02 Nov 2022
Novelist, arts writer, editor and teacher Chloe Lane has been awarded the Todd Writer’s Bursary in 2022. She is the author of two previous novels, The Swimmers (THWUP 2020) and Arms & Legs (THWUP 2022).
We caught up with Chloe to find out more about her next writing project and what exactly is so compelling about Florida US.
Congratulations on being awarded the Todd Writer’s Bursary for 2023! How does it feel to have been given this bursary?
“Receiving this grant is huge! It means I can devote much of my coming year to drafting a new novel. The financial support is an incredible gift of time, and for that I’m very grateful. It’s also a bit like receiving the ultimate pep-talk. Receiving an award like this, that has supported many New Zealand authors I admire, it’s a confidence boost too.”
Can you tell me about the project you’ll be working on?
“Over the course of editing my second novel, Arms & Legs, I cut roughly 100 pages of material. Much of this material was centred around the narrator and her close friends, in particular the women in the toddler Music & Movement group at her local library. I have found that I keep returning to the curious interactions between these women, all mothers, and all struggling in their own ways. This new novel will endeavour to explore some of this, and the intense, complicated territory of female friendship. There will also be some murder and Burmese python hunting.”
The assessment panel described your project as “compelling” and commented that you have a “strong storytelling voice.” You seem to bring this voice into all the different kinds of writing you do. Can you tell us more about what you’ve been working on recently?
“While I’ve been slowly working my way into the new novel, I’ve also been doing a lot of writing about art. Highlights have included a profile on Tāmaki Makaurau artist Hannah Valentine, and a little experimental essay for a book being published by the short-lived but wonderful Ōtautahi art space, Hot Lunch. I’m not a writer who veers into experimental mode often, so this was a bit of a thrill to work on.”
“Plus, I got to trail after artist Sam Towse for an afternoon, which is probably one of my favourite things about getting to write these kinds of pieces—getting to peek behind the scenes and see how artists make. The book will be out here next year. I’m also currently working on an exhibition piece for a recent Physics Room off-site show at Ashburton Art Gallery titled, The moon and the pavement. And a short piece for Christchurch Art Gallery’s publication, Bulletin, where—lucky me!—I got to go behind the scenes and look through the collection stacks at some of the paintings that don’t appear on the gallery walls so frequently.”
You lived in Florida for many years before returning home to Aotearoa, and now you’re off again! What is it about Florida that is calling you back?
“It has been a strange couple of years, hasn’t it? We came back to Aotearoa at the start of the pandemic, and since then, Ōtautahi—a new city to us—has become home. The creative community here is close-knit and supportive and it has been a really nice and productive time for me.”
“I’ve enjoyed being back, but Florida is calling. Florida seems to do one of two things to people—they either can’t wait to leave, are outta there as quickly as possible, or even if they try and leave, they find themselves returning, over and over. It’s intoxicating. I miss it and I’m looking forward to returning to that life. We’re moving into a big old house in the woods, so no easing in, our reintroduction to The Florida Way will be immediate.”
As a mum, a teacher, and a creative, how do you find the time to write?
“I was very lucky with the writing of Arms & Legs in that I received both a Creative New Zealand grant and a Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship. As with the Todd Writer’s Bursary, this kind of support makes carving out writing time much, much easier. Otherwise, I squeeze in writing when I can. It helps to have a supportive and endlessly generous partner who scoops up more than his share of domestic things. Though the most important thing I’ve found is to make the writing work a priority, and to give it the time and space it deserves, even when there isn’t really time and space. Putting it at the front of the queue, if you will.”
About the Todd New Writer’s Bursary
The Todd New Writer’s Bursary is an annual bursary awarded to a published writer or playwright at the early stage of their career to write new work.
The Todd Corporation Ltd contributes $10,000 towards this bursary and the balance is provided by Creative New Zealand.