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A gripping affair

Described as a rip-roaring wartime romance with chilling danger unknown to most, The Rigel Affair is the true story of Mattie Blanc and her love for US Navy Diver Charlie Kincaid. Metropol talks to local author L M Hedrick about this epic novel.


When did you first become aware of Charlie Kincaid?
When I was a child. The war bought Charlie Kincaid to my mother’s doorstep and the war sent him away. No one understands how situations outside of their control changes peoples’ lives. My mother (Mattie) could never find an answer. She married my father, Syd, and I was their only child. Mattie would pull the box of Charlie’s 30 letters down from the top of a bedroom cabinet and tell me their story like she was crying out to be heard.

What was it about their relationship that moved you to write their story?
Mattie pined for her fiancé, Charlie. It was like two lost souls who had the same story in different worlds and a love that would never die.

Is Mattie still alive?
Sadly, both Mattie and Charlie were long-since deceased when we decided to write The Rigel Affair. It’s a work of fiction, based upon true events. When my husband, Bud, read Charlie’s 30 letters, he said, ‘You must write this story’. So, the project began. This is a story of dedication of one woman and one man whose love transcended the war. It was heartache not only for her but for Charlie – a heartache that spurred his endurance to stay alive and fight the most horrific war in history.

In reading Charlie’s letters, did you begin to see your mother differently?
My mother would show me Charlie’s letters, but never read them to me. Only when Bud saw the letters did we read them. I now have a much deeper understanding and appreciation of my mother’s love for Charlie Kincaid.

What do you hope readers will take from this novel?
Beginning our research, we discovered interesting, exciting events that had never really been properly told. It became a historical feeding frenzy! We hope readers will enjoy the Mattie and Charlie story, but equally important is their historical journey through exciting and true wartime events.

What’s next up for L M Hedrick?
We’re about 50,000 words into The Rigel Affair sequel and I have a crime novel ready for the final edit and formatting.

When did your love affair with writing begin?
From an early age. Being an only child, the world of make-believe filled my senses. When Bud and I decided to write The Rigel Affair, we both attended numerous creative writing classes at Auckland University in order to learn the craft. Bud’s five years in the US Coast Guard after university saw him working three years as Operations Officer on a buoy tender. This tender was 1940’s vintage, so Bud has intimate knowledge and experience to portray life aboard the USS Rigel.

The Rigel Affair is available and in hot demand at Piccadilly Books.


A guide to helping your mates

Got a mate who’s looking down, isn’t themselves, maybe gone a bit quiet? Want to help but aren’t sure how?

Site Safe has created a new pocket guide about how to have conversations about mental health which has great advice on looking after friends and colleagues.

Christchurch carpet and vinyl installer Paul Lynch lost his brother Brett to suicide in 2013.

It took him a while to shake off resulting anger and darkness that he felt, but he did, and he wrote the book Suicide; Aftermath & Beyond about it. He has made it his mission to help people in the trades talk about things that are getting them down, and he says the new guide is a top tool to do this.

“In my experience in about 99 times out of a hundred, all that’s required is a conversation. It’s that simple act of letting people talk or share something they might be going through.


Resolve to Read

The latest studies suggest that New Zealand adult and children’s reading levels are lower on an international level than ever before. The solution? Experts say we simply need to read more.



The stresses of the holidays have passed and we can celebrate a New Year with the personal resolutions to do something new with our lives and the time we spend unwinding.

Why not implement a daily reading regimen to keep yourself – and the kids – on track and off of the devices.

Our top picks – both old and new – will easily keep readers of all ages enthralled for hours on end.

    The latest offering from Jeff Kinney as an addition to his ever-popular series Diary of a Wimpy Kid comes in the form of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball.

    This hilarious tale has received glowing reviews as the Heffley family work on renovating their home after receiving an inheritance.

    Greg goes through a series of hilarious circumstances as they transition through a journey that includes the entire family.

    It is available from Piccadilly Bookshop, which has a new store at The Crossing.

    Local author Felicity M. Williams’ Ringlet and the Day the Oceans Stopped tells the tale of an ocean-dwelling mergirl and the fish and seafolk she lives amongst.

    Ringlet and the Day the Oceans Stopped is available locally at Scorpio Books and The Children’s Bookshop’s online store.

  2.  A CLASSIC:
    At Piccadilly Bookshop and The Clocks Bookshop you’ll find The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a classic read fit for adult readers.

    This American classic set in the roaring 20s in New York features the famed character Jay Gatsby in all of his glory.

    However, through time and circumstance it is revealed that everything that glitters isn’t always golden.

    For all of you Lee Child fans, Blue Moon is the latest instalment in the series that will leave all readers on the edge of their seats with a tale full of corruption and crime that only Lee Child can bring and an unseen plot twist that most modern books lack. Available from Piccadilly Bookshop.

    Vegful by Nadia Lim will keep anyone who has resolved to be healthy and food conscious on the veggie-filled path.

    This book is packed full of recipes that will inspire your cooking and enhance the vegetable offerings on your plate.

    The food imagery and details will surely have your 2020 menu looking very bright, balanced and colourful.

    What better way is there to start of a New Year and new you? Get it now from Piccadilly Bookshop and The Clocks Bookshop.

  4. FUN:
    Guinness World Records 2020 is a great family book that will keep you entertained for the entire year.

    This annual offering is the ultimate guide to record-breaking facts that are sure to impress readers of all ages.

    Since its initial release in 1955, the book has boasted both human achievements and extremes of the natural world. Get your copy from Piccadilly Bookshop