Bernard Beckett is a New Zealand award-winning author of fiction for young adults. His work includes novels, plays, scripts, and several non-fiction works. Bernard has won the New Zealand Post Book Award for two of his books: Malcolm and Juliet in 2005 and Genesis in 2007. Rights to Genesis have been sold in thirty countries and earned Bernard further recognition in France, where he was honored with the prestigious Prix Sorcières in 2010.
The fifth child of seven, Bernard Beckett grew up amongst farmland five kilometers south of the nearest small town Featherston.
He attended a Catholic primary school, St Teresa’s, and later Chanel College in Masterton. Then Beckett moved to Wellington, completed a degree in Economics, and trained to become a high school teacher.
He started his teaching career at Otaki College in 1990. In 1993 Beckett moved to Tokyo and spent six months working part-time as an English language tutor. At this time, he tried at writing novels. He wrote five books in three years, none of which were published. Finally, the novel Lester was accepted for publication by Longacre Press in 1997.
At the same time, Bernard Beckett began writing and directing his plays. The first of these was Terence, in 1995. Next were Malcolm and Juliet, and Double Exposure, written with ex-student Duncan Small.
The first success came with the novel Jolt (1999) which was later turned into a radio play for Radio New Zealand. In collaboration with his wife Claire, he also wrote Home Boys and Deep Fried.
The most notable book Genesis (2005) Bernard Beckett wrote while he was in a Royal Society genetics research fellowship investigating DNA mutations. A teen sci-fi/metaphysical thriller being intended as a side project.
"In 2005, what I'd done is I'd gone in with a different project in mind, got stuck in it, and jumped to Genesis as a sort of relief. I'd been stalled on something I wanted to write, something I called an ‘Adult Novel’, but I couldn't do it. So I just thought, oh well, I'll write around this idea while the ‘Adult Novel’ resolves itself. I had low stress and no expectations — didn't even know if I would publish it because it wasn't what I was trying to do. It's a lovely way of writing, really. It's a shame you can't trick yourself into those things. They just happen," says Beckett.
Genesis became the book that introduced the author to the international market. The novel has gone into 30 territories and has been translated into more than 20 languages.
All the while, Beckett has taught Drama, Mathematics, and English at several high schools in the Wellington Region.
Currently, he is teaching students part-time, raising three sons, writing film scripts, and directing high school plays.
Photo credit: bernardbeckett.wordpress.com