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Here's what Volunteer Jean McDowall is spending time in lockdown

How are you spending your time during lock-down?

I’m still working – long and hard! Every day I liaise with the Covid-19 response team at Treasury and I’m setting up systems and processes to cope with responding on behalf of the Minister to the hundreds and hundreds of letters that are received daily from members of the public.

Have you read any good books lately?

Despite working 10 – 14 hours per day presently, I am making time to read the four books I took out of the library just before lock-down happened. As I am constantly following New Zealand politics, I had a strong hunch that lock-down was going to happen before it did, so I had time to get to the library. I’m currently reading Necessary Angel by CK Stead – it’s set in Paris in a world of books and witty conversation. I read New Zealand authors and I’m very fond of psychological thrillers because they take me way-out of my very stressful everyday reality.

Have you listened to any good podcasts or music?

I don’t listen to podcasts, but I do listen to music particularly Music 101 on National Radio on Saturday afternoons.

Do you have a favourite author or genre at the moment?

Psychological Thrillers and Crime – at the moment. But that can change. My two favourite writers in these genres are Margaret Atwood and Ben Elton.

I’ve been reading Margaret Atwood for years and her book, The Heart Goes Last is a dystopian fiction about a Big Brother society in which people who join a utopian style sub society/cult kill “dissidents” with a lethal injection.

Ben Elton’s book Blind Faith is a chilling insight into what happens when everyone’s lives are put under the microscope on social media platforms.

If you could have your own Mad Hatters tea party, catered for by the Featherston Booktown Country Tea and Cakes volunteers, which writers would you invite and what would you most like to eat? (living and dead writers)

I would love to sit down with Jane Austen, Mary Wesley, Marion Keys, Sebastian Faulks, Hilary Mantel, Ben Elton and Margaret Atwood. We would eat club sandwiches and cucumber sandwiches, sausage rolls and chocolate eclairs.

In a perfect world who would you most like to hear speak at the next Featherston Booktown?

Peta Mathias and Margaret Atwood!

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