Richardson, Paddy

Richardson, Paddy


Primary publisher
Upstart Press Ltd; Penguin NZ (backlist)
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In Brief

Paddy Richardson is the author of seven novels and two collections of short stories. Hunting Blind (Penguin, 2010) and Swimming in the Dark (Upstart Press, 2014) were finalists for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. She was the recipient of the 1997 University of Otago Burns Fellowship, the 2007 NZSA Peter & Dianne Beatson Fellowship, and the 2011 James Wallace Arts Trust Residency Award. Three of her novels, A Year to Learn a Woman, Hunting Blind and Traces of Red, have now been translated into German. Richardson lives and writes in Dunedin, where she also teaches courses in creative writing.


Richardson, Paddy (1950 - ) is a novelist and short story writer who lives in Broad Bay, Dunedin. As well as writing full-time Richardson is a manuscript assessor and mentor for the New Zealand Society of Authors, and tutor for the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme. A former primary school teacher and tertiary educator, she began experimenting with short story writing in her 30s.

Her first short story collection, Choices, was published in 1986 by Hard Echo Press, and her second short story collection If We Were Lebanese was published in 2003 by Steele Roberts. Many of her stories have been broadcast on Radio New Zealand and appear in New Zealand journals and anthologies, such as in Takehē and Landfall.

In 1997 Richardson was the recipient of the prestigious University of Otago Burns Fellowship. The fellowship provided Richardson with an office space within the University’s English Department, and was set up to encourage and promote the writing of imaginative New Zealand Literature. Richardson spent 1997 working on what would become her first published novel, The Company of a Daughter (2000), a literary saga depicting five generations of New Zealand women. Richardson called this novel ‘lyrical, slow-moving’ and ‘meditative.’ In the same year, she was shortlisted for the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Awards.

In 2005 Richardson received a grant from Creative New Zealand towards publishing a short story collection. She also won a highly commended award in the Sunday Star Times Awards.

In 2007 Richardson received the Foxton Fellowship, now known as the NZSA Peter & Dianne Beatson Fellowship. The fellowship included residency at the Beatson Cottage in Foxton on the Kapiti Coast, and a generous stipend, both of which allowed Richardson the time to write her second novel.

Richardson moved in a darker writing direction with her second novel, releasing her first crime novel A Year to Learn a Woman in 2008 (Penguin). The novel was reviewed on AustCrimeFiction as being a ‘frightening and sobering read’, a ‘deceptively creepy, sneaky, slow building tense [novel], that frankly is extremely discomforting to read . . . It’s not often that a crime fiction book makes you want to leave the lights on.’

Continuing in the crime thriller tradition, in 2010 Richardson released her third novel, Hunting Blind (Penguin). On Crime Watch Margot Kinberg reviewed Hunting Blind as a novel with ‘authentic’ characters, stating that the ‘novel is much the story of how survivors of tragedy cope as it is anything else.’ The novel was featured on the The Best Books of 2010 list and the NZ Listener 100 Best Books of 2010 list. Hunting Blind was also a finalist for the 2011 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.

In 2011 Paddy Richardson released Traces of Red (Penguin). It is the first of two Rebecca Thorne books, featuring a successful television journalist. On Crime Watch Kerrie Smith reviewed the novel: ‘By the time this book wound to its end, I was hardly daring to breath. Paddy Richardson is obviously an author I should have tried before, if Traces of Red is any indication.’

In the same year Richardson was the recipient of the 2011 James Wallace Arts Trust Residency Award. In association with the University of Otago, the Wallace Arts Trust extended its support of the arts in New Zealand to create the three month residency at the historic Pah Homestead in Auckland.

During her residency at the Pah Homestead, Richardson researched and wrote Cross Fingers, her next Rebecca Thorne book. It was releasedin 2013, and published by Hachette NZ. Lynne Street reviewed it for Booksellers NZ and said ‘[Richardson’s] unique twist on an historical event is conveyed in such a believable style I’ve caught myself Wiki’ing the tour and the police squads and protests. She has sparked something . . . And this is one book I’d suggest parents buy for their offspring too young to have been aware of how that tour affected New Zealand. It’s fiction, sure – but Richardson provides real food for thought better than any History teacher ever could!’ Nicky Pellegrino in the New Zealand Herald reviewed the novel as ‘a very New Zealand story, stylishly written and compellingly plotted.’

In 2012 Richardson was invited to represent New Zealand at the Leipzig and Frankfurt Book Fairs. After being inspired by her visit to the Leipzig Book Fair, Richardson wrote and released Swimming in the Dark, published by Upstart Press in 2014 and supported by a Creative New Zealand grant. Graham Beattie describes his reading experience, ‘The plan was to read a few chapters of Paddy Richardson's latest novel, Swimming In The Dark (Upstart Press), before having an early night. Hours later I was still there, utterly hooked into the story, obsessively turning the pages, sleep forgotten. It's that sort of book.’ The book earned her a place as a finalist for the 2015 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.

Richardson was a judge on the Copyright Licensing New Zealand / New Zealand Author Society Research Grant 2014­–2016 board.

As well as publishing well domestically, Richardson’s A Year to Learn a Woman, Hunting Blind and Traces of Red have all been translated and published in German. Swimming in the Dark was published in Australia by Pam Macmillan.

Richardson’s most recent novel, Through the Lonesome Dark (Upstart Press), was published in May 2017. Described as a novel which ‘navigates the territory between ‘Denniston Rose’ and ‘Birdsong’, Through the Lonesome Dark is an ‘engaging, at times heart-breaking novel’ with characters ‘so well-drawn . . . you feel like you are there.’

Media Links

  • Paddy Richardson’s Penguin profile
  • Paddy Richardson’s Upstart Press profile
  • Paddy Richardson’s Academy of New Zealand Literature profile
  • Paddy Richardson’s Goodreads profile
  • Craig Sisterson reviews A Year to Learn a Woman
  • Rae McGregor reviews Through the Lonesome Dark on Nine to Noon
  • Article on New Zealand crime writing, featuring some words from Paddy Richardson
  • Review of Traces of Red
  • Review of Traces of Red
  • Women’s Weekly interview with Paddy Richardson
  • Otago Daily News article about Paddy Richardson and the Wallace prize
  • Interview with Paddy Richardson by Emma Codd
  • New Zealand Herald review of Cross Fingers
  • Reading of Swimming in the Dark
  • Radio NZ review of Swimming in the Dark
  • Radio NZ review of Cross Fingers
  • Radio NZreview of Traces of Red
  • Radio NZ interview with Paddy Richardson on A Year to Learn a Woman
  • Paddy Richardson’s Facebook page
  • Paddy Richardson’s piece written for 4th Floor 2015, the Journal of the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme
  • Kiwi Crime review of Paddy Richardson’s career
  • Otago Daily Newsarticle on Paddy Richardson and the Foxton Fellowship
  • Paddy Richardson’s Dunedin Writers Festival Bio

Updated June 2017.