5 Quick Questions with Vana Manasiadis

Vana ManasiadisWriter and teacher Vana Manasiadis answers our 5 quick questions. She’ll be taking a workshop on writing and walking at the 2019 Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat.

1. Tell us more about walking and writing. Is this your main writing practice?

Walking and writing are ancient friends. Even when we’re not actively finding a spot to write something down during walking or wandering, I’d like to think that writers and other creative arts practitioners observe, think and process when out in the world.  So yes, I would say it is a main writing practice for me.

2. You mention walking and writing as offering new possibilities for collaboration in what can often be a solitary profession. How do you bring collaborative processes into your writing practice?

Again I see walking and being in the world as a collaborative experience by default. Scientists and philosophers are no longer talking about single organic entities, human beings are being described as compound entities that are in fact made up of other life-forms for example bacteria. Victorian boundaries are finally shifting back to encompass  ideas long held by many non western cultures, of all being and creative practice as being collaborative, symbiotic and with fluid borders. Listening, reading, seeing, and actively interacting with others, are all collaborative practices that take place during walking and writing.

3. As well as being a writer, you’re a translator between Greek and English. How do you think that bilingualism has affected your writing and teaching?

Movement between languages and linguistic or poetic forms is humbling. There is no one right, genius meaning or concept. And openness to possibility, alternatives and to surrender are crucial in translation. It is possible to inhabit two or many realities at once, and to interrogate the rule book and to listen.

4. Do you tend towards one language or another when you write?

I would say that different languages inhabit different spaces concurrently, and that my understanding of English as a second generation Greek person is different to a Pākehā New Zealander’s who may have grown up in Aotearoa/New Zealand speaking English as their native and perhaps only tongue. My English is a Greek-English hybrid at best – even when it doesn’t look like it. The Greek is always informing its production.

5. Can you tell us a little about what participants should expect from your workshop?

Walking and talking and writing and being in, and responding to, space and spaces. People should wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen and a hat, and carry a cushion of they’d like to sit on it when we stop!

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5 Quick Questions with Mandy Hager

Writer and teacher Mandy Hager answers our latest 5 Quick Questions. Mandy will be teaching a workshop drawing on autobiography to write fiction among other things at the upcoming Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat.

1. How did you get into writing?

I’ve always written, for as long as I can remember. It’s the way I figure stuff out and best express myself. Except with close friends and family I’m ridiculously shy, so writing provides a safe buffer between me and the world.

2. You write across a range of genres and for different audiences. Where does the trigger for your work come from? Do you start with the intention to write in a particular genre or for a particular audience or does the idea or inspiration drive things?

The idea always comes first – sometimes through theme (like some issue that’s enraging or engaging me), sometimes through a character with a specific dilemma I want to explore, and sometimes I just get lines delivered to me that I then have to figure out the background story to! What the genre becomes is usually driven by the initial idea, rather than deciding I want to write something in a specific genre. I don’t usually think of audience (in terms of age range) – just try to write something that will speak to people’s heart – though, that said, I think it’s a privilege to write for a teen audience and, in considering the impact I want to make, I feel YA gives me the greatest opportunity to expand and challenge a reader’s thinking (which is something I’m always aiming for.)

3. A lot of your work deals with political issues. How do you manage the tension between didacticism and the ideas that you want to explore?

I’m sure some people would say I don’t manage this well at all! What I try to do is to take an idea and find its human story, focusing on character and emotion, using the reader’s empathy to make the connections to real-world issues.

4. What are you working on now?

I’ve just started the very early phase of a new novel, working out the characters and who is going to carry the story. On one level it’s going to be a love story, on another it will explore what constitutes ‘family’, and it looks at how someone carves out self-esteem and identity when not the ‘norm.’

5. Can you tell us a little about what participants should expect from your workshop?

I hope it will make a case for understanding that story structure and voice should organically arise from character and theme (the thing you want to say) – and that the greatest resource we have as writers is deep analysis of the nuances and patterns of our own lived experience. We’ll turn the lens on our own lives and inspect them as if we are the character under the microscope, plotting the pivotal shifts that have occurred to make us who we are. And I’ll be making a case for the idea that the politics of any given situation not only affects the opportunities and choices for us/a character in any scenario, but that the power dynamics at play can’t be separated or ignored.

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Writing the Novel

A week of writing. Seven spaces taken; five spaces remain available.

tahiti village nightDates: July 28-August 3, 2019
Faculty: Megan Kruse
Registration (Tuition and private condo):
Contact: writing@kahini.org.

The workshop takes place at Tahiti Village in Las Vegas. In order for each participant to receive maximum attention, registration is limited to twelve.

Live and write in the beauty of the Mojave Desert, near the pulse and energy of Las Vegas. Our desert writing retreats are where Kahini began, and after six consecutive sold-out retreats, we’ve decided to add another one: the Desert Writers’ Retreat in the Novel is all about craft instruction, community, inspiration–and results in your work. Learn more, or book your spot.

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