Ken Catran is an award-winning children’s writer and scriptwriter who has written for some of New Zealands best-loved television series. He has won many awards for his television scripts and in 1986 was a finalist for Best Overseas Programme at the US Emmy Awards. His books for children and young adults engage with the historical, the fantastical, and science fiction. He has been shortlisted many times in the New Zealand Post Book Awards and won Book of the Year in 2001. In 2004 he won the Esther Glen Award for a distinguished contribution to literature at the LIANZA Childrens Book Awards.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catran, Ken (1944 –) is a children's writer and scriptwriter who has written for some of New Zealand's best-loved television series including ‘Close to Home’ and ‘Shortland Street’.
His novel Voyage with Jason (2000) won Best in Senior Fiction and was named Book of the Year at the 2001 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. A second novel, Talking to Blue (2000) was also shortlisted in the same category.
Catran's awards for television productions include Best Drama in the 1984 Feltex Awards for ‘Children of the Dog Star’. The series ‘Hanlon’ won the 1986 Best Drama Script award, and was a finalist for the Best Overseas Programme category of the 1986 Emmy Awards in the USA.
His fiction titles for young adults include Deepwater Black and Dream-Bite, both shortlisted for the senior fiction category of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults in 1993 and 1995. Many of his titles have a science fiction focus as evident in titles like Doomfire on Venus (from the Solar Colonies trilogy) and Space-Wolf.
Mall Rats (2001) is based on the television series ‘The Tribe.’
‘Ken Catran writes well,’ writes Jo Noble in Well Read. ‘He's compelling, he puts the reader right there sharing all the horror, the fear and the hopelessness with his characters.’ Other titles by Catran are Taken at the Flood (2001) and Blue Murder (2002) which is the sequel to Talking to Blue.
Letters from the Coffin Trenches (2002) is an historical novel of World War I as seen through the eyes of seventeen-year-old enlistee Harry and his girlfriend Jessica. The story is told in the form of letters between the two, which reveal their gradual disenchantment with the war, its cause and effects. Letters from the Coffin-Trenches was shortlisted for the 2003 LIANZA Esther Glen Medal, and was listed as a 2003 Storylines Notable Senior Fiction Book. Tomorrow The Dark (2002) tells the tale of Jon and Bronwyn, survivors who battle bizarre, mutant horrors. The work was also listed as a 2003 Storylines Notable Senior Fiction Book.
Road Kill, Taken at the Flood and Blue Murder were listed as 2002 Storylines Notable Senior Fiction Books.
Something Weird About Mr Foster (2002) is a book for 8-13 year olds. Joe Bennet has doubts about his teacher, Mr Foster, when he spies him retrieving a ball by stretching his arm halfway across a carpark. When confronted, Mr Foster comes clean — he's from outer space. The work was listed as a 2003 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book.
Tomorrow the Dark, Something Weird About Mr Foster and Letters From the Coffin-Trenches were all shortlisted for the 2003 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Artists are Crazy and Other Stories (2003) is a book of eight racy tales about famous events and people in history- the cats of Ancient Egypt, Leonardo da Vinci and his inventions, Colombus and more.
Jacko Moran: Sniper (2003). Jacko Moran, boy soldier, grows up quickly in the vortex of war... from slum kid and street-fighter to sniper and war hero, finding a deadly truth.
Lin and the Red Stranger (2003) was a finalist in the young adult fiction section of the 2004 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. The work was also listed as a 2004 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book.
Bloody Liggie was published in 2003. ‘Liggie Tanner, with an axe, Gave her step-mum forty whacks …’ ‘Bloody’ Liggie was locked away but broke out ... She drowned crossing a river. So … the end of Liggie?
Jacko Moran: Sniper won the Esther Glen Award for a distinguished contribution to literature at the LIANZA Children's Book Awards in 2004.
More Weird Stuff About Mr Foster, the sequel to Something Weird About Mr Foster, was published by Scholastic in 2004.
Robert Moran: Private (Lothian Books, 2004) is the second book in the Moran quartet about a family whose war spills over into peace. Jack Moran was a war hero. But the demons of war follow him home, where he is drunk and violent. His son Robert hates him, and swears never to be like him. When WWII comes and Robert joins up, war engulfs him as it once engulfed his father. Robert Moran: Private was a finalist in the young adult fiction category of the 2005 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It was also a finalist for The Esther Glen Award at the 2005 LIANZA Childrens Book Awards.
Seal Boy was published by Random House in 2004. Abducted aboard a whaling ship, fourteen-year-old Emmet from Boston must take part in the great hunts — chancing his life in violent encounters with the massive beasts. Then he is caught amongst the flames and panic of a burning town, in faraway New Zealand.
Both Robert Moran: Private and Seal Boy were listed as 2005 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Books.
Protus Rising (University of Queensland Press and Penguin Books, 2004) is a young adult science fiction novel by Ken Catran.
Something Wicked This Way Comes (Scholastic, 2005) is the story of Brad Foster, the town of Crossing's Mr Cool. Brad has the perfect life, until strangers appear and begin to interfere, and familiar people start to behave very weirdly. Suddenly everything seems a different sort of wicked.
Sea of Mutiny (Random House, 2005), is a story about the mutiny that took place on Lieutenant William Blighs ship HMS Bounty on 28 April, 1789. Catran tells the story through John Hallett, sixteen-year-old midshipman on the Bounty. The work was listed as a 2006 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book.
In 2007, Catran received the Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award for distinguished contribution to children's literature. In the same year, he was the Writer in Residence at Waikato University.
Red Leader Down (Random House New Zealand) and Monsters of Blood and Honour (Random House New Zealand) were listed as Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Books, in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
Nina of the Dark (HarperCollins NZ, 2009) sees Catran make another foray into the world of fantasy, with a strong heroine caught up in following a destiny not of her own making.
Ken Catran's novel Earth Dragon, Fire Hare was published by HarperCollins NZ in 2012. Earth Dragon, Fire Hare was a finalist in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards in the Young Adult Fiction category.
MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS
- Ken Catran is available for school visits as part of the Book Council's Writers in Schools programme.
- Jacko Moran: Sniper features in the Summer 2003 Issue of BRAT: Books for Readers and Teachers
- Bloody Liggie features in the Winter 2004 Issue of BRAT.
Updated April 2013.