On Tuesday lunchtime Unity Books hosted a conversation between two first time novelists Rhydian Thomas and Dominic Hoey about politics, fiction writing and their roots in the underground music scene. The event kicked off with a couple of readings and went on to a discussion of class, privatisation and neoliberalism – Rhydian through the lens of a dystopian satire about the dairy and prison industry and Dominic through a modern day love story set in Auckland. Dominic talked about the increasing gentrification of Auckland and mentioned one of his earliest flats which was an ex-dog kennel where he developed scurvy, although both of the speakers agreed that Auckland was easier to visit now because they got punched in the face less often. Both authors were poets before putting out a novel and they talked about the reason for the shift, with Rhydian saying that he wanted to put out a novel because poetry was only ever read by other poets and therefore wasn’t very useful as a tool for social criticism. Dominic also talked about his reluctance to publish in literary journals and how he was trying to step away from his music career, but both acknowledged the important effect their early experiences with DIY publishing, punk and performance poetry had on their current work. Rhydian described writing the idea for his book as wanting to take the current political landscape and push it to its most extreme narrative conclusion and cited the work of Will Self and Julian Barnes as influences. Dominic talked about reading Peter Carey and Annie Proulx. They talked about the insidious influence of neoliberalism and NZ’s reluctance to talk about issues of class, both mentioning they wanted to use their books to explore ideas of how wider political ideologies influence people’s personal lives and relationships. Dominic has sent some copies of Iceland to Iceland, where he wrote some of the first draft of his book and Rhydian has sent some back to Wales, where he was born and where he also wrote some of his first draft. A lot of things were said, some of them too controversial to memorialize on the internet, which is why everyone should come & see our live events in person so as not to miss the juicy bits. It was a fun and stimulating talk and exciting to see such a diverse all-ages crowd coming out to support two new NZ novelists.