Rose Lu shares writing experiences at the Friends AGM

Rose Lu shares writing experiences at the Friends AGM

A side-on view of a woman with long black hair sitting at a desk working on her computer.
Photo courtesy of Rose Lu

At the conclusion of the Friends of Randell Cottage AGM on Wednesday 25 May, President Leslie Brown welcomed Rose Lu, the current writer-in-residence at the Cottage, and directed the conversation with some probing questions.

Her project while at the Cottage is her debut novel with NZ Chinese characters in an intergenerational situation set in a past era.

Rose shared her various challenges in starting her major creative writing journey on this topic. In response, writers and members of the Friends’ audience, including Dame Fiona Kidman and Maggie Rainey-Smith, offered encouragement and support, describing their own experiences and endorsing Rose’s decisions based on her ‘trial and error’ approach in the early stages of writing, while aiming to write 20,000 words a month.

Dame Fiona reassured her that it was good not to feel that you had to meet a certain target or plan. She considered that to do research first was useful, leaving the creative side freer when the writing part started.

Rose’s reading of her rock-climbing/bouldering piece was highly amusing and expressed relevant things in a novel way, containing also the concept of developing simple friendship and elevating this activity to an extreme sport now followed by many.

This was seen as altogether a refreshing conversation with an inspiring young and talented writer who views the creation of ‘identity’ as a key ingredient of her trade.

A rich and ongoing connection: French residency 2023 opens for applications

A rich and ongoing connection: French residency 2023 opens for applications

At last, we can celebrate the return of our French writers in residence! After a two-year break because of Covid-19 border restrictions, Randell Cottage looks forward to welcoming a new French writer in 2023.

Check out the application details and criteria here. Applications close on 10 July 2022.

Founding trustee and Trustee Emerita, Dame Fiona Kidman, is a fervent supporter of literary exchanges between France and New Zealand, saying: “The annual Randell Cottage Writers residency has provided the opportunity for an esteemed French writer to live and work in New Zealand for the past twenty years. This has had immense cultural benefits for Wellington, and for the wider New Zealand writing community. We have developed close friendships and enhanced our understanding of each other’s cultures in deep and meaningful ways. These new friendships have often led to reciprocal visits to France by local writers and return visits from many of the French writers, so that it is a rich and ongoing connection.”

Do you know someone who fits the bill?  Please pass on the application details.

Former Randell Cottage resident wins top prize at Ockham Book Awards

Former Randell Cottage resident wins top prize at Ockham Book Awards

2022 Ockham Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction Winner

Congratulations to Whiti Hereaka, who has won the $60,000 2022 Ockham Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction announced on 11 May.

Her novel Kurangaituku is described by the judges as an epic poem of a novel, resonant of Māori oral traditions that gives a voice, form and name to the bird-woman from the myth ‘Hatupatu and the Bird-woman’. Whiti was a writer-in-residence at the Randell Cottage in 2007.

New publications

New publications

Our congratulations to two writers with significant Randell Cottage connections whose works have just been published by Vintage, an imprint of Penguin Random House New Zealand.

So Far for Now

Book cover for So far for now bookDame Fiona Kidman, Randell Cottage’s founding trustee and long-time supporter, has released her latest book, So Far for Now. This is a new volume of Dame Fiona’s memoirs, recording her busy life filled with significant changes, new writing and fascinating journeys. It’s just out in bookshops around the country.

From being a grandmother to becoming a widow, from the suitcase-existence of book festivals to researching the lives and deaths of Jean Batten and Albert Black, she has found herself in new territory and viewed the familiar with fresh eyes. She takes the reader to Paris and Pike River, to Banff, Belfast and Bangkok, searching for houses in Hanoi and Hawera, reliving her past in Waipu and creating new memories in Otago.

Dame Fiona comments, “When I wrote my last memoir I thought nothing much would happen from there on in. But life keeps on happening and if anything it gets more interesting with every year that passes. There is nothing dull about old age; there may be griefs and  losses but there is also the triumph of survival.”

The Frog Prince

Book cover for The Frog PrinceChristchurch-based James Norcliffe was the Randell Cottage writer-in-residence in 2018 and celebrated the experience in an article: At Home in the Randell Cottage.

During his stay, he worked on his debut adult novel, The Frog Prince, which has now appeared in print. Described as an intriguing multi-layered novel with a dual narrative, it carries one storyline set in Kassel, Germany, in the early years of the nineteenth century, when the brothers Grimm were beginning to collect the folk stories they would later publish as Household Tales.

The second storyline revolves around the mysterious disappearance of Cara, a young teacher at an international school in Northern France, who writes her own version of the classic fairy tale of the frog prince and the princess. The book embraces historical fiction, is a love story and a mystery all rolled into one.

James Norcliffe is renowned for his award-winning children’s books and for his poetry. His latest children’s fantasy Mallory Mallory: Trick or Treat was released under the Puffin imprint of Penguin Random New Zealand.

Lynn Davidson: a very personal view of a poet and her inspiration

Lynn Davidson: a very personal view of a poet and her inspiration

What is it like to be a writer in residence at Randell Cottage? How does this special ‘moment out of time’ free up the creative mind?

Lynn Davidson has just completed her six-month stay in the Cottage. She shares her reflections on the experience in a newly released video, interwoven with readings from her latest poem.

For Lynn, the residency opportunity came to her like “a beautiful life raft on a rough sea” allowing her the tranquillity to drop deeply inside herself as she wrote.

She says, “the historical aspect of the cottage … was incredibly helpful to me as I wrote about, and imagined, my settler family migrating from Scotland to New Zealand in the mid-1920s. The neighbourhood and the cottage itself helped me to imagine my way into their lives as newly arrived immigrants to Wellington.”

Lynn is continuing work on her memoir of creative essays and poetry, which she hopes to submit to her publisher in the next twelve months.

Congratulations to Paddy Richardson

Congratulations to Paddy Richardson

Photo credit: Caroline Davies

Randell Cottage Writers Trust joins High Spot Literary in congratulating our 2019 Resident Paddy Richardson, our 2019 CNZ RCWT Writing Fellow. Four of her thrillers are to be published in Australia.

From High Spot Literary on Facebook:

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Paddy Richardson has just signed with Australian publisher, Brio Books who will be publishing four of her most popular thrillers – HUNTING BLIND, A YEAR TO LEARN A WOMAN, TRACES OF RED and RED HANDS.
Head of Fiction at Brio, David Henley, immediately recognised Paddy’s strength as a thriller writer.
“We are so pleased to be Paddy’s new home with her set of four dark and emotionally vexing #NZnoir titles. Paddy is an outstanding author who effortlessly creates foreboding and tension with every sentence, and we hope we can help her gain the recognition she deserves.”
Brio Books is an independent publisher built on quality, partnership and innovation with a great history of supporting Australian and New Zealand authors. They recently joined the Booktopia Group.
High Spot Literary agent, Vicki Marsdon, who has worked with Paddy for a number of years, is thrilled to see her books back in print.
“Paddy is one of New Zealand’s best crime and thriller writers with a genuine pedigree as an author of dark and twisty stories. She is world class and I am excited at the prospect of Brio – through their innovative publishing and marketing – introducing her to many more readers.”
Paddy agrees. “I am excited about the opportunity to work with David Henley and the team at Brio books/ Booktopia and very much looking forward to sharing my books with new readers.”
Congratulations Paddy!
Rose Lu selected as 2022 Randell Cottage Writer in Residence

Rose Lu selected as 2022 Randell Cottage Writer in Residence

A woman with long, dark hair, wearing a purple jacket and glasses is smiling at the camera
Rose Lu. Photo by Eva Corlett

Tramper, software engineer, essayist, and now novelist Rose Lu is to be the 2022 Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writing Fellow.

Lu will be using her six months at Randell Cottage in Wellington’s historic Thorndon village to write her first novel.

Currently untitled, the project follows the story of Moon, a second-generation Chinese-New Zealander, and Hsiao-Han, who migrated to Aotearoa New Zealand in her mid-twenties.

A graduate of the Master of Creative Writing workshop at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University’s Institute of Modern Letters, Lu’s first book was the 2019 essay collection All Who Live On Islands, winner of the IIML’s 2018 creative non-fiction writing prize. She will take up her placement in the twentieth year of residencies at Randell Cottage and will join Trustees and Friends in celebrating this milestone.

Of her project, she says: “I want this book to be divorced from the expectation that POC are thinking about their race in relation to a Pākehā majority, by having the primary dialogue be between Chinese and Taiwanese characters. I also want to challenge mainstream notions of representation. We all have complicated relationships to home, family and language, and I want to write a story set across different times and generations to explore that.”

Trustee and selection panel convener Sian Robyns says the Trust received many very good applications in a variety of genres, all deserving to see the light of day.

“We got it down to a shortlist of four. We considered, we debated, we went back and forth, and it was very close. Rose’s project stood out for its perspective and her choice to represent diasporic Asians to each other rather than to the mainstream; her use of tramping, an iconic aspect of New Zealand culture as a means of thinking about risk-taking; and for a compelling and controlled writing sample.”

Lu says she is honoured to be the 2022 resident and is looking forward to living and working in Randell Cottage.

“I was surprised and delighted to find out that I had received the Randell Cottage residency. I was out on a walk at the time, which seems fitting given the nature of my project. Covid has made it a strange couple of years, but the silver lining has been that I’ve spent a lot more time in the outdoors in Aotearoa, and this has been the inspiration for my novel that I like to glibly describe as “Brokeback Mountain but in the Tararua Ranges”.

“I’m really looking forward to being resident in Randell Cottage and walking up Te Ahumairangi every day.”

The Randell Cottage Writers Trust was established in 2001. The restored Category II historic building, gifted to the Trust by the Randell-Price family, hosts two writers a year: one from New Zealand and the other from France. In 2021, it was home to poet and essayist Lynn Davidson. The 2021 French writer, Caroline Laurent, has had her residency delayed by Covid-19 border restrictions. At this stage, it looks as if she may be able to arrive in Wellington for the second half of 2022.