Teachers by day, writers by night.

That is the reality two Paraparaumu College teachers find themselves living.

Husband and wife, Matt and Debbie Cowens, both part of the English department at Paraparaumu College have had their latest work published in Te Korero Ahi Ka: To Speak of the Home Fires Burning, a New Zealand speculative fiction anthology.

The book is the work of Speculative Fiction New Zealand (SpecFicNZ), an organisation formed in 2009 and is the brain child of editors Grace Bridges and Lee Murray with the help of Aaron Compton.


It is a snap shot of what speculative fiction is like in New Zealand at the moment.

As members of SpecFicNZ Matt has written two stories and Debbie one in the anthology, which in their words is "funny, emotional, cynical and moving".

Spanning many topics, the anthology is a collection of short works featuring short stories and poems from around 20 New Zealand authors.

"The book hosts a pretty broad range, with particular interest in horror, fantasy and science fiction but with that New Zealand flavour," Matt said.

"There really is something for everyone.

"Growing up there was a bit of prejudice against horror and fantasy fiction from some people, so I've got a lifelong chip on my shoulder.

"I have something to prove, that speculative fiction can be good, is literary and is worthy."

Today speculative fiction is very popular, with some of the highest grossing movies and television shows being super hero films, horror and fantasy.

The popularity of Stephen King, Harry Potter, Twilight and DC Comics to name a few have all added to the growth of the genre in recent years.

"SpecFic has a growing audience in New Zealand, however a lot of the time people are reading SpecFic that is from overseas," Debbie said.

"When people first get into this genre they see the more mainstream books and movies and the big international names and then after that might find out about the more local ones."

Being published authors and having a successful 'hobby' on the side is not a distraction from the Cowens' day jobs.

"We are equally passionate about teaching writing and actually writing ourselves," Debbie said.

"It keeps reminding you what the challenges are, and we can pass that onto the students.

"There are plenty of opportunities to use creative writing in the classroom, teaching and writing is a nice fit, but it's very much a hobby."