My name is Erin Donohue. I am a fiction writer, poet and mental health advocate. I hold a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Creative Writing and a Graduate Diploma in Publishing, both from Whitireia New Zealand. Currently, I work as an editor and live in Wellington, New Zealand. »

My debut novel, Because Everything Is Right but Everything Is Wrong, draws heavily on my own experience with mental illness and was published in 2017 by Escalator Press. It was a finalist in two categories in the New Zealand Children’s and Young Adult Book Awards 2018.

You can purchase it from your local bookstore or online here.

Where it all began

I began keeping journals and writing short stories as a child. At the age of six, I, somewhat too eagerly, started writing my auto-biography, which speaks not only to my love of writing and my love of all stories – regardless of their size –  but also the level of self-importance six-year-old Erin was feeling. It’s also very telling of my need to capture what was happening and what I was feeling, regardless of how insignificant or mundane it seemed. When I was a teenager, I filled several diaries with terrible, angsty poetry. Regardless of the stage of my life and what it brought with it, I was always writing.

When I look back now, I suppose my life was always pointing towards writing. As a child and teenager, I was focused on ballet and the ways in which I could make a future out of that. I had never considered anything else.

Photo of the cover of Because Everything Is Right but Everything Is Wrong

It’s changed the way I attend to those I teach. I cannot give it higher praise than that.

Bernard Beckett, author of Genesis, on Because Everything Is Right but Everything Is Wrong
Where it got complicated

When I was in high school, I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and anorexia. I had to quit dancing and drop several subjects at school because I was so unwell. I spent time in eating disorder in-patient treatment facilities and hospital. During these times, I found myself turning to writing to untangle my thoughts.

Despite how I never expected to survive high school, I finished in 2013. As I could no longer study dance, I felt so unprepared. Ballet had been my plan from the beginning. While in the waiting room of my psychologist’s office, I picked up Whitireia’s prospectus and found their writing programme.

And so began my recovery with a tangible goal – to do the writing course.

I now hold a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Creative Writing. During my degree, I still struggled with my mental illnesses. I completed half of my first year from inside an eating disorder clinic. I wrote two young adult manuscripts during my final two year and they draw heavily on my own experience with mental illness. One of my manuscripts was completed from a hospital bed, where I was on bed rest and under a 24-hour watch.

Author, Erin Donohue, reading at the launch of 4th Floor Journal in 2016. This was part of the 2016 Litcrawl Festival.
Where it started to come together

My writing has previously been featured in They Call Me Ink: Re-draw 15 and 4th Floor Literary Journal. After completing my writing degree, I undertook a Post-Graduate Diploma in Publishing, which I completed in 2017. I loved working intensely with words, both during the editing process of Trish Harris’s poetry collection My wide white bed and, of course, while editing and re-working my own novel. Currently, I am working as an editor and trying to work on my writing projects whenever I can.

Because Everything Is Right but Everything Is Wrong is my debut novel and is available for purchase here. Reviews and interviews are featured here.

Photo of author, Erin Donohue, discussing mental health and writing with year 10 students from Nelson College for Girls. This was part of the Nelson Arts Festival.

Every school library should have a copy of this book.

The Big Idea