Mandy Hager is a fiction writer. Her published writing includes novels for young adults and adults, non-fiction resources for youth, scripts and short stories. Her first book, Tom's Story (1995), won an Honour Award in the 1996 Aim Children's Book Awards. Her first novel for adults was Juno Lucina (2000). Her young adult novel, Smashed (2007), won the Esther Glen Award at the 2008 LIANZA Children's Book Awards, and it was also named a Notable Book by the Children’s Literature Charitable Trust.
Place of residence: Wellington, New Zealand
Hager, Mandy (1960 - ) writes a range of different genres, including young adult and adult novels, non-fiction resources, scripts and shorter fiction work the younger age group. Her background as a teacher of children with special educational needs gives her a keen understanding of the need for a fast-paced story to ‘hook’ the young reader. Hager has a MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University and an Advanced Diploma in Applied Arts (Writing) from Whitireia Community Polytechnic. She works as a tutor and a mentor for this programme.
Her first book Tom's Story (1995) won an Honour Award in the 1996 Aim Children's Book Awards. It tells the story of a six year old boy whose father is killed in a boating accident, and looks at grief from a child's point of view. It has been adapted for National Radio.
Run for the Trees (1999), Hager's second book is an eco-thriller set against the background of protests in the South Island's rimu forests. ‘Definitely a page turner,’ writes Paula Boock, ‘a pacy, exciting story. The climax is riveting.’
Other titles include Double Danger (2000) and Stumpy's Secret (2000), along with a number of others published by Learning Media.
Mandy Hager has also published short stories in Fresh and Broadsheet. KC
Juno Lucina (2000), Hager's first novel for adults is an intricately woven story about fear and faith. Tess Chromain’s journey into the dangerous territory of religious fervour, domestic violence and sexual re-awakening is interlaced with her dreams, memories and research articles — to layer around her compounded grief in a climatic, literal, rebirthing of hope.
Help! My Brain Hurts - Special Tips for Special Kids (2004 Essential Resources Educational Publishers Ltd.) is a guide for students with learning differences.
Smashed (Random House, 2007) is a young adult novel that tackles gritty teenage issues such as alcohol, physical and sexual abuse, and anger. Delivered with a sense of humour and sensitivity, it is a thoughtful, pacy read. Smashed received the Esther Glen Award at the 2008 LIANZA Children's Book Awards. It was also listed as a 2008 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book.
In 2006, Hager wrote DARE To Be You — Five integrated resources written exclusively for The DARE Foundation of NZ, based around Run For The Trees. In 2007 she wrote DARE To Move On — a comprehensive resource for use by the DARE Foundation of NZ to target youth at risk, based around her novel Smashed.
Hager also writes for the Global Education Centre —producing resources on such issues as Violence Against Women, Parihaka and the gift of non-violent resistance, Weather Wars — the politics of climate change, Take Action; The Measure of Money; Who Are You —the search for self in the global village; Get Up, Stand Up — music for change; The Trafficking Trap; Healing the World —back to the future? Hager also wrote the script for the dramatised documentary ‘He Drove Me Mad’(Point of View Productions, 2008).
The Crossing - Book One of the Blood of the Lamb trilogy, published by Random House NZ in September 2009, was described by Margaret Mahy as ‘Like 1984 for teenagers – direct, passionate and powerful.’ The Crossing was listed as a 2010 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book.
Into the Wilderness – Book Two of the Blood of the Lamb trilogy was published by Random House NZ in 2010. The final book in the Blood of the Lamb trilogy, Resurrection, was published by Random House NZ in 2011.
Mandy Hager's novel The Nature of Ash was published by Random House NZ in 2012. The Nature of Ash was a finalist in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards in the Young Adult Fiction category, and won the LIANZA Young Adult award. Says Awards Convener Pene Walsh of The Nature of Ash, “The strong and extremely well-developed characters, along with the dystopian theme, formed an action-packed story that in many ways reflects the current issues facing humankind today.”
Mandy Hager was the recipient of the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship for 2014.
Last updated 9 August 2013.
writers in schools information
Hager is able to visit schools as part of the Book Council's Writers in Schools programme. She is happy to talk to children aged 10 years and over, and can speak to a large or small group. She is able to discuss being a teen and adult fiction writer, as well as a non-fiction writer and scriptwriter. Hager can give an introduction and talk, and give a reading and Q&A session. She can travel outside of her region with prior notice, though she prefers to speak to one class group per visit.
KAPAI: Kids' Authors Pictures and Information
Where do you live?
In Melrose, Wellington. We live in a house right on top of a hill with Lyall Bay on one side, and the zoo on the other.
What sort of books do you like to read?
I read all sorts of books. Lots of New Zealand fiction — and lots of non-fiction. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of books about evolution.
Do you have a favourite author?
I don’t have one favourite author — there are so many wonderful writers. In New Zealand I greatly admire Maurice Gee and Sheryl Jordan.
How do you think up your ideas?
Little snippets of things people say; weird articles out of the newspapers; things I see around me, or that I have experienced.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
Doing the thing I really love to do.
Some questions from Primary School students
Do you have any pets?
I have one black and white cat called Petal and a pond full of goldfish.
Do you have a favourite colour?
My favourite colours are gold and blue.
What is your favourite food?
My favourite food is crusty bread and salads.
Do you have a favourite movie?
My favourite movie is Adaptation.
Do you have a favourite game?
My favourite game is Scrabble.
What do you enjoy most about being an author?
Researching things that I know nothing about beforehand. Meeting lots of interesting people. Getting paid to tell lies!
How do you make books?
I don’t make books – I write stories! A publisher makes my story into a book.
Where do you go for your holidays?
I don’t go on many holidays. I used to spend a lot of time in the Marlborough Sounds. A holiday, to me, is being able to stay in bed and read all day!
What was the naughtiest thing you ever did at school?
I hate to admit it, but I really can’t remember being naughty at school. I do remember my Intermediate School teacher getting pretty mad at me the day I told him he was being immature! Anyway, if I could remember doing anything really bad — I wouldn’t tell you!
Some questions from Secondary School students
How did you start writing?
I don’t remember. I have loved writing ever since I can remember. When I was at Primary School I won a newspaper competition for writing and illustrating my own book – that was pretty encouraging!
Who inspired you to start writing?
My parents. There were always lots of wonderful books in our house and I was always read to, even as a baby. Reading was always valued — and later, writing was encouraged, too.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to be a writer?
Just keep at it — never give up! Believe in yourself. Write stories that you want to read.
Is it difficult to make a living as a writer in New Zealand?
Very, very, very!!!
What were you like as a teenager?
I was pretty quiet and shy. I worked hard at college. For one whole year (when I was about 13) I only communicated to my parents through notes — I wouldn’t speak to them! If one of my kids did that to me now, I’d really hate it!
What’s the most disgusting thing you do?
I have this terrible habit of eating really fast — so that I finish hours before anyone else. Then I start talking and somehow always end up describing something really disgusting and off-putting, or telling stories with lots of pooh and guts in them.
If you could be something other than a writer what would you be?
If I could start my life again, I’d love to be an opera singer. It must be the most amazing feeling to sing like that. Or maybe I’d be an archeologist … or a scientist … or a political scientist … or a … there are so many wonderful things to learn about and never enough time to learn them all.
- Hager is featured in the 2000 Spring issue of BRAT: Books for Readers and Teachers
- Interview with NZ Children’s Authors
- Wings: ePress Interview
- See Hager’s hip hop resource The Next at the Global Education Centre
- Create Reader’s Review
- Book profile of Smashed on the Random House website