Peter Wells – 2002

Peter WellsPhoto of Peter Wells (1950-2019) won the New Zealand and Reed awards for fiction with his first short story collection, Dangerous Desires (1991). Wells’ second collection, The Duration of a Kiss was published in 1994 and his first novel, Boy Overboard, in 1997.

One of Them! (1999) is a novella narrated by the same character, Jamie, who narrated the novel Boy Overboard. One of Them! was published to coincide with the screening on TV of the film version in September 1999.

Wells is equally known as a film and television director and scriptwriter, most notably for A Death in the Family (1986), which won a major New York award for its drama about the loss of a friend to AIDS; and for the feature film Desperate Remedies (co-written and directed with Stewart Main, starring Lisa Chappell, Jennifer Ward-Leyland and Cliff Curtis), selected to screen at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.

Wells was joint winner (with C.K. Stead) of the 1999 Landfall essay competition. With Stephanie Johnson he is co-founder of the Auckland Writers’ Festival. His memoir, Long Loop Home (2001) won the Biography Award in the 2002 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

His second novel, Iridescence (2003) spans three decades of the Victorian age. Remittance men were sent away from Britain to live in a colony on a small and regular sum – a remittance.

Of his time at the Randell Cottage Wells writes that it was important “because it gave me five months to live without having to think about money. This is always a spell in the life of an author. It was also reassuring. Authors always feel like made up people with a purpose in life which isn’t entirely real, because you don’t go off to work in the morning like other people. A residency makes you feel part of the real world. But it was also important because the cottage is sympathetically placed in a lovely old suburb in Wellington (incidentally Katherine Mansfield live just down the road). The cottage was built about the time I set the book. And it was just down the road from the National Archives, which were an amazing resource for historical research. The book felt blessed by the residency.”

Iridescence was a runner up in the fiction category of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2004 and was the project that Wells undertook during his time at the Randell Cottage.