Posted in Adventures in The Primortus Zone

Five Things You Might Not Know About New Zealand




1.  The Maori name for N.Z. is ‘Aotearoa’

It means “the land of the long white cloud”

IMG_3651c (Photo credit: mollydot)

2. In 1893, New Zealand became the first Country to give women the right to vote

new zealand traffic jam 1
new zealand traffic jam 1 (Photo credit: kidicarus222)

3. New Zealanders are outnumbered by sheep

In fact, there are around 5 sheep per person 

22 Jun - My bookshop Beattie & Forbes
22 Jun – My bookshop Beattie & Forbes (Photo credit: catspyjamasnz)

4. There are more book stores per person than any other country about one for every 7500 people.

Gandalf (Photo credit: San Diego Shooter)

5. New Zealand is more than Middle Earth

“That was the big effect Lord of the Rings had on me. It was discovering New Zealand.  And even more precious were the people not all like the Australians.”- Ian Mckellen

The following is an excerpt from Eleventh Elementum, Book One of the Primortus Chronicles. 

Skylee set down her suitcase, dropped her backpack onto the bed and threw herself back against the soft pillows.  She was happy to finally be in New Zealand.  The flight had been exhausting, not the plane-ride itself, but the seventeen-plus hours of listening to Chrism complaining, whereas Skylee only had one complaint.  The fact that she had to share her Luck-E-Chocs with everyone and now she was down to two pieces.  However, her sister had enough grievances to create a list, which included the seating, the food, the ‘stupid’ movie choices and the poor service.

At one point during their flight Skylee had pretended to be asleep, which only gave Chrism several hours to flirt with Will.  She had read to him endlessly from her V-phone about New Zealand’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie locations.  Will sat attentively smiling and nodding at her the whole time.  During the unfortunate episode, Skylee found herself becoming increasingly annoyed with her new stepsister.

She didn’t know why.  It couldn’t be jealousy, not over Will.  What was there to be jealous about?  At least that’s what she told herself.

Now Skylee was alone for the first time in days, and it felt nice.  Her mind immediately turned to the book, which she had carefully concealed inside her backpack.  Luckily Chrism hadn’t noticed when she cut the lining to create a secret hiding place.  A couple of times she had even snuck a look at the book, but she couldn’t find the privacy to really examine it as she wished.  She knew it was pointless to fish it out now since Chrism would arrive at any moment.  Exhaling loudly she relaxed into the fluffy pillows, picking up a brochure from the bedside table.  She read.

Visit Ancient Maori Village

Long ago, the land was covered by rainforests…

the calls of the laughing owl and the giant Mao filled the air…

the Maori people knew no fear   Step back in time…

You’ll fall in love with New Zealand. 

            She studied the glossy pamphlet and three words seemed to jump out at her.  Fall in love. Surely they don’t think you can fall in love with a place.  Or do they? she pondered.  She didn’t think so.  She wasn’t sure she even believed in falling in love.



Posted in Adventures in The Primortus Zone


Visiting Hobbiton

Hobbiton (Photo credit: Jakob Steinschaden)

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats – the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill – The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it – and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

J. R. R. TolkienThe Hobbit

In 2005 I was lucky enough to visit Hobbiton while on a trip to New Zealand.  Departing from Auckland by car, we proceeded south to Matamata and toured the “Lord of The Rings filming location for The Shire.  It turns out that there are hobbits who look amazingly enough like my family. It must be a parallel universe or something. Click this link to see if you agree.


Read an excerpt from Eleventh Elementum where the characters visit Hobbiton.

The next morning, Skylee, feeling as if she had just lain down to go to sleep, was awakened by her V-phone.

“Hello,” she groggily said.  “Huh, oh…Mom.  What time is it?”

It was five o’clock in the morning.  Her mother, who was speaking in a very perky voice for such an ungodly hour, was telling her to wake Chrism up so they could get an early start.

“Are you sure?” Skylee said, looking over at the lump in the next bed.  “I don’t think she’s going to like it.”

But she did, because as it turned out Chrism’s attempt at emotional blackmail on the previous evening had actually worked.  Their parents were going to allow a stopover on their way to the farm in a town called Matamata, otherwise known as Hobbiton or the Shire.

A few hours later Skylee, Chrism, their parents, Ann and Will filed off a long hover-shuttle and onto the set from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies.  Skylee felt slightly uncomfortable wearing a fancy white blouse, which Chrism had insisted she borrow.  Apparently none of her own clothes were nice enough to wear to The Shire.  And unfortunately her long, curly hair had been so tangled that morning that all she could do was pull it into a messy ponytail.  At least she had on her favorite, comfy jeans and best fitting tennis shoes.

In contrast, her sister was dressed in a flowing sapphire colored sundress with shiny silver sandals.  And she didn’t have a hair out of place.

“Oh my gosh! It’s the party tree,” squealed Chrism in delight as she pointed at a large oak, which was standing by a small lake.  “I can’t believe it survived The Day and look at those cute little Hobbit holes.  Oh, I think that one over there is Bag End.”

“Wow, it’s gorgeous,” said Skylee, looking across the lake at the lush green hills.

As their parents and Ann followed the tour guide down the path, Chrism grasped Will by the hand and took off toward the Hobbit holes.  For a moment Skylee thought about heading in the opposite direction.  But today, nothing was going to go wrong, even if she did have to watch her stepsister flirt with Will across all of Hobbiton.  It was better than being knifed and falling off a tower.

Most of Skylee’s time at The Shire was spent taking photos of her stepsister.  Chrism peering into a Hobbit hole…Chrism peering out of a Hobbit hole…Chrism hugging the party tree…and of course Chrism holding hands with Will beneath the “Welcome to Hobbit” sign.

The afternoon sun was baking the top of Skylee’s head by the time they walked back to their auto-glider.  She was glad to get into the air-conditioned passengers compartment of their vehicle.  But the journey from Hobbiton to Cook’s Farm in Rotorua was anything but comfortable.

In fact, it had her remembering her studies of the Spanish Inquisition.  As they glided along each relative took a turn and grilled her about what happened at the Sky Tower.  She felt she could relate to those poor people who had been unmercifully questioned by the inquisitors.  Will was the worst of them all, asking the same questions time and time again, mostly about the guide.  When Chrism began loudly reading from her V-phone about Lord of the Rings and Hobbit filming locations their questioning stopped at long last.  Skylee wasn’t sure if Chrism had taken pity on her and purposely distracted them or if she was tired of Skylee getting all the attention, either way she was thankful.

Posted in Book Reviews

The Hobbit, Again.


The Hobbit book

5 stars

There and back again…How could I resist returning to Middle Earth for an adventure? Especially since I’ve co-authored a fantasy/adventure set in New Zealand myself. Truth be told. I remember reading (well, sort of skimming) The Hobbit in my childhood and sadly I didn’t appreciate J.R.R. Tolkien‘s flawless storytelling back then. But this time as I followed little Bilbo Baggins on his dangerous journey I was in awe of the author’s rich and imaginative use of words. But I also couldn’t help wondering how this sweet fairytale would’ve been received were it to have been written in 2013.

Would today’s reviewers criticize Tolkien about the character of Bard popping up out of nowhere to play such an important part? *No spoilers here*  But it truly gave me pause as I read the “Fire and Water” chapter. Is it just me, or does it seem kind of anticlimactic? Then again, maybe Tolkien’s ability to use a humble hero like Bilbo in a way you might not expect is what makes The Hobbit so brilliant!

So even if you’ve read it before, it’s definitely worth going “there and back again!”