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McVeagh, Janine
Writer's File

Janine McVeagh

Northland - Te Tai Tokerau
McVeagh, Janine
In brief
Born and educated in Napier, Janine McVeagh specialises in YA historical fiction. Her first book, Earthquake: The Diary of Katie Bourke, Napier 1930-31 (2004) was written as part of Scholastic’s My Story series. It tells the story of eleven-year old Katie’s Bourke during the great depression in Napier. Her second book, Be Counted: The Diary of Amy Phelps, Dunedin 1893 (2007), focuses on a young girl navigating nineteenth-century Dunedin during the suffrage campaign. McVeagh’s most recent book, Grandad’s Guitar (2017) has been praised for its depiction of recent New Zealand history. McVeagh lives in Hokianga.
  • Primary publisher
    Makaro Press, Scholastic
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  • Publicity enquiries

McVeagh, Janine (1946 - ) was born in Napier. She has studied at Victoria University of Wellington, Christchurch College of Education and Australia’s Charles Sturt University. However, it was a creative writing course run by Dame Fiona Kidman that first began her career as an author

McVeagh began writing while at home being a full-time mum. Her stories have been broadcast on radio and published in the New Zealand School Journal. Her first book, Waimamaku: A Very Special Settlement, was published in 1988. As well as numerous other non-fiction articles and books, McVeagh has written two books for My Story: a series of historical novels for older children published by Scholastic New Zealand. Each book is written in the form of a fictional diary of a young person living during an important event or time period of New Zealand history.

Earthquake: The Diary of Katie Bourke, Napier, 1930–31 (Scholastic 2004) is told through the eyes of eleven-year old Katie Bourke, growing up during the depression in Napier. The novel culminates with the 1931 Napier earthquake and its aftermath on the community. McVeagh did extensive research for the project, interviewing family members who grew up in Napier during the 1930s, and reading extensive manuscripts and letters from the period.

Be Counted: The Diary of Amy Phelps, Dunedin 1893 (Scholastic 2007) tells the story of a young girl who is sent to stay with her aunt and uncle in Dunedin when her father takes to the bottle. The backdrop is Amy's observations of her Aunt's involvement with the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and the struggle to get women the vote.

The Trouble with Water (Hihi Press online at Smashwords, 2016) is a contemporary YA novel which follows 16-year-old Trina and her young brother as they navigate their lives on their own in a community that is dealing with issues of water pollution.

McVeagh published her first picture book, Grandad’s Guitar, in 2017 with illustrations by Fifi Colston. Janine lives in Hokianga with her family including Kahu and his mum, Jessie, four brown hens and a small brown dog called Nala. She has recently retired from teaching on the Northtec online writing course.