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American Press Publishes New Zealander’s Queer Debut, Origami War

In the middle of New Zealand’s lockdowns, Aucklander Toni J Spencer was furiously editing her first novel when she realised her dystopian story about a future devastated by a ravaging virus was eerily happening around her.

Origami War explores the relationship between two young women living in a bleak New York City; the story follows Penny, a teen struggling to survive in the increasingly violent and segregated streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan – but when she meets Quinn, everything changes.

The story follows the pair as they try to stay alive and find meaning while living under an oppressive military regime. Human connection and understanding is hard to find, and even less likely love, yet something sparks between the two when they encounter one another for the first time.

“The two girls inspire in each other a passion to change the status quo – they become activists together. I wanted to create story that could show how we can affect one another and encourage one another to act.” Says Toni.

The debut novel was written in late night snatches of time, similarly the two central characters live their covert lives in darkness under a restrictive curfew.

“They’re living in a locked down world – they’re powerless – there’s no access to the internet or information sharing, so they have to go old-school; paper and pens become their tool for challenging authority”, says Toni.

Toni started writing short fiction more than a decade ago, and has received praise for her stories Rainbow Fishing, which won the BNZ Literary Novice Award in 2011 and Billy’s Ghost, which won AUT’s short story prize in 2010. In 2014 Toni’s unpublished manuscript Wilbur Wild received the Reading Room Aspiring Writer Prize. She has plans for a sequel to Origami War.

“This is just the beginning for Penny and Quinn, they’ve got a lot more work to do, and I feel that there are young readers out there that will identify with their dissent and their love”. She says.

Publisher Ninestar Press is an American publishing house that specialises in LGBTQA romance, erotica, and literary fiction. Origami War is the first New Zealand title it has published.

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