Apocalypse book in running for top award

Author Melanie Dixon has been shortlisted in two categories of the NZ Book Awards for Children...
Author Melanie Dixon has been shortlisted in two categories of the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults for her novel New Dawning. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A Governors Bay author will know in August if her futuristic young adult novel has won a category in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Melanie Dixon is a finalist in the best first book and young adult fiction categories.

“It’s really exciting. Amazing to be recognised on a list with famous authors like Tessa Duder,” she said.

Dixon made the list for her novel New Dawning. Set hundreds of years in the future after devastating sea level rise, Dixon’s novel tells the story of a secluded society surviving in post-apocalyptic Lyttelton.

Christchurch and Banks Peninsula writers and illustrators are represented across six categories in this year’s awards. 

Rachael King.
Rachael King.
Author and former literary director of the Word festival, Rachael King, has been shortlisted for the junior fiction award for The Grimmelings. 

The 13-year-old protagonist of the story, Ella, utters a wish and a curse on the same day, unwittingly unleashing a malevolent mythical creature with links to her own family’s tragic past.

King spent 2022 working full-time on The Grimmelings, thanks to a Creative New Zealand grant. She said Christchurch was a thriving city to write in.

“I spent many an hour in Tūranga, looking through books on folklore and using its excellent working spaces. 

“I’ve also been lucky enough to take advantage of the artist studios at Christchurch City Council-owned Toi Auaha community arts facility, which provides affordable space for artists to work – quite a visionary project. And of course Word creates a vibrant hub for readers and writers.”

King said the Christchurch nominees were “just the tip of the iceberg” in terms of the wealth of children’s books created in the city.

Renowned author Gavin Bishop, who has written and illustrated more than 70 books, has been shortlisted in the non-fiction and illustration categories for Patu: The New Zealand Wars. A comprehensive, illustrated history of the New Zealand wars, Bishop tells the story of the battles while interweaving the history of his own ancestors.

PHOTO: Supplied
PHOTO: Supplied
Hilary Jean Tapper has made the shortlist for the picture book award for illustrating At The Bach by Joy Cowley. A story that encapsulates Kiwi beach holidays, Tapper’s soft-colour illustrations are described as having “a nostalgic and dreamy quality”.

A work of a Diamond Harbour illustrator is also in the running for an award. Art tutor Rebecca Gibbs illustrated Rere Atu Taku Poi! Let My Poi Fly! by Tangaroa Paul, which has also been shortlisted in the best first book category. Only the author has been shortlisted, as it is not Gibbs’ first book.

Gibbs said the illustrations were a “labour of love”. She is pleased a text in english and te reo Māori is getting recognised.

Gibbs and Dixon said it was an honour work from the Banks Peninsula area was being showcased.

“There are so many talented people around here and with us being pretty early on in our careers, getting recognised is great,” said Gibbs.

Dixon said living near the harbour inspired people to write and illustrate.

“For me, just living down from where Margaret Mahy used to live. There’s definitely something here which encourages creativity.”

The awards ceremony is in Wellington on August 14. Category winners receive $8500 and also go into the running for the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year, with a further $8500 prize money.