We’re happy to announce that A Change of Key by Adrienne Jansen has been shortlisted for the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Adult Fiction Book 2019. The results will be announced on 18 March.

Judges Marcus Hobson, Rachel White and Karen McMillan wrote:

‘A wonderful collection of characters in this book set in a mostly migrant community. The residents are drawn together to support one another, and by weaving the theme of music into the story, there is a real sense of belonging and community in this little snapshot of a not-so-familiar NZ. Adrienne Jansen makes you care about the characters in this book.’

Just quietly, we think that Adrienne Jansen might be on a bit of a roll. Earlier this month All of Us, a book of poetry by Adrienne Jansen and Carina Gallegos, was longlisted in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and the shortlist will be announced on 6 March.

Review for A Change of Key

The Weekend Herald has released a review of Adrienne Jansen’s A Change of Key that we really love.

A Change of Key book cover

‘…underlying the panic and the fear “like graffiti painted on the air” and the “desperate silence behind every door” flows the music: Stefan’s soft piano playing in the night, the muffled sound of the violin as Marko dares to take bow to strings again, in the tight confines of his bathroom.

Jansen takes us on the ride with understanding and just the right amount of humour, so we emerge at the end with renewed understanding, compassion and a wish to welcome.’

Read the full review through PressReader.com here.

National Bookshop Day 2018

We love bookshops!

This weekend you have our full permission to give your favourite bookshop haunt a hug. It’s National Bookshop Day and stores up and down the country are participating with all kinds of events. Head to the Booksellers website to see what is happening near you.

If you are in the Wellington region then come by Paper Plus North City in Porirua on Sunday 28th of October at 1pm and you’ll spot a few of our authors:

Trish Harris The Walking Stick Tree

Rudy Castañeda López Open Your Eyes, Jackson Ryder

Erin Donohue Because Everything Is Right but Everything Is Wrong

Adrienne Jansen The Score, A Line of Sight, A Change of Key 

National Bookshop day poster

The first review of Monsters of Virtue

Independent news outlet Scoop has released a glowing review of L.J. Ritchie’s Monsters of Virtue.

‘One of the early reviewers said Monsters of Virtue and Ritchie reminded them of John Marsden and, having just re-read Marsden’s iconic Tomorrow series, I couldn’t agree more. There’s a sense of narration that is similar; something, perhaps, to do with the ANZAC voice writing the present tense perspective of teenagers in an extreme environment. These teenagers are just a bit younger than Ellie and her gang, however, and it shows. This is where the book veers into Lord of the Flies territory and, oh boy, is this a good thing.’ – Emily Brill-Holland

We’re thrilled to see such positive feedback so soon after the launch. You can read the full review here.

Helen Waaka on her residency, and editing short stories for Radio New Zealand


Helen Waaka, author of short story collection Waitapu, shares her experience as a recipient of an Emerging Māori Writers Residency at the Michael King Writers Centre in 2018. During this time Radio New Zealand expressed interest in broadcasting stories from Waitapu, and Helen recaps how she edited the work for a different media.

Helen Waaka's desk at the Michael King Writer’s centre

Helen Waaka’s desk at the Michael King Writer’s centre

I am sitting in the studio of the Michael King Writer’s centre, once the wash-house of the Signalman’s House at the base of Takarunga maunga, but now a place of creativity for resident writers. The view of Waitematā harbour and the city from the verandah is spectacular and through the small sash window of the studio the Auckland Harbour bridge is just visible. I am on the second day of a Michael King Emerging Māori Writers residency, basking in the thought of doing nothing else but write for the next two weeks.

But first I check my emails. Duncan Smith from RNZ wants to discuss broadcasting five stories from Waitapu. Mary-Jane at Escalator Press has already been in touch with me about this and I have been walking on air ever since, holding the information like a piece of polished pounamu in my pocket. Is Duncan emailing to say he’s changed his mind?

‘Can you edit the stories and reduce the word count?’ he asks in his email. ‘They need to be 14 minutes duration and somewhere between 1900 and 2000 words.’ He has chosen three of my favourites. Hineraumati, The Pool, and Snapshot of a Woman. The word count for each story ranges from 2500-3000 words. He is still considering a further two stories.

I start work that day rearranging sentences and paragraphs, cutting out unnecessary narrative and removing words that don’t alter the storyline too much. It becomes a satisfying process. That one final edit authors wish they could do prior to publication.

Before starting work each day I walk up te tihi o Takarunga maunga. The view of Bastion Point reminds me why I feel so grounded in this place. Ko Ngāti Whaatua tōku iwi. One morning the ocean is covered in fog and the tip of Rangitoto to the east is floating in a sea of cloud. I return to the studio energised.

On the morning of the third day I send Duncan three edited stories.

‘I did a timing and they read fast,’ he eventually replies. ‘Can you redo? Feel free to add material back in. You can go back up to about 2100 words.’

I do as he asks without question. The stories will be on RNZ and I will do whatever it takes to make them work but this might be a good time to ask Duncan if I can choose a story. ‘A Sense of Belonging’ introduces the characters in the novel I am currently working on. Duncan agrees. The story gives a good snapshot of Waitapu as a collection he says, but at 3700 words it is considerably longer than the rest and will need to be broadcast in two parts. Five stories reduced to four, but I am happy.

At te tihi o Takarunga maunga I see the Waiheke island car ferry on its way out. The city’s skyscrapers stand dominant across the Waitematā harbour, muffling the distant hum of Auckland’s traffic. To the east the sun rises behind Rangitoto, its golden-pink glow stretching luminous along the horizon.

‘Te tāpaepae o te rangi…’

Rangitoto sunrise

The sunrise over Rangitoto

L.J. Ritchie at Unity Books

L.J. Ritchie will be appearing in conversation with editor/YA aficionado Madeleine Collinge at Unity Books as part of their author talk series.

They will discuss L.J. Ritchie’s upcoming novel Monsters of Virtue and the themes he has explored around the topic of eugenics in New Zealand.

author L.J. Ritchie


12 – 12.45pm on the 24th of October

Unity Books Wellington

This is a free event and all are welcome.


Book Launch for Monsters of Virtue

You are warmly invited to the launch of Monsters of Virtue by L.J.Richie.

Tuesday, October 23rd at 6pm
Te Auaha, Level 5 Studio, 65 Dixon Street

Please let us know if you would like to attend via our Facebook event page.


Monsters of Virtue cover

New Zealand, 1932. The height of the Great Depression. In the wilds of the Ōtaki River Gorge, the newly formed Eugenics Department gathers the best and brightest in an attempt to create perfection.

… But what makes a perfect person?

Fifteen-year-old Eve knows she’s not one – but with her sister’s life on the line, she’d better onvince her new classmates that she could be. Together with uneasy allies Orion and Nyx, she’ll pry into the dark heart of this fledgling utopia. Will the future that awaits them there be one worth fighting for?


Monsters of Virtue will appeal to fans of thought-provoking, action-filled YA fiction like The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies, as well as readers who want to explore the darker side of New Zealand’s past.

About the author:
L.J. Ritchie is a Wellington-based author of young adult fiction. His previous jobs include secondary school performance arts co-ordinator, lighting and sound technician, garden labourer, web designer, domestic cleaner, data-entry operator, and publicist for an Elvis impersonator. One perk of becoming a writer is that what was once a motley curriculum vitae can now be called professional development. He completed the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme in 2013. His debut novel, Like Nobody’s Watching, was a finalist in the Young Adult Fiction and Best First Book categories at the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults.