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Valley Profile reporter Kelley Tantau is releasing her debut novel this September. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

Profile reporter Kelley Tantau signs UK publishing deal

Valley Profile senior reporter Kelley Tantau is still “pinching” herself as she prepares to publish her debut novel.
The Paeroa-based journalist signed with UK agency Cranthorpe Millner Publishers back in January. Now, her first book The Runaway Man will be available to purchase worldwide from September 26.
“It’s a surreal moment for me,” she said, “and one that I am still really nervous about. As a print journalist, I am used to having people read stories I’ve written, but a book… that’s a whole different ball game.”
The Runaway Man is a fast-paced narrative that follows the story of Nick Greene and his decision to start life afresh. When his missing persons case quickly turns into a manhunt, the tale prompts readers to consider whether taking such a drastic action could ever be worth the repercussions that lay in its wake.
The novel is the launchpad for Kelley’s planned series and, while set in a fictional town, it is inspired by New Zealand’s – and particularly the Thames Valley’s – native flora and fauna.
“It’s hard not to write about what you see, and in New Zealand we’re very fortunate to have a diverse environment that lends itself well to any world-building,” she said.
Before starting her stint in community journalism back in 2015, Kelley earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Waikato, majoring in Writing Studies.
This year she was named Best Senior News Journalist at the Community Newspaper Association Awards, and Joint Runner-Up for Community Journalist of the Year at the NZ Voyager Media Awards.
“I’ve always written creatively,” she said. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always written stories and read them out to mum and dad. But when I first started writing The Runaway Man, I had no intention of anybody except my parents ever reading it.”
She took the leap in December last year to send her manuscript to Cranthorpe Millner, and now she has further novels in the works.
She’ll also be speaking at the Local Authors Fair on August 19, as part of this year’s Hamilton Book Month.
Kelley, 28, said The Runaway Man was her first attempt at finishing a novel-length story, and at 74,000 words, it was a relatively “easy read”.
“It is as much about humanity as it is a mystery,” she said, “and while I’m really excited for what’s to come, I’m absolutely terrified, too.
“It’s never easy putting something that has been inside your head since 2020 out into the world, but I’ve always been a believer of grabbing life with both hands.”
DETAILS: Kelley’s book will be available to pre-order from online retailers. She is also planning to have the book stocked at Carson’s Bookshop in Thames. For info and updates, visit