Jean Prior’s love of books and storytelling was inspired by the stories told by her father when she was a child. Jean and her sister spent many evenings listening to tales about the Little Folk from Bunnyhill Farm. Immediately after World War II there weren’t many children’s books around, but Jean had a small library with no comics.
Jean went on to become a home economics teacher, as well as a wife and mother. Her ambition to write stories was always simmering quietly in the background, but was given extra impetus by her studies for the Diploma in Children’s Literature at the Christchurch College of Education.
The idea for her award-winning manuscript The Waka (originally called 'Out of the Wind and Rain') came to Jean one day when she was gardening, accompanied by her dog and two cats. She carried the manuscript around in her bag for about a year before she submitted it for the Storylines Joy Cowley Award, which she won in 2004. Jean thoroughly enjoyed working with Joy Cowley on the manuscript and The Waka was published in 2005.
Jean’s family is now grown up, and she has five grandchildren. She currently lives in Orewa, north of Auckland.