Fleur Beale ONZM talks about the honour of a New Year’s Honour

pp_fleur_beale_10Fleur Beale ONZM is one of New Zealand’s top teen fiction writers, having published more than 40 books in New Zealand, with some also being published in the UK and USA. Fleur writes for teens across a wide range of reading ability and sub-genre − from motorsports to romance, dystopia to cults, she has covered teenage drama in most settings you can imagine, and some you never thought to. She has also written a good number of junior fiction titles. A short reading list of some of her top titles is below.

I am delighted to see her honoured for her work in literature in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list, and I thought I’d ask her a few questions about how it felt to have this recognition.

1. What was your first reaction when you received news of the honour?
The letter came in an official government house envelope with the crest and I thought it was an invitation to a posh book launch. When I read the letter it was quite a surprise but once it sank in I was thrilled.

2cv_slide_the_corner. What do you count as your biggest success in your writing career?
I started writing because I couldn’t find books that would engage the kids I was teaching. So, when I meet a kid who says he (it’s usually but not always a boy) has read one of my books and it’s the first book he’s ever finished, that feels like success.

3. What do you aim for with your writing for teenagers?
My first aim is to write something they’ll want to read and that will engage them. I think a book is powerful when it speaks to the reader about their own world and their own experience.

4. What is the best thing a teenager has ever said to you about your work?
Cool book, miss. I finished it.

Reading list: 

  • Slide the Corner (1992), Scholastic cv_I_am_not_esther
  • I am not Esther (1998) and I am Rebecca (2014), Random House
  • Juno of Taris (2008), Fierce September (2010) and The Heart of Danger (2012), Random House
  • The Transformation of Minna Hargreaves (2007), Random House
  • Speed Freak (2013), Random House

Fleur’s biography on the New Zealand Book Council website
– Fleur’s biography on the Random House website