Kiwi women's fiction writers making headlines around the world

by Jenny Wheeler / 10 July, 2019

A Dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino.

New Zealand women's fiction writers are making bestseller lists worldwide. Here are a few of those making headlines.

Nicky Pellegrino

A Dream of Italy (Hachette, $30)

Nicky Pellegrino’s readers tell her if they can’t go to Italy on holiday, then reading one of her 11 novels full of friendship, food and fun is the next best thing. It’s a winning formula that saw 2017’s A Year at Hotel Gondola make local bestseller lists 13 weeks in a row.

A Dream of Italy is a heart-warming urban fable that’s an equally strong contender for top-selling status. Buy a crumbling, abandoned home in a picturesque mountain village for the price of a cup of coffee, and re-make your life.

Published in March during one of this country’s grimmest weeks, it offers an upbeat antidote to despair, accompanied by a new marketing tag, “up lit”, a fast-growing new category in popular fiction. True to type, it’s an uplifting, easy-to-read page turner that leaves a warm glow.

It may be a sign of the increasing acceptance of commercial fiction on the literary scene that Pellegrino spoke at the Auckland Writer’s Festival in May. It’s certainly true that women’s fiction regularly dominates the bestseller lists worldwide, and a growing band of New Zealand writers are sharing in that success. 

Nalini Singh
The New York Times top-selling author, known for her internationally successful Guild Hunter and Psy-Changeling paranormal romance series, recently published her first thriller, A Madness of Sunshine.

Catherine Bennetto
International rom-coms with “Bridget Jones” dilemmas: How Not to Fall in Love Actually, and Make or Break.

Nikki Crutchley
Her Coromandel mystery Nothing Bad Happens Here was a finalist in the 2018 Ngaio Marsh awards for Best First Novel.

Danielle Hawkins
Waikato veterinarian writing rural romance with an international following.

Catherine Robertson
Her “chick lit” novels have all hit No 1 in New Zealand. She hates the label, claiming it pushes writers into a “pink and fluffy” ghetto. Her novel Gabriel’s Bay moves firmly into contemporary fiction.

Soraya M. Lane
World War II historicals under the Amazon Lake Union imprint: Wives of War is a Kindle No 1 bestseller, The Spitfire Girls debuted in the top 100 Kindle books in the US and UK in March – yet it’s hard to find her work locally.

Tammy Robinson
Indie-published for years, attracting scores of five-star reviews and favourable comparisons to English writer JoJo Moyes. Recently landed an international publishing deal with her seventh novel, Differently Normal.

Jennifer Lane
Author of All our Secrets, winner of Best First Novel in the 2019 Ngaio Marsh awards (four of the five novelists in this section were women).

Dr Vanda Symon
Detective fiction. Her four-book Dunedin-based Sam Shephard series is being re-published in the UK after re-editing to emphasise the Kiwi setting and vernacular.

NZ romance authors with staying power
Wendy Vella, Yvonne Lindsay, Frances Housden, Sophia James and Karina Bliss (among many others). All have strong romance followings and have won awards, either as indie authors or with imprints like Harlequin. 

This article was first published in the June 2019 issue of North & South.

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