Bernard portrait
I was born in New Zealand, in 1967. The fifth child of seven, I grew up amongst farmland five kilometres south of the nearest small town (Featherston, pop. 3000).

I attended a Catholic primary school, St Teresa’s and later Chanel College in Masterton. At the end of the school years I moved to Wellington, and completed a degree in Economics, then trained to become a high school teacher.

The teaching career kicked off at Otaki College in 1990. It was there I first learned to love the classroom. An added bonus was the wide range of extra-curricular activities on offer; I developed a love of hiking and mountain biking, and first began directing plays.

In 1993 I moved to Tokyo, and spent six months working part time as an English language tutor. It was this lifestyle, with its long empty days, that gave me the chance to try my hand at writing novels. Over the next three years I wrote five books, none of which were publishable. In 1997 the  clumsy phase of the apprenticeship drew to a close, and the novel Lester was accepted for publication by Longacre Press, a truly wonderful place to land.

By then I was working at Onslow College, a school with a particularly strong drama programme. I made use of the talent available and began writing and directing my own plays. The first of these was Terence, in 1995. Two stand outs for me are Malcolm and Juliet, which was first performed just after the death of my youngest brother, John, and Double Exposure, written with ex-student Duncan Small.

My first three published novels (Lester, Redcliff and No Alarms) were all written in the gaps while I was teaching. That changed in 1999, when I spent the year traveling in Europe and spent many a sun soaked afternoon with pen in hand. Jolt and the novel adaptation of Malcolm and Juliet were both completed during this time.

Home Boys and Deep Fried (written with my now-wife Clare) rounded out the first decade of my writing career. With seven teenage novels to my name, and a couple of national awards, I felt solidly established as part of the local YA scene.  With Clare  I experienced my first, rather inglorious, entry into international publishing, when Deep Fried was released in Australia, and largely ignored.

About this time Jolt was turned into a radio play for Radio New Zealand, featuring a group of my students from Onslow college. The broadcasting of the play in England led to an opportunity to develop a screenplay of Jolt, working with an Australian producer and British director. Although the film was never made, it gave me my first taste of writing in this medium.

An opportunity to try something different presented itself in 2005, when I was awarded a Royal Society teaching fellowship, which meant spending a year at The Allan Wilson Centre, an international leader in the field of molecular biology. Initially I intended to use the opportunity as the foundation for my first adult novel, Acid Song. When this project foundered, I turned to an idea I’d been playing with for a few years, a teen sci-fi/metaphysical thriller, and so Genesis was written.

Despite being intended as a side project, Genesis became the book that introduced me to the international market. It was sold first to Text Publishing in Australia (my current, superb, publisher, following the sale of Longacre to Random House) who onsold world rights to Quercus in the UK. It’s now gone into 30 territories and has been translated into more than 20 languages.

Meanwhile, I completed Acid Song, along with a work of non-fiction, Falling for Science, an examination of the philosophy of science, and particularly the relationship between story telling and scientific modelling.

I married Clare in 2008, and in January 2010 became a father, with the birth of twins, Sebastian and Alexander. Writing, which I’d always considered more of  a hobby than a career, slipped another notch down the list of priorities.  I moved to part-time teaching in order to give as much time as possible to Clare and the boys.

In 2011, August was published. Where Genesis had focussed on the conundrums of consciousness, August took as its theme Free Will. It represented the second in an intended trilogy of metaphysical novels. In 2012 I took a year’s leave from Hutt Valley High School, to be the Victoria University Writer in Residence. During the first half of the year I finished the third of the metaphysical novels, Lullaby, abandoned it and began a new project, which  inherited the same theme (death) and name, but nothing else. It was released in 2012, and as yet has remained fairly anonymous. With the birth of our third child, a delightful, albeit nocturnal, young chap by the name of Avery, our family is complete. I couldn’t be happier.

These days parenting and teaching are where my focus lies, with writing growing weed-like in the cracks. In 2016 I happily combined two of these, writing a novel for my sons Alexander and Sebastian (a fantasy, featuring twin boys and their adventures in a parallel universe). I wrote a new section each day, to be read to them each evening and the final result, A S Normal and the Tunnel of Dreams, has been picked up by Text publishing, which is fun.

Since 2017 I’ve also been working on the play Two nights, which I created alongside Anna Flaherty and a talented bunch of teen actors, looking at the way pornography is corroding our notion and experience of intimacy. We’ve been that through schools for the last two years, provoking conversations that need to be had. In many ways it stands as the most satisfying creative endeavour I’ve engaged in. It’s the difference, in the end, between looking for something to say because you want to write, and wanting to write because you have something to say.

9 thoughts on “Bio

  1. ddos vps says:

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It is the little changes that make the most significant changes. Many thanks for sharing!|

  2. OPE says:

    Your book ‘Jolt” is AMAZING

  3. selina says:

    Dear Mr. Beckett,

    I have read the book “Jolt”.
    I am a student in Secondary school and not good at English, so the book was difficult for me. My opinion is that the book was very interesting and exciting.

    I found the middle part of the book very exciting and that Marco got back home was wonderful.

    When I read the book my first thought was, that ” Jolt” is the boy in the story. The story was confusing, brcause I dindn’t known the story is about the past and the now.

    I found the book difficult but it was a good story.

    Best regards

    • Stefan says:

      Dear Mr. Beckett,

      I really don`t like to read books, but your book Jolt it is the other way round. The book was and is from thebeginning exciting and will never be boring, because the book hasfantastic adventures and you think all the time about the questions: What happens now? What happens later? The only thing that confused me was, that I didn`t know what the italicized and the normal writing text meant. All in all I found this book good and i would recommed this book.

      Sincerely yours Stefan

  4. Caitlin says:

    Lullaby will be available in paperback in the US in February 2017, already pre-ordered, cannot wait! I read the other two meta-psychical books and they were incredible. I know you said this would be a trilogy but I’m wondering if there may be anymore in the future?

  5. That’s very kind, Caitlin.

    I do have a book started that is a kind of thought experiment novel, although it looks more at ethics than metaphysics. It opens with a teenager chained up in a basement, and one by one others join him and are tortured. None of them can work out what they have in common, or why this is happening to them.

    February 2017 seems too long for an enthusiast to wait for a book. Drop me an email via the contact section on this site, give me your postal address and I’ll send you a signed copy.

  6. Natasha Winter (Moore) says:

    Hello Mr Beckett,
    Not sure exactly how I stumbled across your Bio (just clicked on a picture of you that looked vaguely familiar) but I enjoyed it! The bit about learning to love the classroom in Otaki was especially exciting as I remember you teaching me Economics there many years ago. It seems I will have to search out and read some of your works…I’m expecting writing as intellectual and thought provoking as your lessons were 😉 I’ll let you know how I go!

    • Hey Natasha

      Great to hear from you across all these years. Learning to teach at Otaki seems a lifetime ago. For what it’s worth, I remmeber you well. You were quite the economist.

  7. petra liebig says:

    Dear Bernard Beckett,

    we are students from a German grammar school. We are 14-16 years old and in our English class we read your novel ‘Jolt’.
    Our class wants to give you a feedback on the novel.
    We enjoyed reading the novel because the plot is hard to predict, so that it is very exciting to read it. We could feel with Marko and shared a lot of his feelings because you described them so well with comparisons from everyday life like the disappointment at Christmas which every teenager knows. We also liked the colloquial language and the sometimes rude expressions, because it makes the characters more realistic.
    What we found rather difficult to accept is that the two other men who attacked Mrs Jenkins are never mentioned again and we would have liked to know more about them. And of course, the rather open ending was a bit disappointing because we would have liked to know how life goes on for Marko.
    We look forward to getting a response.
    Best regards from Germany

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