> Skip to content

This unique novel is both a compelling love story and an insightful writing manual.

This unique novel is both a compelling love story and an insightful writing manual.

'Writers take what we learn of human nature and, fuelled by our longings for other existences and other times, forge new identities that can be as real as she is, sitting with her dog on the weathered step of the old house, stories that move us to tears or laughter.'

Merle Carbury, an author in her own right, also teaches Creative Writing. Amid the tension of the final semester of the year, her many and varied students prepare to submit their manuscripts. As Merle mentors their assorted ambitions, observes the romantic entanglements of her colleague, worries about her husband and is intrigued by their mysterious German lodger, she both imparts and embodies how to write a novel.

Written by a prize-winning author, who is also an experienced teacher, the overarching intelligence, compassion and wicked humour in this inventive book make it a joy to read.


Above all, this is a book fuelled and inspired by the act of writing, as lives and minds engage in a highly choreographed human tango.

Christopher Moore, Dominion Post Weekend

Stephanie Johnson is a New Zealand author who has an award-winning career. This book should certainly add another accolade to that illustrious line-up.

Jacqui Webby, Oamaru Mail

Beneath it all, shining through, there is the compulsive writer's transparent affection for and bafflement at the craft and business of writing. Also noteworthy is her collegiality: the names of writers are salted throughout, and they are drawn from the canon of the novel, from the ranks of contemporary luminaries and from among Johnson's New Zealand peers with a generous lack of discrimination. If you want to learn about writing, whether by rote or by example, then The Writing Class is for you.

John McCrystal, Weekend Herald

It is a compelling literary work and, since it stems from Johnson's experiences mentoring and teaching creative writing, it is a particularly valuable read for those with creative-writing ambitions . . . richly descriptive with a cast of intricately constructed characters

Kate Mead, Sunday Star-Times

Emphatically recommended.

David Hill, http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon

There are lessons to be learned - about life as well as writing - and Johnson teaches them pithily and well . . . The Writing Class would be an informative and entertaining read for anyone interested in the craft; from beginners to published authors, and firmly cements Johnson into place as one of our most accomplished.

Nicky Pellegrino, Herald on Sunday

For the reader, The Writing Class is a delectable novel that needs time and attention to fully appreciate its complexity. For writers, it is a reminder that "some of us are not satisfied with one life-- [we] take what we learn of human nature and, fuelled by our longings for other existences and other times, forge new identities".

Marilynn McLidollan, NZ Womens Weekly

"I think we will always need gatekeepers, people who do the quality control that publishers have always done." Intelligent, tender and funny, The Writing Class is evidence of that quality control.

Diane Brown, Listener

Stephanie Johnson explores whether writers are born or made in this engaging novel . . . Woven through The Writing Class is a lesson on writing that is informative and illuminating; well worth a read.

Australian Womens Weekly-NZ Edition

It's an astute, often funny book, part novel and part writing manual.

Sunday Star-Times

I loved the book. Merle is an immensely appealing main character, whose observations of people and life in general made me smile with recognition. The pupils' work examples are cleverly done and a neat fit with their personalities. And I enjoyed the way that, in spite of serious issues, Johnson's humour poked through the novel at often unexpected times.

Patricia Thwaites, Otago Daily Times

. . . a book that's sophisticated, witty and - best of all - generous in its attitudes to its characters. It's a love letter to reading and writing and things readers and writers share, especially the mutual effort to understand the world and the people in it.

Paul Little, North & South

The Writing Class is not only entertaining, but also refreshing.

Wendy A Mill, Timaru Herald

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    May 3, 2013

    RHNZ Vintage

    256 pages

    RRP $29.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    May 3, 2013

    RHNZ Adult ebooks

    248 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks

Also by Stephanie Johnson