Born and raised on the East Coast of the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand, Aaron was formally educated in English Literature, Classics and History at Victoria University of Wellington. Then he exercised his birthright and Went Overseas. He returned to New Zealand in 1999, much changed by the lives he lived and saw in England, Spain, India and the United States. At this point, his fondness for storytelling was confined to letter writing and verbal autobiography. At the suggestion of friends, Aaron drove South in 2001 and arrived in Dunedin to discover entire sections of the smallish population dedicating their lives to theatre, dance, making things and writing. This was a revelation. After writing, directing and performing in a number of plays, Aaron accurately concluded that his own future did not lie in the theatre. However, the encounter with talented locals and the works of such subversive geniuses as Augusto Boal, Grotowski, Red Mole and Jo Randerson made a deep impression on Aaron and he decided that he would write or die.
The twin necessities of employment and family intervened. Aaron didn’t die. But it wasn’t until he joined the New Zealand Society of Authors in 2006 that his earlier declaration of intent received a spur in the flank. A writer’s course with Owen Marshall continued the momentum. The following year, Aaron was awarded an NZSA mentorship with Wellington writer and manuscript assessor Norman Bilbrough. A period of concerted writing and editing ensued, leading to the release of a number of pieces of short fiction. One of these, ‘Our Daily Bread’, found its way into the Marshall-edited anthology, Best New Zealand Fiction 6. Another two were published by Takahē: The Tide Too High (Issue 71) and Roadkill (75).
Within the blessed boundary lines of teaching, football and family, Aaron continued to write. In 2012, he wrote Bean and the One-eyed Celt for the Goethe-Institut New Zealand’s two hundred year celebration of Grimm fairytales. In early 2013 his short novella The Siren was accepted for publication by Rosa Mira Books. This process has provided insight into the developing world of ePublishing, something that Aaron has a growing interest in.
An interview with Artshub’s Emily Duncan about The Siren, publishing and the effects of travel and music on writing can be heard as a podcast on Otago Access Radio (4 April 2013, minutes 23–56.) The podcast includes a live reading of Spiral Staircase, Tiger Tea. (Listen 16:12)
Now, with his children getting taller and his knee at a standoff with his football career, Aaron is looking ahead to time and energy spent extracting the oil fiction forever welling just below the surface of the mind.
Aaron’s website: www.aaronblaker.nz