Lauren Keenan

Writer Lauren Keenan (Te Āti Awa ki Taranaki) is the author of the bestselling historical fiction for adults The Space Between (Penguin, 2024). She is also the author of the award-winning middle reader book Amorangi and Millie’s Trip Through Time (Huia Publishing 2021) and the sequel Rimu (Huia Publishing), to be released in July. Amorangi and Millie’s Trip Through Time won NZ Booklovers Award for Best Junior Fiction Book 2023. Lauren’s first book The 52 Week Project: How I Fixed My Life by Trying a New Thing Every Week for a Year was published in 2020. Lauren was a winner at the 2017 Pikihuia Awards for Māori writers and a finalist in the 2019 awards. She was also a participant in Te Papa Tupu mentoring programme. Her short stories have appeared in Huia Short Stories collections in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Lauren has a Master of Arts in Taranaki Māori History.

2024 festival sessions

Time Travellers Guide to History

Lauren Keenan in conversation with Tania Miller

2.30pm-3.30pm, Sat 27 July, ASB Theatre Marlborough, $25

How can adults help spark children’s interest in Aotearoa New Zealand history? Lauren often gets asked this question and it is a subject close to her heart. Lauren talks to Tania about making history accessible and interesting to young readers and the special nature of writing for the middle reader audience. The conversation is pitched at an adult festival audience, but the middle reader in your life is also welcome, accompanied by an adult. Lauren's middle reader books are Amorangi and Millie’s Trip Through Time and its sequel Rimu: The Tree of Time. They follow two siblings who time travel back through their family tree and witness events in New Zealand history, including the invasion of Parihaka, the Great Depression, World War Two, the Musket Wars, and the eruption of Mount Taranaki. The siblings also experience changes in their town and landscape, the attitudes of people, and the way people live their lives.

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The Space Between

Lauren Keenan in conversation with Emma Tucker

11.30am-12.30pm, Sun 28 July, ASB Theatre Marlborough, $25

Lauren’s gripping historical novel set amid the New Zealand Wars in 1860 was an instant bestseller. Drawing on her study of Taranaki history, Lauren has told the story of two fictional women: English-raised Frances Farrington whose spiteful brother ensures their once well regarded family is out of step with settler society and Māori wahine Matāria White, a returned slave who married an Englishman and struggles for acceptance within her whānau. Both Frances and Matāria do not belong solely to either settler society or the Māori world and their paths cross just as conflict flares between the two peoples. Lauren talks to Emma Tucker (Ngāti Kuia, Rangitāne, Te Atiawa, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Rārua, and Ngāti Apa ki Te Rā Tō) about the multiple gifts this novel presents to readers - a compelling story, a history lesson that many of us did not receive at school, and a timely reminder that empathy and connection offer hope for the future.

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