Nelson resident John Ewan decided to become a writer when called out in front of his school class to read an essay. “After I had finished reading, the teacher asked me what I wanted to do,” John says. “At the age of eleven, you don’t usually know. I certainly didn’t, so I blurted out ‘writer’.”
The idea remained and his first paid item was published at 15 (in the Weekly News). By the time he left school he’d had items published in New Zealand and Australian newspapers.
But it would be many years before his first book. Getting Started in Publicity (1991) was an inevitable topic, seeing one of his favourite books had been Teach Yourself Writing and he had spent years in PR, advertising and contract writing.
In 2015 he published Porters In My Past, the story of three brothers who came to New Zealand in the 1850’s – farmer, lawyer and surveyor. The surveyor was his great grandfather and much of the information was drawn from family papers. Even so, research and writing took five years. “I was determined the book should interest the general reader and not be just another family history,” John says. Porters In My Past is available from mebooks.co.nz
John's new book Accidental Immigrants: they sailed for India, but settled in New Zealand, was published in August 2017. It tells the story of John Ewan's great-great-grandfather Thomas Powell, who left Leeds with his family in the early 1850s. They sailed for India, little realising that within a few years they would be living in New Zealand and facing different futures. The book is available from all good bookshops or from www.bookreps.co.nz