An interview with Helen Tau-Au Filisi
Helen decided back in high school that she wanted to be a writer. Her chance came in 1990 when, after completing her first Masters, she attended Albert Wendt’s creative writing class. She has since gone on to self-publish four bilingual (English/Samoan) picture books of ancient Samoan stories that she also illustrated, along with three plays and a collection of poetry. She currently has a novel series and collection of short stories in the pipeline.
Because hers is a niche market she knew that if she kept waiting for a traditional publisher to pick her up, her work might never see the light of day. It was something she couldn’t let happen. Now that she’s chosen this method of publishing, she loves the creative freedom it gives her, allowing her to be in full control every step of the way. The only disadvantage to this route for Helen is the marketing side of things and the need to constantly promote the books. This is one reason she’s exhibiting at the NZ Book Festival.
Helen’s ambition is to write full-time; travelling to talk with interested audiences about why she likes telling her stories using both words and art. As a teacher she thought it important for her students to perform in authentic South Auckland productions, having to write the plays herself in order to do so. She also wants to leave a legacy for her own children and other young people who may be inspired or encouraged by her stories and paintings.
Constantly challenging herself, Helen’s paintings are becoming more detailed all the time. She also likes the challenge of producing books in different genres each year, adding to those she’s already completed.