Oct. 3, 2016
New Zealand author Paul W Feenstra has made Levin’s Te Takere his temporary writing home ahead of his book signing launch next month.
New Zealand author Paul Feenstra could turn New Zealand history, as we think we know it, on its head.
Feenstra has spent the last five years unearthing little-known historical facts about the country while researching information for his four historical novels .
It’s information Feenstra will be sharing at his book launch and talk next month at Te Takere, which became the author’s temporary writing home for the last four months, working on his fifth novel.
Feenstra has come to writing later in life after a stellar career in the entertainment industry, primarily Hollywood, where he has worked on numerous videos, music albums, TV programmes, documentaries, commercials and films earning him two Emmy nominations for sound mixing.
He has worked on “amazing projects” and met his fair share of stars, including singer Julio Iglasias, the late, great boxer Muhammad Ali and actor Viggo Mortensen (Lord of the Rings).
Feenstra moved back to live in Wellington about six years ago but then spent seven months soon after, recuperating following a ruptured Achilles tendon that proved to be the catalyst to start writing.
The question was what to write about, and the answer came while out walking.
Feenstra spotted a sign across a driveway that said ‘no admittance by order of the commandant of the Defense Force’.
“It was just saying ‘come and check it out’ so I did and discovered a battlement, a military defense instalment.”
During his research into the old battlement, Feenstra discovered it was built in 1885 to keep the Russians out.
“New Zealand feared a Russian invasion. I discovered the Russian Navy had plans to invade Australia and New Zealand.”
The idea for Feenstra’s first novel, For Want of a Shilling was born. Proud of his meticulous research, Feenstra sent his completed manuscript to a publisher who wrote back warning him he needed to be “truthful”, that no one would believe him about the intended Russian invasion.
Feenstra said he has unearthed many disturbing anomalies during his research of original documents, old letters, early newspapers and archives that made him question accepted New Zealand historical facts.
It led to book number two, Boundary.
“It’s fiction, my interpretation of what could more logically have happened. The strangest things that happened are true,” said Feenstra.
While new facts thrown up through other avenues of research have meant complete changes to some planned story outlines, “things just fell into my lap” while researching for Boundary.
“I thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if this happened’ and I would find it during my research but it would be more dramatic than I could have imagined.
“Boundary is controversial but I stand by the research.”
Boundary is available to buy. Feenstra will be launching the prequel to For Want of a Shilling – The Breathe of God , set in Taranaki – at Te Takere next month.
For Want of a Shilling and his fourth book Tied to Mae based on early Chinese settlers in Wellington will be published in November.
Feenstra has been house-sitting for his parents who live in Levin, which is how he came to be semi-resident at Te Takere writing his fifth novel, an historical novel about the origins of World War I, entitled Into the Shade, which he is half-way through already.
He’s looking for those little known facts, the untold history that he can make compelling and entertaining.
Feenstra will head to Taranaki after Levin for another book launch and signing before flying back to the USA to promote his novels.
You can catch Paul Feenstra talking about his life and novels at Te Takere on Wednesday October 12, 10.30am. He will be available for book signings and questions afterwards.