Q. Are the old-fashioned letters and diary entries and articles in Spark Hunter real?
A. Yes, they are. The letter about McKinnon's disappearance, the articles Josh finds in class about the others who went missing, the diary entries that Nissa reads to Kaha - they are all real documents. Some of the news reports are based on real events, too. There was, for example, a big earthquake in Fiordland in 2009 that really did cause hundreds of summit-to-valley slips, and really did make the water in Doubtful Sound 'slosh around like it was a bathtub.'
Q. Where did you find all these? What kind of research did you do? How can I find out more?
I'm glad you asked! There are so many interesting people and places in Fiordland; so many stories of adventures and adventurers, so I would really encourage you to read more about the place. It really is one of the world's last great wildernesses, and we should, I think, do our best to both understand it and protect it. I've read so many books set in, or about Fiordland that I can't list the all here, but here is photo of some of them:
There's a swathe of great information available online too, of course.
I found the papers past website great for finding old articles written about the mysteries of Fiordland:
Ngāi Tahu's website is good for a bit of history, too. Their Ka Huru Manu project is really cool - it's an atlas showing all of the original Māori names for the rivers, lakes and settlements in Te Wai Pounamu; zoom into Fiordland and see not only what places were named, but why:
If you want to find out more about kākāpō or donate to recovery efforts:
You can find out more about all of New Zealand's birds (even the ones that are now extinct) here:
Q. Is there going to be a second Spark Hunter book?
A. Yes! Nissa and Tama haven’t finished with Forest Common yet; there’s much more of their story to tell, and I’m going to start work on it very soon.
Q. Can you come to my school?
A. Yes! I love visiting readers at their schools. You can ask your teacher to contact me through the contact page on this website or request an author visit through the Read NZ Writers in Schools Programme
Q. Do you live in Fiordland?
A. I live in Auckland at the moment. I did grow up in Southland, however. I went to school in Invercargill (just like Nissa), went to school camp in Deep Cove (just like Nissa), and every year I went camping in Manapōuri and Te Anau with my family (just like Nissa does, too).
I still love the place, and visit there as often as I can, usually once or twice a year.