Skip to content
Orr, Sue
Writer's File

Sue Orr

Wellington - Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Orr, Sue
In brief
Sue Orr is a fiction writer. She also teaches creative writing at the IIML at Victoria University, and in Wellington prisons. She has a background in journalism and speechwriting. Her first book, a collection of short stories Etiquette for a Dinner Party (Vintage) was published in 2008, and her second collection, From Under the Overcoat (Vintage) in 2011. It was shortlisted for the NZ Post Book Awards and won the People’s Choice Award. Her first novel, The Party Line (Vintage) was published in 2015. Her fourth book and second novel, Loop Tracks, was published in 2021 by Victoria University Press. Sam Finnemore wrote in the NZ Listener,‘A compassionate, unflinching story that flows off the page. Loop Tracks is a major achievement.’ Orr’s work has appeared in literary journals and anthologies.
  • Primary publisher
    Random House, NZ
  • Publicity enquiries
    as above


Orr, Sue (1962 – ) is a fiction writer. She was born in Thames and grew up on a dairy farm on the Hauraki Plains. She attended Waikato University between 1980 and 1983 and completed a BA double major in History and French. She then attended Auckland Technical Institute in 1983 and studied for a Diploma in Journalism. In 2006 she completed a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Victoria University and in 2016 a PhD in Creative Writing at Victoria University.

Orr worked as a journalist in Tokoroa, Tauranga, Wellington, London and Paris. In 1996 she returned from France to work as a contract writer and speechwriter for Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright in Wellington. She continued in this field until 2006 when she completed her MA in Creative Writing. She has been writing fiction and teaching creative writing full-time since then.

Her first book, Etiquette for a Dinner Party: Short Stories, was published in 2008. V.R McBeth wrote in The Otago Daily Times 'Etiquette for a Dinner Party' is a wonderfully diverse, yet believable collection of characters and maladies stretching across a class New Zealand landscape.' Caren Wilton, in the NZ Listener, wrote, ‘These stories are intriguing, sharp-eyed exploration of gaps and misunderstandings between people, and gaps between hopes or expectations and reality, with some nicely black twists and turns thrown in.’

Etiquette for a Dinner Party: Short Stories also won the 2007 Lilian Ida Smith Award and was listed in the NZ Listener’s Top 100 Books of 2008.

Orr's second book, From Under the Overcoat, was published in 2011. It was a finalist in the NZ Post Book Awards for that year and won the NZ Post People's Choice Award. The judges described the stories as demonstrating 'a quicksilvery virtuosity of response to classic short stories drawn from the established canon of world literature. Her approach is conceptually clever, and an accomplished bravura exercise; but what really counts is her ability to make her tales in From Under the Overcoat her own with energetic inventions and skilful elaborations that pick you up and carry you along.’

Her first novel, The Party Line, was published in 2016 and spent several months in the bestseller lists. In 20201 she published her second novel, Loop Tracks (VUP) to universal acclaim.

Sue Orr lives in Wellington. She also teaches creative writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington. As a trustee and member of the Write Where You Are Trust, she teaches creative writing in Wellington prisons and women’s refuges.