It’s now a year exactly since my urologist told me I had an aggressive cancer that was incurable. I was rushed into hospital and thus began a year of chemotherapy, radiation and all the ups and downs of a sickness that arrived in my life with the noise and terror of an old fashioned train. During that time I wrote about my experience on my Iphone, on Facebook, and I received in return an explosion of aroha on that most cynical of mediums – the internet. There was advice, commentary, encouragement, accompaniment. The posts became the basis for ‘Hello Darkness’. I made something out of nothing – if near-death experiences can be said to be nothing. I learnt a lot. I am a different person to who I was then. And so a year passes and today I am grateful to be in good health. I no longer walk with a stick. I am gardening at the moment. The terrible pain of my last radiation vanishes in a glow of anticipation. So what is ‘Hello Darkness’ exactly? It’s really my record of a remarkable year in which I found I had incurable prostate cancer that had metastised in my bones. I wanted my posts to express the minutest aspect of what I was feeling, seeing, experiencing. “I am – for better or worse – ruthlessly observant.” There were highs – and lows. I felt remorse for some things I had done in life as I looked backwards. But I felt this strange, almost bewildering pleasure in being alive. I had this crazy optimism that kept me going each morning. The fact is I felt lucky to be alive. I think when you state a general truth, it had a startling effect. We live in such a fucked-up world, truth is like a prism falling into a vat full of crap and that single drop changes what it comes into contact with and things become crystal clear. Steve Braunias at The Spinoff posted my FB writings. The posts went viral. Then ‘Hello Darkness’ won the 2018 Media Voyager Award for best personal essay. ‘Wry, acute and confessional, but most of all wise.’ Was I wise? All I was doing was trying to tell my truth. ‘Hello Darkness’ is full of colour photos and is my lively letter to the future, written under the shade of death but always grasping towards what’s essential, true, real. That’s what this book is: my report on experience, my personal diary made public. My survival guide. My truth. This is a book for anyone who wonders how they will respond when the end is near.
Peter Wells is notable for his commitment to social change, whether writing one of the earliest pieces of gay fiction in which a NZ author published under his own name, or writing and directing the documentary 'The Mighty Civic' which helped stop the demolition of Auckland's Civic Theatre. In 1998, along with Stephanie Johnson, he founded the phenomenally successful Auckland Writers Festival. He is an award winning author and filmmaker and was awarded Member of the Order of New Zealand for services to film and literature.
Paperback / softback