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New Zealand novelist, historian and film-maker Peter Wells says he was a timid boy at school but thanks the bullies because they forced him to put down on paper what he couldn't say aloud.

It has been 25 years since his groundbreaking collection of gay-themed short stories Dangerous Desires brought him to attention and won the Reed New Zealand Book Award (it was also published in New York and London). Since then the scope of his work has been quite remarkable, and he was also one of the founders of the Auckland Writers Festival.

He is therefore the ideal person to be director of the Same Same But Different writers' festival which celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender writers.

The festival in February (see details below) includes talks by broadcaster Alison Mau, Metro editor Susannah Walker, novelist Steven Eldred Grigg, numerous actors, academics and poets . . .

Timely then to ask Peter Wells to respond to our Famous Elsewhere Writers Questionnaire . . .

The first book which really affected you was . . .

Jack and Jill went up the Hill. The beginning of printed words.

Your first (possibly embarrassing) unpublished literary effort was . . .

A play I hand-copied from a printed book word by word.

Do you have any rituals or habits when you are in the throes of writing?

A walk is as much a part of writing as what you dream at night.

If writing was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .

A coffin

Three books (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to read are . . .

Wide Sargasso Sea, A Line of Beauty, Anna Karenina

Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange literary memorabilia at home?

I have letters from a close friend, a fellow author, going back almost thirty years and into the present.

Hardback, paperback or e-book on a long distance flight?

I tend to go for trash on long flights so a glossy magazine like Vanity Fair.

Oscar_Wilde_with_cape_and_hat_by_Sarony_cph.3b16950If you could ask a long-gone writer just one question, who would that be? And what would you ask?

Oscar Wilde. Was it really you recording ‘Every man kills the thing he loves’ at the Paris World Fair on a metal disc?

The three films you think were good adaptations of literary works were . . .

‘The Leopard’ par excellence, ‘The Conformist’. (The film about the tiger on a boat, name escapes me.)

The last book you bought was . . . (And why that one?)

A biography of the man who wrote The Long Weekend. It sounded interesting but was crap.

Can you, or do you, listen to music when you are at work? If so, who do you listen to?

Always. Concert programme, turning it off when annoying human voices come on.

The book cover you would wear printed on a t-shirt would be?

The planned cover for my first book when it came out in NY as a hardcover. Then some smartass art director changed it for a cover that always looked to me like a toilet bowl after someone has had an attack of diarrhea. Go figure.

You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .

I want to die without a tattoo, thanks

David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?

I'm really not sure. I think I'll await that dilemma - it's sure to come sooner or later.

And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why your last book is your best work ever?”

Every author loves the work they have just completed. You haven’t separated from it yet, it’s still living tissue. In your head you’re still re-arranging sentences in your sleep.

For more details on the festival see the programme here


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