Interviews
April 16, 2019 posted by John Duke

Susan Waugh

Susan Waugh

On Susan’s bookshelves Moomintrolls rub shoulders with Badger and Mole and there are many dark corners in Gormenghast left to explore. Please join us 6-7:30pm Thursday 9th May to celebrate the launch of 100 Natural History Treasures of Te Papa edited by Susan Waugh (Te Papa Press).


ABOUT THE BOOK

Since the Colonial Museum opened in 1865 and the first director, Sir James Hector, began collecting items of geological and natural history significance, the collections of New Zealand’s national museum have become enormously significant – not to mention enormous. The objects housed by the Museum range from fossilised bones of the extinct Haast’s Eagle and specimens collected by Joseph Banks on Cook’s first voyage to deep sea-dwelling fishes and a plethora of insects. In this fascinating book Te Papa’s science team of experts showcase 100 collection objects that demonstrate the breadth and depth of the collection and the museum’s important ongoing research. Te Papa’s expert curators and collections managers tell the fascinating stories of everything from the colossal squid to the flaming flagfins and from sea spiders to beaver fleas.

ABOUT THE EDITOR

Dr Susan Waugh manages the science and natural history programme for the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Her personal field of expertise is in seabird population ecology, and she has research experience in petrel and albatross foraging, population estimation and fisheries by-catch management.


WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING AND HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THE BOOK(S)?

The Hidden Life of Trees – I found it at Unity books but I think I’d heard of it somewhere in the last year or two … maybe in a nature/science podcast. Anyway I’m loving it. Partly because it’s got very succinct chapters: three to four pages long. One idea per chapter. I can get through one before falling asleep

WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WRITERS AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THEM?

Arthur Conan Doyle, Tim Flannery. Jane Austen! I like how they transport me to another place. They’re all kinda intense, and more plotty than character.

WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE?

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATION?

Orlando with Tilda Swinton

WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU RE-READ THE MOST AND WHY?

Toss up between The Wind in the Willows and various of the Moomintroll series by Tove Jansson. I love their slightly eerie feel, and while there is real menace in some of the stories (Comet, Midwinter or the Wild Wood) somehow Grahame and Jansson each manage to create a wonderful feeling of compassion for all the characters, as if you can love them into goodness. Even the Groke – although she’d freeze you to death with her icy vastness if you let her get near you.

 WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY CHARACTER?

Little My in Moomintroll. I aspire to being as irreverent and irrepressible as her, on a daily basis.

WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN MEANING TO READ BUT STILL HAVEN’T GOTTEN AROUND TO?

Gormenghast. I read about half of it when I was at university and got distracted …

 WHICH THREE WRITERS WOULD YOU HAVE OVER FOR DINNER?

None – they’re all too formidable and introverted. It would make for terrible conversation.

WHAT WOULD YOU COOK THEM?

Spaghetti on toast.

HOW ARE YOUR BOOKS SHELVED AND ORGANISED AT HOME?

By topic. A slightly organic sort of Library of Congress system, without any numbering! And by size within that.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY QUOTE?

 “The badger fetched them dressing-gowns and slippers, and himself bathed the mole’s shin in warm water and mended the cut with sticking-plaster till the whole thing was good as new.” (Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows).

 

 

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