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From beaches to books, and back

Meet Madeline Te Whiu: books, school & a cattle station...

I grew up along the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula in rural SA. My affinity with books began at a young age; I have some very hazy memories of sitting on the floor in the lounge with my mum as she read aloud The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.
Days were spent between school, friends, sports and the beach. I made it through school in what I call ‘the middle of the pack’- I didn’t flunk out of classes, but I wasn’t top student by any means. At the time I had no interest in Uni or Tafe, I just wanted to finish school and then see what the world had to offer. After school I had an assortment of jobs. I worked harvest season at a grain bunker and a season on a cattle station in the NT as a cook/cleaner and general hand.

books, New york Acting school & adulting 101...

In between this, 18 year old me took an interest in acting. So, after leaving the cattle station I spent 6 weeks in New York after being accepted into the New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts summer program of 2011. I can’t believe I survived those 6 weeks, being the naive beach bum and country kid I was. But survive I did, and not long after returning, I moved over to Perth, WA. I gave up on the acting dream and got a job in hospitality. Those were my ‘learning to be an adult’ years, I earnt money just to spend it on rent, food, my dog, nice shoes and dancing (Oh yeah, I took Hip Hop lessons for a few years around this time). I was renting this cute tiny 2 bedroom apartment, I didn’t even own a TV but I did own a bookcase. I had stretches of my life where I went without books, but they always found their way back to me.


more books, finding love & Australian adventures...

Enter my future husband. After what must have been the most awkward first-date/meeting ever, we really hit it off. (note to all the current singles out there; don’t invite someone over for a movie night if you don’t even own a TV. On the plus side, it’s a good ice breaker to squish up on the bed and watch Shark Tale off a laptop). Then came an ill-planned camping holiday around Australia that was as amazing as it was disastrous (car troubles, you know?). Even though we only managed to see South Australia before we turned around and came home, I wouldn’t trade that year for anything. It was such a fun time, and amongst countless card games I learnt so much about my partner. During all this of course, I had my books; shoutout to my husband here who installed a book nook into the caravan because I refused to give up a single one of my books.


even more books, vet nursing & marriage...

Not long after giving up on the whole camping idea, I decided I was sick of working in hospitality and started my studies in Veterinary Nursing. We moved back to Perth and it wasn’t long before I got a job. I have been working as a Vet Nurse for nearly 7 years now. Joey must have decided if he could stick out long-term camping with me I must be the one, because he popped the question after taking a very nervous (but endearing!) knee. We got married surrounded by friends and family in New Zealand. I could gush forever here how amazing that all was, but I’ll save it for another time. Afterwards, I found I needed a hobby to fill my time outside of work- apart from reading, by this point by book hoard was rivalled only by my plant collection. I dabbled in SFX makeup, and took up aerial silks but nothing really stuck.


book (my own this time!) & getting published

One day I mentioned to my husband how I would love to try and write a book. I think a lot of bookworms have that dream, but I had no idea how or where to start, just a vague kind of ‘what if’ idea floating around in my head. One day Joey brought me home a laptop and I just… started writing. I know that seems pretty underwhelming, but its what happened. I wrote, and deleted things and wrote some more. I bounced ideas off my husband and started researching ‘how to write a book’ and without me realising it the story took shape. I make it sound easy; trust me it wasn’t. It took a huge amount of effort and self-discipline. But I got there on energy drinks and steadfast determination (and a good helping of encouragement from Joey). After sending the ‘finished product’ (ha, anyone who’s a writer knows this was a lie) out to agents, getting a tonne of rejections, studying and rewriting a huge part of the story I got picked up by New Dawn Publishing in 2021. Now, 3 years after sitting down to start typing, The Assassin Thief is about to hit shelves.

So here I am, and here you are, reading a blog about an author you maybe came across on TikTok, or work with, or grew up beside. It’s too hard to sum up a life in a few paragraphs, and I am still awful at writing synopsis, but that’s kind of it in a nutshell. Whatever got you here, thank you for coming on this journey with me. I hope my story inspires you, I hope my writing moves you. From beaches to books and back again.

Maddy Te Whiu xoxo

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