• Bridget Mahy

The Mahy Questionnaire: Gareth Ward


For the third instalment of our shiny new Mahy Questionnaire, we thought we had better select an author who has a career in books in common with Mahy. Gareth Ward aka. The Great Wardini of Wardini Books also has a new book, The Clockill and the Thief, releasing at the end of July.

1. Describe yourself in three words

Struggles with simple instructions .

2. During the height of adolescence, was it good changeover? I think I was quite grumpy and moody during my adolescence, although I expect I’ll snap out of it any time soon.

3. Are you haunted by a particular memory?

I’m haunted by many memories. You honestly don’t want to know them.

4. MM: “Imagination is the creative use of reality.” Is this true for you?

Imagination is our only weapon in the war against reality.

Imagination is our only weapon in the war against reality. 5. Have you ever owned a rattlebang car?

I still own a rattlebang car – an old Toyota Corolla, which we lovingly refer to as ‘The Rocket.’

6. Which witch? Identify a favourite one from literature.

Granny Weatherwax from the Discworld novels – what a wonderful character.

​The Witch in the Cherry Tree, by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Jenny Williams (J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1974)

7. Come dance all around the world. And see all the beauty that surrounds us. Words for a romantic or just being mindful? It is very rare that I dance, my knees are ruined, but the world is full of inspiration and beauty.

8. A lion in the broom cupboard or a lion in the meadow? In the meadow – *shivers remembering broom cupboard claustrophobia.*

9. When have you been at your most discombobulated? When I was locked in the broom cupboard with a lion.

10. What is your most favourite thing to do on a summery Saturday morning? Coffee and donuts.

11. In what way might you be a trickster? I’m a professional magician and hypnotist – it doesn’t get much more tricky.

I’m a professional magician and hypnotist – it doesn’t get much more tricky.

12. Have you ever been rewarded when looking down the back of the chair? The back of the chair is like Russian roulette – you can either find money for an ice block or a present left by the cat. Only you can decide if it’s worth the risk.

13. A pirate for a mother or a jester for a father? Pirate all the way. The outfits are so much more fetching. There are some great sky-pirates in my new novel, The Clockill and the Thief.

14. Would you babysit someone else’s shadow? Only at midday.

15. What I like for dinner when I am on my own is… (entertain us) ... for Tonks our dog to stop staring at me with her sad eyes while I eat my two-minute noodles.

16. “Horrakapotchkin,” said the cat. “I want to write a poem.” Is that how it works for you? Our cat has only ever said “Feed me NOW!” I find writing more perspiration than inspiration, you have to just keep working at it until it’s done.

17. If you find yourself nose to nose with a shark, the only thing to do is to... Start humming the Jaws theme tune. You might as well die in style.

Start humming the Jaws theme tune. You might as well die in style.

18. MM: 'If things were fair, all stories would be anonymous…set free from the faults that go with its author’s name.' Would you set your stories free in the name of anonymity? No. I want my stories bound to me with titanium chains. .

19. You’re at a party and someone finds out what you do. What is the question they invariably ask? How long have you been rocket surgeon? (I wasn’t going to tell them I’m an author. They’d probably say ‘I’m going to write a book one day’ as if it is something you can just simply churn out in a few weekends, and which doesn’t take passion, commitment and a small part of your soul to achieve.)

20. Who do you go to be entertained by linguistic pyrotechnics? Or entertained by songsense nongs? We’re fortunate that we’ve had some really great performance poets at our bookshops. I am always amazed at what they can achieve with so few words.

21. Which way does your heart lie: between the stars or anchored to the trapeze? I don’t know about the stars but my head is mostly in the clouds. I remember my teacher Miss Russell saying ‘You’ll never get a job daydreaming.’ You were wrong Miss Russell, so wrong.

The Wind Between the Stars, by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Brian Froud (J M Dent & Sons Ltd, 1976)

22. Would you rather be followed home by hippos or giraffes? Giraffes. It’s a little known fact that hippos are faster at running and swimming than humans – so you have to go hard out on the bike if you want to beat them in a triathlon.

23. Never mind a baby in the bubble. Would you rather - rice bubbles, bubble gum, bubble 'o' bill icecream or Michael Bublé? Bubble and squeak.


The Clockill and the Thief by Gareth Ward

Published by Walker Books Release Date: 1 August 2019

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sally sutton

gareth ward

Gareth Ward (aka The Great Wardini) is a magician, hypnotist, storyteller and bookseller. He has worked as a Royal Marine Commando, police officer, evil magician and zombie, and as a writer and compere of Napier City’s inaugural steampunk murder mystery evening. Born near Oxford in the UK he currently lives in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, where he runs two independent bookshops with his wife Louise. His first novel The Traitor and the Thief, a rip-roaring steampunk adventure, won the 2016 Storylines Tessa Duder Award, the 2018 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Youth Novel and Best New Talent, and was a 2018 Storylines Notable Book.

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