The short version

New Zealander Kate Gordon-Smith is the author of fiction for children aged 7 to 12.

She loves writing fun mysteries and fantastical adventures, and has published two books so far under her imprint Relish Books – Lily and the Unicorn King (2019) and Maddison McQueen and the Cupcake Mystery (2024).

She is the founder and owner of an indie online bookshop, the Kiwi Kids’ Bookstore, which features books by New Zealand authors for children and teens aged 0 to 15. She lives near Wanaka with her husband, their red and white collie Kenzie and rescue dog Snow, a retired racehorse called Tony, and a fluffy, demanding cat named Bob.

The longer, more chatty version

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books, dogs, cats and horses.

My sisters and former primary teacher mum taught me to read before I went to school and from then on, I used to read ALL the time. Even when we had visitors, I was that quiet kid reading in the corner (and rudely ignoring the guests!).

Books about horses and ponies and magical adventures were my favourites. I devoured adventurous stories like The Midnight Horse by Monica Edwards and The Black Stallion by Walter Farley, but I didn’t like the sad ones like Black Beauty nor many dog stories because animals were often injured and hurt. In time, I discovered Agatha Christie and Dick Francis, both of whom fired a desire to write my own mystery stories.

Like most authors, I have many, many notebooks and computer files of the first three or four chapters, character interviews, plot ideas, etc. I’ve tried writing mysteries and romance but just didn’t have the desire to finish a single one of them.

Then I realised I still love reading children’s fiction. Maybe I should try writing it! And with the idea for the unicorn book, I was at last able to build and sustain a passion for a story strong enough to see me through the hard work of writing a book from start to finish.

The first draft of Lily and the Unicorn King was vastly different to the book I eventually published. In that first draft, there were talking ponies as well as the talking unicorns – I couldn’t keep track of them all!

Having written for a living for more than 20 years before publishing my first book, somehow I thought it would be easier for me to write a whole story than it turned out to be. Lily and the Unicorn King was six years in the making and there are aspects I know (now) could be better. When people say it’s hard work to write a book, it sure is. The editing and polishing is even harder! And then there’s learning to market your book…

The second Unicorn King story, Sasha and the Warrior Unicorn, is about half written. Sadly, the desire to create this story isn’t quite strong enough to overcome the yucky stuck-ness of a half finished manuscript. But I do hope to finish it one day, and the third book in that series.

In an effort to start AND finish writing a new book, I thought long and hard about what would be FUN to write and how to find the JOY in my writing again. That’s when I came up with the ideas for the Red Collie Mysteries, using our own Border Collies for inspiration and setting it in my hometown. I absolutely loved writing Maddison McQueen and the Cupcake Mystery, and hope that joy flows through into the finished story.

The second Red Collie Mystery is now written, the third is partly written and the fourth plotted, so I’ve got plenty of fun writing ahead… plus a series of at least eight High Country Pony stories have rough plot outlines. And then there’s a teen mystery set on a high country station that’s noodling around in my brain, but that is, quite literally, another story… LOL!

Kate B. Gordon author
Kate Gordon-Smith
Kate B. Gordon
Out on Tony on a foggy winter's day