Deborah Challinor has been made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature and historical research. She was this country’s highest-selling author in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
“It was a real shock as I opened the letter,” the 59 year old said of the moment she discovered she was being honoured for services to literature and historical research in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
“I won’t tell you precisely the words that came out of my mouth, because your subeditor will just have to edit those words out of the story anyway.
“It’s a huge, huge honour … I have been shoving out books for 18 years now, and it feels really nice to be recognised. And it is really good that they are recognising commercial fiction. It’s a big win for commercial fiction in New Zealand.”
In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Deborah Challinor was New Zealand’s highest selling author. All of her historical novels – including her ongoing series The Smuggler’s Wife and Convict Girls – have appeared in the top five of the New Zealand fiction bestseller list, six reaching the number one spot.
She has also written nonfiction: Grey Ghosts, based on the research she did for her PhD at Waikato University on New Zealand soldiers and the Vietnam War, and Who’ll Stop the Rain? which is about the effects of Agent Orange on the children of Vietnam veterans.
“Writing a book is not just an author. It’s a whole team,” she said. “There are editors who go through and catch all the mistakes, there are a group of marketing people, there are the publicity people. I can write a book, but if people are not going to buy it, it’s not going anywhere.”
“It sort of feels like it’s someone else who is having that success. I spend so much of my time writing on my own, so much time shutting myself away … that I end up dissociating myself from it.”