On childhood reading:
I didn’t entirely spurn girls’ books – I loved L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon – but a lot of girls’ books of that and an earlier era, my mother’s and aunts’ old books, were just plain awful. In fact, I read quite indiscriminately, including the romances of Ethel M. Dell and a syrupy tale called Cecelia of the Pink Roses. I read anything I could get my hands on: Dickens, Gene Stratton-Porter’s A Girl of the Limberlost and Laddie, over which I wept, while Mum gently suggested that some people considered it rather sentimental. My favourites were adventure stories. I don’t think it ever occurred to me that such adventures could never happen to me, a girl.
Dance on the Earth 64
I often find it easier to say Holy Spirit rather than God, because this means to me not only God the Father and the Mother, but a kind of holiness in life itself, in trees and rivers and the earth and all creatures.
Dance on the Earth 14
In one sense, for me, Dieppe perpetually has happened only yesterday. It runs as a leitmotif through all my so-called Manawaka fiction and, in a way, it runs through my whole life, in my hatred of war so profound I can’t find words to express my outrage at these recurring assaults upon the human flesh, mind, and spirit. How dare we call our species Homo sapiens?
Dance on the Earth 84
On social responsibility:
Each generation must believe it can change the world for the better, whatever the odds are against us.
Dance on the Earth 99
How much of the other side – the anxious, worried, sometimes deeply depressed side – I owe to the Black Celt in me, and to the terrifying world we live in, and how much that may have begun to grow within my spirit at my mother’s death, I can never know.
Dance on the Earth 26
On motherhood and writing:
If I hadn’t had my children, I wouldn’t have written more and better, I would have written less and worse.
Dance on the Earth 166
My main trouble is, as always, impatience – I want to do everything all at once, in five minutes before dinner. But alas, impossible.
Letter to Adele Wiseman, 6 May 1960
Adele [Wiseman] had begun work on her amazing novel Crackpot, and I read a few chapters. Our work methods are very different. She writes and rewrites a chapter before moving on to the next. The whole intricate structure, although it can change, moved by the characters themselves, is held firmly in her mind throughout this long creative process. I tend to start at the beginning and work through to the end of the first draft, hardly daring to look back, ‘lest’, as I always say, ‘like Lot’s wife, I am turned into a pillar of salt’.
Dance on the Earth 186
Some reviewers slashed me for writing a book that had, in their opinion, a gimmicky structure; some praised me for the innovative format of the novel. Some flailed me for having characters who had appeared in previous novels; some praised me for creating a town in which there was a perceptible continuity / through three generations.
Dance on the Earth 212-213
Publication is one thrill that never diminishes. After the long period of struggling to write a book, and rewrite and rewrite and revise it, after the editorial consultations and the horrible task of proofreading, finally one holds the finished book in one’s hands. Let the reviews fall where they may. Some will be damning, often for the wrong reasons, while others will be highly praising, sometimes also for the wrong reasons. But no one can unpublish a published book.
Dance on the Earth 196