Writer profiles

Amélie Lucas-Gary – 2018

Amélie Lucas-Gary – 2018

Photo of Amélie Lucas-GaryPhotographer-turned-writer Amélie Lucas-Gary is the Randell Cottage’s French writer in residence for 2018. Born in 1982, in Arcachon in France’s South West, she studied at the Sorbonne, graduating with degrees win cinema and history, and photography at the National School of Photography in Arles.

With two novels published so far, most of her work is now literary. The first, Grotte (Cave), published in 2014, is narrated by the guardian of the Lascaux caves. Isolated on the top of a small hill, between the cave and its replica, the narrator spins a story in which reality and fantasy meld and intertwine.

2017 saw the release of Vierge (Virgin), which tells the journey of Emmanuelle who has become pregnant without ever having had sex. She travels across an imaginary France creating disorder and mass hysteria along the way.

Lucas-Gary creates contemporary myths with a poetic and metaphoric language, playing with time and space and inviting her readers to distance themselves from the present and reality.

She is regularly commissioned by visual artists to write poetic texts to accompany their work and will be working on one such project while in Wellington. Her priority though, is a novel, Hic (Here), which she describes as an archaeological work set in the Randell Cottage and travelling back through time, into the Cottage’s imagined past. Five stories will be connected by fragments the narrator finds on the Cottage’s site: a shard of willow patterned china, a fossil, a bone, a jade pendant…

Josef Schovanec – 2017

Josef Schovanec – 2017

Photo of Josef SchovanecJosef Schovanec is a writer, polyglot and activist for autistic people who has published four books including Voyages en Autistan – Travels in Autistan (Plon, Paris) and Je Suis à l’Est !, the first memoir by an autistic person to be released by a major French publisher. His Randell Cottage book project focusses on developing a fictional narrative based on the story of an autistic friend’s journeys and research in the Pacific.

Josef was born in 1981 in the greater Paris region to Czech immigrant parents. After completing a degree at L’Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Paris Institute of Political Studies, he studied Hebrew, Sanskrit, Persian, Amharic, Azeri, Azerbaijani and Ethiopian at the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilisations), on top of the Czech, German, Finnish and English, which he speaks fluently. His doctoral research, at the École des hautes etudes en sciences sociales (School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences), investigated the success Martin Heidegger’s philosophy enjoyed in France.

Stephen Daisley – 2017

Stephen Daisley – 2017

Photo of Stephen Daisley
Photo by Darren James

Perth-based writer Stephen Daisley hit New Zealand headlines in 2016, when his second novel, Coming Rain, took out the inaugural Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize at the New Zealand Book Awards. Although at that stage an unknown quantity in his homeland, Daisley has won or been short- and long-listed for major Australian literary awards, including the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction for his first novel, Traitor, the 2016 Miles Franklin Award and the 2011 Commonwealth Writers prize for best first book.

Born in Raetehi, Daisley has worked as a shearer, musterer and bulldozer driver, and served as a soldier in the New Zealand Army, and always nursed a secret ambition to write. Unemployment in the mid-1980s prompted the move to Western Australia, where he went on to enrol as a mature student at Murdoch University, emerging with degrees in English literature and philosophy and a diploma in creative writing.

He’d been writing and submitting manuscripts to publishers since his 20s but had little success until Traitor in 2010. His work deals with violence and love, with the impact myths of masculinity have on men’s lives and the struggle to find beauty and love in a harsh world.

Daisley worked on two projects while at the Cottage. The first A Better Place Than This is to be published by Text Publishing. He describes it as a picaresque tale of a return home – from the mines of Australia to a New Zealand farm, and a meditation on the various forms love assumes in our lives.

The second project The Clearances is an historical novel set in 18th century Scotland, after the Battle of Culloden.

Nicolas Fargues – 2016

Nicolas Fargues – 2016

Photo of Nicolas FarguesThe 2016 French writer in residence is Nicolas Fargues, author of ten novels including J’étais derrière toi – I was Behind You (Pushkin Press, London) – which has been translated into fifteen different languages.  Fargues was born in 1972 in the Paris region and spent his childhood between Cameroon, Lebanon and Corsica. He studied modern French literature at La Sorbonne University and completed his master’s thesis on the life and work of Egyptian author Georges Henein. Fargues’ first novel Le Tour du propriétaire was published in 2000. He has worked in Indonesia, Paris, Yaoundé and Madagascar.

Nicolas has published two books drawn from his stay in New Zealand: Écrire à l’élastique (2017), an exchange of fictional letters with writer Iegor Gran, and Je ne suis pas une heroine (2018), a novel.

Nicolas is now based in Dunedin, where he is pursuing a doctorate in Francophone literature at the University of Otago.

Stephanie Johnson – 2016

Stephanie Johnson – 2016

Photo of Stephanie JohnsonStephanie Johnson is the author of several collections of poetry and of short stories, of plays and adaptations, but is best known for her novels. These include Crimes of Neglect (1992), The Heart’s Wild Surf (1996), The Shag Incident (2002), Music from a Distant Room (2004), The Open World(2012), and The Writing Class(2013) and its sequel The Writers Festival (2015). She is a past winner of the Deutz Medal for Fiction (2003), has been shortlisted for New Zealand literary awards and longlisted internationally.

Johnson has held the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship (2000) and in 2001 was Literary Fellow at Auckland University. She has taught creative writing and English at the University of Auckland and Unitec. For the past two years, she’s been a teaching fellow in history at the University of Waikato. She was co-founder and creative director (with Peters Wells) of the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.

Stephanie used her time at the Cottage to produce a non-fiction work, West Island: ‘Five Twenthieth Century New Zealanders in Australia’ to be published by Otago University Press in 2019. She also took some time to work on a novel, ‘Jarulan by the River’, an experiment in writing commercial fiction published pseudonymously in 2017.

David Fauquemberg – 2015

David Fauquemberg – 2015

Born in 1973, David Fauquemberg lives in the Cotentin area of Normandy. A novelist, he has published work in magazines such as XXI, Géo and Long Cours. He is also a translator (of Nadine Gordimer, R. L. Stevenson, James Meek, Willy Vlautin). The travel bug bit while he was studying literature, taking him to Patagonia and Lappland and sailing across the Atlantic. He went on to taught philosophy for a few months, before hitting the road again and spending two years in Australia. This provided the inspiration for his first novel, Nullarbor (Hoëbeke, 2007), winner of the Nicolas Bouvier Prize for travel writing. Mal tiempo (Fayard, 2009), which has a boxing theme and is set in Cuba, was awarded the Millepages Prize, the Prix des Hebdos en Région Prize and the City of Caen Prize. Manuel el Négro, published by Fayard in 2013, is the result of a long stay in the world of Andalucia’s flamenco gypsies.

David’s Randell project, Bluff, was published by Stock in January 2018. Photo by Christine Tamalet.

Owen Marshall – 2015

Owen Marshall – 2015

Photo of Owen MarshallTimaru-based writer Owen Marshall has published or edited almost thirty books, including novels, short stories and poetry including Living as a Moon, Watch of Gryphons, Carnival Sky, The Larnachs and Drybread. His 1999 novel Harlequin Rex won the 2000 Deutz Medal for Fiction at the Montana Book Awards. He has held fellowships at the universities of Canterbury and Otago and in Menton, France. Marshall is an adjunct professor at the University of Canterbury, which awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in 2002. In 2000, he became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature and in 2012, a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In 2013 Marshall was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in fiction.

Marshall used his residency to complete a contemporary novel concerning a love affair between a mature couple, one a widower, the other married, in which he will explore the power of such emotional attachments and their sometimes irrational and damaging consequences.

Marshall shared his time with Witi Ihimaera.

Witi Ihimaera – 2015

Witi Ihimaera – 2015

Photo of Witi IhimaeraWiti Ihimaera is a novelist, short story writer, anthologist and librettist, was born in Gisborne. He is of Te Whanau A Kai and Ngati Porou descent with close affiliations to Te Aitanga A Mahaki, Rongowhakaata, Tūhoe, Te Whakatohea, Te Whanau-a-Apanui and Ngati Kahungunu. His works include Tangi, The Matriarch, The Whale Rider, (which was made in to a film by Niki Caro in 2002), the semi-autobiographical Nights in the Gardens of Spain, and The Parihaka Woman. A memoir, Maori Boy has just been released by Random House. Ihimaera became a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004, for services to literature.
Ihimaera used his time at the Randell Cottage to work on a second volume of his three-volume memoir Native Son, covering the period 1961 to 1990, a trajectory that sets his life against national and international history, delineating the professional dilemmas as well as the personal. The residency enabled him to consult his own archives at the J.B. Beaglehole Room and also the Foreign Affairs archives at the National Library.

Ihimaera shared his time with Owen Marshall.

Thanh-Van Tran-Nhut – 2014

Thanh-Van Tran-Nhut – 2014

Photo of Thanh-Van Tran-NhutThanh-Van Tran-Nhut was born in Hue, Viet-Nam, in 1962. Her family moved to the US in 1968, then three years later moved to France. After finishing high school in France, she went back to the US to attend university. Thanh-Van earned a BA in Math and Physics from Whitman College and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology.

She worked several years in France before starting to write, with her sister Kim, the story of a detective, Mandarin Tan, set in 17th century Viet-Nam. They wrote two novels together before Tanh-Van kept the series going on her own. It proved successful and several of the books have been translated into Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Russian and German.

Thanh-Van’s Randell project ‘Kawekaweau’ (Au Vent des Iles, 2017) is the story of a scientist who receives a package and a challenge from a former girlfriend: his task? to unravel the engima of the kawekaweau, the giant gecko of Maori myth.

Further reading