06 Jul 2023
Anthony Lapwood (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Whakaue, Pākehā) is having a good year. In May he was awarded an Ockham Best First Book Award, and this week we're thrilled to announce he’s the 2023 recipient of the Louis Johnson New Writers' Bursary - which means he’ll receive $13,650 towards a new novel.
Anthony lives in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, where he undertook a BA in English and Film and gained a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters. His first book, Home Theatre is a collection of interlinked short stories – for his second, he’ll be working on a novel.
What work are you hoping to do with the support of the Louis Johnson bursary?
This bursary will help me complete the manuscript for my second book, titled The Carnivore Diaries. It's a darkly comic novel that follows a thirty-something gay man called Lewis as he tries to solve the disappearance of his parents, who have recently also separated. Lewis is aided by the discovery of his parents' diaries (and of course Lewis begins writing a journal of his own) as well as the unfailing companionship of the family Labrador. Though not much goes according to plan for poor Lewis.
How might your life change as a result of winning this bursary?
The Louis Johnson bursary offers two big, practical things. One is the money to enable and justify taking time to get immersed in the writing of this novel. The second is the distinction associated with the bursary, which serves as a great shot of encouragement at a crucial moment in the manuscript's development.
Do you think this support for emerging writers helps contribute to the literary landscape in Aotearoa?
The efforts of any person or organisation willing and able to help more writers from all stages and walks of life to have their unique creative voices heard is a good thing. We then need to also enable those wonderful writers to continue along that pathway – to help them keep developing their craft and enriching and challenging and enlarging our cultural and social spheres.
What’s next for you in terms of your writing?
After completing this novel, I'm keen to write some more short stories. My first book, Home Theatre, was a collection of connected stories and the short story bug hasn't left my system (and I doubt, thankfully, that it ever will). I have a few ideas I want to pursue, and perhaps these pieces will coalesce into another book-length collection at some point. Or maybe one of these ideas will expand unexpectedly into a novel, like The Carnivore Diaries did.
In addition to awarding Anthony Lapwood the Louis Johnson Bursary, this week we’ve also announced Arts Grants recipients for round four – with nearly five million dollars going to support 119 projects around the motu.