Author Interview: Nikky Lee in conversation

How long can it take to write an epic young adult fantasy novel ?
How do you go about creating an immersive and detailed fantasy world ?
How do you go about writing believable and compelling fantasy creatures ?
What does it take as a writer to bring such a huge project to a successful fruition ?
What is it like to win a PitDark publishing competition ?
And indeed what is a PitDark publishing competition ?

Well, our interview with debut fantasy novelist Nikky Lee reveals the answers to all these questions.

Fantasy novelist Nikky Lee has just released her first full length novel, The Rarkyn’s Familiar. The book  is a thrilling, young adult high fantasy epic tale (the first in a series), set in a wonderfully imagined and detailed fantasy universe.  The tale revolves round a young girl, Lyss, who accidently gets magically bonded to a half bird half  person creature called a Rarkyn; A bond that threatens to drive her mad. The book is a quest tale that features various forms of magic, and a narrative where different types of worlds intersect . At its core, the novel explores themes of acceptance, revenge, redemption and how to deal with anxiety.

Lee grew up in Western Australia and now lives in Aotearoa New Zealand with a husband, a dog and a couch potato cat. Whilst The Rarkyn’s Familiar is Nikky’s first novel, it is far away from her first published work. Nikky has already won a whole host of awards for her short stories, as well as being published in numerous magazines, anthologies. Nikky has also had works broadcasted on the radio.

We are thrilled that Nikky Lee took time out from her very busy schedule to discuss her new book, and we wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to her. For more information visit

This interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin, the arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. You can hear the interview below. You can also place a reserve for The Rarkyn’s Familiar which is due into the library soon, for details see below.

Rarkyn’s Familiar. / Lee, Nikky
“A perfect story for fans of Sarah J. Maas’ THRONE OF GLASS. An orphan bent on revenge. A monster searching for freedom. A forbidden pact that binds their fates. Lyss had heard her father’s screams, smelled the iron-tang of his blood. She witnessed his execution. And plotted her revenge. Then, a violent encounter traps Lyss in a blood-pact with a Rarkyn from the otherworld, imbuing her with the monster’s forbidden magic-a magic that will erode her sanity. To break the pact, she and the Rarkyn must journey to the heart of the Empire. All that stands in their way are the mountains, the Empire’s soldiers, and Lyss’ uneasy alliance with the Rarkyn. But horrors await them on the road-horrors even Rarkyns fear. The most terrifying monster isn’t the one Lyss travels with. It’s the one that’s awoken inside her. Monsters of a feather flock together.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dyslexia-friendly books for young people

Wellington City Libraries actively collects dyslexia-friendly books for young people. Many of our branches maintain special displays to make them as easy as possible to find.

We asked our Children & Youth Services Coordinator, Stephen Clothier, for information on this collection — read on for dyslexia-friendly book information from Stephen…

Stephen Clothier There is a rapidly-growing publishing scene internationally for books published in formats friendlier to young people with dyslexia, with publishers like Barrington Stoke and DB Australia publishing exclusively in this area.

What is a dyslexia-friendly book? Dyslexia-friendly books typically have some or all of the following features:

  • Non-white paper
  • Sans-serif font (some books use specially-designed dyslexia-friendly fonts that work by reducing the symmetry between commonly mistaken letter pairs: b/d, p/q, n/u)
  • 1.5 line spacing
  • Variable line lengths
  • Uncluttered page design for maximum clarity

Many of our branches maintain special displays of dyslexia-friendly books to make them as easy as possible to find, but you can also find them for yourself on our catalogue.

Try the following searches — and remember that you can reserve these books to be collected at the library branch of your choice:

For Kids:

For Teens:

Some recent titles

Here is a selection of great dyslexia-friendly titles recently added to our collection:

A bad day for Jayden / Bradman, Tony
“Mum won’t get out of bed. His best friend has dumped him. And school work is just too difficult. Jayden wants to do the right thing – but how can he when it feels like the world is conspiring against him? Everything is going wrong, and when a supply teacher turns up to take his class, Jayden’s sure things will keep on getting worse. But Mrs Wilson is not quite the teacher Jayden expected … can she help turn his bad day around?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Anna Gain and the same sixty seconds / Bass, Guy
“Ever-punctual Anna Gain is never late, and she’s certainly never late for the school bus. Every day she catches it in perfect time. But not today. After a series of absurd events cause Anna to miss the bus, she’s transported one minute back in time – only to be stuck re-living the same sixty seconds again … and again … and again … Is fate trying to teach Anna a lesson? And will she ever escape?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Clever cakes / Rosen, Michael
“It pays to be able to think on your feet, especially if you’re about to be eaten alive or cheated out of a valuable prize! And in these hilarious comical adventures by storytelling legend Michael Rosen, two clever kids are more than a match for a hungry grizzly bear and a bored and arrogant king! Read along as two super-smart kids triumph in these perfectly packaged fairy tales with a twist…” (Catalogue)

The slippery schemes of Sushi Man / Barlow, Steve
“Take on the role of a shape-shifting MEGAHERO in this fully interactive, wacky, choose-your-own-destiny adventure story. You and your mega-computer sidekick, PAL, must save the world from Sushi Man and his own sidekick, Wasabi Boy. This evil duo has started poisoning and controlling the population. Can you possibly morph into the right shapes to take down this out-of-control pair of baddies? (Adapted from Catalogue)

Animal farm / Orwell, George
“Orwell’s powerful, unnerving and timeless allegory of oppression and rebellion, brought to life for a new age of readers in a stunning dyslexia-friendly edition.” (Catalogue)

#TheFaultInOurStars Giveaway

To celebrate the cinematic release of the much anticipated film adaptation of John Green’s celebrated book Wellington City Libraries in association with 20th Century Fox New Zealand are giving away 10 double passes to The Fault In Our Stars. To enter click here.

Hazel and Gus are two extraordinary teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them – and us – on an unforgettable journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous, given that they met and fell in love at a cancer support group. The Fault In Our Stars, based upon the number-one bestselling novel by John Green, explores the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love.

John Green is the bestselling author of many titles including Looking For Alaska, An Abundance Of Katherines, and Paper Towns.

Science Fiction author, John Christopher dies

Syndetics book coverThe well-known British Science Fiction author John Christopher has died aged 90. His real name was Christopher Samuel Youd, but he wrote under eight pseudonyms, with John Christopher, being the best known. A prolific writer, he was awarded the Guardian Award in 1976 for his children’s novel, The Guardians. His first major success as a writer came with his science fiction novel, The Death of Grass, published in 1956 and republished in 2009. It was adapted into film in 1970, as No Blade of Grass. He began writing science fiction for young adults in 1966, with the Tripods Trilogy, that became a quartet with A Pool of Fire, published in 1988. The Tripods novels were adapted into a television series.

Ten Books: Crossover

With the recent popularity of books like Twilight, The Book Thief, and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, young adult literature is being increasingly noticed by readers who wouldn’t necessarily call themselves young adults any more. But young is a state of mind, and here are a few young adult titles that less young adults might enjoy, and find relevant.

  1. The Piper’s Son, Melina Marchetta. We can’t say enough good things about Melina Marchetta. The Piper’s Son examines grief, family, forgiveness, and love, following an almost-year in the life of 22 year old Tom McKee and his 42 year old aunt Georgie in the wake of some significant family disasters.
  2. The King of Attolia, Megan Whalen Turner. Again, there aren’t enough good things. The King of Attolia is the third book in a series that contains more spoilers and plot twists than you can poke a stick at, making it rather difficult to describe. There are political subtleties and intrigues that are more than suitable for an adult reader. The first in the series is The Thief, but there’s a time paradox thing going on, in that Megan Whalen Turner says that The King spoils The Thief, but also The Thief spoils The King. Tis true, so where to start? I suppose it doesn’t really matter.
  3. The 10 pm Question, Kate De Goldi. If you haven’t already read it, then make sure you do! Although be warned, this book is most likely to make you think you may require therapy (and if you don’t think this while reading it then you’re certainly okay). Frankie’s worries about life and his family are so real it’s scary, but the story’s so good it doesn’t get bogged down in a pit of anxious depression. Loved the bird game.
  4. Dreamhunter, Elizabeth Knox. Again, if you haven’t you must. It took a while to get my bearings in this alternate world, but once there it’s like the inside of a dream and at the same time completely real (as dreams are). I like how practical and intelligent Elizabeth Knox’s female characters are especially, and have to admire fantasy that is exactly that, not derived from someone else’s imagined world, or Norse legend (it’s nice for variety). The story concludes with Dreamquake, and the two volumes have been published together as the wrist-breaking The Invisible Road.
  5. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, M T Anderson. The first volume is The Pox Party and the second The Kingdom on the Waves. Set in 18th century Boston, The Astonishing Life tells the story of Octavian, son of an African princess , who is the subject of an experiment into the learning capacity of different races, survives and flees the titular pox party to fight in the second volume for Lord Dunmore, the British governor of Virginia, in the hope of being freed. M T Anderson’s book Feed is also popular with book clubs.
  6. The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness. The first book in the much praised Chaos Walking trilogy. The story is set in a dystopian future when good Christians have settled the planet New World, and where 12 year old Todd lives in the male-only settlement of Prentisstown. The inhabitants’ thoughts can all be heard – called the Noise – and things kick off when Todd and his dog hear a silence in the Noise. Fast paced and gritty.
  7. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, Peter Cameron. Often mentioned in connection with The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. James Sveck is in the in between between high school and college, which would be an interesting time, except if you’re a jaded, brilliant pessimist who confesses to not liking people and who doesn’t know how to relate to the one person he does actually like. James’ narration is the star of the show in this often bleak, sometimes funny story.
  8. Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones. Another must read if you haven’t already. Especially if you’ve seen and liked the film by Hayao Miyazaki, although the film and the book are quite different in their fantasy-ness (one is very Hayao Miyazaki and the other is very Diana Wynne Jones). Howl is a talented yet flawed wizard and lives in a moving castle, courtesy of a fire demon named Calcifer; Sophie is a plucky teenager who is in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up an old lady who then ends up as Howl’s cleaning lady and conscience, and all the while there is the Witch of the Waste and much complex, dastardly magic. Trivia: both The King of Attolia and The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (see #2) contain a quote from HMC (being “What a lie that was”).
  9. Bog Child, Siobhan Dowd. Set in Ireland at the time of Bobby Sands’ hunger strike (see the movie Hunger, directed by Steve McQueen, R-16), Bog Child tells the story of Fergus (whose brother has joined the hunger strike) who travels across the Northern Irish border (south) to steal peat and digs up the body of a child who appears to be murdered. His story and that of Mel, the bog child, are interwoven in this excellent story by the late Siobhan Dowd.
  10. Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan. A revisioning of the Grimm ‘Snow White and Rose Red’ fairytale, lyrically written but with a dark underbelly. The book has simultaneously caused swirling controversy and won acclaim (see this Guardian article, for example ). Lanagan was recently in Wellington for the Readers and Writers week, and wrote favourably about Wellington in her blog (even with the bad weather).