Friday, April 03, 2009


This week sees the launch of debut novels from two talented young Auckland-based women writers both of whom have strong book trade links.
Michele Powles who heads up the NZ Book of the Month organization had her novel, Weathered Bones, launched last evening (blog report to follow) while today talented book designer Sarah Laing celebrates publication of her novel, Dead People’s Music.

Both of these handsome books have started with high praise. I heard leading bookseller Carole Beau enthusing about Dead People’s Music to Kathryn Ryan on Radio New Zealand yesterday even suggesting at this early stage in the year that it was her pick to win the Best First Novel Award in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards next year, while esteemed author Fiona Kidman said of Weathered Bones, “This is a spine-shivering territory, the haunted past reaching out to touch the present, and turn it on its head. A book full of “real” women from an exciting new writer”.

I got to thinking about the numbers of first novels written by New Zealand women that have appeared over the last few years so I contacted four publishers and asked them for the names of those they had published.

Fergus Barrowman of Victoria University Press sent in the following:

Eleanor Catton THE REHEARSAL 2008
Bridget van der Zijpp MISCONDUCT 2008
Susan Pearce ACTS OF LOVE 2007
Forthcoming in May is Anna Taylor's book of stories, but I'm picking her as ultimately a
novelist too. RELIEF 2009

And from Geoff Walker at Penguin:

Vanda Symon: Overkill (2007), The Ringmaster (2008)
Linda Olsson: Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs (2005), Sonata For Miriam (2008)
Ruth Pettis: The First Touch of Light (2009)
Maxine Alterio: Ribbons of Grace (2007)
Paddy Richardson, A Year to Learn a Woman (2008)
Michelle Powles: Weathered Bones (2009)
Mary McCallum: The Blue (2008)

Harriet Allan at Random House supplied this list:

2009: · Sarah Laing - (first novel, Dead People’s Music, publishing today, her first book – a collection of short stories, Coming Up Roses – was published in 2007
· Dorothy Fowler, first novel What Remains Behind? To be published in July
2008: · Louise Moulin, Saltskin
· Sue Orr first book, Etiquette for a Dinner Party, ( a collection of short stories)
· Jackie Ballantyne, How to Stop a Heart from Beating
· Rachael King, Sound of Butterflies

And Lorrain Day at Harper Collins said:

Elinor Gill - her first book was In the Shadow of Trees 2006 followed by Miriam’s Talisman 2007, The Moon Spun Round 2008 and about to release Dreams of Origami 2009
Kate Langdon with That Slippery Slope 2004 followed by Famous 2005 and Making Lemonade 2007
Dawn Rotarangi - Ripples on the Lake 2007
Michelle Holman - Bonkers 2007, followed by Divine 2008, and later this year Knotted 2009
Lindy Kelly - Bold Blood – straight to number one! 2009
Denise Muir - Chandlers Run 2008

Perhaps it is my imagination but we seem to have many more women writers in New Zealand than men?!
Also just published is Nicky Pellegrino’s third novel, The Italian Wedding, (Orion),which I am reviewing on Radio New Zealand later in the month so cannot say anything about it yet; last month Random House published a sumptuous new edition of Shona Koea’s acclaimed 1994 novel, Sing to Me, Dreamer, (I loved this) and next week Hachette release Barbara Ewing’s latest, The Fraud.

There are probably more being or about to be published too, these last three are just the titles I have on my desk right now.

The of course there is Kate De Goldi’s novel: The Ten PM Question - on the Bestseller list for over 26 weeks .


LiteraryMinded said...

Both these books sound very appealing to me. Do you know if they're to be published in Australia? Would love to know a bit more about the storylines.

And how wonderful that NZ has so many fantastic female authors continualy being published. Quite different to Australia, I think, where male authors still domainte many of the prize lists, and publishing in general. I've been talking to a few friends lately and have found most of us have read many more male Aussie authors than female ones. My faves are Gail Jones, Helen Garner and YA author Simmone Howell.

Vanda Symon said...

Thanks for the continuing support you give to New Zealand writers, Bookman Beattie - we're all hugely appreciative of your efforts!

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