A year to the day after launching his best-selling debut psychological thriller, Josh Pomare was back in his hometown on Saturday to introduce New Zealand to his second.
It was no coincidence the launch of each, the first Call Me Evie, the second In The Clearing, was at McLeod's Booksellers.
It's the author's favourite bookshop in the world, which is some claim from a 32-year-old whose writing skills are being hailed internationally. United States and Australian critics, notorious for panning crime writing, have unanimously applauded both his works.
Call Me Evie was judged the best first novel at the national Ngaio Marsh Crime Writers awards in September, an achievement Pomare describes as "very exciting recognition".
Former Rotorua resident Dame Fiona Kidman took out the overall title with her book This Mortal Boy. She's become a role model for Pomare who writes under the name J.P. Pomare.
"We've developed a really great connection. It's cool to encounter someone who's excelled in so many forms and genres."
While Call Me Evie alternates between Maketū and Melbourne, where he now lives with his 20-week pregnant wife Paige, Pomare's latest release is located solely in Australia.
This doesn't mean he's deserted his home territory. His literary antenna is tuned towards a work set in and around lakes Tarawera and Okareka.
"They are fairly isolated communities that are a little bit insular, until relatively recently they didn't have cell phone coverage. I'm thinking of an outsider coming in and disturbing them."
"Home" was the breeding ground for the cross-section of characters he draws inspiration from.
"I grew up in an environment encountering different life perspectives, had friends from families of great wealth and poverty. As a writer it's helped to have that background to write from."
Pomare told the crowd packed into McLeod's for the In The Clearing's launch he had not initially set out to be a thriller writer. At Western Heights High, his sights were set on journalism. His first published work was in the New Zealand Herald's college section and was entitled Going to the Ball.
"I wanted to show the teachers who had faith in me I could write. After that, I produced a lot of pretty bad short stories. To say I've now found my voice is a crappy cliché but I guess I've developed a more intelligent, emotional approach to writing," he said.
"I think I do have a different type of novel in me. I don't want to fall into the trap of resorting to gore and blood, murdered bodies, extreme violence to engage readers."
Pomare is presently Writer in Residence at the Michael King Centre in Devonport, where he's working on a new novel.
"My publishers want it by the middle of next year. I wrote In the Clearing before Evie was produced, so for the first time I'm feeling the pressure of deadlines."