Rebecca K Reilly (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Wai) wrote much of her debut novel in Wellington.
The characters had lived in her head for years, but she wondered if a book about “eccentric queer Māori people living in Auckland Central who were essentially big nerds, but still getting off with a lot of hot foreigners” was something the world was craving.
Turns out, it was.
Released last year, Greta & Valdin was a hit, and no wonder: it’s warm, funny, emotionally generous, full of keen observations of contemporary culture, with a feeling of raw relatable truth at the heart of it, even while dealing with family secrets and romantic relationships some readers might find highly improbable.
* I wish: Michèle A’Court wishes she’d known about the stock markets earlier
* I wish: Kaiora Tipene dreams of a clock in, clock out 9-5 job
* Marian Keyes: ‘Not all women are narcissists – some of us are sociopaths!’
Reilly now lives in Auckland’s Mt Albert, where a sleep disorder leaves her feeling “permanently jet-lagged” as she writes long into the night.
I WISH, 10 YEARS AGO, I KNEW…
….that the landlord coming into your house and taking all the internal doors away was not OK.
And then we ended up losing the bond! That landlord took us to the tenancy tribunal, and it turned out they’d been to the tenancy tribunal 14 times before.
I’m pretty sure we would have won that case if we’d mentioned the door thing.
I WISH I COULD SWAP LIVES WITH…
No-one! I wouldn’t want some total stranger to have to live my life.
How rude would that be? Although, in a way, I wish I could swap lives with someone who was born in, like, the 1930s. They had it really hard early on but now own this $6 million piece of land.
You could go around talking about how you didn’t need to feel guilty about anything because you’d always worked hard. And you’d get away with it because most people would just say, oh, well… you know. They’re old!
I WISH EVERY DAY I COULD EAT…
…the stuff I already eat. I have a can of Coke every day, for example, because I don’t think beverages should be hot.
And I love Peach’s Hot Chicken, so I eat that all the time. Not every day, though, but only because it’s way out in Panmure.
I WISH I COULD LIVE IN…
… Athens, because when I was there one time I looked the same as everyone else.
I’m Māori, but when I go to Greece, everyone assumes I’m Greek. I bought a souvlaki and the guy apologised about all the tourists and went and got me the proper Greek menu. He was disappointed when I didn’t understand. But I’m also like that in Spain and Italy and South America.
I show up and people think I’m a local. My friend calls me “the Cliff Curtis of Holidays.”
THE PERSON I WISH WAS ON A BANKNOTE IS…
…Hmm, that’s a hard one.
Getting rid of the Queen seems too obvious. Actually, I would get rid of the whio, the native blue duck, off the $10 note and replace it with a seagull.
Take away the fancy bird and slap a regular, everyman bird on there. A bird a lot of people find annoying, but apparently they’re endangered.
THE NOISE I WISH I COULD NEVER HEAR AGAIN IS…
…Actually, this one is bad for me because I don’t notice many noises.
When I’m with my mum, she’ll say “oh, I wish that car alarm would stop”, and I won’t even be aware of it.
I’m hyper-focused on other stuff, so I often don’t hear anything until someone points it out to me. It’s useful sometimes as a writer because I don’t need quiet to work. I mean, I used to write on the bus!
I WISH I COULD SPEND A SUNDAY WITH…
…all my mates.
I hate meeting new people, but I do miss a lot of my old friends from my Dunedin and Wellington days.
Some of my Dunedin friends were supposed to be coming up to Auckland soon but now they’ve all got Covid.
I WISH NEW ZEALAND WAS MORE…
I wish people would calm down a bit, especially online.
I’m on Twitter every day and sometimes I’m like, OK, this is too much for me. It seems increasingly difficult for people to strike a balance between not being incredibly racist and being some painfully earnest authority on everyone else’s situation.
I go on there because I want to know what’s going on and see some funny jokes, but the price you pay is having to see everything else.
Social media these days is over-populated by angry Pākehā guys who think everyone else has done them wrong.
Rebecca K Reilly’s quickfire Q&A
NOVEL or SHORT STORIES
SLEEP IN or EARLY NIGHT
FATE or LUCK
PROCRASTINATE or START
DANCER or TALKER
TV or YOUTUBE
STAYING HOME or GOING OUT
SKI SLOPES or TROPICAL HOLIDAY
COOK or GARDEN
CALL or TEXT
CHOCOLATE or CHEESE
SWIMMING POOL or OCEAN
SPRING or AUTUMN
MUSEUM or ART GALLERY
FASHION WEEK or ARTS FESTIVAL
ROAD TRIP or CITY HOLIDAY
NEW DRESS or OLD FAVOURITE