Stephanie Johnson

ANZL Member

Photo credit: Annabel Lomas

Novelist, short story writer and poet Stephanie Johnson has also successfully written for stage, television and radio over a career that spans three decades. Her diverse work is marked by its mixture of irony, intelligence and compassion. In the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours Stephanie was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature.

Since the much loved The Heart’s Wild Surf (1996), Stephanie has published ten more novels. She is a past winner of the Montana Book Award (The Shag Incident), while her novel The Whistler won third prize in the Montana Book Awards (1999), and her novel Belief was shortlisted for the Montana Book Awards (2001). She has been awarded the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship in Menton, France (2000), made a Literary Fellow at Auckland University (2001), and was a recipient of the Bruce Mason Memorial Playwright’s Award (1985). Several of her novels have been longlisted for the Impac Awards in Dublin. She was also winner of the Dymocks/Quote Unquote Reader’s Poll, Best New Zealand Book for The Heart’s Wild Surf (1996). Her novel, Crimes of Neglect, was shortlisted for the Wattie Book Awards (1993).

With Peter Wells, Stephanie founded the highly successful Auckland Writers and Readers Festival in 1998. In addition, she has been guest speaker at various festivals, both in New Zealand and internationally, taught a broad range of writing classes and is involved in ongoing mentorship and manuscript assessments. Stephanie was the 2016 recipient of both the Randell Cottage Residency, Wellington, and Alumna Merita Award, Diocesan School for Girls, Auckland.

Playing for Both Sides (BWB, 2016) is a personal exploration of the Australia-New Zealand relationship. In 2016 Stephanie also edited Good Dog! New Zealand Writers on Dogs (Penguin Random House) an anthology of dog-related poetry, short fiction and creative nonfiction. Her most recent works are a biographical investigation entitled West Island: Five Twentieth-century New Zealanders in Australia (Otago UP, 2019) and Everything Changes (RHNZ Vintage, 2021) a novel about a dysfunctional family who buy a rundown motel to start a new life. Everything Changes was the winner of the 2021 NZ Society of Authors Heritage Prize for Fiction.



Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer page

Random House Books author page

NZSA New Zealand Heritage Literary Awards 2021 – Winners Announced (Oct, 2021)

The Shape We’re In: Stephanie Johnson’s University of Auckland Free Public Lecture, Auckland Writers Festival (May, 2021)

ANZL review of Everything Changes (March, 2021)

Radio New Zealand interview (2015)

NZ Listener review of The Writers’ Festival (2015)

NZ Listener review of The Writing Class (2013)

New releases by Stephanie Johnson

Nine Lives (essays)

Published by Upstart Press on November 11, 2021

Everything Changes (novel)

Published by RHNZ Vintage on March 2, 2021

Bibliography: Stephanie Johnson



Moody Bitch (Godwit, 2003)

The Bleeding Ballerina (Hard Echo Press, 1986)



Everything Changes ((RHNZ Vintage, 2021)

The Writers’ Festival (Vintage, Random House, 2015)

The Writing Class (Vintage, Random House, May 2013, reprinted November 2013)

The Open World (Vintage, Random House, 2012)

Swimmers’ Rope (Vintage, Random House, 2008)

John Tomb’s Head (Vintage, Random House, 2006)

Drowned Sprat and Other Stories (Short stories: Vintage, Random House, 2005)

Music From A Distant Room (Vintage, Random House, 2004)

The Shag Incident (Vintage, Random House, 2002)

Belief (Vintage, Random House NZ & Australia, 2000; Random House UK, 2001; St Martin’s Press, New York, 2002)

The Whistler (Allen & Unwin Australia & Vintage, Random House, NZ, 1998)

The Heart’s Wild Surf  (Random House UK, Australia and NZ) 1996; St Martin’s Press, New York, 2003 as The Sailmaker’s Daughter)

All The Tenderness Left In The World (Short stories: Otago UP, 1993)

Crimes of Neglect (Picador Australia; New Women’s Press NZ, 1992)

The Glass Whittler (Short stories: Penguin Australia; New Women’s Press NZ, 1989)


Creative Nonfiction

West Island: Five Twentieth-century New Zealanders in Australia (Otago UP, 2019)

Playing for Both Sides (Bridget Williams Books, 2016)



Good Dog! New Zealand Writers on Dogs (Penguin Random House, 2016)

'...poetry makes intimate everything that it touches.' - Michael Harlow

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