The launch of new young adult novel Moon Boy this week will be bittersweet for local author Kathy Sutcliffe.
The 'sweet' will be the launch of the novel the Rotorua teacher has been working towards for years, the 'bitter' the sadness that children's book advocate and bookseller John McIntyre won't be around to read it.
Mr McIntyre, who owned The Children's Bookshop in Wellington and reviewed books on National Radio, passed away last month.
Ms Sutcliffe approached him with the early manuscript for Moon Boy and he encouraged her to submit it to up-and-coming Wellington publisher Makaro Press.
He always encouraged authors he thought were good at their craft and praised Ms Sutcliffe's previous young adult novel When Romeo Met Mercutio, saying it was a stunning book for young readers.
Mr McIntyre was delighted when Makaro Press accepted the manuscript and was looking forward to the launch.
Ms Sutcliffe said she was sad he wouldn't get to read Moon Boy after all his support.
"This book wouldn't exist without him and I know it goes into the world with his blessing, so I feel he's still part of it in some way.'
Unlike her last novel, Moon Boy is not set in Ms Sutcliffe's home town of Rotorua, but in a fictional town further north.
Ms Sutcliffe writes about outsiders in school life, in this case the two main characters are both new to town, their mothers are partners and Eru, the moon boy of the title, is a Maori with blond dreads and a pale complexion and no ears.
Ms Sutcliffe said she was proud of the issues her novel raised and that her protagonist and other main character were young Maori.
Publisher Mary McCallum said there was nothing quite like Moon Boy out there in Aotearoa at the moment.
"We can't wait to see what young Kiwi readers say about it, and we just wish John McIntyre was still here to be part of the excitement."
Moon Boy will launch at McLeods Bookshop on Pukuatua St this Wednesday at 5.30pm.
The book's retail price is $25 and is for ages 16 and above.