A local writer, who was the winner of the 2015 Tom Fitzgibbon Award, has held a pre-launch for his first published book so he could celebrate the milestone with his Rotorua friends.

Tom E. Moffatt said he was "a little bit nervous" but excited for the launch of his book Barking Mad at McLeod's Booksellers yesterday.

Mr Moffatt said he was in the Rotorua Writer's Group and some others from the group attended.

He said the official book launch was coming up in Auckland on August 21, which is put on by Scholastic and Storylines at the Aotea Centre, but they had been kind enough to let him have one in Rotorua beforehand.


The Rotorua launch included him saying a few words, reading an extract, a competition with a book to give away, questions and a book signing.

The Scholastic Bay of Plenty representative read out a speech written by Scholastic's senior editor Lynette Evans, which was about the book, the process and Mr Moffatt.

Barking Mad came out in New Zealand and Australian bookshops on August 1, he said.

The book was the winner of the 2015 Tom Fitzgibbon Award for a previously unpublished writer.

In Ms Evans' speech, she mentioned the book won the award unanimously.

It is about a boy called Finn Butterby who is told his grandfather, an inventor, has gone 'barking mad'.

At first Finn doesn't believe it, but when they go to visit, he sees his grandfather barking like a dog and chasing a guard up a tree.

That is when Finn realises something strange is going on and decides to get to the bottom of it.

Mr Moffatt said when he won the award in March 2015 it was "a dream come true" because the prize was publication.

"It's like a golden ticket into the publishing world. I felt a bit like Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

He said they say the book is suited for ages 8 to 12 years, "but I like to say children 8 to 100 years".

"I'm an adult and I love kid's books."

He said his second book is currently with the publisher Scholastic and they were going to start the editing process after the launch.

Ben Wilcock, who attended the launch with his son Oscar, 4, said he went as he had heard about the book.

"I've heard about the book and that it's really good, so I thought we would take the opportunity to get a signed copy and meet the author."

Charity Bollard, a friend of Mr Moffatt and his wife, said she was at the launch to show her support. She said he had always inspired her as he was a teacher who had turned into an author.