Ronwyn Allen, coordinator of Botany Library Writers Group, interviewed author Kay Mills on her latest book, Young Adult Fantasy, “The Moonstone.

RONWYN: YA Fantasy is a change of direction for you. What prompted you to write this book?

KAY:   Originally I wrote it as  a short story. Then writing colleagues urged me to expand on the theme       and turn it into a novel.                      

RONWYN: What inspired you to write of a stone that has magical powers?

KAY:  Because a moonstone is a fascinating stone, formed from the magic of the moon and believed to hold other-worldly and celestial elements. I was intrigued to learn that moonstones can possess healing qualities as well as power to protect the wearer.

RONWYN: Your main character Avrin, is a teenage girl. Is this a ‘coming of age’ story?

KAY:   Yes. Although teenage Avrin longs to be a warrior, she is unsure of herself until she inherits the moonstone. Once she realizes her part in unleashing its powers she grows in confidence and self-awareness and becomes a strong, self-assured young woman.  

RONWYN: You have set The Moonstone in early-Medieval England. Is this a favourite time period of yours?         

KAY:   Only in that I like all historical time periods and love reading and writing historical fiction. I find it easy to imagine my characters living in any time period and early-medieval people were so wonderfully full of superstitions. They believed in the evil eye and did all sorts of things to ward off bad luck.  They also believed in spells and sorcery.   

RONWYN: Did you do much research for the book.

KAY:   Yes, a lot, although I took care to let the characters be in their natural surroundings without too much historical data interfering with the story. Part of my research was reading books of a similar nature and  I quickly found myself a fan of this type of fantasy.

RONWYN: Who will enjoy reading The Moonstone?

KAY:   Girls fourteen years and up, as well as adult readers of fantasy.

RONWYN: Did you enjoy writing The Moonstone?

KAY:  Very much. It was fantastic to develop a whole group of imaginary characters and make up medieval names to suit each one.

RONWYN: How would you describe your style of writing? KAY:  Fast-paced and easy to read.

The First Stories

Being in Covid ‘Delta Lockdown’ mode I was spending time cruising some archeology sites when a picture of ancient bones brought to mind our cave dwelling ancestors telling stories around the fire (an easy mind shift to those of us who love to read historical fiction and, more especially those of us who write historic fiction).

Storytelling comes to us as naturally as breathing and is the oldest art form – even before drawing on the cave walls. It is recognised as one of the earliest forms of human activity. Those early words “tell us a story” came about at the same time as “pass the Dinosaur bones”.

Stories are important to every person, culture and age throughout the world. Give up our storytelling and stories and we give up our art, our education and our communication.

Storytelling is an important tool for modern times. So keep writing those stories.

The Book Reviews

After the hard work of writing and publishing “The Chartreuse Dress” I am thrilled to receive good reviews. See some below:

“From page one I was gripped by “The Chartreuse Dress”. It starts in Auckland, in 1907, with the heroine, Bella, being soundly admonished by her dominating father, a major.  She longs to remain New Zealand when her family returns to London in a few months’ time. The major totally forbids it. His decision is final.  And yet… by the next page, Bella is waving goodbye to her parents and younger sister as they sail back to England.

Bella is not a sulky young woman, who stamps her feet to get her own way. In just two pages, I became an admirer of her level-headedness and her quiet determination to succeed against her bullying father and sobbing mother.  How did she pull it off?  Why was she so determined to remain?  It is all revealed as we are drawn into Bella’s new life.

That’s one of the many things I love about this book – believable characters, who behave realistically for the times and for all the right reasons… or reasons that seemed right to each of them at the time.  

As well as engaging characters, the author, Kay Mills, captures the spirit and authenticity of Edwardian Auckland in the lead up to the 1st World War and its aftermath. The pace of the story is perfect as it doesn’t miss a beat. Kay is a master at superb, flowing storytelling that will have you gripped to the end. I can’t wait for the sequel.”

Jocelyn Watkin, Tai Chi Chuan Instructor, Writer and Adventurer, Auckland



What is your opinion of this photograph?

When looking at a photograph, especially an old one, have you ever had the feeling it was trying to tell you something?

This is a photograph of my grandmother (who died before I was born) taken in London, 1906 when she was nineteen years old.

I’ve spent a lot of time studying it and trying to decide what kind of woman she was. So what do her features say about her?

She has a strong chin which is supposed to indicate strength of character. Yet she seems wistful, almost sad. I feel she has the look of someone yearning to know what her future holds; a burning desire to hope her future will be better than her present.

With little know about her, I felt it was up to me to create a fictional account of her life. So I went ahead and wrote “The Chartreuse Dress”.


Like many things in life, a writer can move things along one step at a time.

Some writers, like my friend Ronwyn, write with amazing speed and achieve 3,000-4,000 words a day. Others (like me) struggle to reach a quarter of that. Don’t despair. Whatever your daily word count – every word counts!

A few years back I was urged to take ‘baby steps’ to get myself out of a writing dilemma. Good advice, for at the time I was considering consigning my barely started narrative to the scrap heap. I took the advice and instead of continuing to be frustrated that my writing seemed stalled, I wrote several small ‘test’ scenes. Before long I was away again.

I took it slowly – one step at a time.