Interview: Judy L Mohr

Judy L Mohr. Photo by Anthony Hovens
Hello and welcome, Judy, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing.

Let me start by saying a big thank you, Kura. I’m feel honoured that you would ask to interview me. Now that’s said, we can get to the questions and answers.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always made up stories. As a child, I would spend hours with a tape recorder, making up plays for my Barbies to act out. (Yes, I’m really that old.) As soon as I could write, my mother encouraged me to kept a diary; I wrote poems and lyrics to songs. While I was studying my PhD, the writing became a much-needed escape from the pressures of being a part-time research student and a full-time mother of two. Even now, I use the writing to help me find the strength to face reality. The recent quakes have generated pages of writing. I’m also a freelance editor, and launched my own business, Black Wolf Editorial Services, back in December 2015.

My personal writing tends to have a fantastical flair, filled with adventure, dark monsters, humour and romance. Science fiction leaks in too, thanks to my PhD in Astronomy and Masters in Engineering. I have many projects on the go, but tell me what writer doesn’t.

You’re very involved with the Christchurch writing community. What’s your current role with the Christchurch Writers’ Guild?

I’m currently the president of the Christchurch Writers’ Guild and one of the coordinators for EastSide Writers, a coffee group for writers that meets every Thursday. I’m also one of the Municipal-Leaders for NaNoWriMo within the Christchurch region. Everything that I do for the writing community is meant to give back by paying it forward. So many I have meant on this journey have helped me develop my craft and become a better writer. I want to be able to do the same for others.

When was the CWG established?

Christchurch Writers’ Guild was established in 2012 by Angela Oliver and Beaulah Pragg. They noticed that many of the local writing groups required their members to produce works for critiquing and review, among other things. For a new writer, sharing your writing can be extremely daunting. Not only that, membership fees in some cases was beyond the means of the average new writer, and with very little reward. They wanted a group where everyone felt welcome with none of the pressure to share your writing, accessible to all. The Christchurch Writers’ Guild was born.

Since then, the membership has grown to over 80 members. In May 2015, the Guild became an incorporated society.

What is the CWG’s mission statement/ main purpose?

The Guild is a community of people who understand what it is to be a writer, from the first draft through to publication, and not just through traditional publishing houses. We’re there to help our members develop their craft to a level that they feel confident in sharing their writing with others.

At the same time, we love to celebrate our members’ successes. Writing can be a very isolated road. We aim to make it not so lonely.

What sort of writers can join? Do you have to be published?

Christchurch Writers’ Guild is open to all writers, published and unpublished, regardless of the genre. It doesn’t matter whether you write poetry, short stories, novels, or even screen plays — if you write, then you’re welcome to join us.

Are there any fees?

At this stage, there are no membership fees to join the Guild. All you have to do is visit our website and fill in the membership form with your contact details. It’s as simple as that.

Does the CWG offer its members internal competitions?

At the moment, the Guild does not run any internal competitions. However, we do offer our members with opportunities to participate in various anthologies, a chance to become published.

The criteria for each will depend on the anthology itself. More information can be found on our website.

What do you see as the benefits of being part of the CWG?

The biggest benefit of being part of the Guild is the support network. So many writers feel isolated, because their family and friends don’t understand who much of an obsession writing can be. Through the various activities that the Guild runs, writers are able to meet other kindred spirits.

Guild members also are entitled to discounts on our workshops, which are spread throughout the year.

Where does the CWG meet and how often?

Currently, the Guild runs two different weekly groups. The Night Owls meet every Tuesday night from 7pm at Coffee Culture in Bush Inn. Eastside Writers meet every Thursday morning from approximately 10:30am at Robert Harris in the Palms.

Members from the Guild also meets every second Monday of the month from 7pm at Undercroft at the University of Canterbury (under the James Hight Library).

These meetups are open to all. We always welcome new members.

Where can we find the CWG online?

The CWG has its own website (, as well as a public Facebook page. We also have a Facebook discussion group

Recently, the Guild has also joined the world of Twitter. Our username is @ChChWriters

And of course, if anyone just wants to send us an email, our address is

Thanks so much for your time, Judy, the Christchurch Writer’s Guild sounds like a very supportive bunch.

You're welcome. It was no problem at all.

Dunedin Writers' Workshop

If you're in Dunedin, Otago and looking for a writing group, please check out these guys, The Dunedin Writers' Workshop, website and also on Facebook.

Dunedin Writers' Workshop

Dunedin Writers' Workshop

Writer Interview: Beatrice Hale

Dunedin author Beatrice Hale
Hello and welcome, Beatrice.Please tell us a little bit about yourself:
First of all, I’m Scottish, from Aberdeen. We’ve been here for over forty years, however, having come for my husband’s job. When you get a good place with good people, you don’t move unless you have to! Secondly, I’m a very devoted and proud grandmother to three delightful grandchildren, who love to do the things I like best such as cooking and gardening.
And I retired as a social worker for older people, and working for family caregivers, in 2006-7 and decided that now was my time to write what I wanted.

"No Space to waste" by Dunedin author Beatrice HaleWhat genre, and what is your latest novel about?
I write mostly non-fiction, gerontology and caregiving, and years ago I wrote on herb-gardening; but I have written two children’s stories, Ice Escape, the story of a rescue of pioneer flyers, American Aces, father, mother and 2 children, by a Scottish fishing boat. No Space to Waste is a briefer story about a boy and his grandfather who grew potatoes in rubber tyres.
My most recent young adult novel The Resolute Heart is about a young man who was press-ganged from his home in Fife, Scotland, to serve in Nelson’s Navy. His wife followed him, and after some adventures found the boat where he was serving, boarded and became a surgeon’s assistant. Together they unmasked a mutiny, and a plot to take at least some of the British frigates over to the French.

What’s your writing style, do you plan everything first, or write and see where the story leads you?
I planned No Space to Waste, and Ice Escape followed a pattern, but I wrote The Resolute Heart as it came to me – sometimes at 2 a.m. A very awkward time.

"The Resolute Heart" author Beatrice Hale, cover designer: Kura Carpenter
Where did the idea for The Resolute Heart come from?
I got the idea from reading some of my ancestors’ stories, sent me by someone in Scotland who had been researching our ancestry. I’ve always been interested in my ancestors – one side came from Fife, and t’other from the west coast, members of the Cameron Clan, and somehow the two sides got together in Aberdeen. From reading about Harry’s being press-ganged, and his wife following him, I thought it would make a good story.

Which character do you most identify with and why?
Probably the mother in The Resolute Heart, the one supporting the home fires/gathering the herring/selling at market, keeping going while others had the fearsome adventures.

What was your favourite and least favourite part in researching for the novel?
I loved the research but would have been even happier if I’d been able to walk along the streets of Cellardyke in Fife, where my family came from, so that I could continue absorbing the atmosphere. I’ve had a few visits, but I’d like more.

Why did you decide to venture into self-publishing?
"Ice Escape" by Beatrice Hale, cover designer Kura CarpenterSpeed of getting things out. At my age (mid seventies) I can’t wait for publishers’ decisions, and then the time to get the books out. I’d much rather someone else did this, but I want to see the books in my hand, fast.

What has been the hardest part with promoting your work?
Not knowing quite what to do and where to go.

What tips would you give to others considering publishing that you wished you knew when you started?
Go for it! Find others who can help, join NZSA which is an excellent organisation, become more computer literate. I needed to know more about printing fonts, sizes, sizes of covers at the end, though the cover itself is brilliant (of Ice Escape), I managed to make a mistake on sizing it when I got a few books printed.

What else have you had published, and what is coming up?
Recently, I’ve published Ice Escape and The Resolute Heart, but before then I was working in Non-fiction and published Family Transitions in Caregiving (Patrick Barrett, Beatrice Hale, Mary Butler) and The Age of Supported Independence (Beatrice Hale, Patrick Barrett, Robin Gauld). Before that I published with Longacre The NZ Pleasure Garden.

Coming up? I’m hoping to have Simon Says, a book about a young carer whose mother is sick and who gets bullied at school, and Lucas catches the Light and I don’t know what that’s about yet! What I’m currently working on is The Story of Caregiving, a meander through the past looking at how people gave care to older family members. I begin by discussing work on Neanderthal peoples, and move on from there. Very interesting, hugely ambitious and I just hope I can finish it.

Thanks so much for chatting with us today. Where can we buy your books? 
Ice Escape is available via Amazon and Smashwords
and The Resolute Heart, through Amazon as Kindle ebook and Paperback.

You can also connect with Beatrice via her Amazon Author Page HERE
And on Linkedin HERE