Roussin-Guillemot, Hailey

I help my husband run an oyster farm in Mahurangi Harbour, north of Auckland. I once tried to illustrate a children’s book my dear ‘ol Mum wrote (and finally published this year), and on the balance I think writing is the easier way to get your name on a book.

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The year before we started farming, I had time to write. I like a good comedy, and I like books with meaningful stuff. Meaty human dilemmas, soul searching, idiosyncrasies, and a bastard in there somewhere. I decided it was time I gave novel writing a go, and create a story with all my favourite elements. I loved every minute of it (right up to where I had to edit). I chose oyster farming because I’ve had so many good laughs at what goes on in the industry. Funny things happen amongst oyster men. They work alone or in small groups, in sight of their rivals, who are often also their friends… Yeah, it gets pretty interesting.

I love the way New Zealanders communicate, and I wanted to capture it on paper. I made sure I always had on my gummies and my swanndri to write the men, and my nails painted and lippy on to write the ladies’ parts. Sometimes I got a bit confused and had everything on at once, but you can get away with that in small-town New Zealand, even if you have to nip down to the shops in a hurry.

Ballet for men in gumboots

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