I’m delighted to welcome New Zealand author and member of the Bluestocking Belles JUDE KNIGHT to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.
Thank you, Carol. It’s a thrill to be here with you today.
Could you tell us where you were born and what it was like growing up there?
I was born in Wanganui, which is a town in New Zealand’s North Island. My father’s parents lived there all their lives, and when my father needed to move from Auckland in the north to Wellington in the south for a new job, my heavily pregnant mother brought her toddler and came to stay with her in-laws. I was born nearly three weeks overdue on one of my father’s fortnightly visits, and my grandmother was apparently never told about the castor oil or the motor bike ride.
I grew up in Wellington during a magical time to be a middle-class New Zealander: the 50s and early 60s. I remember ice on the puddles in the winter, and hot summer holidays that stretched from just before Christmas into infinity. In those days, we ran more or less wild through the country-side, taking off with a packed lunch as soon as we’d done our chores, and returning tired, dirty, and content in time for tea.
Me, aged around 4, with and my doll Margaret
Me with my brothers and sister. I’m the kid on the right with the plaits and the large fish.
How would you describe yourself – temperamental or easy-going?
I would describe myself as temperamental, and others would describe me as easy going. I have a volatile temper that I have learned to keep to myself. I flare up easily, but calm down just as quickly and have no idea how to bear a grudge. Experience has taught me that getting annoyed about things seldom changes them, so I generally don’t bother.
I am known for staying calm in a crisis, which is utter nonsense. But no one can read my mind, and if it makes them feel better to think I’m calm then I’m okay with that.
When it comes to food do you like sweet or savoury or both?
My sweet tooth is my downfall. I’ve never met a dark chocolate I didn’t like, and jelly lollies magically evaporate in my vicinity.
What is your most treasured possession?
I found this a hard question. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a few things I’m fond of, but I’d give them up in a heartbeat if it would help one of the people I love. Photos? Keepsakes that the children made me when they were little? The mahogany coffee table we bought for $40 that has travelled the length and breadth of the country with us, and which has carried dozens of children’s birthday lunches and hundreds of colouring-in sessions, board games, and tea parties?
Once I’d thought about it, though, it came down to my wedding ring, and the locket that my personal romantic hero gave me as a wedding present. I’ve received most of my jewellery as gifts, but these mean the most—because of who gave them to me and what they symbolise.
The locket has a picture of my personal romantic hero inside, and on the back it is engraved “Bob – Judy. Together today, tomorrow, always.”
If you were able to afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?
This changes depending on what I’m writing. Last year, I wanted to live in a stone cottage in a Cotswold village, and at the moment I’d love a narrowboat on England’s canals. But such dreams aside, I think I would choose a second home somewhere in New Zealand that would be easily accessible for my daughters and their husbands, so that they could spend holidays with me there, and I could see all of the grandchildren playing together.
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?
Nothing has ever topped the time when I was 11. I still cringe on behalf of that poor little girl.
I am naturally shy, and my reaction in new situations is to do nothing and say nothing. My very first time in a hotel was on a school trip to Christchurch. We arrived late—straight from the ferry to a bus to the hotel, where we were told to sit at the table and drink a hot chocolate before bed.
Surrounded by strangers—even the teachers on duty were not my teachers—I was too nervous to ask where the toilets were. I sat, and I sat, and I sat. And after a while, someone noticed that I had not drunk my chocolate. Commanded to drink, I drank. And nature took its course.
After that experience, things could only get better, right?
Thank you for taking time out to be here today and sharing these interesting facts about yourself, Jude.
Thank you, Carol. You had some tough questions in there. You really had me thinking!
If you would like to find out more about Jude and her books, here are the links: