Dr Molly Wittig is holding a mug of coffee as she explains a busy start to the day meant her morning caffeine fix had to wait.

Psyched-up over book fest

Dr Molly Wittig is holding a mug of coffee as she explains a busy start to the day meant her morning caffeine fix had to wait.

The midwinter sun filters through the windows at her comfortable Blenheim clinic room, a stack of well-thumbed papers and her latest read lay on her desk, a book she knows very well.

Molly will be at this year’s Marlborough Book Festival talking to award-winning journalist Naomi Arnold about the book she edited – Headlands – New Stories of Anxiety.

It was, Molly says, a fascinating read.

“She’s a very accomplished journalist. We spoke yesterday [Thursday]; she’s down some really cool things and is really driven and accomplished.

“The book is great for people to know that they’re not alone and maybe they can identify and think, wow, that’s what I’m going through.” She says.

A published fiction writer with a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Louisiana State University, Molly is the perfect choice to head-up this element of the festival.

Appearing on stage at the ASB theatre is making Molly slightly nervous. She prefers to think of it as a “chat about the book with friends”.

“The great thing about the festival is it feels like a group of friends who are all there because we love books and authors,” she says.

Featuring a collection of stories by 32 Kiwis from all walks of life sharing their personal experiences of anxiety, the book seeks to show what anxiety is.

Brave contributors share their stories in a way which is sometimes raw and confronting. But all want to see an end to the stigma surrounding mental health.

With steady number of people seeking her help, Molly, who runs the Wittig Clinic, says readers will be able to relate, or know someone who will.

“The big question is why she chose anxiety and how she got these people,” she says.

“It’s a diverse group of people who’ve been willing to do it. It’s like casting out a net and seeing what you catch.”

Born in New Orleans, Molly arrived in Marlborough permanently with her husband Alex, also a doctor, but of medicine, in 2014.

With a young family, a cat, a dog, a private practice and three chooks, it is little wonder that the day’s first cup of coffee sometimes falls by the wayside.

But Molly’s buzz is not caffeine induced; she’s excited about the festival. As a festival devotee and a writer, herself, there’s plenty to look forward to.

She co-wrote Guardians of Draconem, a magical realism book for middle graders aged 8-12 years-old.

Its follow-up is underway.

“It’s finding the time. It’s always roaming around in my head, it just a matter of picking up the threads again,” she says.

This will be my fourth festival. I just love it, the organisers always do such a professional job.

“I always try and pick the ones [shows] I really want to go as, sadly I can’t go to them all and then I’ll hear that someone else was really good,” she says.

One in four New Zealanders suffer from a diagnosed mood or anxiety issues.

Is the issue more prevalent than it once was? Probably not, says Molly, but people are more aware of what to look out for and when to seek help.

“A hundred years ago it wouldn’t have been diagnosed and just dealt with by the family, probably in the dark without anyone else finding out.

“It’s getting better though, it’s less taboo and less scary.

“The book brings out that there’s definitely a cultural disconnect with Māori people less likely to seek help than pākehā.

“In the States, going to therapy has become mainstream but there are still many who are reluctant to seek help.

“There is a dearth of help but it is improving,” she says.

Tickets to the event, at the ASB Theatre on Saturday 6 July from 2-3pm, are available from ASB Theatre or online via Ticketek.

Marborough Book Festival will be on from the 5-7 July.

For more further information visit marlboroughbookfestival.co.nz

Viral blogger booked into literary festival

She describes herself as a sleep deprived mum of two and is coming to Marlborough to share her latest work.

Successful Blogger and author Emile Writes has no qualms about sharing the highs and lows of parenting and is set to tell all as a guest at this year’s Marlborough Book Festival.

Her honest take on parenting saw her first blog on motherhood go viral and she has since published two books; Rants in the Dark and Is it Bedtime Yet?

The author says she is looking forward to her trip to Marlborough, especially as it’s home to her favourite wine.

“I can’t wait to come back.

“It’s also where my favourite wine is from so that’s another bonus.

“I am really excited about this festival. The best part about being included in a really great festival is that you get to see everyone else. “

With writing in her blood, Emily says having her two boys made her more aware of “cutting to the chase” when it comes to her work.

“I grew up around adults who always asked questions and kind of had roaring debates so it might be in my blood.

“Since having kids it has ramped up quite a bit because I feel so protective of them. I want a better world for them, and I want to cut to the chase and write about important stuff,” she says.

It was writing, she says that helped keep her sane after the birth of her youngest.

“I had a baby who didn’t sleep! Ever! Ever!

“My first book was written entirely between the hours of like midnight and 5am.

“I was just constantly awake nursing and trying to get the baby to sleep. I felt really isolated and lonely. And it’s not like at that time you can just ring a friend.

“So, I started writing just to stop myself going mad,” she says.

Now in its sixth year, the festival will hold some events in the ASB Theatre or the first time, as well as other venues across the region.

Emily will share the ups and downs of modern parenting with Jane Forrest Waghorn on Saturday 6 July.

She will also tackle a range of social issues in conversation with Naomi Arnold at Cloudy Bay Winery on 7 July.

Novelists, poets, bloggers, non-fiction writers, an historian, a songwriter feature among other guests.

Pip Adam, the winner of the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, and Kate Duignan, who has been shortlisted for the same award this year, will both put in appearances.

“I recommend that people don’t put off buying tickets,” says Sonia. “Last year many of the sessions sold out, which caught some people by surprise.”

Visit marlboroughbookfest.co.nz for further information.