Vanda Symon

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Vanda Symon
Vanda Symon WORD2016 (cropped).jpg
Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
NationalityNew Zealand
GenreCrime fiction

Vanda Symon (born 1969) is a crime writer and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the Chair of the Otago Southland Branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors.


Born in Tauranga, she grew up there and then in Hawke's Bay. Symon calls herself "the product of a life-long love affair with books", having developed a strong love of reading at an early age. She has said her first books obsession was with the Berenstain Bears series of children's books – before she moved on to "camping out at the library" and a steady diet of Rosemary Sutcliff and TH White. The latter's The Sword in the Stone led her to a love of all things Camelot, a fascination with medieval times, and even choosing fencing as her sport.[1]

After high school, Symon headed south to study pharmacy at the University of Otago in Dunedin.[2] She practised as a pharmacist in the community and at the local hospice until 1999. She started a family in 2000, and began writing full-time while looking after her children[3] in Hawke's Bay.

She returned to Dunedin in 2005[4] before her first novel was published.

Symon is a full-time mother and writer, and also produces and hosts a monthly books-focused radio show 'Write On' on Toroa Radio (It airs live on the second Wednesday of each month on Hills AM Community Radio 1575 kHz from noon to 1:00pm), serves as the Chair of the Otago Southland Branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors, and does monthly book reviews for Dunedin Diary on Channel 9 Television.


Symon's first novel, Overkill, was published in March 2007[5] in New Zealand by Penguin Books. It introduces series heroine Sam Shephard, and centres on the looks-like suicide death of a young mother in a small rural town in New Zealand. Symon told the Otago Daily Times that: “Overkill was 4 ½ years from go to whoa. This was very part time fitting in snippets of writing around babies and the associated demands of feeding, play, dealing with messes of all origins, household running and eyeballs-falling-out-of-head tiredness.” [4]

Symon followed with the publication of her second novel The Ringmaster in August 2008.[6] She has had some international success, with the German translation of Overkill, Ein Harmloser Mord, being published by Blanvalet in October 2008. Symon's third novel featuring Detective Sam Shephard, Containment, was published in November 2009, appeared on the New Zealand Adult Fiction Bestsellers List, and was on the shortlist for the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel.[7]

Further novels in the series, Bound and The Faceless, were published in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Bound was also shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award.[8]


Symon's hosts Write On, the radio show of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors, broadcast on Toroa Radio 1575 kHz AM.[9]

Crime novels[edit]


  1. ^ Crime Watch website
  2. ^ Official website
  3. ^ NZ Book Council profile
  4. ^ a b Smith, Charmian (2 August 2008). "Murder mystery close to home". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  5. ^ Penguin NZ website
  6. ^ Ibid
  7. ^ Detectives Beyond Borders
  8. ^ Christchurch City Libraries
  9. ^ Write On Blog

External links[edit]