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First-time author launches two novels

First-time author launches two novels

First-time author Steph Matuku is making an extraordinary entrance into the New Zealand book scene by publishing not one but two debut novels for young readers: Flight of the Fantail and Whetū Toa and the Magician.

Flight of the Fantail is a science fiction young adult novel about a group of high school students in remote Aotearoa bush after their bus crashes. This is a macabre and dark survival story, with elements of Māori mythology and loads of teen attitude. The characters are diverse and recognisable teenagers, and the tension in the story will keep readers in suspense, wondering what will happen next.

Whetū Toa and the Magician is a fantasy chapter book for children 8–11 years old who are ready for magic. Whetū is a strong and spirited character who gives things a go even if she doesn’t believe she can do it. Steph says, ‘This is a gentle story (despite a murderous killer in it!) with short chapters so it’s not too voice-straining for parents who like to read aloud.’

Based in New Plymouth, Steph is a freelance writer. She completed Flight of the Fantail while on Te Papa Tupu, a six-month mentoring programme developed by the Māori Literature Trust and organised by Huia Publishers.

‘I learnt so much writing Flight of the Fantail. My mentor, Whiti Hereaka, taught me about creative writing techniques and reviewed my work every week,’ says Steph.

While waiting for Flight of the Fantail to be edited, the quick-witted writer completed Whetū Toa and the Magician. ‘I’d got into the habit of writing every day and was able to take what I’d learnt from writing Flight of the Fantail and apply it easily,’ she continues.

What Steph has achieved is incredible. She has written two books for two different audiences almost simultaneously. This talented writer is a fresh voice in homegrown literature and has a passion for stories for children. ‘I would like more kids to be able to read stories set in Aotearoa, in a world they live in.’


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