Iceland is Hoey’s first novel. It was conceived, and the first draft written, at the N.E.S Artist Residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland, in 2012, where Hoey (who is known by the stage name Tourettes) stayed for two months. Five years and many drafts later, the book is finished and about to be launched by Steele Roberts Aotearoa.
Set in the recent past of the central Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn, the book is told through the eyes of two protagonists: Zlata, a musician working in a dead-end office job and dreaming of escape; and Hamish, a graffiti artist and drug dealer who’s turning his hand to fine art. The two fall in love and float through romanticised versions of each other’s lives; surrounded by a makeshift family of friends and ex-lovers, their dreams of music, art and travel take shape. But, as quickly as things come together, they start to fall apart.
Hoey’s inspiration for the book came from a comment from his father about it being “the people and their memories that make up a place."
“It got me thinking about where I’d grown up and how, over the years, everyone was being forced out by real estate prices,” Hoey says. “It left many people living in a memory of a place that no longer existed. I think gentrification and its destruction of communities has a much more lasting effect than most people are willing to acknowledge and that poor people rarely get to have their stories told. I wanted to show that in theses areas that society looks down upon - graffiti, crime, Punk and Hip-Hop - there is a rich culture with its own moral code, values and beliefs. I wanted to make heroes out of people existing on the margins of Auckland’s neo-liberal nightmare”
Hoey, 39, is a poet, author, and musician based in Auckland. As Tourettes, he has released five critically acclaimed studio albums, two books of poetry and four short films. In a former life, he was an MC battle- and slam-poetry champion and he has performed his spoken-word poetry in Australia, Europe, England, Japan, and America.