Over the last 35 years, Rachel McAlpine has written many books in many genres, including literary fiction, poetry, plays, business writing manuals, and readers for Japanese college students. Rachel's fiction is marked by quirky humour, frank sexuality and unbounded energy. Her business books are authoritative, original, and equally entertaining.
In 2010 Rachel was a Writer in Residence at the Chateau de Lavigny in Switzerland, an honour administered by the Ledig-Rohwohlt Foundation. On the strength of her literary achievements she was appointed Guest Professor at the Doshisha Women's College of Liberal Arts in Kyoto, Japan, from 1993 to 1995. Other awards include the New Zealand Scholarship in Letters and the inaugural Australia-NZ Writer's Fellowship at Macquarie University, Australia.
Rachel performs with Crows Feet Dance Collective, does tai chi, plays three chords on the ukulele, runs a holiday rental apartment and owns Contented.com, a business providing web accessibility services and training. She lives in Wellington, New Zealand; Christchurch is her family home town and she loves it dearly.
I was born rather a long time ago in Fairlie, South Canterbury, a mountain village under the shadow of Mount Cook, and my first three years were spent in a haunted vicarage. My father was a kindly, liberal, brave and bookish clergyman, my mother a beautiful rebel. She did her duty as a vicar's wife reluctantly, and followed her own star. She never wanted six children (all girls, as it happened) but that's what she got.
Both parents influenced my awareness of language. The Book of Common Prayer hypnotised and puzzled me. Mother read us poetry and we sang around the piano. Dad made up never-ending serial bedtime stories and I carried on where he left off.
We moved to other vicarages in Akaroa, Hinds and Belfast. I daydreamed all day long in school, so much so that psychologists tested me in case I was intellectually handicapped. Then we moved to Christchurch where Dad lectured theological students and Mother taught at Victory School. Big city schools were intimidating and I had to curtail my fantasy life - but I am still a brilliant daydreamer, an essential skill for any writer.
Life at home was happy and I enjoyed my friendships at school. But two of my classmates committed a murder, which had a strange impact on me. The story is told by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh in their movie Heavenly Creatures.
By the age of 19 I had a BA in English, German, Latin and French from Canterbury University, plus the mandatory tall-dark-and-handsome husband (Grant McAlpine). We lived in Geneva, Switzerland for four years. Then with our first child (Geoffrey) we returned to New Zealand, settling in Masterton in the Wairarapa. We lived the New Zealand dream of suburban nuclear family life. After almost twenty years of marriage and four children Grant and I separated, and we are friends.
After leaving Masterton I was first a high school teacher, then for about ten years a poverty-stricken full-time writer by choice. I've written about 30 books since then. (Some, to be fair, are very short.) For a few years, I was married to artist Michael Smither, who understood my commitment to writing. But after a fascinating sojourn in Kyoto at the Doshisha Women's College of Liberal Arts, I realised that it would be wise to save some money.
So I dedicated myself to surveying, analysing and editing the content of corporate web sites. Now I share a business, Contented Enterprises, with Alice Hearnshaw. We provide online training courses in writing content for web sites and intranets. I find that extremely interesting, because it's constantly changing. In 2009 I became a Member of the New Zealand Computer Society, so I'm now Rachel McAlpine, BA, Dip. Ed., MNZCS.
Contented by name and by nature, I live in Mt Victoria, Wellington, New Zealand and I never want to move again. Cute city. Beaut cat.
The Rachel McAlpine Trust is proud to sponsor two schools in the Duffy Foundation Books in Homes programme: Waltham School in Christchurch and St Michael's School in Taita, Wellington.
Contented: my business
Writer in Residence, Chateau de Lavigny, Morges, Switzerland (2010)
Guest Professor, Doshisha Women's College, Kyoto, Japan
New Zealand Scholarship in Letters
Winner, NZTF Playwriting Competition
Writer in Residence, Canterbury University
Australia-New Zealand Writers' Fellowship, Macquarie University
QEII Arts Council & Dept. Education Travel/Study Award for Teachers in the Arts
J.R. McKenzie Fellowship in Educational Research
B.A. Hons Victoria University of Wellington (1st Class, English)
Diploma in Education, Massey (DC Price Prize)
B.A. Canterbury University (Senior Scholar)
The text and images on this web site are licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.
2010 Rachel McAlpine PO Box 19184 Wellington New Zealand