will be released in the not too distant future.
“I’ve got loads of stuff still to do… I’m only just scratching the surface for what I’m planning.”