Thursday, November 13, 2014

In praise of: Stacy Gregg

Yesterday afternoon I took Miss Ten and Miss Twelve to Te Awamutu to see Stacy Gregg who was doing a book signing. They are big fans of her pony novels.

Miss Ten was mortified when she and her sister got to the front of queue and Stacy smiled at them, said, “Hello,” then noticed me standing to the side, squealed “Stephen!”, leaped to her feet and smothered me in hugs and kisses. I didn’t mind – this sort of thing doesn't happen often enough, if you ask me, especially in bookshops – but Miss Ten did. (In front of everybody! How gross! etc)

Stacy inscribed her latest novel, The Island of Lost Horses, “To [Miss Ten], whose dad gave me my start as a professional writer!” Which is true – it was in 1988 or 89, when I was deputy editor at Metro and commissioned pieces from her most months. (She talks briefly about those early days in this very good Viva interview last month, with kind words about me and James Allan, 
and very good advice for aspiring journalists/writers.) Stacy would have become successful anyway – it was blindingly obvious she would, because talent and work ethic – but it is very satisfying to have my children discover for themselves and become admirers of a writer I like a lot and helped a bit early on.

Just before we left, Stacy explained to the daughters that the way to persuade me to buy them a pony each is for them to ask me several times a day, every day. The drive back from Te Awamutu takes 20 minutes. Guess what we talked about. Thanks, Stacy.

So here is Te Awamutu’s Neil Finn with Crowded House, live in 1987, with “Mean to Me” from their debut album. All together now: 
She came all the way from America
She had a blind date with destiny
And the sound of Te Awamutu
Had a truly sacred ring

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