Rachael King is a novelist and short story writer. She gained a Masters in Creative Writing from Victoria University in 2001 and has worked in television and radio. Her first novel, The Sound of Butterflies, has been published in nine countries, including Greece and Russia. It won the NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction at the 2007 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, (now known as the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards). King has since published two more novels – Magpie Hall in 2009, and Red Rocks in 2013.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
KING, Rachael (1970 – ) is a novelist and short story writer. Born in Hamilton, King was educated at the University of Auckland and gained a Masters in Creative Writing from Victoria University in 2001. She has worked as a researcher for television, a radio presenter and in advertisement sales for magazines. She also spent ten years playing bass guitar for a number of Flying Nun bands.
King has had a number of short stories published in anthologies, including, ‘Cold Hands’ in Home: New Short Short Stories by New Zealand Writers (Random House, 2005) and ‘Next Stop Antarctica’, in Creative Juices (HarperCollins, 2002).
Her first novel, The Sound of Butterflies (Black Swan, 2006), tells the story of Thomas, a 19th century naturalist, who after collecting butterflies in the Brazilian rainforests, arrives home scarred and withdrawn, refusing to speak to his wife Sophie about what happened. Reviewing the novel in NZ Listener (July 29, 2006), Caren Wilton commented that: ‘There’s a potent array of material here: a love story, exotic settings, sex, travel, colonialism, some disturbing scenes of abasement and brutality, and, at the heart of the book, the mystery of Thomas’s silence. Tension builds and as the novel goes on, King’s narrative is well paced.’
The Sound of Butterflies has been published the UK and the US and translated into seven other languages, including Greek and Russian. It won the NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction at 2007 Montana New Zealand Book Awards (now known as the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards). Dr Paul Millar, convenor of the judging panel, said that 'Rachael King’s strength is her rich, lush and sensuous prose; she has a forte for depicting characters we feel compelled to empathise with'.
King won the 2005 Lilian Ida Smith Award, and was the 2008 Ursula Bethell Writer in Residence at Canterbury University.
In King's second novel, Magpie Hall (Random House 2009), Rosemary Summers is an amateur taxidermist and a collector of tattoos. After the death of her grandfather, she returns alone to Magpie Hall to claim her inheritance: Grandpa's own inherited taxidermy collection. As she sorts through this family legacy, the ghosts of her family's past make their presence known. The New Zealand Herald said of Magpie Hall, "her prose is effortless, whether she is writing description or dialogue, in the English of the twenty-first or nineteenth century- there's neither fuss nor frills, but absolute conviction. As with The Sound of Butterflies, the narrative is underpinned with sound research without it being overwhelmed with details for the sake of it" (December 2009).
Rachael King's novel Red Rocks was published by Random House NZ in 2012. Red Rocks was a finalist in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards (now known as the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults) in the Junior Fiction category. At the 2013 LIANZA Children's Book Awards (has now merged with the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults), King was awarded the much coveted Esther Glen Medal for Red Rocks.
Awards Convener Pene Walsh said of the novel: “although dealing with issues of a broken family, loneliness and bullying, this is an enjoyable and easy read, the story interwoven with myth, is written in a way that makes it entirely believable.”
Rachael King took up the role of Literary Director of The Christchurch Writers’ Festival in 2013.
Rachael King is a judge for the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS
- ‘Magpie Country’, a short story by Rachael King in Turbine.
- Rachael King's website
- WORD Christchurch website
- Rachael King on Twitter
- Sunday Star Times Q&A with Rachael King
- Rachael King's Goodreads author page
- Bookmarks with Jesse Mulligan 1-4pm
- Review of Red Rocks on The Reader
- Review of Red Rocks in Hooked on NZ Books
- Rachael King's best books of 2015 on the Spinoff
Updated February 2017.