A Way With Words: A memoir of writing and publishing in New Zealand
From an early age, author and publisher Chris Maclean was told he had a way with words. This talent, which protected him from school bullies and made him a proficient debater, later became the focus of his professional life. Since the 1980s he has written a dozen non-fiction books, publishing many of them very successfully under his own imprint, The Whitcombe Press.
A Way with Words tells the stories behind those volumes, all of which had challenges and rewards as various as their subjects. In candid, accessible style, and through a fascinating range of illustrations, Maclean describes the stages of book creation, from the first germ of an idea to writing, design, printing and distribution. He shows, too, that making books is as much hard work and determination as inspiration, with luck always playing its part. And there are reflections on what has happened to books and publishing over four decades of rapid change – the impact of colour printing, the advent of computers and the more recent effects of the digital age.
A Way with Words is a celebration of a very New Zealand approach to writing and publishing. It will be of compelling interest and lasting delight to all those for whom books explain, entertain and provide meaning in a transient world.
Chris Maclean is a Wellington historian, writer, photographer and publisher, with a keen interest in the outdoors. He started tramping as a teenager in the 1960s, when a trip to the top of Ngauruhoe kindled an enduring enthusiasm that has underpinned a career as a writer and publisher. His tramping-related books include Tararua: The story of a mountain range (1994), John Pascoe (2003), Stag Spooner: Wild Man from the Bush (2012) and Tramping: A New Zealand History (2014).
Chris divides his time between Wellington and Waikanae, both places that have been the subjects of books: Kapiti, which won the Montana Book Award for History in 2000,Wellington: Telling Tales (2005) and Waikanae (2010).
Chris is the great-grandson of George Whitcombe, founder of Whitcombe & Tombs, and keeps the family tradition alive through his own publishing imprint, The Whitcombe Press. His latest book, A Way With Words, recalls the challenges and rewards of writing and publishing a dozen titles during the past four decades.