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Catran is the author of many teen novels, including Taken at the Flood, Voyage with Jason, Doomfire on Venus, Space Wolf, Jacko Moran: Sniper, Talking to Blue and its sequels Blue Murder and Blue Blood. He is perhaps best known for his Deepwater trilogy series and his contribution to the television drama Shortland Street. However, Catran became frustrated with a lack of recognition within the industry (in particular, he penned the famous line, "You're not in Guatemala now, Dr. Ropata," but has never received payment for the numerous times it has been used in publicity), and quit television altogether. Although he did not start writing until his thirties, he has become a prolific and varied writer within the New Zealand literary community.
Ken's television credits include soap operas (Radio Waves, Close to Home) as well as stand-out episodes in the TV drama Mortimer's Patch including two episodes that were the most watched TV programme in New Zealand in their respective weeks: a feat that is unlikely to be repeated.
He also penned Under the Mountain, an 8-episode treatment of the Maurice Gee novel, and in 1981/1982 researched and wrote the critically well-received Hanlon - a biographical law drama. The opening episode treating sympathetically the Minnie Dean case received outstanding reviews.
In 2004, Catran won the Esther Glen Award, presented by LIANZA, for his book, Jacko Moran, Sniper. Another five of his books have been short-listed for the award from 1997 to 2006, and Smiling Jack was a finalist for the 2011 LIANZA Young Adult Fiction Award.
In 2001, Catran's book, Voyage with Jason, won the Children's Book of the Year award, and the Young Adult Fiction category, at the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards. Later, his book, Smiling Jack, won the Children's Choice Young Adult Fiction category at the 2011 awards. An additional three of his books have been shortlisted at the various incarnations of these awards — Deepwater Black and Dream-bite for Senior Fiction, and Something Weird about Mr Foster for Junior Fiction.
In 2007, after writing more than 30 novels, he won the Margaret Mahy Medal, awarded by the Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust to a person who has made a significant contribution to children's literature, publishing, or literacy. At least one of his books have been on the Storylines Notable Books List in the Young Adult Fiction category from when the list was established in 2000 to 2008, and again in 2011. In 2003 one of his books was included in the Junior Fiction category of the list, Something Weird About Mr Foster.
Not much is publicly known about Catran's personal life. Through various interviews, however, he has revealed that he chose writing over other interests because it 'came naturally to me'. He relaxes by going for walks, and, as may be expected for a writer, reads regularly.
He also frequently visits schools and gives advice to young writers on creating novels and short stories
- Samdog Design Ltd (2009). "Catran, Ken". New Zealand Book Council. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
- "Ken Catran". GeoCities Area51. 25 Oct 2009. Archived from the original on 25 October 2009. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
- "Hanlon". NZ On Screen. Wellington New Zealand: NZ On Air. OCLC 268791231. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- "1986 Winners - Listener Television Awards". KIWITV. 3 May 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- "Ken Catran". Storylines.org.nz. Auckland, New Zealand: Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand. 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- "2001 Awards". New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards. Wellington, New Zealand: Booksellers New Zealand. 28 September 2011. OCLC 182896192. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- "2011 Awards". New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards. Wellington, New Zealand: Booksellers New Zealand. 18 May 2011. OCLC 182896192. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- "Margaret Mahy Medal Award". Christchurch, New Zealand: Christchurch City Libraries. 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- "Margaret Mahy Award". Storylines.org.nz. Auckland, New Zealand: Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand. 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
- "Notable Books List". Storylines.org.nz. Auckland, New Zealand: Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand. 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
- "Interview with Ken Catran - Kids". Christchurch City Libraries. 1944-05-16. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
- Ken Catran at the Internet Movie Database
- Ken Catran biography, selected bibliography, and awards list at the Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust website
- Ken Catran biography at the New Zealand Book Council website
- In Defence of Minnie Dean, the multi-award winning first episode of the Hanlon television series written by Catran, streamed free at NZ On Screen