Ella West was born in Invercargill. When she had read through the children’s library, she used her older brother’s card and began on the adult section. While studying literature at Victoria University, a holiday job reporting at the Southland Times taught her the craft of writing and eventually led her to the West Coast where she married a shearer. 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, that she wrote her first young adult novel Thieves (2006). They now live near Dunedin and have a sheep and beef farm.