Fans of the Auckland Writers Festival can still hear many of its big, international and local names in a new 2020 Winter Online Series, hosted by the University of Auckland’s Paula Morris.

Associate Professor Morris from the Faculty of Arts will be interviewing three writers, including at least two from the 2020 programme, in each session of the 13-week series.

She was delighted when the festival organisers approached her, as she was going to interview four writers at this year’s event anyway and was disappointed about the cancellation.

“It’s one of seven festivals or other writers’ events, here and overseas, that I was supposed to attend this year, and all have been cancelled, so I’m excited to be hosting this literary salon, and hope people make it a regular part of their Sunday mornings.”

First up in the 13-week series which started on Sunday 3 May, was Booker prize-winning author Bernadine Evaristo, New Zealand actor and writer Barbara Ewing and former Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard. After a chat with Dr Morris, each writer has a chance to read from their latest book and answer audience questions.

Other writers coming up in the series include: Ann Patchett, Neil Gaiman, Richard Ford, Elizabeth Knox, Robert Macfarlane, Philippe Sands, Lisa Taddeo, Chanel Miller, Freya Daly Sadgrove, Simon Armitage, Maggie O’Farrell, Deborah Eisenberg, Wallace Shawn, Anthony Byrt and Master of Creative Writing alumnae Caroline Barron and Amy McDaid, both of whom were to have books in this year’s festival.

Organisers say the series provides an opportunity to champion New Zealand and international books that were to feature at the now-cancelled May festival, and will include a bookseller link enabling viewers to order copies immediately.

The Winter Online Series will be streaming live and free-to-view on the Festival’s YouTube and Facebook channels, as well as being available for later viewing on the festival website.

People can tune in every Sunday at 9am with Auckland Facebook Live.

Paula Morris MNZM (NgÄti Wai, NgÄti Manuhiri, NgÄti Whatua) is a novelist, essayist and short story writer. She was the 2018 Mansfield Menton Fellow, in residence in France for the first half of 2019.