Bernard Beckett is an author of children’s and young adult fiction, and a secondary-school teacher whose knowledge of teenage culture is reflected in his credible adolescent characters. He has published numerous novels, and won many awards for his fiction, including the Young Adult Fiction Category of the 2005 New Zealand Post Book Awards and the 2005 Esther Glen Award at the LIANZA Childrens Book Awards. His novel Genesis, which won the Young Adult Category in the 2007 New Zealand Post Book Awards, made publishing history when UK publisher Quercus Books offered the largest advance ever for a young adult novel in New Zealand.
Beckett, Bernard (1967 –) is a children's writer and secondary school teacher, whose knowledge of teenage culture is reflected in his believable adolescent characters.
His first novel for young adults is Lester (1999). Lester is a tramp who returns to a small New Zealand town just as an evangelical mission is becoming established. ‘This is an accomplished first novel that realistically portrays teenagers' concerns (including sex) and shows them conscientiously engaged in their own town,’ writes Jill Holt in the NZ Listener.
Beckett's second novel is Red Cliff (2000). It tells the story of a teenage boy's attempts to ‘beef up’ to impress the most popular girl in the school.
Predictably, Samuel's body-building project does not work out as planned.
Beckett's chilling psychological thriller Jolt (2002) was a finalist in the senior fiction category at the 2002 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults .It was also included in the 2002 Storylines Notable Senior Fiction List.
No Alarms (2002) revolves around Sharon, who lives with her mother, Kaz, and brother Zinny. Sharon's in trouble at school, hates her home life and blames the system for her failures. She is is a classic teenager in a classic situation which few New Zealanders have been able to explore with such perception. The work was listed as a 2003 Storylines Notable Senior Fiction Book.
3 Plays: Puck, Plan 10 from Outer Space, The End of the World As We Know It (2003) is a volume of three large-cast plays which provide 'twisted new takes on the business of being a teenager.'
In 2003, Beckett travelled to the Melbourne Writer's Festival as part of the New Zealand Book Council Trans-Tasman Exchange.
Set in London immediately following World War Two, Home Boys (2003) follows two boys sent halfway across the world because someone thought it would be better for them. The book captures the world of Colin and Dougal — on the run and in search of a place to belong.
Malcolm and Juliet (Longacre Press, 2004) is a ‘hilarious, with a marvellous sting in the tail’ comedy about Malcolm, a 16-year-old with the mind of a scientist, the body of a teenager, and an ambition to reconcile the two. He embarks upon his latest research project — sex.
Malcolm and Juliet won Best in Young Adult Fiction at the 2005 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It also received the Esther Glen Award at the 2005 LIANZA Children's Book Awards. The judges said of the novel: 'Malcolm and Juliet combines quirky humour with a sophisticated literary and theatrical style elevating the story into something more than simply farce or satire. Cleverly and tightly plotted with strong dialogue reflecting the novel’s origins in a stage-play, this book challenges readers and keeps them guessing. Loose ends are tied up in an appropriately stylised, Shakespearean way.' Malcom and Juliet was listed as a 2005 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book.
Beckett co-wrote Deep Fried (Longacre Press, 2005), with Clare Knighton, one of his former students. Deep Fried tackles controversial themes, and fuses social satire with the plot elements of a thriller. It was nominated in the young adult category for the 2006 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and was also listed as a 2006 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book.
In 2007, he also received two awards for his novel Genesis (Longacre Press): the Young Adult Fiction Award at the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and the Esther Glen Award at the LIANZA Children's Book Awards. Genesis was also listed as a 2007 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book.
In 2010 he won another accolade for Genesis, this time France’s prestigious Prix Sorcieres.
His young adult novel August was published in 2011 by Text Publishing. It is the second in a series of three books, the first of which was Genesis.
Beckett is the 2012 Writer in Residence at Victoria University of Wellington.
- Bernard Beckett's website
- Bernard Beckett: Playing with the rules of YA gravity - Book Council e-newsletter interview
- Bernard Beckett's Text Publishing profile
- Home Boys features in the Winter 2004 Issue of BRAT: Books for Readers and Teachers
- Interview with Christchurch City Libraries
- Jolt - Random House