Rachael King – Author

Rachael King was born in New Zealand to a bookish family – her father Michael King (who died in 2004) was one of New Zealand’s most prominent authors, and her mother Ros Henry is a publisher.

After leaving school she embarked on a university education but was distracted along the way playing bass guitar in several rock bands and touring the country, and by a year spent travelling through Europe at the tender age of 21.

After finally gaining her Bachelor of Arts from Auckland University in 1994, she began working in radio, hosting an arts program on 95bFM and selling advertising, a career she continued through magazines, and which funded her growing passion for writing fiction.

Rachael completed a Masters in Creative Writing from the acclaimed International Institute of Modern Letters at Wellington’s Victoria University in 2001, after which she began work on The Sound of Butterflies, which was published worldwide and translated into eight foreign languages. In 2007 it won the Montana New Zealand Book Award for Best First Novel.

In 2008 Rachael was the Ursula Bethell Writer in Residence at Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand, where she lives with her husband and two sons. Magpie Hall was published in New Zealand in November 2009, and Red Rocks, her first novel for children, in 2012. It won the Esther Glen medal for junior fiction, New Zealand’s longest-running literary award, at the 2013 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards.

Rachael was the programme director of the WORD Christchurch Festival for eight years until the end of 2021; in her time, it was transformed into an internationally renowned event. In 2017 she selected and accompanied a New Zealand contingent for the Edinburgh International Book Festival and appeared herself in a sell-out session with Scottish children’s writer Lari Don for Red Rocks.

Her invitation to WORD in 2019 allowed exiled Kurdish writer Behrouz Boochani, author of No Friend but the Mountains, to visit New Zealand, where he successfully applied for asylum after six years in Australia’s notorious Manus Island detention prison. Rachael received a Waitangi Day Honour Award from the NZSA (PEN) for her role in securing his freedom.

Rachael has now gone back to her first love – writing. In 2022 she received a Creative New Zealand grant to write two linked books: a novel for children (another retelling of a Celtic myth set in Aotearoa in the vein of Red Rocks), and a book of creative non-fiction.