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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Interview: Lauren Roche talks about Mila and the Bone Man

Lauren is the author of two previously published best-selling memoirs, Bent not Broken and Life on the Line. These memoirs recount how she overcame childhood trauma, working as a stripper and prostitute before turning her life around. She graduated as a medical doctor in 1991. Lauren has completed Ironman New Zealand twice, and in 2019 was a recipient of the Zonta New Zealand Woman of Achievement award. In late 2018, after suffering the effects of a spinal cord injury, Lauren retired from general practice and began writing full time. She completed a Diploma in Advanced Writing through NorthTec in 2019 and a Master of Creative Writing in 2020 through AUT. Lauren talks to NZ Booklovers.

Tell us a little about Mila and the Bone Man

It’s a novel about love and redemption and finding your way home. It looks at coping strategies people use to deal with grief (exercise, drugs, solitude, running away are all used by characters in the book.) Mila shows us the healing power of nature and friendship.

What inspired you to write this book?

I used to spend a lot of time alone in the bush in Whangārei and Kamō, immersed in tree breath and bird song. I noticed some people jumping over the shoe-washing stations and felt it deeply sad that some runners cared more about their few moments of time and little about protecting the forest giants who should outlive us all.

What research was involved?

I did a lot of reading on Rongoa Māori and attended a brilliant course called Aroora. The participants went on long bush walks, soaks in the Ngawha hot pools and paddled waka in Whangārei harbour. We learned about the history of the area pre colonisation. It was powerful and grounding

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

I began the book as a student at NorthTec, mentored by Pip Adam. I wrote and submitted every chapter to Pip, my tutor Zana and fellow students. We learned to critique our own and each other’s work. After Quentin Wilson accepted the MS for publication there was more editorial work. I wrote most days, and at times felt removed from the ‘real’ world, I was so immersed in Mila’s company.

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

Spiegel im Spiegel (Arvo Pärt) for some of the forest scenes. Something by Hollie Smith or Stan Walker.

If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?

Taika Waititi or Cliff Curtis would make a great Tama. I know they can do serious roles. 😜 Thomason McKenzie as Mila.

What did you enjoy the most about writing this novel?

The company of words. I’m an introvert and a word nerd! What did you do to celebrate finishing this book

I stopped drinking alcohol. 🥰 What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

Before You Knew My Name. The characters keep returning to me. They were really well conceived and described. Bublitz expresses so well the anxiety women feel about the possible intentions of men who pass them in the street; the constant niggling awareness of danger, and the way politeness is an ineffective but often used tool to deflect male attention.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

My masters thesis ‘Songs to Sing to the Dying’ is a group of stories, songs, recipes and fairy tales about Death personified. It’s coming to all good bookstores in 2023. 🥰

Quentin Wilson Publishing


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