Grochowicz, Joanna

Grochowicz, Joanna

Information

residence
Auckland
Primary publisher
Allen & Unwin

In Brief

Joanna Grochowicz is a novelist specialising in narrative non-fiction. Her debut novel, Into the White: Scott’s Antarctic Odyssey (Allen & Unwin 2017), a dramatic retelling of the Terra Nova expedition, was named as a finalist in the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Grochowicz’s work has been called ‘meticulously researched and compellingly told’. Her second novel Amundsen’s Way (Allen & Unwin) is due for release in May 2019.

Joanna Grochowicz was born in 1972 in Auckland. She attended Rangitoto College on Auckland’s North Shore and Lycée Massena in Nice on the French Riviera. In 1997 Grochowicz completed a Master of Arts degree in Russian Language and Literature.

After a varied career working in corporate communications, Grochowicz obtained a Masters of Creative Writing from The University of Auckland, with Witi Ihimaera as her mentor.

One of Grochowicz’s main aims as a writer is to make history accessible to young people. By fusing the real and the imagined in her stories of early Antarctic exploration, she reveals the human aspirations and tragedies that have shaped our understanding of what remains an utterly inhuman place.

Grochowicz is a sought-after public speaker and has appeared at literary festivals in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Her entertaining and interactive school sessions have proven particularly popular with students and teachers alike. Grochowicz has made over 100 school visits both in New Zealand and the United Kingdom and shared the Terra Nova’s story of great friendship, bravery and resilience with over 10,000 children and young people.

‘Children and young people have an incredible capacity to absorb complex information and ideas if presented in a compelling way,’ Grochowicz told the New Zealand Herald in June 2018. ‘Tight chapters and good forward momentum - if a children’s book executes these well, I believe the author can embark on any topic however sophisticated and readers will follow. Into the White contains a fair amount of historical detail as well as some quite adult concepts such as national identity, personal ambition and team dynamics alongside themes of resilience and self- sacrifice which could be quite burdensome for a younger audience if not woven into a narrative. From that point of view, I didn’t feel the need to write for children per se. It was more important to convey an exciting story that children could enjoy without any prior knowledge of the period or the personalities involved.

‘I think you need to trust that young readers can get a handle on tough stuff. Engaging characters play a vital role in this regard - the emotional toll as well as the extreme physical hardship of the polar journey is difficult to fathom otherwise. I certainly haven’t sugar-coated the story – from the conversations about ending it all with a pill to the final tragedy – it’s all laid bare for the readers to process and ponder. Was it fair? Who was to blame? What could have been done differently? Was it worth it? If my readers are thinking about these things when they finish the book, I’ve done my job.’

Into the White was listed as one of 2017’s Best Books for Kids by The Listener, and international praise has included the following comments:

‘An astonishing work of narrative non-fiction.’ The Scotsman

‘This powerful re-imagining brings history alive.’ Booklist USA

Thrilling and chilling.’ Herald Sun, Melbourne.

‘Grochowicz demonstrates outstanding writing.’ Children’s Book Council of Australia.

‘The reader is truly carried along.’ The Sapling

Joanna Grochowicz is based in Auckland, where she lives with her husband Pawel and two teenage sons.

MEDIA AND LINKS

Joanna Grochowicz's website

Into The White on Facebook

Updated January 2018.