Gareth Ward spends his workdays surrounded by books. Now one of those books has his name on it.

Gareth, who, with wife Louise, owns Wardini Books in Napier and Havelock North, will launch his first published novel at both locations during the final weekend in July.

The Traitor and the Thief is aimed at 10 to 15-year-olds.

Set in a Victorian England heavily influenced by steampunk, the plot concerns Sin, a 14-year-old orphan who, caught stealing a priceless necklace, is offered redemption if he joins a secret spy organisation. Sin is the thief of the title. As for the identity of the traitor - it's up to Sin and his mates to unmask the villain.

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After Gareth's first two books failed to attract a publisher, the manuscript for The Traitor and the Thief won the 2016 Storylines Tessa Duder Award, which came with a publishing contract from Walker Books.

"I wanted to write the type of book that I would love to read as a reader," he says. "And I absolutely think I've achieved that."

The writing bug bit early. He remembers reading an Alistair MacLean novel when he was 11 and thinking, "right, I can write something equally as exciting".

"I got the typewriter out and wrote about one page."

Gareth has led his own adventures - his CV includes Royal Marine Commando and police officer - but the one constant in his life was the urge to fill blank pages with words.

"I love writing," he says. "It's probably my favourite thing. I like to sit down at my keyboard and create these worlds out of my imagination."

Each rejection letter was a lesson.

"You learn and you get better and you take feedback. That's the big thing for any budding authors - you have to take the knocks. You have to take the advice of experienced people."

Steampunk - Victorian settings featuring advanced technology - is one of his favourite genres to write in.

"You can let your imagination run wild," he says. "You have the basics of Victorian England during the Industrial Revolution, which was a fantastically interesting time anyway, and then you can throw all these other things into the mix and let yourself go crazy."

Steampunk is also the theme of the Traitor's Ball, the event Gareth and Louise organised for Friday, July 28 at the Havelock North Function Centre. The book will be introduced at 6pm, followed by the ball at 7.30pm, where attendees are invited to don their best steampunk finery. The Pukes will provide the entertainment; steampunk games will provide the fun.

Tickets are $25 and include a copy of The Traitor and the Thief.
They are available at both Wardini Books locations.

"It will be a fun evening," says Gareth.

The Napier shop will host its own launch function, at 4pm on Saturday, July 29.

"I'm going to be so pleased to sell my own book in my own shop," Gareth says.

"What I wanted to do was write a brilliant, fun, rip-roaring steampunk adventure for kids, and that's what I've achieved. I'm happy."

Wardini Books, 16 Te Mata Rd, Havelock North, and 46 Hastings St, Napier.