Love in the Time of COVID

A Chronicle of a Pandemic



Photo credit Andi Crown

Witi Ihimaera is the author of 14 novels, 6 short story collections, four plays, four operas, a ballet, journalism and god knows what else. He has also had a parallel career as an editor with 22 edited works on New Zealand and Māori culture to his credit so far. Four of his books have been made into feature films, including Whale Rider in 2002. His latest works are Black Marks on the White Page (2017), an anthology co-edited with Tina Makereti of Māori & Pasifika writing; Sleeps Standing (2018), the first bilingual Māori-English novel to be published in New Zealand; Pūrākau (2019), an anthology co-edited with Whiti Hereaka of contemporary Māori authors; Native Son (2019), his second memoir; and the forthcoming Navigating the Stars (2020), a non-fiction history of Māori as seen through their creation myths. A play, Witi’s Wāhine, written by Nancy Brunning, premiered to gales of laughter at the inaugural Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival in his home town of Gisborne in 2019; the play goes on a marae tour this year. Ihimaera has always been at the cutting edge of New Zealand literature. His current appointments include being patron of Kotahi Rau Pukapuka, a major project to publish 100 books from around the world into te reo. Apart from New Zealand awards for his work he has received international honours including a Star of Oceania (University of Hawai’i), a  Premio Ostana (Italy) and a Chevalier of Arts and Literature (France) for his contribution to indigenous world literature. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

Michelle Elvy is a writer, editor and manuscript assessor. She arrived in New Zealand in 2008 aboard her sailboat and now lives in Dunedin – after raising her children while travelling for nearly 20 years. Her poetry, fiction, travel writing, creative nonfiction and reviews have been widely published and anthologised. Her recent books include the small novel in small forms, the everrumble (2019), and the hybrid collection, the other side of better (2021). A three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, Michelle has also been a Watson Fellow, a Fulbright Scholar and the recipient of two DAAD grants for research in Germany. A historian-turned-editor, Michelle has been involved in the diverse online writing community for years – launching and co-editing 52|250 – A Year of Flash in 2010, then, in 2012, founding Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction and National Flash Fiction Day NZ. Her anthology work includes the Best Small Fictions series (Assistant Editor since the series began in 2015), Bonsai: Best small stories of Aotearoa New Zealand (co-editor, Canterbury University Press 2018) and Ko Aotearoa Tātou | We Are New Zealand (Otago University Press 2020), co-edited with Paula Morris and James Norcliffe. Michelle teaches online at 52|250 A Year of Writing.


Pia Z. Ehrhardt / New Orleans, Louisiana, USA is the author of Famous Fathers & Other Stories and Now We Are Sixty. Her fiction and essays have appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Oxford American, Guernica, The Morning News and Virginia Quarterly Review, and she’s a frequent contributor to Narrative Magazine. She studied creative writing at the University of Southern Mississippi with Frederick Barthelme and Mary Robison. Pia’s essays have been cited as Notable in Best American Essays and Best American Sports Writing. Her work has been performed at Symphony Space and Word Theater. She is a recipient of a Bread Loaf Fellowship and the Narrative Prize. She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana and Queens, NY with her husband, Malcolm. Their son lives too far away in London.

Editors – Love in the Time of COVIDSteve Golden / Singapore is a fine art photographer dedicated to capturing ways of life fast-changing in Asia. Arriving in Tokyo with a backpack and $200, he has now been in Asia for 30 years. His first career was in academic publishing, during which time he published several travel articles and images in The Japan Times. Steve then took up a rare opportunity to work as a strategic advisor for Lonely Planet, a path that led him to turning a lifelong passion for photography into a profession. In addition to being published widely in books, magazines, newspapers, online and on broadcast TV, Steve has exhibited and sold fine art prints in galleries across the region. His second book, Faces of Yangon, was published in January 2020, and the work was exhibited in The Leica Gallery at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. He resides in Singapore, and is a staff member at LASALLE College of the Arts.

Catherine McNamara / Vicenza, Italy grew up in Sydney, ran away to Paris to write, and ended up in Ghana running a bar. Praised by Hilary Mantel, her short story collection The Cartography of Others was a People’s Book Prize (UK) finalist and winner of the Eyelands International Book Award (Greece). Pelt and Other Stories was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor Award and a Hudson Prize semi-finalist. Love Stories for Hectic People is out in February 2021. Catherine is a writing coach and runs summer writing residencies in Italy where she lives. More here.

Vaughan Rapatahana — Creative Rights = Creative ReadsVaughan Rapatahana (Te Ātiawa) / Mangakino, Aotearoa New Zealand commutes between Hong Kong SAR, Philippines and Aotearoa New Zealand – when COVID allows! He is widely published across several genres in Māori and English and his work has been translated into Bahasa Malaysia, Italian, French, Mandarin and Romanian. His collection Atonement was nominated for a National Book Award in Philippines in 2016. He also won the inaugural international Proverse Poetry Prize in 2016 and was represented in Best New Zealand Poems in the following year. He participatedin World Poetry Recital Night, Kuala Lumpur, September 2019, and Poetry International, the Southbank Centre, London in October 2019 – in the launch of Poems from the Edge of Extinction and in Incendiary Art: the power of disruptive poetry. Vaughan’s poem tahi kupu anake is included in the presentation by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas to United Nations Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva in November 2019. Rapatahana has a PhD from the University of Auckland on the work of English author Colin Wilson and frequently writes about and lectures on him. His New Zealand Book Council Writers File is here.

Sophia Wilson

Sophia Wilson / Maungatua, Aotearoa New Zealand is originally from Anaiwan Country-New England Tablelands NSW Australia. Now based outside Ōtepoti Dunedin, she runs a small organic farm with her Asian-born partner and three daughters. Her poems have appeared in a variety of literary journals and anthologies and been recognised in awards including the Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems, the Robert Burns Poetry Competition, the Hippocrates Prize and the Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize. Her small fictions have placed in National Flash Fiction Day competitions and been nominated for Best Small Fictions, Best Microfiction, and the Pushcart Prize.


Dr Anita Heiss / Queensland, Australia is the award-winning author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, children’s novels and travel articles. She is a proud member of the Wiradjuri Nation of central NSW, an Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, the GO Foundation and Worawa Aboriginal College. Anita is a board member of the State Library of Queensland, the University of Queensland Press and Circa. She is a Professor of Communications at the University of QLD and artist in residence at La Boitte Theatre, currently adapting her novel Tiddas for the stage. Her novel Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms is the 2020 University of Canberra Book of the Year. Anita enjoys eating  chocolate, running half-marathons and being a ‘creative disruptor’.

Craig Santos Perez / Oahu, Hawai’i is a Chamoru author from Guam. He is the author of five books of poetry and the co-editor of five anthologies. He is a professor of creative writing in the English department at the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa, where he teaches creative writing, eco-poetry, and Pacific literature. He is affiliate faculty with the Center for Pacific Islands Studies and the Indigenous Politics Program. He served as Chair of the Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Islander Board in the Office of General Education (2017-2020), and as the Director of the Creative Program (2014-2016 and 2019-2020). More here.

Paula Morris MNZM (Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Whatua) / Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand is an award-winning fiction writer and essayist from Auckland. She is author of eight novels, the long-form essay On Coming Home and two collections. She is also the editor of The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories (2009) and co-editor of the 2020 anthology Ko Aotearoa Tātou | We Are New Zealand. An Associate Professor at the University of Auckland, where she convenes the Master of Creative Writing, Paula also teaches creative writing at festivals and in schools. She is the founder of the Academy of New Zealand Literature, and serves on the boards of the Coalition for Books, the NZ Book Awards Trust, the Māori Literature Trust and the Mātātuhi Foundation.

Eileen MerrimanAuckland, Aotearoa New Zealand  has written three young adult novels, Pieces of YouCatch Me When You Fall and Invisibly Breathing, that have been finalists in the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults in 2018 and 2019, and all three are Storylines Notable Books. Her fourth young adult novel, A Trio of Sophies, was published in 2020 to huge critical praise and was also published in Germany. Her first adult novel, Moonlight Sonata, was released in July 2019, and was longlisted for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction 2020. She was awarded runner-up in the 2018 Sunday Star Times Short Story Competition, third place for three consecutive years in 2014-2016, and won second place in the Bath Flash Fiction award in 2015.

Juniper Ellis / Baltimore, Maryland, USA is Professor of English at Loyola University Maryland. She is the author of Tattooing the World: Pacific Designs in Print and Skin (Columbia University Press, 2008). Her articles have appeared in journals including PMLAMosaicArielArizona Quarterly, and Journal of Postcolonial Writing.  

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