Graeme Lay was born in Foxton, in the Horowhenua and grew up in coastal Taranaki, first at Oakura, then Opunake. After leaving Opunake High School he attended Victoria University of Wellington, graduating in 1966. Then after living overseas for some years he returned to New Zealand, to live on Auckland’s North Shore.
He began writing in the late 1970s, and his first novel, The Mentor, was published in 1978. Since then has published or edited forty works of fiction and non-fiction, including novels for adults and young adults, collections of short stories and books of travel writing. Many of his books, both fiction and non-fiction, are set in the islands of the South Pacific. For example his young adult trilogy, Leaving One Foot Island, Return to One Foot Island and The Pearl of One Foot Island, are set mainly on Aitutaki, in the Cook Islands.
His recent works include an historical novel, Alice & Luigi, a travel memoir, Inside the Cannibal Pot and The New Zealand Book of the Beach and The New Zealand Book of the Beach 2. His latest books are two works of non-fiction, In Search of Paradise – Artists & Writers in the colonial South Pacific and Whangapoua – Harbour of the Shellfish – A History, and an anthology which he compiled and edited, Way Back Then, Before We Were Ten – New Zealand writers and childhood.
Married with three adult children, Graeme Lay writes full-time from his home in Devonport, Auckland. He also works as an editor and manuscript assessor, and is secretary of the Frank Sargeson Trust.