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Here's what Volunteer Nik Rilkoff is doing during lockdown

1. How are you spending your time during lock-down?

While MANY people in the country are using this time during lock down to read and watch things and catch up on housework, I’m not. The boring truth is that I have only managed to read about 7 pages of a book over the last two weeks, and it’s one I’ve been trying to finish for months. *A very funny read: I Built No Schools In Kenya (Kirsten Drysdale) – as a resident of Nairobi for 10 years, I recognise so many places and sentiments, it’s almost like a diary, although she is much more humourous than I am.

Although I could moan about not having time to read, actually, I am feeling grateful. My ‘self-employment’ is contract-based, with clients both here and overseas so during this lockdown I am busy having Skype meetings with people in Copenhagen, Dublin, Geneva, Bangkok, Jerusalem, Kiev, N'Djamena, Jakarta …etc etc which means I am literally OPEN ALL HOURS! And with absolutely nowhere to go, even a master procrastinator like myself has very few excuses for not getting stuff done.

2. If you could have your own Mad Hatters tea party, catered for by the Featherston Booktown Country Teas and Cakes volunteers, which writers would you invite and what would you most like to eat?

I would love to sit back with a cuppa and some homemade Anzac cookies (I am a “dipper”!) and have a chat with Caitlin Moran, Alexander McCall Smith and Trevor Noah. Each of these authors tackle big world issues, serious issues with humour and grace. Their big personalities would ensure the conversation is both insightful and funny.

3. What is your favourite genre?

I am really into historical non-fiction (although I am also regularly gripped by good historical fiction). I love reading biographies like The Bolter about Idina Sackville or adventures like Parisians by Graham Robb. I also have (way too many?) books about World War Two code breakers (Bletchley Park) and allied spies, especially women like Virginia Hall.

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

Our very own Eleanor Catton would be a dream to have here. We have a few things in common (a Canadian-Kiwi background and strong views!) but I truly think her books are legendary and she already “gives back” to literature in NZ through her teaching and by establishing the Lancewood/Horoeka Grant. I can’t wait for her next book

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