Catran, Ken 1944-

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Catran, Ken 1944-


Born May 16, 1944 in Auckland, New Zealand. Hobbies and other interests: Walking, reading.


Home—Waimate, South Canterbury, New Zealand.


Writer. University of Waikato, New Zealand, writer in residence, 2007.


Best Drama, Feltex Awards, 1984, for Children of the Dog Star; Best Drama Script award, Emmy Awards, 1986, for Hanlon; New Zealand Post Book of the Year award, and Senior Fiction award, 2001, for Voyage with Jason; Ned Kelly Award for junior crime fiction, 2002, for Blue Murder; Esther Glen Medal, 2004, for Jacko Moran: Sniper; Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, 2007.



Deepwater Black, HarperCollins (Auckland, New Zealand), 1992.

Deepwater Landing, HarperCollins (Auckland, New Zealand), 1993.

Deepwater Angels, HarperCollins (Auckland, New Zealand), 1994.


Doomfire on Venus, HarperCollins (Auckland, New Zealand), 1993.

The Ghosts of Triton, HarperCollins (Auckland, New Zealand), 1994.

Shadow of Phobos, HarperCollins (Auckland, New Zealand), 1994.


Jacko Moran: Sniper, Lothian Books (South Melbourne, Australia), 2003.

Robert Moran, Private, Lothian Books (South Melbourne, Australia), 2004.

Jimmy Moran, Regular, Lothian Books (South Melbourne, Australia), 2005.

Teresa Moran, Soldier, Lothian Books (South Melbourne, Australia), 2007.


Neo's War, Hodder Headline Publishers, (Rydalmere, Australia), 1995.

The Onager, HarperCollins Publishers (Sydney, Australia), 1996.

Fire Gods (part of "Starlight" series), Hodder Headline (Sydney, Australia), 1997.

Running Dogs, HarperCollins Publishers (Pymble, Australia), 1998.

Golden Prince, Lothian Books (Port Melbourne, Australia), 1999.

Black Sister, HarperCollins Publishers (Pymble, Australia), 1999.

(Editor, with Meredith Costain) Techno Terror, Addison Wesley Longman Australia (South Melbourne, Australia), 1999.

Voyage with Jason, Lothian Books (Port Lothian, Australia), 2000.

Talking to the Blue, Lothian Books (Port Lothian, Australia), 2000.

Mall Rats, Random House Publishers (Auckland, New Zealand), 2001.

Road Kill, Lothian Books (Port Lothian, Australia), 2001.

Blue Murder (sequel to Talking to Blue), Lothian Books (Port Lothian, Australia), 2001.

Tomorrow the Dark, Lothian Books (South Melbourne, Australia), 2002.

Letters from the Coffin-Trenches, Random House Publishers (Auckland, New Zealand), 2002.

Fries, Lothian Books (South Melbourne, Australia), 2002.

Something Weird about Mr. Foster, Scholastic Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Bloody Liggie, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Australia), 2003.

Artists Are Crazy and Other Stories, Lothian Books (South Melbourne, Australia), 2003.

Dawn Hawk, Lothian Books (South Melbourne, Australia), 2003.

Protus Rising, University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia, Australia), 2004.

More Weird Stuff about Mr. Foster (sequel to Something Weird about Mr. Foster), Scholastic Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Blue Blood, Lothian Books (South Melbourne, Australia), 2004.

Lin and the Red Stranger, Random House Publishers (Auckland, New Zealand), 2004.

Seal Boy, Random House Publishers (Auckland, New Zealand), 2004.

Odysseus, Lothian Books (South Melbourne, Australia), 2005.

Black Ships Ablaze, Lothian Books (South Melbourne, Australia), 2005.

Something Wicked This Way Comes, Scholastic Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Sea of Mutiny, Random House Publishers (Auckland, New Zealand), 2005.

Also author, with Penny Hansen, of Pioneering a Vision: A History of the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind, 1890-1990. Author of novels Dream-Bite and Taken at the Flood. Author of scripts for television series, including "Maar," "Any Shape, Any Form," "Assault," "Red Force, Blue Force," and "The Alien World Below," all for Under the Mountain, Children of the Dog Star, Deepwater Black, Steel Riders, The Boy from Andromeda, Alex, Close to Home, and Shortland Street.


Ken Catran is one of New Zealand's most prolific and acclaimed writers for children. His many science fiction novels include the "Deepwater" trilogy and "Solar Colonies" series, which explore the impact of new technologies on human societies. Catran has also written several mysteries, and is particularly known for his historical novels. Voyage with Jason, a retelling of the story of Jason and the Argonauts, was named Book of the Year by the New Zealand Post. Many critics admired the novel's focus on character rather than plot. "Vivid descriptions of the characters and their interaction with each other bring them to life," wrote Lana Miles in the School Library Journal. According to Kallie George, writing in the Canadian Review of Materials, the book's "personal perspective … is wonderful and refreshing."

Events from more recent history have also inspired Catran. Seal Boy, for example, recounts the story of a privileged New England boy who is kidnapped and taken aboard a whaling ship bound for New Zealand in the 1840s. A reviewer for the New Zealand Book Council's publication BRAT described the story as an "adventure of impressive proportions." Lin and the Red Stranger, which was nominated for the Young Adult Fiction award given by the New Zealand Post, is set in the gold mines of Otago, New Zealand, during the late 1800s. The novel focuses on the brief relationship there between a young girl from China and an Irish miner who has come to New Zealand to escape a troubled past. A BRAT reviewer praised the book for its original plot and its sensitive recreation of this era.

Among Catran's crime novels is Bloody Liggie, about a teenage girl who kills her parents and then escapes prison. School Library Journal contributor Vicki Reutter found elements of the plot contrived, but concluded that the book's thrilling plot would attract fans of writers such as R.L. Stine. Another mystery, Dawn Hawk, explores what happens when one of two original floatplanes built by the Wright brothers is found in New Zealand. The book's "fast-paced plot," wrote Michele Capozzella in the School Library Journal, "will keep readers engaged." Jacko Moran: Sniper, the first of a tetralogy about the Moran family, is set during World War I and tells the story of a teenager who escapes his abusive father to enlist as a soldier. The book won the Esther Glen Award for distinguished contribution to literature. The remaining books in the series follow the Moran family through World War II, the Vietnam War, and the war in Iraq in the early 2000s.

Catran has also written extensively for television, including the children's science-fiction series Children of the Dogstar, which won the New Zealand Feltex best drama award in 1984. He has also written for the hospital-based series Shortland Street, New Zealand's longest-running drama series.



Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2006, review of Voyage with Jason, p. 901.

School Library Journal, August 2003, Michele Capozzella, review of Dawn Hawk, p. 154; April 2004, Lana Miles, review of Voyage with Jason, p. 152; August 2004, Vicki Reutter, review of Bloody Liggie, p. 116.


Aussie Reviews, (March 28, 2007), Sally Murphy, review of Dawn Hawk.

BRAT, (autumn, 2004), review of Lin and the Red Stranger; autumn, 2005, review of Seal Boy.

Canadian Review of Materials, (September 15, 2006), Kallie George, review of Voyage with Jason.

Christchurch City Libraries, (March 28, 2007), "Interviews with NZ Children's Authors: Ken Catran."

Locus Index to Science Fiction, (March 28, 2007). "Ken Catran."

New Zealand Book Council Web site, (March 28, 2007), "Ken Catran."

Newswire New Zealand, (February 4, 2007), "Ken Catran Wins Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal."