Our Members - Their Stories

MDANZ members share their personal stories of living with a Muscular Dystrophy condition. 

Home is where the heart is for award-winning author

31 March 2021
Melanie Louden

Her contemporary small-town stories are winning fans

Adrienne Smith’s first published romance novel has scooped three national awards. She shares her success story with Melanie Louden. 

Adrienne has collected three awards for her first published novel.

Adrienne Smith’s love of writing started at a young age and has followed her through to adulthood, resulting in her first published novel being an award winner.

The 48-year-old Auckland resident has been writing since she can remember.

“I recall being given a very old typewriter – back before we had computers – that didn’t have a working ‘L’ key and I had to write them all in by hand. My parents were teachers and supported reading and writing from a very early age.”

Move forward to 2021 and the romance novelist is married to fellow award-winning author and MDANZ Northern Region Fieldworker Darian Smith, and she has recently won three awards for her first published novel.

Adrienne self-published Home of the Heart – a Dragonfly Lake Novel, in 2019 because it allows her to keep the rights and control over her own work.

“But it does mean you won’t find me in mainstream bookstores.”

Home of the Heart – a Dragonfly Lake Novel won the Romance Writers of New Zealand Pacific Hearts award for Completed Unpublished Novels in 2018 and in 2020, after it was published, went on to win their Koru Award for Best First Book.

“It was so exciting to win that, since you’re going up against other published authors,” Adrienne says. 

Her book was also a finalist in the Best Long Book category for that year.

An unpublished novel that Adrienne plans to rework and add to her current series has also won Reader’s Choice for the Romance Writers of New Zealand Clendon Award. 

Inspiration for her “sweet contemporary small-town stories” doesn’t come from anywhere specific, she says. 

“Stories just pop into my head and grow from there. Usually it will start with a character popping up and a scene about them, and before you know it, they’re demanding to have their whole story told!

“I really enjoy getting the voices in my head onto paper,” says Adrienne, who also likes craft, knitting her own socks and cross-stitching in front of the TV in the evening.

Home of the Heart – a Dragonfly Lake Novel took Adrienne “years” to write. She works in the claims department of an insurance company and hopes to start working part-time this year, giving her more time to write. 

Adrienne was diagnosed with myotonic dystrophy 11 years ago and says she is “lucky in that I can still walk and work and type”.

“But things are getting harder. I just try to focus on what I can still do.” 

Darian helps her with a lot of things, and she works from home to make things a bit easier. 

“Going out anywhere I have to walk that’s not flat and on even ground is difficult, and stairs are an absolute no-go.

“But more than that, having to give up things like playing guitar has been a big loss,” she says. 

The competition is on between award winning authors Adrienne and her husband Darian.

Darian has published six books – three in the Agents of Kalanon series (murder mysteries mixed with epic fantasy), a paranormal romance set in New Zealand, a short story collection, and a nonfiction book for writers on how to use psychology to create characters.

His works have gone on win a Sir Julius Vogel Award and he has been a finalist several times. He has won two Koru Awards and was a finalist for the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. He has also received the Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence. 

Neither Adrienne nor Darian have any plans to stop writing – she is working on a sequel to Home of the Heart – a Dragonfly Lake Novel, while he is starting a shorter young adults’ novel before working on book four in his Agents of Kalanon series. 

You can find paperback and ebook versions of Adrienne and Darian’s published works at www.amazon.com

* This story was originally published in the Autumn 2021 edition of In Touch magazine. 

For more information please contact: 
Melanie Louden 
Communications and Marketing Advisor 
Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand 
027 509 8774 
[email protected]