Ella West was born in Invercargill. When she had read her way through the children’s library she stole her older brother’s card and began on the adult section.
She intended to study science like her brothers at the University of Otago but a drama camp when she was fifteen made up her mind to persuade her parents to let her study English literature instead. She completed a BA at Victoria University.
A university holiday job, reporting at the Southland Times, taught her an understanding of the craft of writing and led her to the West Coast (after a stint at the Evening Post in Wellington). In Westport, the journalist married a shearer and together they went dairy farming on the banks of the Buller River. It was there, between getting the cows in for milking, teaching drama and raising two sons, she wrote her first novel for young adults, Thieves, published in 2006. In 2015 Night Vision won the Young Adult section of the LIANZA Awards and was the Young Adult Children’s Choice winner in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Ella participates in Playmarket’s and the New Zealand Book Council’s Writers in Schools programmes.
A past finalist in the Adam New Zealand Play Award, her plays for adults focus on rural New Zealand and more recently the absurdity of realty TV.
With her husband, Ella lives on a rural property near Dunedin where she writes full time, spends weekends chasing sheep and wonders why her chickens aren’t laying eggs.