Writer Sandi Hall, longtime feminist and lesbian activist, talks with Anne Speir about her latest novel, a light-hearted magical realism tale titled Public Sex in Paekakariki.
Why this title?
Because sex is so public! People dancing/kissing say it, pregnant woman say it. In magazines, beautiful bodies invite thoughts of sex, and tv and film – crammed with it. But also because I wrote a play, Public Sex, which we put on in Paekakariki.
Are all the characters queer?
No. My stories reflect reality, where we queers are just part of the population.
So, is there lots of sex in the book?
Quite a bit, yes. It isn’t written as erotica, though.
Does sex sell?
Of course it does – it’s the one act of pleasure most humans want. Most of us are eternally curious about sex and eager to learn new things about it.
You describe Public Sex in Paekakariki as a ‘magical realism’ story. What is magical realism?
It’s a kind of writing which blends real people and places with fictional characters, and adds happenings which are beyond what we call reality. Paekakariki is a real place, of course, and has a rather magical atmosphere. I also mention, with their permission, several people who live there. At the heart of the story is a magical happening. By the time readers get to that, they will have become involved with the characters and therefore accept the magical happening as real.
Why did you set the story in Paekakariki?
Paekakariki will always be a village as it cannot get any bigger, bordered as it is by the sea, a railway line, a highway, then hills. So it has a rather timeless quality, which I deeply enjoyed when I lived there. The village itself is one of the characters.
Have any bookshops been interested in carrying it?
Yes – it’s at Unity Books, both in Auckland and Wellington, The Women’s Bookshop here in Auckland, Paper Plus in Ponsonby and Coastlands – and can be ordered through any bookshop.
Article | Anne Spear.