Monday, October 10, 2011

A nationwide crime spree: dastardly deeds the length and breadth of New Zealand

"L Recently I wrote a large feature article for New Zealand Author, the magazine of the local Society of Authors, taking a nationwide look at the state of contemporary crime fiction in New Zealand.  I understand from an author contact that the article has been published in the current (October/November 2011) issue of the magazine (cover image, see right), although I haven't yet seen the print version of the article myself.

I've written a lot about New Zealand crime fiction in the past couple of years, for magazines, newspapers and websites here and overseas, from author interviews to reviews to speaking and/or writing in general about New Zealand crime fiction (why we should read it, etc) - so I was a bit worried about getting a little jaded about the whole thing.

However, I really enjoyed writing this feature, as I decided to take a bit of a north to south tiki tour of our country, pulling together in one piece the variety of writers and writing styles we have in our burgeoning crime fiction community, all across the country. It was really pleasing to see that we did indeed have a pretty comprehensive geographic spread (in author locations and story settings), even when I just largely focused on books that had been published in the past couple of years or so (2009-2011).

As I said in the introduction to the feature (which I hope to be able to share with you here online in due course), "From Northland to Southland and everywhere in between, it’s becoming clear that more and more we have a number of local storytellers who are capable of weaving top quality tales of mystery, murder, and mayhem. Writers who have something interesting to offer readers, here and abroad, who enjoy this most thrilling (and globally popular) of genres."

One of the cool things was that I couldn't even mention all the books and authors I wanted to (although it was a very comprehensive piece) for fear of getting far too encyclopaedic or 'listy', and cutting out all room for any insight comment etc. That is a great sign of the growth of contemporary Kiwi crime fiction.

As I've discovered, there are crime, mystery, and thriller writers all across our small but diverse nation, which is great to see. Here are the authors mentioned in the article, with links to their websites or articles etc relating to their most recent books. As I said, there are also others who've published in the 2009-2011 period who I couldn't include for space reasons, as well as of course some other local crime writers from previous years:

As can be seen, we're fairly well served, geographically - although it would be good perhaps to see some more Central North Island set crime fiction - after all that's a fairly interesting part of the country, and a very large area between Auckland and Wellington, ranging from the agricultural regions of the Waikato, Manawatu and Taranaki to the volcanic plateaus of Rotorua, Taupo and surrounds, to the sun-drenched Coromandel, the Bay of Plenty and the East Coast, and much, much more. 

As I said in the article, "The regions between our biggest city and our capital city currently provide slimmer pickings when it comes to contemporary crime fiction, despite what would seem like a plethora of intriguing landscapes, geographic and demographic, and issues that could provide great fodder and colour for a well-told thriller story."

I will talk more about the geographic spread of contemporary (and historic) Kiwi crime fiction at a later stage, and some of the other authors from various regions, but for now, I'd be very interested in your comments about geography and crime fiction, whether Kiwi or overseas.

What do you think of my little Aotearoa tiki-tour? What New Zealand locations do you think would make a fantastic setting? Which Kiwi authors do you think use setting best? Which other crime authors from various Kiwi regions stand out to you, whether contemporary or historic? Comments and discussion welcome.


  1. Craig - Every time you share something like this I am impressed anew with the state of Kiwi crime fiction. So many fine authors with such a diversity of style. Thanks for the reminder of how much there really is to like about Kiwi crime fiction.

  2. Re settings, I'm hoping that Paul Cleave or another Chch writer will set a novel in the earthquakes, as James Lee Burke dealt with Katrina and its aftermath in The Tin Roof Blowdown.
    And since I live in Napier, I'd like to read a good murder story set in the Hawke's Bay wine industry.