Amanda Giorgis

Family tree

The trouble with writing about the Victorian era is that they had so many babies!!

Sometimes it helps to have a diagram, and even I lose track of all those names, even though I have invented all the characters and know them very well indeed. What better than a family tree for keeping track?

If you’ve read book 1, The Wideawake Hat, you will recognise most of these people, but there are a few edits and additions in book 2, Shepherd’s Delight.

(Spoiler alert for those of you yet to read Shepherd’s Delight – and, if not, why not?)

By the time we get to book 3, The Cedar Trees, who knows? Will Nancy have more babies, more twins perhaps? Will there be another baby Mackenzie? And will Samuel find a new love to match that of his beloved Carrie? Will Guy Pender find a woman (or a man) to love? Will Hither House be filled once more with the sound of children?

PS – You may wonder how an author chooses names. In my case I dip into my own family tree to pick names of ancestors from the period.

Christmas at Hither House


Christmas 1861 – an excerpt from “Shepherd’s Delight” :-

The throng of guests mingled and mixed in the entrance hall of Hither House, although the room was somewhat restricted by the huge fir tree taking up a large piece of the space next to the grand staircase. Samuel had joined Noah and Dorcas Paget in adding ribbons and baubles to it the previous evening. The Christmas tree was a new idea to Samuel, and one that he determined to take back to Applecross. Back in England they would add candles, lit to shine into the dark evenings, but it seemed pointless to do so here with daylight lasting until it was time for bed.

The decorated tree was certainly admired by everyone. Under it there were parcels to be given out after luncheon. Most of the visitors carried their own parcels, which were added to the growing pile. The visitors had been asked to bring a gift for a child, marked male or female, to be distributed to the poor on the following day. James had found a wooden toy soldier for a boy, and Samuel, with little time to find a gift, had sacrificed a small brooch that he had bought for Betsy Franks. He hoped a small girl would like to wear it, although he wondered if she would perhaps prefer something to eat. He had some other small gifts in his bag, which he was sure Betsy Franks would like instead.

The servants were passing amongst the guests with silver trays of cool drinks while the children gathered on the stair, and under the direction of William Barber, broke into ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman’. Samuel noticed Noah Paget put a hand on his wife’s shoulder as she wiped away a tear with a tiny white handkerchief. He had wondered whether they had children to fill this big house, but something told him that there was a sad story to be told there.

As the last verse came to a halt, the guests broke into a round of applause and Noah joined the singers on the stairs. “Welcome all to our house. And a Merry Christmas to you all,” he shouted loudly over the clapping. “Now, come, eat, and celebrate with us,” he added, with a wave of his arms in the direction of the dining hall. 

Shop local


I’m quite proud of myself. This year I have done every bit of my Christmas shopping locally. No trips to malls, no online purchases. It has been a pleasure to hunt for suitable items in the smaller shops where the person behind the counter has time to chat, time to help me choose, and in some cases has beautifully gift wrapped my purchases as well.

I could mention a few shops in Rangiora and Oxford, but I’m going to give a special plug to my new favourite shop, Emma’s at Oxford– and not only because you will find The Wideawake Hat and Shepherd’s Delight on the bookshelves, alongside a temptingly gorgeous array of other books, clothes and gifts.

If you ever get the chance, go to Oxford. Get a coffee at Cafe51 and then walk just next door to meet Emma and her team in the happy place that is her shop.


NZ Bird of the Year


Things are hotting up in this year’s NZ Bird of the Year competition. We even got a mention in the UK Guardian yesterday. And, as usual, controversy rages over intervention from the Aussies (no surprises there, mate) and rigged voting.

At this stage it is nip and tuck between the Hoiho (Yellow Eyed Penguin) and the Kakapo at the top. Believe me, there is something very special about seeing a yellow eyed penguin coming out of the surf and climbing up into the dunes to feed his family. But then who can fail to adore our one and only smelly, sex-driven ground dwelling parrot?

Due to popular demand that ‘choosing only one bird is too hard’, this year we have gone to the Single Transferable Votes system and can select our top 5 birds. But even that is too hard. How can you leave out the Lightly Mantled Sooty Albatross or the Spotless Crake or the Otago Shag or the Chatham Island Mollymawk?

Me? Oh my top vote was for a bird that most people think is extinct, the South Island Kokako. But only yesterday there was another report of his song being heard in the bush. Sometime soon someone will snap a photograph of this beauty!

Go vote – do it now!!!

Voting closes at 5pm on Sunday 10th November.

Going global

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Here at Applecross Headquarters we have been busy lately putting pins in our world map. Because of a promotion on Kobo the ebook version of The Wideawake Hat has been downloaded in 18 countries in the last week.

So we say ‘welcome’ to our new readers in Canada, USA, Mexico, UK, Ireland, Spain, France, Sweden, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Nigeria, South Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong, Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.

Please do get in touch, and don’t forget that the 2nd book in the Applecross series, Shepherd’s Delight, is available from Kobo too.

Looking good together


Book 2, Shepherd’s Delight, looking pretty good next to The Wideawake Hat on the bookshelf.

Plenty of room for the rest of the series to fit!

Kate Sheppard


On 19 September 1893, 126 years ago today,  women in New Zealand gained the right to vote, thanks to the efforts of Kate Sheppard and her friends. The Christchurch house in which she lived has been bought by the government to be ‘a public educational space focusing on New Zealand women and social change.’

Kate Sheppard’s House

It was in this house that a petition signed by 25,520 women was pasted together to form a roll of paper more than 270m long which was presented to parliament by the suffragists.

Heather, Adey Rose and Caroline will be in their 30s by 1893. Hmm, maybe these feisty girls from Applecross and Combe will be out there with their placards in, shall we say book 5…..?