Topp, Aaron

Topp, Aaron


Hawke's Bay
Primary publisher
Random House NZ, HarperCollins AU
Rights enquiries
Total Fiction Services Agency -
Publicity enquiries
Total Fiction Services Agency - or c/- the relevant publisher

In Brief

Aaron Topp is a teacher and a writer. His first book Single Fin (Random, 2006) is a coming-of-age story about a boy obsessed with surfing. Based on a true story, Single Fin won an Honour Award in the Young Adult Fiction Category of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2007. His second book, Creating Waves, is a series of mini-biographies of famous creative New Zealanders who surf. Aaron Topp is available to visit secondary schools as part of the Writers in Schools programme.


Topp, Aaron (1975 - ) writes young adult fiction. He was born in Waipukurau and has worked as a primary school teacher. He currently lives in the Hawke’s Bay.

His first book, Single Fin (Random House, 2006), is a coming of age tale about a boy obsessed with surfing, based on a true story. The work won the Young Adult Fiction Honour Award at the 2007 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and was also listed as a 2007 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book.

Creating Waves: How Surfing Inspires our most Creative New Zealanders (HarperCollins, 2009) is an exploration of the relationship of the role surfing and the sea plays in the creative lives of a selection of leading musicians, painters, sculptors, poets and fellow writers. A reviewer for Boat Books said 'Full of fascinating insights into New Zealand's surfing world, Creating Waves will make you want to pick up the surfboard and head for the beach.'

2015 saw the publication of Topp's Young Adult novel Hucking Cody: A Tale of Betrayal, Jealousy, Brotherly Love and Freeriding (Mary Egan Publishing). The novel tells the story of Cody, a young mountain biker whose unlucky run with girls, his family, and his job starts him on a journey of self-discovery. Hucking Cody received a Storylines Notable Book Award in 2016 and was a finalist for the Young Adult Fiction Award in the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Last updated September 2016.


Aaron Topp is available to visit secondary schools as part of the Writers in Schools programme. He enjoys discussing the journey to becoming a writer, tips on being a successful writer, and his novel Single Fin;and will speak on specific focusses like voice or tone as required. He would prefer to speak to classes from 20 students upwards, and is happy to run workshops for smaller groups as well, by prior arrangement.


Where do you live?
In rural Central Hawke’s Bay

What kinds of books do you like to read?
Mostly New Zealand fiction of any genre.

Who is your favourite writer?
I get inspired by so many authors for different reasons it’s impossible to choose one.

How do you think up your ideas?
By observing life and not restricting the possibilities.

What is the best thing about being an author?
That’s double barrelled: one is the satisfaction of placing the final ‘full-stop’ after months / years of living in a parallel world. The second is knowing that it was enjoyed by readers.

Primary School Students

What sort of pets do you have?
George the horse, Max the Dalmatian, and Buffy the cat.

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite food?
Pizza and my wife’s apple crumble.

What is your favourite movie?
The Star Wars series and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

What is your favourite game?
Rugby, surfing, mountain biking, and Hungry Hippos (which my three-year-old son always beats me at).

What is the most fun thing about being an author?
Escaping the real world for a few hours each day.

How do you make books?
By getting into a routine and ignoring the TV (except when the Hurricanes or All Blacks are playing.). The publisher does a splendid job of actually putting the pages together and getting them into bookshops.

Where do you go for your holidays?
Anywhere there’s surf, mainly Castlepoint and the Taranaki.

What was the naughtiest thing you ever did at school?
At boarding school a couple of mates and I were determined to be the last students in New Zealand to have the cane, which was being banned the next day. We spent that Sunday going out of our way to be rebellious so a resident teacher would catch us and send us into his office, where we’d secretly claim our title.

I learnt that my friends were actually a couple of goody two shoes and that teachers are pretty relaxed people on a Sunday.

Secondary School Students

How did you get started?
Something inside tells you to write things – it’s a creative surge that doesn’t like being bottled up. For as long as I can remember, once I started writing, I couldn’t stop until everything had sufficient closure. By the age of twelve, I’d discovered that my writing could entertain my peers and that became an addiction. That’s when I decided I wanted to write a novel when I grew up.

I continued writing in my spare time throughout college, but then stupidly let it fall aside when I left for Teachers College. I took it up again five years later when I was 24 years old, and set a goal of being published by the time I reached the age of 30. Two months after my 30th birthday, one of my manuscripts was accepted.

Who inspired you when you were getting started?
Initially, Craig Marriner opened my eyes to what a New Zealand novel could be like, while Tim Corballis’s writing helped me find my voice. Being a writer out in the country is a lonely life, so I found their books, among others, helped build a foundation.

Between reading books, a lot of my inspiration comes from listening to music, or more specifically, the lyrics. Often if I find myself lacking creativity, one line of well written lyric can have me turning on the laptop. During these moments I can always rely on Ryan Adams, Jack Johnson, Thom Yorke and Adam Duritz.

What advice would you give an aspiring young writer?
Set a goal. Get into a routine. Read everything. Learn how to self-edit. Know your market. Don’t throw away anything (no matter how bad you think it is). Don’t ever give up. Write with passion, and have fun.

Is it difficult to make a living writing in New Zealand?
I’d imagine. However, anything’s possible if the right story cracked the right market. Until then, I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon.

What were you like as a teenager?
Desperately cool, a know-it-all, poor decision maker, fit, easily persuaded, vain, a slave to marketing, pimply, determined... some of the best years of my life actually.

Updated January 2017.