12 Nov 2013

This content is tagged as Literature .


Three novels and an enigma

Four award-winning New Zealand writers will take up residencies at the Michael King Writers’ Centre next year, including one who will write a novel about the racehorse Phar Lap.

The four writers are Anne Kennedy from Auckland, Peter Wells from Napier, Alice Miller, who currently lives in Vienna, and Kelly Ana Morey from Kaiwaka, who is writing about Phar Lap. Three of the projects are novels and Peter Wells will work on a creative non-fiction book called The Enigma of Family.

More than 75 writers applied for the four residencies, with nearly 150 applications in total. The chair of the selection panel, author and centre trustee Dr Peter Simpson, said that the applications this year were of exceptional quality and the panel was delighted with the writers who had been selected. 

“It is a very impressive group. Some of the decisions were very difficult to make and we regretted the need to disappoint many thoroughly worthwhile contenders.”

Three of the residencies are for eight weeks and one, offered in partnership with The University of Auckland, is for six months. Last year’s University of Auckland fellow Eleanor Catton went on to win the Man Booker Prize for her book The Luminaries.

Alice Miller, who is a poet, fiction writer, essayist and playwright, has been awarded the Summer Residency to work on her new novel called The Tower. It is about “poetry, beauty and the occult”, interweaving two stories, one about a contemporary New Zealand would-be opera writer and the other about ‘George’ Yeats, the wife of W.B. Yeats.

Miller’s poetry collection, The Limits, will be published in March 2014 in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  Since 2008 she has received the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Premier Award for short fiction, the Landfall essay prize, and the Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize. She attended the International Institute of Modern Letters in Wellington and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was a Glenn Schaeffer Fellow. She was a visiting writer in Antarctica in 2011. In 2012, her first play, Native Affairs, was workshopped and performed as part of Auckland Theatre Company’s Next Stage programme.

Author and film director Peter Wells has won numerous awards for his writing and film work. He is awarded the Autumn Residency to work on an illustrated, creative non-fiction book called The Enigma of Family, which uses a series of family letters to open up the Pandora’s box of the past and explores how history can be revealed through the lives of ordinary people.

Wells’ first book, Dangerous Desires, won the Reed Fiction Award, the NZ Book Award, and PEN Best New Book in Prose. His memoir won the Montana NZ Book Award for Biography, and his biography about William Colenso, The Hungry Heart, was a finalist in the NZ Post Book Awards in 2011. He is co-founder of the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival. In 1999 he was chosen as New Zealander of the Year by North & South magazine and in 2006 he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature and film. He was awarded the Michael King Fellowship by Creative New Zealand in 2011. Journey to a Hanging - Carl Sylvius Volkner & Kereopa Te Rau, is to be published by Random Penguin in May 2014. 

Kelly Ana Morey, who will take up the Maori Writer’s Residency, has written four novels, three social histories, a memoir, poems and short stories. She won the First Book Prize at the NZ Book Awards in 2004, received the Todd Writer’s Bursary in 2003, the Janet Frame Literary Award for Imaginative Fiction in 2005, and was highly commended in the BNZ Short Story Awards in 2012. 

She also won the Copyright Licensing Limited Research Grant last year to research her novel about Phar Lap and she plans to complete the project while she holds the residency in 2014. She believes the book, called Daylight Second, is the first New Zealand literary novel about a racehorse. As a horse-lover all her life, she says the subject matter is in her DNA and Phar Lap is a great story.

The book will also examine “why this horse meant so much to people, why they made him a Depression era hero and a national icon for both New Zealand and Australia, and the passion and compulsion that drives people within the industry.”

Novelist, poet, editor and screenwriter Anne Kennedy has been selected for the six-month University of Auckland Residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre to work on a new novel. Kennedy is in New Zealand after a decade in Honolulu where she taught fiction and screen writing at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa.

Her latest volume of poetry, The Darling North, won the NZ Post Book Award for Poetry this year. Her latest novel, The Last Days of the National Costume, has been among the top books on the New Zealand bestseller list since its publication in July. She has edited numerous literary journals and has several screenwriting credits.

Writers who are selected for the three eight-week residencies receive free accommodation at the Michael King Writers’ Centre in Devonport and a stipend of $8,000. The University of Auckland Residency is during the University’s second semester and brings a stipend/salary of $30,000. The 2014 residency programme is offered thanks to the support of Creative New Zealand and the centre hopes to offer a similar programme in 2015. Twenty-eight New Zealand writers have held residencies at the centre since it was set up in 2005. The current writer in residence is novelist and graphic artist Sarah Laing. 

The centre is also able to assist writers who do not qualify for its supported residency programme. It has a second bedroom which is let at a modest rate to visiting writers who need a quiet place to work. 


For further information please contact:
Karren Beanland, Manager

Ph/fax: 445 8451
Mob: 021 496 488
E: manager@writerscentre.org.nz