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Local author buzzed with success

Bestselling author Jared Gulian’s latest fiction work, The Last Beekeeper, has made the top 10 in New Zealand Fiction. PHOTOS/FILE

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Wairarapa is becoming a hive for artists and writers, with one Wairarapa author’s self-published book flying to number seven on the New Zealand bestseller list for fiction.

Martinborough-based writer Jared Gulian was buzzing with the success of his science fiction novel The Last Beekeeper – the only self-published book on the Nielsen bestseller list for the week ending June 4.

Like Gulian’s previous work, his latest novel was inspired by Wairarapa scenery. The story brought to light a dystopian world where the future of people and bees is uncertain.

Gulian said a considerable amount of research went into writing the novel.

“I always follow my curiosity, and I was reading a lot about the problems we are facing with bees. I just started thinking, ‘what if it got worse’, and it got my imagination going.”

Gulian was surprised to make it on to the list as a self-published author.

“The other bestsellers, they’ve got people contacting stores and getting their books in prominent places. I don’t have that – it’s just me.”

What he did have was a “cabel of Wairarapa librarians and committed independent booksellers” cheering him on.

A dystopian future imagines a world where the existence of bees – and humans – is under threat.

He said his success stemmed from the support of surrounding bookstores and libraries.

“The response has been so positive and warm from the local community. It never ceases to amaze me how supportive everyone is.”

Gulian said a big reason for his book’s success was the Wairarapa-wide reading event One Book, One Community, which ran in May.

“Talk about an honour to have my book chosen to help try and connect local community. I mean, that’s amazing.”

Last month was the first time One Book One Community had run in Wairarapa.

Library and archives manager Tiffany Rawlings said the event was inspired by similar experiences in the United States, where people came together to celebrate libraries.

“We picked Jared’s book as a theme because it was engaging for men and women, and it grips you from the beginning. Also, beekeeping has a huge local focus here.”

Wairarapa libraries ran events related to Gulian’s theme of bees, including a storytime for young children, a talk with a beekeeper, a quiz night, and an ‘evening with the author’.

Hedley’s Books store owner David Hedley said he noticed a direct rise in sales after the library events.

“It was ticking along quite nicely anyway. We have a strong philosophy about supporting local authors, especially if they are self-published.

“Bees are very topical too – he’s written a dystopian novel, but it frighteningly may not be fiction in the future, which makes it interesting.”

The Last Beekeeper is available at Masterton’s Hedley’s Books and Carterton’s Almo Books.

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