Interview: Patricia Williams talks about Between the Harbour and the Mountain
Patricia Williams was born in Aotearoa New Zealand and grew up in colonial Fiji.She taught in primary, secondary and adult education, and later set up a support scheme for young people in a psychopaedic hospital. She also became involved in teaching English to immigrants and refugees, supporting them to settle in their new country. Patricia lives in a small community of vowed women, all involved in helping professions. Aside from people, her great love is nature. She strongly believes that we humans need to re-establish those ancient bonds with the natural world if we are to survive as a species. Patricia talks to NZ Booklovers.
Tell us a little about Between the Harbour and the Mountain.
This is a collection of reflections: most were originally entries in a journal. Some are vignettes /in the moment recording of events that occurred while I was living in Onehunga and later, in Mangere Bridge.
What inspired you to write this book?
My inspiration was the world around me, the ordinary happenings of daily living, the creatures with whom we share this earth, the people whose lives have impacted mine in a variety of ways, nature, the past whose influence is still felt and my own search into the mystery of being.
How did you research the book?
Not a lot of research, except: when trying to understand a few basic concepts around Quantum physics. Other areas I had to look into: Auckland’s volcanic field, Otuataua Stonefields, the riroriro (Grey Warbler), the early Councils of the Christian church.
What was your routine when writing this?
Because most of the entries in the book had already been written over the last twenty years or so, it was a matter of going over them and editing, pruning, clarifying. Four mornings a week I sat at the computer and typed them up ready for my publisher.
What was it like winning the Ashton Wylie Charitable Trust Best Manuscript Award?
Winning the Ashton Wylie Charitable Trust Best Manuscript Award was an occasion of great happiness. This joy was accentuated because I had with me four of my best friends. The count-down to the announcement of the winner was one of the most exciting trepidation moments of my life.
If you had a soundtrack to accompany your book, what songs would you include:
Sound tracks: “The Swan” from the Carnival of the Animals” by Camille Saint-Saens and “Morning Mood” by Edvard Grieg.
What did you enjoy the most about writing Between the Harbour and the Mountain?
I most enjoyed being able to express some of my deepest thoughts, aspirations, doubts and beliefs.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I hope they will take away some sense of the spirit that enfolds our life and that we are more than just a material body destined for oblivion.
How did you celebrate publication?
Shared a bottle of wine over dinner with friends.
What is your favourite book so far this year, and why?
The Consolation of Nature, Spring in the Time of Coronavirus. It was very topical, and echoed many of my own thoughts and beliefs. I had an optimism that cheered me up.
What's next on the agenda?
Next on the agenda? Just waiting in hope and patience for the next sign-post in my life. When it shows up then I will follow it with humility, I hope.