Author Interview: Vogel Award-Winning Kura Carpenter!

The Sir Julius Vogel Awards are New Zealand’s annual celebration of home-grown science fiction and fantasy, with awards covering books, dramatic presentations, fan publications and more. One of the most competitive categories is Best New Talent, and this year’s winner was Dunedin-based author Kura Carpenter!

Kura’s debut novel, The Kingfisher’s Debt, tells the story of Tamsin Fairchild, a translator who must team up with rookie cop Scott Gale to investigate the disappearance of a newborn baby. But this is no ordinary crime: beneath familiar New Zealand locations is a world rich in danger–and magic. Vogel Award judges described The Kingfisher’s Debt as “very cleverly set in an urban fantasy world overlaying (or underlying, depending on your perspective) Dunedin, New Zealand. The writing is crisp, the plot excellently designed and executed.”

We contacted Kura to discuss her writing process, the Vogel Awards and what it’s like to be a fantasy writer in New Zealand. For more on her writing check out her website, and for the full Sir Julius Vogel Awards list, click here. Enjoy!

You’ve described The Kingfisher’s Debt as urban fantasy–a genre combining both fantasy and mystery. How did elements of these two genres complement each other in the shaping of the story?

My story follows a typical mystery structure–crime discovered, investigation, clues revealed, case solved–but the world it’s set in is an alternative New Zealand where magic exists, but most regular people don’t encounter it, in much the same way that you don’t know anything about crime unless it directly touches your life.

The crime in my story is connected to the people who deal in magic, I guess maybe that’s what you mean by shape. The mystery and magic are interconnected. Without the magic, there would be no desire to try and steal it.

Reviews of The Kingfisher’s Debt have praised your descriptions of real-life locations–Dunedin’s midwinter darkness and the “80s kitsch of St Clair”. Were there many challenges in bringing this familiar world to the page?

None. Although I was going for a 90s vibe, so I guess I failed.

There has also been a lot of positive feedback about the characters in The Kingfisher’s Debt–their grittiness, unusualness and dialogue. How did the character of Tamsin–and her excellent first person perspective–come about?

She just popped into my head and I wrote down what she said.

I’m an introvert, I feel awkward meeting people, so I talk to myself all the time, practice conversations, that kind of thing. It’s probably the only benefit of anxiety, all the internal practice improves ones writing ability to capture ‘voice’.

Was it difficult to create a story with both past and present timelines? Was there much planning or re-drafting required with this?

No. I don’t plan, I’m a pantser, an intuitive writer, (which often surprises people who assume I must be a strict outliner). I’m just fortunate to have better than normal intuition for pattern and structure.

I’d come across the zipper-structure (alternating timelines) when reading a novel years ago, and after I’d written my first draft I realised that’s what I’d inadvertently created, it just needed some shuffling of scenes to get the timeline straight and make sure the subtext was as I wanted.

It’s always exciting to have a story that includes a library! You’ve previously worked in Dunedin City Library–what was it that drew you to the library as one of the locations in The Kingfisher’s Debt?

Yes. I’m lazy. It was the easiest thing to do, use locations I’m familiar with.

How do you feel about the fantasy writing scene in New Zealand at the moment? How do you think it might develop in the future, especially with WorldCon taking place in New Zealand next year?

That’s a hard one. On the one hand adult-reading level fantasy has been all but deserted by New Zealand’s traditional publishers, not for lack of talent, but because it’s simply not profitable. Talent wise I think the scene is stronger than it ever was. With the rise of self and indie publishing, has come a lot of opportunity.

While in many fields New Zealand punches above its weight internationally, for example film, sport, and even our P.M. is beloved globally, however when it comes to fantasy writing, we haven’t managed to carve out a spot beyond our borders.

Other New Zealand writers who write realist fiction consider what I write to be commercial and appealing to the masses, but because I’m not writing American or U.K. stories my story is actually non-commercial, it only has local appeal. WorldCon will shine a spotlight on us briefly, but the trouble ultimately remains that we’re a small market for telling our own stories, our own brand of fantasy. If we’re going to develop in the future then we must become leaders and not just followers.

Dublin Noir: New Mystery Fiction

What exactly makes a murderer? What leads to the decision to kill? These are the questions Irish author Olivia Kiernan considered when writing the second book in her Frankie Sheehan series, The Killer in Me. The Financial Times has called The Killer in Me fresh, tense and gruesome, while the Wall Street Journal described it as a “captivating new thriller.” Now you, too, can discover why it just might be one of the best police procedural stories this year.

Also new to Wellington City Libraries this month: the latest works from Christi Daugherty, S.C. Perkins and Scottish author (and founder of the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival) Alex Gray. Enjoy!

Only the dead can tell / Gray, Alex
“When Dorothy Guildford is found stabbed to death in her home, all signs point to her husband, Peter. The forensic psychologist is convinced there’s more to the case than meets the eye but Police Scotland are certain they have their man. While DC Kirsty Wilson searches for evidence that will put Peter away for good, she is shocked to discover a link to a vast human-trafficking operation . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

The killer in me / Kiernan, Olivia
“Murder convict Sean Hennessy is released from prison to return to a seaside community in Dublin. He has always professed his innocence. But within months of his release, two bodies appear in the peaceful suburb of Clontarf. With a TV documentary pushing the public’s sympathies in Hennessy’s direction, the original evidence against him is called into question and Detective Frankie Sheehan finds herself doubting her original analysis of the case.” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

Murder once removed / Perkins, S. C.
“According to her friends, Lucy Lancaster, Austin, Texas genealogist, has never been drunk. Tipsy, sure, but drunk? No way. So when she arrives back at her office from a three-martini lunch a few sheets to the wind, it’s a notable occasion. Even more momentous is what her client, Austin billionaire Gus Halloran, has announced on live television with a blotto Lucy standing at his side: Texas senator Caleb Applewhite might be responsible for the murder of Seth Halloran.” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

A dangerous collaboration / Raybourn, Deanna
“Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell is whisked off to a remote island off the tip of Cornwall when her natural historian colleague Stoker’s brother calls in a favour. On the pretext of wanting a companion to accompany him to Lord Malcolm Romilly’s house party, Tiberius persuades Veronica to pose as his fiancée–much to Stoker’s chagrin. But upon arriving, it becomes clear that the party is not as innocent as it had seemed.” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

A beautiful corpse / Daugherty, Christi
“With its antebellum houses and ancient oak trees draped in a veil of Spanish moss, Savannah’s graceful downtown is famous around the world. When a woman is killed in the heart of that affluent district, the shock is felt throughout the city. But for crime reporter Harper McClain, this story is personal. The corpse has a familiar face . . .” (Adapted from the catalogue.)

Sir Julius Vogel Awards Announced!

Aotearoa/New Zealand has a long history of publishing exciting science fiction and fantasy, from Anno Domini 2000, or, Woman’s Destiny by former Prime Minister Sir Julius Vogel to The Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox to Ngā Waituhi o Rēhua by Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira.

Each year the best of this local sci-fi and fantasy is recognised at the Sir Julius Vogel Awards, with awards for novels, short stories, fan productions and more. This year the Vogels were announced at GeyserCon, the 40th National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Rotorua. Congratulations to all the winners!

And next year things get even bigger. In 2020 the Vogels will be held as part of CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention–happening right here in Wellington. Guests include Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon, Greg Broadmore and toastmaster George R.R. Martin!

To get you started, we’ve got a list of past Vogel winners and finalists currently available in our collection. And for everyone who went to GeyserCon, we hope you had a great time!

Overdrive cover Fosterling, by Emma Neale (ebook)
“A young man is found unconscious in a remote forest. He is over seven feet tall, his skin covered in thick hair which reminds onlookers of an animal’s pelt. When he wakes in a city hospital, he is eerily uncommunicative. Speculation begins. Medics want to run tests on him, the media want to get his story, and the public want to gawp and prod. A moving, compelling story about society and our reactions to difference.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description)

Dreamer’s pool : a Blackthorn & Grim novel / Marillier, Juliet
“In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help…” (Adapted from the catalogue)

The traitor and the thief / Ward, Gareth
“Discovered picking pockets at Coxford’s Corn Market, fourteen year old Sin is hunted across the city. Caught by the enigmatic Eldritch Moons, Sin is offered a way out of his life of crime: join the Covert Operations Group (COG) and train to become a spy. At Lenheim Palace, Sin learns spy craft while trying not to break the school’s Cast-Iron Rules. Secrets, spies and steampunk gadgets abound in this fantastic adventure story!” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Into the mist / Murray, Lee
“When New Zealand Defense Force Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom as he becomes desperate to bring his charges out alive. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare? And when the mist clears, will anyone be left?” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Onyx javelin / Wheeler, Steve
“Move over Star Wars! This is a superb space opera… humans and hybrids and strange new creatures fighting for survival on Earth and across the galaxies. There is life everywhere throughout the Milky Way Galaxy. It takes forms that will astonish and frighten, that will challenge and terrify as they exist within the greater fight of existence: eat or be eaten. But who is the enemy really?” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Heartwood / Robertson, Freya
“Chonrad, Lord of Barle, comes to the fortified temple of Heartwood for Congressus peace talks, which Heartwood’s holy knights have called in an attempt to stave off war in Anguis. But the Arbor, Hearthwood’s holy tree, is failing, and because the land and its people are one, it is imperative the nations try to make peace.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

When we wake / Healey, Karen
“In 2027, sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl–playing the guitar, falling in love, and protesting the wrongs of the world with her friends. But then Tegan dies, waking up 100 years in the future as the unknowing first government guinea pig to be cryogenically frozen and successfully revived. Appalling secrets about her new world come to light, and Tegan must choose to either keep her head down or fight for a better future.” (Adapted from the catalogue)

Eavesdropping Underwater: an Interview with Giacomo Giorli!

Why do scientists eavesdrop on whales and dolphins? What can recordings of whale and dolphin sounds tell us? How do you even record the sound that these creatures make? And what’s it like to go to Antarctica?

Join us on Saturday, May 25 at Te Papa for a FREE talk by NIWA scientists Dr Giacomo Giorli and Olivia Price to hear the answers!

As part of the build-up to Eavesdropping Underwater, we interviewed Dr Giacomo Giorli about his role as a marine mammal acoustician. Dr Giorli’s work has taken him around the world, from studying dolphins in the Ligurian Sea to investigating predator-prey relationships in the waters of Hawaii. He has continued this work at NIWA, including involvement in a pioneering underwater sound project that recently gained national headlines.

What first drew you to oceanography?

Curiosity. I grew up close to the sea, and I was just curious about it.

What makes you most excited in your current job at NIWA?

The possibility to study many species in the Southern Ocean that we know almost nothing about, and the incredible amount of technology that we have at NIWA to conduct research.

You recently discovered clicks from unknown beaked whales in the Cook Strait. What would you like to do next to follow up this research?

That work was the result of a study conducted by all the researchers that authored the paper, and not just my “discovery”. It was a collaborative work. One important thing to note is that we did not discover unknown or new species of beaked whales (as many people always think). We recorded echolocation signals from beaked whales in Cook Strait that were not previously described in literature. We know the signals are from beaked whales, but we do not know what species of beaked whales are producing them. I guess a natural follow up to this research would be to identify the species that are using these sounds.

You’ve also studied the foraging behaviours of sperm whales and other toothed whales in Hawaii. What was it like completing this research, and what were the results?

That research is far from completed. In reality what I was studying in Hawaii was just the tip of the iceberg of deep sea predator-prey studies involving deep diving toothed whales. The toothed whale species studied in that research are species that dive very deep to search for food. They can dive deeper than 1 km. Because of this, it is essentially impossible to observe their behaviour directly. One can go in the African savanna and observe predator behaviour directly. Think about cheetahs hunting. We all are familiar with videos of cheetahs chasing impalas. What I want to point out is that when you have to deal with working in the deep ocean in general, making observations is incredibly challenging. We face the problem of observing how deep sea prey drives the distribution and behaviour of their predators.

In Hawaii, I tested new acoustic technology that would allow researchers to understand how prey availability and type could influence the behaviour of the deep diving predators (toothed whales). Data indicated that sperm whales, for example, foraged more where they had chances of finding larger prey, rather than where they had chances to find more prey. It seems counter-intuitive that they would rather go in a place where there is less potential prey. It suggests that these predators are somehow picky in choosing their prey.

As well as whales, your work also involves recording sounds from creatures as tiny as marine algae. What are the similarities and differences in working at these different scales?

The research I did on algae with my colleagues in the U.S. was a laboratory experiment. We did not go to sea. Algae do not have a sound generator like vocal cords. The sound is produced by oxygen bubbles that are expelled from the algal tissue during photosynthesis. However, the signal processing techniques we used to analyse the acoustic data are pretty much the same used for cetacean bio-acoustics research.

If money wasn’t a problem, what would be your ideal research project?

I guess the ideal research project in Marine Sciences is the one that ends well without failures of instrumentations and other things that can go wrong at sea.

For more insights into Dr Giorli’s work, join us at Eavesdropping Underwater: the Sounds of Whales and Dolphins on Saturday, May 25 at Te Papa!

CoNZealand at ComicFest!

ComicFest is back for 2019! On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 to 4 of May at the National Library there will be panels, talks and workshops all day long for comic-lovers of all ages. You can also pick up a free comic from us on May the 4th and celebrate Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC! For full programme click here and follow the updates on our Facebook event.

ComicFest will also be one of the first chances to get a sneak peek at CoNZealand, the upcoming convention of the World Science Fiction Society, being held right here in Wellington next year! The annual event is one of the world’s most prestigious science fiction conventions and is also home to the legendary Hugo Awards. Run entirely by fans, CoNZealand will offer a unique mix of events, workshops, discussions and much more, making for a very exciting experience!

CoNZealand have already confirmed several guests of honour, including Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon and Greg Broadmore. And to top it all off, the Toastmaster will be none other than George R.R. Martin! To hear more about CoNZealand and how you can be a part of it, come chat with the team at their ComicFest stall on 4 May, or check them out at conzealand.nz.

Mystery Writers Panel Author Feature: Jennifer Lane!

Are you a fan of mysteries?

The Ngaio Marsh Awards and Wellington City Libraries invites you to Mystery in the Library, a fantastic (and free!) after-hours event featuring four outstanding and highly acclaimed local storytellers.

WHEN: Saturday 13 April 2019
WHERE: Karori Library (Please note the new location for this event)
WHEN: 6pm-7.30pm

This year’s panel includes author Jennifer Lane!

Jennifer Lane’s debut novel, All Our Secrets, is the story of 11-year-old Gracie Barrett and her life in small town Australia in the 1980s. With religious tensions, serial murders and all the complications of being on the cusp of teenagehood, All Our Secrets is a work of insight and high excitement.

Book Review: All Our SecretsThe Reader, December 13, 2017

All Our Secrets was the winner of the Best First Novel Award at the Ngaio Marsh Awards, and has been described as “a hugely enjoyable mash-up of small town horror and coming-of-age story, with plenty of quirky and sometimes downright weird humour thrown in.” Lane has also published widely in journals across Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia, including Southerly, Pulp, Viola Beadleton’s Compendium and Island.

So join us on Saturday, 13 April at 6pm at Karori Library to hear Jennifer Lane, Kirsten McDougall, Dame Fiona Kidman, Kelly Dennett and chairperson Brannavan Gnanalingam discuss some fantastic works of mystery!

Mystery Writers Panel Author Feature: Kirsten McDougall

Photo by Grant Maiden
Photo by Grant Maiden

Are you a fan of mysteries?

The Ngaio Marsh Awards and Wellington City Libraries invite you to Mystery in the Library, a fantastic (and free!) after-hours event featuring four outstanding and highly acclaimed local storytellers.

WHEN: Saturday 13 April 2019
WHERE: Karori Library (Please note the new location for this event)
WHEN: 6pm–7.30pm

This year’s panel includes author Kirsten McDougall!

We are totally thrilled to have the award-winning Wellington author Kirsten McDougall as one of our illustrious mystery writers panellists. McDougall’s critically-acclaimed book Tess is a wonderful, multi-layered can of worms, and Wairarapa’s answer to Southern Ontario Gothic. As The Listener describes it, “Tess is authentically, affectingly abrasive and vulnerable. The physical world is alive and jumping, and the narrative never lets go of your throat.”

As well as Tess, McDougall has published The Invisible Rider, as well as short stories and non-fiction in a range of books and journals. She has also given several excellent interviews about her writing process–including this great piece in The Pantograph Punch.

So join us on Saturday, 13 April at 6pm at Karori Library to hear Kirsten McDougall, Dame Fiona Kidman, Jennifer Lane, Kelly Dennett and chairperson Brannavan Gnanalingam discuss some fantastic works of mystery!

Mystery Writers Panel Author Feature: Dame Fiona Kidman!

Are you a fan of mysteries?

The Ngaio Marsh Awards and Wellington City Libraries invite you to Mystery in the Library, a fantastic (and free!) after-hours event featuring four outstanding and highly acclaimed local storytellers.

WHEN: Saturday 13 April 2019
WHERE: Karori Library (Please note the new location for this event)
WHEN: 6pm

This year’s panel includes a very special guest: Dame Fiona Kidman!

Fiona Kidman’s contribution to literature in Aotearoa/New Zealand has been immense. Since publishing her first novel in 1970, Kidman has gone on to create a powerful and imaginative body of work ranging from novels to short stories, memoirs to poetry, plays to radio series. She has won a range of awards, fellowships and residencies and in 1998 she was awarded a Dame Companion New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature.

Kidman’s latest work, This Mortal Boy, tells the story of Albert Black, one of the last people executed in New Zealand. It’s been called “powerful and haunting… and bloody convincing”, and has been shortlisted for the Acorn Prize as part of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

So join us on Saturday, 13 April at 6pm at Karori Library to hear Fiona Kidman, Jennifer Lane, Kelly Dennett, Kirsten McDougall and chairperson Brannavan Gnanalingam discuss some fantastic works of mystery!

Wellington City Libraries: a Diversity of Voices

Author Brannavan Gnanalingam recently wrote an article in Overland on the tragic events in Christchurch, as well as his own experience of living in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The article is a powerful and confronting read, and included in it are his ideas for what it would take to truly change our approach to diversity and difference. Gnanalingam writes about the importance of prioritising diverse voices; about self-reflection and admitting mistakes; the need to listen, and listen some more.

Here at Wellington City Libraries we’d like to do what we can to embrace these ideas. We want to promote a range of stories that reflect the diversity of our city’s communities. We want to listen to those communities, and provide them with an opportunity to be heard.

And that’s where you come in. Let us know what you like to read, which authors you want to hear from, or anything else in the world of fiction. You could email us, or contact us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We hope to travel out to you, too, learning and listening to your stories.

To start things off, we’ve chosen some titles that begin to reflect the range of stories in Wellington and the wider world. Arohanui, Pōneke.

Overdrive cover The Moor’s Account, by Laila Lalami
“In 1527 the Spanish conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez arrived on the coast of Florida with hundreds of settlers, and claimed the region for Spain. Within a year, only four survivors remained: three noblemen and a Moroccan slave called “Estebanico”. The official record contains only the three freemen’s accounts. The fourth, to which the title of Laila Lalami’s masterful novel alludes, is Estebanico’s own.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover As the Earth Turns Silver, by Alison Wong
“It’s 1905 and brothers Yung and Shun eke out a living as green grocers near Wellington’s bustling Chinatown. Nearby, Katherine McKechnie struggles to raise her rebellious son and daughter following the death of her husband. Chancing upon the grocery store one day, Katherine is touched by Yung’s unexpected generosity. In time, a clandestine relationship develops between the immigrant and the widow, a relationship Katherine’s son Robbie cannot abide…” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Lights of Pointe-Noire, by Alain Mabanckou
“Alain Mabanckou left Congo in 1989, not to return until a quarter of a century later. When at last he comes home to Pointe-Noire, he finds a country that in some ways has changed beyond recognition. As he delves into his childhood and the strange mix of belonging and absence that informs his return, he slowly builds a stirring exploration of the way home never leaves us, however long ago we left.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Unquiet Dead, by Ausma Zehanat Khan
“Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto: the body of Christopher Drayton is found at the foot of the cliffs. Muslim Detective Esa Khattak and his partner Rachel Getty are called in to investigate. As the secrets of Drayton’s role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide of Bosnian Muslims surface, the harrowing significance of his death makes it difficult to remain objective. In a community haunted by the atrocities of war, anyone could be a suspect.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson
“When a young Arab-Indian hacker–who protects watched groups from surveillance–discovers The Thousand and One Days, the secret book of the jinn, he finds himself in a life and death struggle against forces seen and unseen. A cool and sophisticated page-turner that will enchant readers who love the works of Philip Pullman and Neil Gaiman.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Boy Overboard, by Peter Wells
“Jamie is eleven, on the threshold of discovery. But he can’t find the map that will explain where he fits in or who he is. His parents are away and he is staying with family friends. The sea is rising towards high tide, and he is a boy overboard.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover A Case of Two Cities, by Qiu Xiaolong
“Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau is summoned by an official of the party to take the lead in a corruption investigation–one where the principle figure has long since fled to the United States. But he left behind the organization and his partners-in-crime, and Inspector Chen is charged to uncover those responsible and act as necessary to end the corruption ring.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Potiki, by Patricia Grace
“In a small coastal community threatened by developers who would ravage their lands, it is a time of fear and confusion–and growing anger. The prophet child Tokowaru-i-te-Marama shares his people’s struggles against bulldozers and fast money talk. When dramatic events menace the marae, his grief and rage threaten to burst beyond the confines of his twisted body.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Happy Marriage, by Tahar Ben Jelloun
“In The Happy Marriage, the internationally acclaimed Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun tells the story of one couple—first from the husband’s point of view, then from the wife’s—just as legal reforms are about to change women’s rights forever. In their absorbing struggle, both sides of this modern marriage find out they may not be so enlightened after all.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Mystery Writers Panel–Now at Karori Library!

Are you a fan of mysteries?

The Ngaio Marsh Awards, in association with Wellington City Libraries, invites you to Mystery in the Library, a fantastic (and free!) after-hours event featuring four outstanding and highly acclaimed local storytellers.

Dame Fiona Kidman, Jennifer Lane, Kelly Dennett and Kirsten McDougall will discuss how they craft memorable characters and page-turning storylines, whether fictional or factual, and infuse their books with real-life issues and insights into people and society. Brannavan Gnanalingam will prosecute the offenders.

WHEN: Saturday 13 April 2019
WHERE: Karori Library (Please note the new location for this event)
WHEN: 6pm — 7.30pm

Panelists include:

Dame Fiona Kidman has published over 30 books, including novels, poetry, non-fiction and a play. She has worked as a librarian, radio producer and critic, and as a scriptwriter for radio, television and film. Her latest novel, This Mortal Boy, has been shortlisted for the 2019 Ockhams and the 2019 NZ Booklovers Awards.

Jennifer Lane is a copywriter, short story writer, and author. Her debut novel, All Our Secrets, won a 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award and has been called “a hugely enjoyable mash-up of small town horror and coming-of-age story, with plenty of quirky and sometimes downright weird humour thrown in” (New Zealand Herald).

Kelly Dennett is a news director at The Sunday Star-Times, and lives in Wellington. She was previously a senior journalist for the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday, and a crime and justice reporter for Fairfax Media. Her first book, The Short Life and Mysterious Death of Jane Furlong has been called a “brave look at a cold case” (Otago Daily Times).

Kirsten McDougall is a Wellington publicist and author. Her second book, Tess, was a finalist for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel and longlisted for the 2018 Ockhams. It is a gothic tale centred on a teen runaway who becomes entwined in the family troubles of a man who picks her up from the side of the highway. “A gripping novella about a troubled teen” (New Zealand Listener).