In The Frame with Jo Manawa


1. Tell us your name: J R Manawa (Jo)

2. Where you’re from: From the centre of the earth, a little town in New Zealand called Rotorua, it’s literally a gateway into the core of the earth because of the volcanic and geothermal activity there.

3. If you don’t mind us asking, how old are you? I’m 31

4. Name your passion/business? I’m a writer, a blogger, and above all a storyteller. My passion is for the alternative sub cultures of our society who feel cast out, marginalised and abused for the way they see beauty and the way they choose to present themselves. In particular my heart is for the goth kids of our generation and the ones who will come after us; kids who are branded in such a way by society that they grow up pre-dispositioned being outcast, marginalised, misunderstood and feeling generally worthless. Kids who are told that there is no beauty in who they are, that they are just going through a troubled and dark phase. I believe we shouldn’t judge someone just because they see beauty through different eyes. We shouldn’t label a kid as depressed or suicidal just because they wear black clothes. All young people feel judged and misunderstood as it is, so why do we push the sub cultures of our youth even further? We were born for so much more than that, and I believe strongly that young people who have the ability to see beyond social and society norms have the power to change the way the world thinks.

5. Tell us a little about you and your passion/how you came to start your own business? I’ve been passionate about writing since I was fairly young, I was never a good liar, but boy could I tell a good story! My journey into the darker side of subculture and falling in love with the gothic heart of self-expression began when I was about 7, via a short exploration into a more Tomboy, punk orientated world. My two passions married up sometime later in life, which is when the motivation to business started. I had moved to the UK, finished four books, and not felt satisfied enough with any of it to push for publishing. I was also questioning what the purpose was for writing a book and telling a good story if it made no difference in the world other than adding to the plethora of print already available to a seemingly diminishing supply of readers. The two finally came together when I realised I might be able to use one in order to reach the other. Given that the strongest reading populating of the world is teenage girls, and in particular young adults who are seeking escapism and an opportunity to live outside the ordinary, could I not write books that facilitate that, drawing on the wonder of the gothic, and the pull for each of us to recognise the beauty of our own uniqueness?

6. What’s been the highlight of your journey so far? Finding the connection between my passions and realising that I can use the words I write to influence and inspire.

7. What’s been one of the biggest challenges, and how have you overcome or dealt with that? Inadequacy. Every creative person, no matter how successful or how driven, struggles with feelings of inadequacy. And every human being is creative, whether they see it or not. We’re all in the same boat. Truth is, there will always be someone out there who is better than you. That doesn’t mean you should stop, it just means you should only ever be you, don’t try to be anyone else and stop measuring yourself against others. There is no other human being on the planet with the same genetic makeup as you. Comparison and inadequacy are liars who will steal your goals and dreams before you have a chance to realise them.

8. What or who inspires you most in life, or what’s your favourite inspirational quote? Arrrgh! There’s so many! Given that words have the power to build us up or destroy us, there are so many quotes that have pushed me to excel in life. There are words that are right for every season of life. If I had to pick my quote of the moment it would be a word that Erwin McManus dropped into one of his TedX talks, “You are both a work of art, and an artist at work.” Love it!

9. Where can we find out more about you/your passion/your business? You can follow snippets of my creative work through my blog, and catch me on social media @jrmanawa. My book, Emmeline, is out this coming Winter, so just in time for Christmas; keep an eye on my social media channels and for news!!

Update: Emmeline has now been published!!! Check out and watch the trailor on this exciting tale of self discovery.

10. If you could Frame Your World with a verb, what would it be? Just one? Create.

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