Author of 'Seeds'
Joanna Orwin is a Christchurch writer, reader, tramper, gardener and grandmother. She had an adventurous childhood growing up on the outskirts of Nelson in the 1950s, free to explore the hills and the estuary, sail boats, climb trees and build huts. Books were a vital part of her childhood and she always had a pile waiting to be read –– borrowed from the library and presents for birthdays and Christmas. She read everywhere –– up in trees, out in her dinghy, and under her desk at school. At the same time, she wrote her own stories in exercise books and illustrated them. Always fascinated by the natural world, she studied botany and physical geography at university, then worked for the New Zealand Forest Service, first as a plant ecologist then as a science editor. Once Joanna had a family of her own, she started writing adventure stories that built on her love of New Zealand’s landscapes and interest in history. Most of her books for children and young adults have been shortlisted in the NZ Children’s Book Awards, and she has won her category twice, for The Guardian of the Land and Owl.
'I loved myths and legends, fairy tales, and classic adventure stories like Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, as well as Enid Blyton and other writers popular at the time. Swallows and Amazons and all of Arthur Ransome’s stories became all-time favourites. Vikings, Romans and medieval minstrels in stories by Rosemary Sutcliff, Henry Treece, and Geoffrey Trease brought the distant past into vivid life, and had the most influence on what I chose to write myself. The Narnia series by C. S Lewis, George MacDonald’s At the back of the North Wind, and Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli gave me a taste for magic and fantasy.
When my own children were reading independently, we discovered lots of new writers that became favourites –– among them, Peter Dickinson, Joan Aiken, Susan Cooper, Cynthia Voigt, Penelope Lively, Louise Lawrence, Diana Wynne-Jones – and of course, our own Margaret Mahy.'