Wellington author Eleanor Catton, 23, who is based in Iowa studying at the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, says in an interview with the Irish Times that she is enjoying travelling the world promoting her first novel, The Rehearsal – although she didn’t initially feel totally comfortable performing in the media spotlight. “It’s still kind of surreal, to be honest. I feel like I’m at a dress-up party and someone’s about to tell me I’ve come in the wrong costume.” Catton says that New Zealand authors can feel like outsiders in the international literary scene. “It’s quite funny being a writer in New Zealand,” she says. “The literary scene is really vibrant and really happening over there, but there’s always a sense that you’re off stage somehow because you’re so geographically removed from the rest of the world. You always get the sense that things are happening elsewhere.” Catton is hard at work on her next novel, set during the 1860s gold rush on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It will, she says, have a slightly fantastical element – she was a huge fan of fantasy writers such as Susan Cooper growing up. And she thinks writing this book will be a very different experience to the creation of her debut. Catton was born in Canada in 1985 and raised in Christchurch. She received the Adam Award in Creative Writing in 2007 for The Rehearsal and won the Sunday Star-Times Short Story Competition in New Zealand.