One sunny spring morning the Tasman Bay settlement of Kahukura is overwhelmed by a mysterious mass insanity.
A handful of survivors find themselves cut off from the world, and surrounded by the dead. As they try to take care of one another, and survive in ever more difficult circumstances, it becomes apparent that they are trapped with something unseen, which is picking at the loose threads of their characters, corrupting, provoking, and haunting them.
Wake is a book about what it really means to try to do your best, about the choices and sacrifices we face in order to keep a promise like I will take care of you. It is a book that asks: ‘What are the last things left when the worst has happened?’ It is a book about extreme events, ordinary people, heroic compassion – and invisible monsters.
Born in Wellington, NZ, Elizabeth is the middle child of three sisters. The Knox family shifted a number of times during Elizabeth’s childhood. They lived in Pomare, Wadestown, Waikanae and Paremata. The sisters were close, and always playing imaginary games. By the time Elizabeth was eleven the games had become one game, an on-going saga set in another world, a game she shared with her sisters and several friends. One day, when Elizabeth was sixteen, her father interrupted a discussion the girls were having about the possible results of a secret treaty, by saying, “I hope you’re writing some of this down.” The idea hadn’t occurred to Elizabeth before, and she thought it a very good one. She, her sisters and friend began writing letters between their characters, and stories about them. Elizabeth enjoyed writing and decided that this – writing fiction – was what she wanted to do with her life.
When Elizabeth left her secondary school, Tawa College, she took a job as a clerk in the Inland Revenue Department in Porirua. While workmates her age were saving for cars, weddings, and overseas travel, Elizabeth saved in order to spend eight months off work, living on her savings at home, and writing a novel. This first novel, One Too Many Lives, completed when she was nineteen, was not to be published (though there was kindly interest from a number of publishers in NZ and the UK).
Again Elizabeth went to work (as a printer, and insurance underwriter and temping office worker) to save money, and at twenty-two took another year off and wrote another novel, Salamander, which she disliked intensely, and put away in a drawer. At the suggestion of her by then rather baffled parents Elizabeth then went to Victoria University and began a degree in English Literature. In her second year she did Bill Manhire’s Original Composition class and began another novel, After Z-Hour. Bill encouraged her to finish it (actually he told her he’d rather see her finish her novel than her degree). After Z-Hour was published by Victoria University Press, 1987. The same year Elizabeth graduated from Victoria University with a BA in English Lit, and was awarded the ICI Writers Bursary (now the Louis Johnson Bursary).
Elizabeth has been a full time writer since 1997. She has published twelve novels and three autobiographical novellas and a collection of essays. Her best known books are The Vintner’s Luck, and The Dreamhunter Duet. (Dreamhunter and Dreamquake). Her latest are Mortal Fire and Wake. Elizabeth lives in Wellington, New Zealand with her husband, Fergus Barrowman, her son, Jack, and three cats.