Ella West was born in Invercargill. When she had read her way through the children’s library she used her older brother’s card and began on the adult section.
She intended to study science like her brothers at the University of Otago but a drama camp she went to when she was fifteen made up her mind to persuade her parents to let her study English literature instead. She completed a BA at Victoria University.
A university holiday job, reporting at the Southland Times, taught her an understanding of the craft of writing and led her to the West Coast after a stint at the Evening Post in Wellington. In Westport, the journalist married a shearer and together they went dairy farming on the banks of the Buller River. It was there, between getting the cows in for milking, teaching drama and raising two sons, she wrote her first novel, Thieves, which was shortlisted in the New Zealand Post Book Awards the following year.
Anywhere But Here and Real Life quickly followed to complete the Thieves Trilogy and her many fans are wanting a fourth book.
She and her family now live on a rural property at Janefield near Dunedin, where Ella writes full time when she isn’t chasing sheep and cattle on the farm.
Her book Night Vision won the 2015 Young Adult section of the LIANZA Awards and was the Young Adult Children’s Choice winner in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Writing Workshops for Kids
We Can Be Heroes – Just For One Day
Ella looks at the importance of heroes in writing and what makes characters special. Combining role playing and writing exercises (with a little help from David Bowie), students will find characters that will make them want to tell a story.
The Rules of the Game
When kids get stuck writing it’s usually because they don’t understand the rules. Just like a game of netball or rugby (okay, AFL – but you might have to explain that one to Ella otherwise she’ll be shouting go All Blacks from the side lines), stories also have a set of rules. And once kids know them, they won’t be on the side lines anymore – they’ll be in the action writing the story.
Ella can also talk about her books, how she became a writer and how she finds new stories to write about from everyday life. Although she loves teaching the writing nerds in the school and talking about their favourite books with them, all kids have to be able to write creatively to pass school exams so please think about letting her help the kids who aren’t so keen as well. Everyone has stories to tell, and everyone’s story should be important.