Topic: Globetrotting inspires first novel

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Hauraki Herald reporter Gillian O’Neill meets a first-time novelist whose life journey has taken him all over the world but who has a soft spot for his hometown of Tairua. Her article appeared in the Hauraki Herald on February 11, 2011.

TAIRUA resident David Rushforth has just published his first novel, Far from a Carnival, which he describes as ‘‘somewhere between a saga and fairy story’’ set in France, South America and the South Pacific.

The book, launched yesterday at Tairua Library, focuses on three main characters and their journeys of self discovery as they cross both continents and cultures. But these individuals, in their own ways, echo many of David’s own experiences through decades of travelling through Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Greece and France, to an intrepid land journey across Europe and Asia.

‘‘I definitely subscribe to the school of thought that says write what you know. ‘‘I was born in England, went to high school in South Africa and moved to New Zealand with my parents when I was 17,’’ he said. These early years may well have nurtured David’s travel bug and a qualification as a town planner was the catalyst for further exploration.

‘‘I worked in Rio de Janeiro [in Brazil] for three years. Shortly after we arrived, the carnival was taking place. ‘‘My second year I actually took part in the carnival, which was a fantastic experience. That’s what inspired the title of the book. It’s about how sometimes people have to leave behind what they know and discover new things and the challenges that come with that,’’ he said.

David eventually joined the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, first as a consultant then as a member of the diplomatic corps. He worked in Paris, France, for more than 18 years before taking early retirement and returning home to New Zealand. He has lived permanently in Tairua since 1991.

‘‘It’s just so beautiful here. Even since my days as a student I was determined that the Coromandel Peninsula was a place I would settle some day.  The beauty is not just in terms of the scenery, which of course is incredible, but also the community which my partner and I have found so welcoming,’’ he said. ‘‘It is certainly the smallest place I have lived and when you come from Rio and Paris it is certainly a different feel but something that I enjoy very much.’’

Since moving to Tairua, David has been involved with many groups and organisations including the Oral History Group and the Information Centre where he is a committee member and volunteer.

‘‘I love the contact you have with people from all over the world. You feel like you are travelling to lots of different countries without ever leaving Tairua. I’d like to think that having travelled, you get a better understanding of the differences between people and to be accepting of those differences.’’

David said his own relationship also gave him an acute understanding of the complexities of inter-cultural relationships, a key theme in his novel. ‘‘My partner is French and I think with globalisation, more and more people are finding themselves with people from different cultures to their own. It certainly requires us to be more sensitive and tolerant I think.’’

Another project of David’s is documenting much of Tairua’s oral history. ‘‘There are around 25 interviews with people who have witnessed life in Tairua and the many changes that have taken place over the years. One person speaks of the first time electricity came to the town and the effect that had.

 ‘‘I’m hoping to be able to properly publish all this information into a collection. If we don’t, there is a danger that all these memories could be lost forever,’’ he said.

Speaking before yesterday’s launch, David said he was both nervous and excited about the culmination of another lifetime ambition. ‘‘I always had a desire to publish something. I joined Whangamata Writers Group when I first got here and they gave me great encouragement and support.  More recently I’ve joined the new Tairua group which has just been set up.

‘‘In terms of the book, it’s taken about five years and eight or nine drafts to get to this stage. After a year of speaking to publishers I decided to go ahead and self-publish. It’s been a very interesting experience, I have enjoyed it and I’ve learned a lot. One thing I know about books is that inevitably people’s opinions vary so there will be good comments and bad and that’s fine,’’ David said.

‘‘I just hope as many people as possible get to read it.’’

It would be available to buy in Carson’s Book Shop in Thames, Tairua Information Centre and ‘‘hopefully’’ other outlets throughout the Peninsula in the coming weeks, he said.

www.haurakiherald.co.nz

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Globetrotting inspires first novel


First Names:David
Last Name:Rushforth