Interview with Steph Matuku

  • Name: Steph Matuku. It’s really Stephanie, but only my mum calls me that.
  • Place of birth: Kaitaia, New Zealand
  • Now living in: New Plymouth, New Zealand

What is your favourite food? 

Seafood. I love anything from the sea. Kina is my favourite, but I also like shark’s liver, oysters and fish.

Do you have a nickname and if so what is it?

I guess it’s just Steph.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Too many to mention! I went to boarding school and I was crossing the road to go back to my hostel for bedtime. And a busload of boys from our brother college pulled up for kapa haka practise and I fell down in front of the bus, wearing my pajamas and dressing gown. Shaaaame.

Who inspired you when you were little?

I read a lot, so I was inspired by the characters I read about. I loved the Famous Five – they were so brave. And George was inspiring because she wanted to be a boy and dressed like one and didn’t care what anyone else thought. Anne was a bit of a drip, but she always gave things a go even if she was scared, so maybe she was the bravest of all.

What were you like at school?

A bit weird, I think. I got on with most people, but I didn’t feel like I fitted in very well. I only became comfortable in my own skin when I grew up.

What was your favourite/most hated subject at school?

I loved English and LOATHED maths with a fiery passion. It all ended for me when we started learning about integers. How can you add negative six and negative seven? That’s just stupid. They’re not even there. THEY DON’T EXIST. I had a lot of problems with maths.

Which person from the past would you most like to meet?

Anne Boleyn. Cleopatra. Enid Blyton. Mostly inspiring, strong women who stood out from their generation.

Who is your favourite author/children’s author?

A lot of Enid Blyton’s work is quite dated now, but I love how she inspired millions of children around the world to read and enjoy stories. Roald Dahl, of course, for his wonderful rhyming and imagination. Beverly Cleary. Maurice Gee. C. S. Lewis. J. K. Rowling. And I love Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s work together on the Illuminae Files. There are too many!

Why did you want to be a writer?

Because I wasn’t very good at anything else.

Do you have a special place where you write your books?

No, I write anywhere. I prefer to write at a computer or laptop. So I either work at my desk in my kitchen, or in bed, or in cafes. Cafes are more fun because you can people-watch, and if you’re there long enough, sometimes you get a free coffee.

What’s the best thing and worst thing about being a writer?

The best thing is creating something from nothing. It really is the most magical thing in the world. Having other people read my stories and saying they liked them is nice too. The absolute worst thing is that it’s very hard and you have to force yourself to do it. A lot of the time writing is like pushing a rusty wagon uphill. But every now and then you reach the top and get to fly down the other side and that’s when it’s all worthwhile.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you like to be?

I think I’d like to be a photographer. I love surf photography and do it in my spare time. Or an actor. I like being fussed over.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers or illustrators?

Just do it. Read as much as you can and then write.

Find books by Steph Matuku in our collection.

Flight of the Fantail

Whetū Toa and the Magician

Image supplied by Steph Matuku.

This interview is from 2018.

Print