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Ella West

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Last updated by Anne Kenneally 

Ella West

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Ella West lives near Dunedin and writes novels for teenagers and plays for adults.  Her first book, Thieves(Longacre Press, 2006), is a thriller that revolves around Nicky, a girl who is taken by a sinister group called The Project. Thieves was a finalist in the 2007 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and was listed as a 2007 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book. Reviewing Thieves for Magpies, Trevor Agnew called it ‘the best teenage science fiction novel I have read this century', while in the Otago Daily Times, award-winning young adult writer Tania Roxborough declared it an ‘action-packed adventure' which she ‘couldn't put down'.  

West was awarded the Louis Johnson New Writers’ Bursary in 2006 and in 2010 she was the University of Otago College of Education Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence.

Anywhere but Here (2008) is the sequel to Thieves. The novel was a finalist in the SFFANZ (Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand) Sir Julius Vogel Awards 2009. The third book in the series, Real Life(2009), was intended to be the final book in the trilogy, however, following requests from readers, West is writing a fourth book called Finder Seeker. She is putting up a chapter each month on her blog (www.ellawest.wordpress.com)

In 2014 Night Vision was published by Allen and Unwin. The book is about a girl who lives on a Canterbury sheep farm who witnesses a murder.

Ella West’s Tips for Teaching Creative Writing:

1. Write what you are passionate about, not what you think the market wants – it means you are more likely to finish the story.  And if we all knew what the market wanted then we’d all be rich.

2. Obey the rules.  Readers get very upset when you kill off main characters or finish with a “no hope” ending.  Remember you are writing a story, not real life.  The two are very different.

3. Story has a structure – usually in three acts (beginning, middle, end).  Don’t try to reinvent the wheel and find your own story structure.

4. Read lots, buy lots of books and support your industry – if you don’t you shouldn’t expect anyone else to.

5. Don’t ever forget the advice of the King to the White Rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when writing: Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.  It works every time.


Thieves (Longacre Press 2006)

Anywhere But Here (Longacre Press 2008)

Real Life (Longacre Press 2009)

Night Vision (Allen & Unwin 2014)