Why New Zealand author Nicky Pellegrino created the Book Bubble during lockdown

NZ Author and journalist Nicky Pellegrino says New Zealanders are craving new reading material.


Nicky Pellegrino is an author to 12 novels, but her new podcast Book Bubble  (listen above) is her first foray into podcasting. She created the book bubble podcast, with fellow author Stacey Gregg, as a way of supporting New Zealand authors, publishers and bookshops. She chats with Emma Rawson about podcasting, New Zealand books, Italy during Covid-19 and mayonnaise.

What prompted you and Stacey Gregg to start your new podcast Book Bubble?

When you read a good book you want to tell everyone about it, right? And authors tend to be interesting people to chat to. But our timing was linked to the Covid-19 lockdown. At level 4, books were judged non-essential which was really tough for bookstores and publishers, as well as those writers who had just launched new titles. We knew even once we emerged, the whole landscape would have changed – festivals big and small have been cancelled, magazines have closed – and wanted to do something to help support authors and share our love of reading. 

Production of books and magazines ceased during New Zealand’s lockdown period. Do you think New Zealand is hankering for some new reading material?

I think New Zealanders want movies, magazines, TV shows, books and music that tell our stories. We love international stuff too, but we have our own identity and culture and it’s important to see that reflected in our reading, listening and watching material. 

Why did you choose Brandy Scott as your first interview subject for Book Bubble?

Partly because I loved her debut novel, Not Bad People, and she’s sold the TV rights, so there is a bit of buzz around her. But also because she’s a radio host so knows what she’s doing behind a microphone and I knew we’d learn from her – which we have!

In your first episode you talk to Brandy about how the lockdown has affected her creatively. Have you noticed that the lockdown has affected your own fiction writing?

I think it’s been more difficult to concentrate. Like everyone, I’ve been feeling anxious and that tends to scatter the thoughts. But once I managed to pull myself together and concentrate, I’ve found fiction writing a helpful thing to do. During level 4 I got about a quarter of the way through the first draft of what will be a happy, hopeful novel, because happy and hopeful was what I needed. 



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How is life in your own lockdown bubble?

It’s just me, my husband Carne and German shorthaired pointer dog Lucy. We’re lucky that we have a garden and deck so have been able to get out into the sunshine easily. I’ve had some dark times worrying about family overseas, but also some fun ones having Zoom drinks with friends who, when life is more normal, I never seem to connect with enough.

We hear you’ve been eating a lot of mayonnaise! 

For breakfast on toast with butter and tomato. For lunch in a salad dressing. Spread on a cracker for an emergency snack. It’s an actual food group!


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Wildly excited to have had an outing on my knee scooter. It’s a life changing bit of kit! #brokenbones

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You recently had a leg injury. What was the most surprising thing about the experience of being injured?

How easily I got used to my husband delivering my morning flat white in bed, cooking all the meals, and doing the housework. I may never go back. 

Your next fiction book, Tiny Pieces of Us, has been delayed for release until June 30. Can you give us a tease about what this book is about?

It’s grittier and more emotional than my previous books. The story is about a young woman called Vivi who’s had a heart transplant and what happens when Grace, the mother of her donor, asks her to find all the other people who received tiny pieces of her son. 

A lot of your fiction books are set in Italy, and you have Italian heritage. How did you feel watching all the news stories about Covid-19 and Italy?

It was devastating, but I was heartened by the spirit of the Italian people – all that singing and banging of saucepans on their balconies – and thankfully all my family and friends there are fine so far.

When can we expect the next Book Bubble? 

A new one will air in the Reading Room section of Newsroom.co.nz every Monday morning for the next 9 weeks. And hopefully we’ll be up on all the podcast platforms like Itunes very soon.

#BookBubble is made with the support of Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa



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