On the 22 of February, in the early afternoon, the city of Christchurch, where I spent the first part of my life and began my writing career, was struck by a second serious earthquake, shatteringly energetic, which with a horrifying loss of life damaged or destroyed many of the elegant old buildings that defined this city of graceful neo-gothic stonework, broad avenues and gardens.
Although I no longer live in Christchurch, many of my stories are informed and inspired by its cityscapes and climate, the deep language of place and attitude that we take from long association.
If anything, a ghost is a collection of memories and attitudes; that is, a structure or a pattern resonant in time when the substance has passed. Cities, therefore, also have their ghosts, as architecture is embedded in space and history. The city is invoked in an outline of a door, the line of a window, a turn in a lane. Christchurch will be rebuilt, but the ghost of the city that was will remain, in the flash of sunlight on a window, in the line of a spire in the rain, in the angle of a branch and a carved lintel, in memory, irrevocably.