Current resident writer — James Norcliffe
Christchurch-based writer James Norcliffe is to be the 2018 Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writing Fellow. Norcliffe has published nine collections of poetry, a short story collection and ten novels for young people. As an editor, he has had a long involvement with the literary magazine, takahē and has edited anthologies of poetry and young people’s writing. He’s also served as an assessor for literary competitions and the New Zealand Society of Authors, and has received numerous awards and fellowships.
Norcliffe’s Randell Cottage project is a novel with the working title The Frog Prince, a dual narrative with one strand set in early 19th century Westphalia, the other a contemporary narrative set variously in New Zealand and Europe.
Photographer-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…
Perth-based writer Stephen Daisley is to be the 2017 Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writing Fellow. 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 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.
Josef 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.
Stephanie 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.
The 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.
Witi Ihimaera and Owen Marshall
Witi 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.
Timaru-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.
Born in 1973, David Fauquemberg lives in the Cotentin area of Normandy. A novelist, he has published work in magazines such asXXI, Géoand 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.
Tina Makereti is the author of two books: a novel, Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings (Vintage 2014), and a short story collection, Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa (Huia Publishers 2010), which won the Ngā Kupu Ora Māori Book Awards Fiction Prize 2011. In 2009 she was the recipient of the Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing (non-fiction), and in the same year received the Pikihuia Award for Best Short Story Written in English. In October 2012 Tina was Writer in Residence at the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt, and in 2013 she was Curator-at-Large for the New Zealand Film Archive. Tina has a PhD Creative Writing from Victoria University, and teaches creative writing at Massey and Victoria Universities. She is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Ati Awa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Pākehā and, in all probability, Moriori descent. She usually lives on the Kāpiti Coast with her partner, daughters, unruly dog, and three bossy chickens.
Tina’s project is an historical and allegorical novel based on the experiences of the indigenous people, in this case, a Māori child, who were exhibited in Victorian London, and elsewhere in Europe, as cultural artefacts and oddities. She’s planning a first-person narrative which will explore the dehumanisation and loss of dignity involved.
Thanh-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
His project, while resident at Randell Cottage, is a biography of former New Zealand Prime Minister Norman Kirk. Denis says he is enjoying the cottage’s proximity to parliament and to the National and Turnbull libraries. Denis has stood twice for Parliament for both the Values and Green Parties, and has published a biography of Helen Clark, Helen Clark – A Political Life (Penguin), and a novel.
Denis says the six-month residency is a huge boost for him and for the book he’s working on, giving him time and space to focus on the writing. A former deputy editor for the New Zealand Listener, he is also a bulletin editor and media commentator for Radio NZ National.
Estelle Nollet was born in 1978 in the Central African Republic and moved to France a few years later. Following her studies as a graphic artist in Paris, she worked in advertising in France and elsewhere, before taking up a second career as a diver and working as an instructor in a number of countries (Australia, the US, New Zealand, Mexico…). She says diving into the world of silence is like discovering a book in movement where there’s a new story happening mutely every second.
Estelle has published two novels, both with major publishing house Albin Michel. Her first, On ne boit pas les rats kangourous (2009) (You don’t drink kangaroo rats), is set in Australia, where she has travelled. It has been compared to the work of Cormac MacCarthy, and was awarded several prizes for emerging novelists.
The second novel, Le bon, la brute, etc (2011) (The good man, the brute, etc) took ou the Prix Gironde (for ‘new writing’) and is described as an international road-movie novel.
Estelle Nollet plans to write at the cottage for four months, from January to early May 2013.
Author, poet and playwright Vivienne Plumb was born in Australia and lived in Wellington for over thirty years before heading north in 2008. She has published four collections of poetry, two chapbooks of poetry, a novella, a novel and several playscripts, and her most recent book is poetry chapbook The Cheese and Onion Sandwich and Other New Zealand Icons (Seraph Press, 2011). Plumb’s awards include the 1993 Bruce Mason Playwriting Award for Love Knots (1994) and the Hubert Church Award for a first book of fiction for The Wife Who Spoke Japanese in her Sleep (1993).
Her current project is a novel with political themes set in Wellington, which is one reason why she applied for the Randell residency.
Vivienne Plumb says, ‘I am absolutely thrilled to be returning to Wellington in July 2012 to take up the Randell Cottage writing residency. Being able to stay in the cottage and write for six months on a stipend will be fantastic, plus it is an excellent opportunity to be able to gather any research I need for the novel.’
Florence Cadier was born in 1956 and is a journalist by profession. In 1995, inspired by her two children Bastien and Valentine, she began to write children’s stories and young adult novels. Many of her books have been translated including Qui est Laurette? (Who is Laurette?), Les miens aussi (Mine too), Ils divorcent (They are getting divorced), 24 histories pour attendre Noël (24 stories for the lead-up to Christmas) and Dessine avec Mila (Drawing with Mila). She was awarded a number of prizes, including the town of Poitiers’ historic novel award and the Literary Al Terre Ado prize, for Le rêve de Sam (Sam’s Dream). Her most recent novel is L’été des amours (Summer of loves), published in March 2011 by Oslo.
Florence has already taken part in several writers’ residencies both in France and abroad: In the Val de Nièvre, Tunisia and Bulgaria, and this year she studied screenplay adaptation in Paris. Florence is also an anthologist and a publisher, and holds writing workshops for children: “I find this work very invigorating. The young people really give it their all and their writing is of a high standard.” Apart from writing while she is at Randell Cottage, Florence will also lecture, attend conferences and take writing workshops at Alliances Françaises, universities and schools. Finally, in conjunction with the Tjibaou Centre in Noumea, Florence Cadier will tour New Caledonia.
Peter Walker works as a journalist in London, and is the author of the historical memoir The Fox Boy (Bloomsbury 2001) set in Taranaki, and a novel, The Courier’s Tale (Bloomsbury 2010), set in the court of King Henry VIII.
Peter began work on The Dominion newspaper in 1976 before leaving Wellington to work in Australia, then moved to the UK in 1986 to work for newspapers including The Independent and Independent on Sunday, where he was Foreign Editor. He has also written for the Financial Times and Granta.
Peter Walker will use his six months in Randell Cottage to work on completing a novel provisionally entitled The Watcher’s Diving, which is set in New Zealand, the US, India and Lebanon.
Yann Apperry is a bilingual French-American who writes in both languages and translates his own texts with elegance and finesse. He is an accomplished novelist, playwright, poet and librettist. In France, he is considered one of the most talented writers of the young generation. Born in 1972, Yann published his first novel Qui Vive at the age of 25 and was immediately acclaimed by critics and awarded the “Prix Bretagne.
During the same year, he was laureate of Fondation Hachette and writer in residence at Villa Médicis in Rome (1997-98), which is one of the most prestigious residencies for French artists abroad. He then spent a few months at Villa Kujojama, in Kyoto, in 2004.
In 2000, he was awarded the “Prix Médicis” for Diabolus in Musica and the “Prix Goncourt des Lycéens” in 2003 for Farrago – two major French literary prizes. Yann Apperry’s project during his stay at Randell Cottage involves music and poetry.
Patrick Valdimar White is a poet, essayist and artist whose work reflects his passion for the natural environment and an exploration of the way individuals relate to the land. His poetry collections are: Signposts (1977), Bushfall (1978), Cut Across the Grain (1980), Acts of Resistance (1985), Dark Backward (1994), Drought and Other Intimacies (1999), and Planting the Olives (2004). He has also published In Gallipoli: In search of a family story (Red Roofs, 2005).
Pat White lives in the rural Wairarapa near Wellington. In 2009, he completed an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters with a folio of essays entitled How the Land Lies. He was writer in residence at the Robert Lord Cottage in Dunedin 2009/10. White will use the Randell Cottage residency to research and write a biography of West Coast writer, teacher and fellow environmentalist Peter Hooper (1919 – 1991). He says living in Thorndon will facilitate his research at the Turnbull Library and allow him easy access to papers in private hands.
Fariba Hachtroudi is a French writer and Iranian exile born in Tehran in 1951, and the daughter of the eminent mathematician and champion of democracy Moschen Hachtroudi. She studied art and archaeology in France, moving there when she was a teenager. Despite the distance from her homeland, the Islamic revolution in Iran left her feeling bewildered. In 1981, she decided to move to Sri Lanka where she taught at Colombo University.
When Hachtroudi returned to France in 1983, she denounced Khomeini’s regime in newspaper articles. This earned her a fatwa which called for her death. In 1985, she illegally entered Iran, a journey she described in L’Exilée (published by Payot in 1985), and she became reconciled with her homeland. She found a country at war, struggling with intolerance and obscurantism. Fariba Hachtroudi wrote several novels, essays and articles “to exorcise this reality”. She led the humanitarian association MoHa, and was active within the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
Since 1990, Hachtroudi has been working with the photographer Laurent Péters; they jointly won the Sicilian Cultural Report prize in 2002. Fariba Hachtroudi works around the world as a writer, a journalist, and a lecturer. Among her recent works are Le douxième imam est une femme (published by Nouveaux Loisirs, 2009); Khomeyni express (Xenia, 2009); A mon retour d’Iran (Seuil, 2008); J’ai épousé Johnny à Notre-Dame de Sion (Seuil, 2006).
Kirsty Gunn was brought up in Wellington and educated at Victoria University (BA Hons) and Oxford University (M.Phil). She is currently the Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Dundee and lives in Scotland and England. Gunn is best known in this country for her novel Rain (Faber 1994) which was made into a film, and for her short stories which have been published internationally including in the collection This Place You Return to is Home (Granta,1999).
Gunn’s other novels are The Keepsake (Granta, 1997), Featherstone (Faber, 2001) and The Boy and the Sea (Faber, 2006) which was named Scottish Book of the Year 2007. Her latest book, 44 Things (Atlantic Books) was published in 2007 and is a collection of writings on Gunn’s domestic and creative life. Gunn has a wide profile in the UK as a writer and reviewer. She is married to David Graham who is the Managing Director of Granta and they have two daughters. She has won the Scottish Arts Council Award and the London Arts Board Award for Writers.
Gunn’s proposed project will combine a number of genres – short story, essay, memoir and history – and look at the subject of Katherine Mansfield.
Olivier Bleys was born in Lyon in 1970. He holds masters’ degrees in modern literature, computer graphics and cultural project management. Author of historical novels as well as essays and travel stories, Olivier won the young novelist’s prize for The Island at the age of twenty-two. Three years later his second book, The Prince of the Fork, received a national prize. His third novel, Pastel, was translated into several foreign languages and rewarded by the French Academy.
His most recent novel is The Ghost in the Eiffel Tower (2004). Olivier’s novels have been translated into eight languages.
Olivier Bleys is currently researching and writing his first contemporary novel which will be set in the South Island of New Zealand. It involves an astronomer, a meteorite and an art exhibition.
Jennifer Compton was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1949 and had two poems published in the NZ Listener when she was 15. In 1972 she travelled to Sydney, Australia with her husband Matthew O’Sullivan and attended the Playwrights’ Studio at NIDA. The play she wrote for this course, Crossfire, jointly won the Newcastle Playwriting Competition in 1974 and premiered at the Nimrod Theatre in Sydney and was published by Currency Press. The play was presented by Downstage Theatre in Wellington in the late 70s.
Before her two children were born, in 1983 and 1984, she flew backwards and forwards across the Tasman and worked in both countries. For instance, her radio plays (A Wigwam For A Goose’s Bridle, Morning Glories, Several Local Dandelions) were produced by the ABC and RNZ. And she won the Bank of NZ Katherine Mansfield Award in 1977 for her story The Man Who Died Twice.
Then she moved with her family to Wingello, a small town on the Southern Highlands of NSW, and concentrated on writing poetry and short prose.
In 1995, her poem Blue Leaves won the Robert Harris Poetry Prize and she was awarded the NSW Ministry For The Arts Fellowship, the first time this had been awarded for poetry. During her Fellowship year she wrote a book of poetry, Blue, which was short listed for the NSW Premier’s Prize, and a stage play, The Big Picture, which premiered at the Griffin Theatre in Sydney and was published by Currency Press. It was performed by Circa Theatre in Wellington in the late 1990’s.
She has been a guest at many Festivals in Australia, including the Sydney Writers’ Festival, the Spring Writing Festival, the Australian Poetry Festival, the Shoalhaven Poetry Festival and the Overload Poetry Festival. In 2005 she was a guest at the International Festival Of Poetry in Genoa and in 2006 was a guest at the Sarajevo Poetry Festival.
Her book of poetry, Parker & Quink, was published by Ginninderra Press in 2005 and her next book of poetry, Barefoot, is ready to go. A book of reflections about travel and place – The Wrong Side Of The Road – is nearly complete. In 2006 she was resident in the Whiting Library Studio in Rome from February to July. And in 2007 she spent a month as a Creative Writing Fellow at the Liguria Study Centre in Bogliasco.
In 2008 she is happily ensconced at the Randell Cottage working on her novel which is set in the Wairarapa and is called All The Time In The World.
Nicolas Kurtovitch was born in Noumea in 1955. His mother’s side of the family first settled in New Caledonia in 1843. He also has Yugoslavian origins, through his father, who left Sarajevo in 1945. After completing his schooling in New Caledonia, Nicolas travelled to New Zealand and Australia, eager to experience and absorb the diversity of the South Pacific. He then completed further study in France (Aix-en-Provence, 1977-1980), obtaining a degree in Geography before returning to New Caledonia where he took up a teaching position at Lifou.
He later went on to teach at Do Kamo College in Noumea, a protestant school that works hard to create opportunities for young Melanesians. Nicolas is now the principal of this school.
In addition to his own works, Nicolas contributes to the development of New Caledonian literature by writing for various literary reviews and via his role as President of the Association of New Caledonian Writers. He took part in the Waka Conference on Pacific identities which was held in Wellington in August 2000, and is also a member of the Société des Gens de Lettre de France. In 2002, Nicolas was awarded the Prix du Salon du Livre Insulaire de Ouessant (poetry section) for Le Piéton du Dharma.
Nicolas Kurtovitch is one of the most famous figures of New Caledonia’s contemporary literary landscape. His writing has often been described as hybrid, the intersecting of two cultures, in the same way that Maori and Pakeha meet in New Zealand literature.
In his time in Wellington, Kurtovitch devoted his time to writing, he met with university and Alliance Française students in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch for conferences and public readings.
Whiti Hereaka is a founding member of Writers Block. Since 2001, Writers Block has been encouraging new writers in theatre particularly those from Maori and Pacific Island descent. In 2002, Hereaka was accepted into the International Institute of Modern Letters, studying toward an MA in Creative writing (Scriptwriting) under the guidance of Ken Duncum. Her thesis, a play called Both Speak I; achieved an MA with Merit. Hereaka’s play Fallow, written as a part of Writers Block, was developed during a workshop in 2002.
Taki Rua productions provided the workshop and dramaturgic support. Hereaka worked with Catherine Fitzgerald, their relationship strengthened by Catherine’s continued dramaturgy during Hereaka’s Young and Hungry commission.
In 2003, the Young and Hungry Trust commissioned Hereaka to write a script for their 2005 season. Collective Agreement was developed over 2004 and was produced in 2005.
Also produced in 2005, Fallow by Tawata productions. After a short, but well received season, Hereaka would like to develop the script further and hopes another run will be produced in the near future.
Hereaka has also written for radio. She has written two episodes of Radio New Zealand’s series Hui Hopping. The Best Bet aired in 2004; and At the Movies aired in 2006.
Her first short film script, Unclaimed Luggage, won the Best Short Film Screenplay award in the E Tuhi! Get Writing awards 2005. It will be produced by Kiwa productions.
Annie Saumont has been writing short stories for twenty years and with 200 to her name, she is considered as a reference for short story writers. She has received a number of prizes including the coveted Prix Goncourt and the Grand Prix de l’Académie Française (for her entire body of work).
Her short stories find their origins in simple facts, combined to create an everyday universe for her very human characters where cause and effect are played out. Her characters are often damaged, unassuming, frail anti-heroes deprived of a future after committing inadmissible errors.
Greatly appreciated by a wide-range of readers, particularly (but not only) teenagers, with whom she instills a desire to read, Annie Saumont is also a well-known personality in the education sector, where she often gives talks about her work and her creative process. Two books are even aimed more at schools than the general public.
She is also a specialist in English-language literature and a translator, having translated works by John Fowles, VS Naipaul and JD Salinger to name but a few.
The Resource Centre at the Alliance Française in Wellington carries a selection of her work.
As it is for many women writers, writing fiction was a life-long goal which was realised later rather than sooner. Her novels take as their theme the re-writing of established power structures, particularly those of the patriarchy. Born into what she describes as “a socialist working class family” in Auckland, Fletcher graduated in 1979 from Waikato University with a Masters Degree in Sociology.
Living in New Zealand, Australia, England and the USA, she worked in a range of roles, including as a mother, a school dental nurse, and a University lecturer. Her writing career began with a bang when her first novel The Word Burners (1991) won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book in the Asia / Pacific region. It was selected as one of the top twenty in the 1991 Listener Women’s Book Festival. Shortly after the publication of her second novel, The Iron Mouth (1994), Fletcher was chosen to represent New Zealand at the prestigious International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, USA. She now holds the title of Honorary Fellow in Writing at the University. Her third novel, The Silicon Tongue (1996) has been translated into Korean. Her fourth novel, The Bloodwood Clan (1999) is set inside an Amish-like cult called The Diggers, who live a 19th Century lifestyle in contemporary rural Australia. Both of these books have been translated into German and are published by Random House in Germany.
While primarily a novelist, Fletcher has published a number of short stories in anthologies including New Australian Writing (1973); New Women’s Fiction 3 (1989); Subversive Acts (1991); and Me and Marilyn Monroe (1993).
In 1999, as Writer in Residence at Waikato University, Fletcher began work on her first non-fiction book, a memoir written in narrative form. Published in 2003, The House at Karamu is a funny and touching memoir in which Fletcher recalls her wartime childhood, her discovery of opera, feminism and more. It tells the story of one life, yet will be familiar to many.
In 2005, Fletcher was chosen to attend Ledig House International Writers’ Residency in upstate New York. Established in 1992, Ledig house has hosted hundreds of writers and translators from over 50 countries. In 2006, Fletcher was awarded the Randell Cottage Writers Residency in Wellington. She is currently writing a collection of short stories and a novella.
Dominique Mainard (1967-) is a novelist, short story writer and translator and has developed her passion for New Zealand literature through the works of Janet Frame, whose writing she has translated since 1994 (Owls do Cry, Joëlle Losfeld). After publishing three short story anthologies, including Le Second Enfant, for which she received the Prix Prométhée de la nouvelle in 1994 (La Différence), and Le Grenadier (Gallimard, 1997), Mainard published her first novel in 2001, Le Grand Fakir (Joëlle Losfeld) set in a cruel world inhabited by strange and gruesome creatures.
Mainard offers her readers a universe that is fragile in its lightness, a world between childhood and emotion, greatly influenced by the writing of Janet Frame. Her residency at the Randell Cottage will enable her to realise her love of Frame’s imaginary world by immersing herself in the late writer’s actual environment.
Mainard received two awards for Leur Histoire (Joëlle Losfeld, 2002) – the Prix du Roman FNAC (2002) and the Prix Alain-Fournier (2003), a novel that was later adapted for film by Alain Corneau – Les Mots Bleus (2005).
Dominique Mainard was born in Paris in 1967, where she returned to live after being raised in the Lyon region and later spending five years in USA.
Renée (1929-) Feminist dramatist and fiction writer Renée was born in Napier, and is of Ngati Kahungunu and Irish-English-Scots ancestry. After leaving school at 12, Renée worked in a woollen mill, printing factory and grocery-dairy store before heading off to study, completing a BA at the University of Auckland in 1979. In 1989 Renée was awarded the Burns Fellowship.
Renée started writing for the stage at the age of 50 and, of her more than 10 plays, one of the most successful works Wednesday to Come to in Wellington in June 2005.
She has been involved with community theatre, the Broadsheet Collective, PEN, radio shows, programme organisation for the Globe Theatre in Dunedin, and with script writing for TV.
Renée teaches at the Whitireia Community Polytechnic graduate creative writing course and is completing her sixth novel. During the residency Renée will work on the first draft of a new play.
Pierre Furlan (1943- ) was born in southwestern France in 1943, he spent his adolescence in California and studied at UC Berkeley. He then settled permanently in Paris. Furlan is the author of five books of fiction and is also well known as a literary translator. It is in fact by translating three contemporary New Zealand writers — first Alan Duff, then Elizabeth Knox and Geoff Cush — that he established the special link that brought him to New Zealand. Pierre Furlan’s writing thrives on the gap between fantasy and reality, questioning the familiarity of our everyday world, as evidenced in his book of stories L’Atelier de Barbe-bleue (Bluebeard’s Workshop, 2002).
Furlan is also interested in the theater. He has written radio plays and was a theater critic for seven years. But he seems to have an even closer tie to the visual arts. Two of his books came out in limited editions illustrated by the Belgian artist Alain Petre, and the figure of the great Swiss painter Louis Soutter looms large in three of his fiction works, especially in the novel La Tentation Américaine (Actes Sud, 1993) and the short story Le Violon de Soutter (Esperluète, 2003).
Michael Harlow (1937- ) was born in the USA of a Greek father and American-Ukrainian mother, travelled extensively in Europe before arriving in New Zealand in 1968. Known primarily for his poetry, which appears in several New Zealand anthologies, he was also in the 1980s an editor of the Caxton Press poetry series and poetry editor of Landfall. Harlow’s sensibility is also identified by a whimsical, questioning persona, and a persistent engagement with the workings of the unconscious.
Harlow first published in New York (Poems, 1965), in Greece (Events, Greece, 1967-1974, 1974) and in England (The Book of Quiet, 1974). Subsequent titles reveal his Eurocentrism: Nothing But Switzerland and Lemonade (1980), the first book of prose poems in New Zealand, Today Is the Piano’s Birthday (1981), Vlaminck’s Tie (1985) and Giotto’s Elephant (1991), shortlisted in the 1992 Book Awards.
Of his time at the Cottage Michael wrote “there is the very considerable benefit that this residency, linked as it is to the French cultural initiative (the ‘French connection’, if I may), adds significantly to raising the consciousness and profile of a national literature to that of an international level. Personally and professionally, I found the partnership with the French both gratifying and helpful.”
Michael went on to say “my own projects: the residency enabled me to almost complete a draft of a new book of poems and short prose texts, Inventing the Real; and in between-times to do some research and preliminary drafting for a further book, commissioned by Electio Press, a special hand-printed, limited edition of translations from the Greek lyric poet Simonides of Keos (5th century B.C.).
Charles Juliet was the second French writer, after Nadine Ribault in 2002, to be awarded the residency. Juliet is a 69 year-old poet and novelist who shares his time between Lyons in central France and the nearby village of Jujurieux where he was born. A great admirer of Katherine Mansfield, Charles Juliet also loves the game of rugby. The French laureate has published over thirty books including collections of poems, short stories, autobiographical novels (Lambeaux, L’Année de l’éveil) and plays.
Charles has a close association with the world of Fine Arts: he has written about the painters Cézanne, Bram van Velde and Giacometti. He has also contributed literary texts to art books (limited editions) in collaboration with contemporary painters. The film adaptation of one of his autobiographical novels, L’année de l’éveil (The year of the awakening) was released in 1990. It is a poignant tale of his initiation into adulthood.
Tim Corballis (1971 -) is a fiction writer whose first novel Below was published in 2001. His fiction has also appeared in Sport, The Picnic Virgin, and Spectacular Babies. He has attended both the University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington. It was at Victoria University that Corballis completed Bill Manhire’s Creative Writing Program, (now The International Institute of Modern Letters). At the end of the course, and before the publication of Below Corballis won the Adam Award for his first novel Measurement.
Corballis describes his work in Below and in more recent projects as “a sort of landscape writing which moves beyond issues of national identity and into issues of personal identity.”
His novel Measurement was published in 2002. This work has been described as “a moving meditation on the intricate relationship between life and memory.”
Nadine Ribault (1964 -) was born in Paris and travelled a great deal during her childhood, to Africa, Holland and Scotland. She obtained a BA in French literature at La Sorbonne in Paris, then taught French in the Lorraine region in France. Ribault then went on to spend several years in Japan, teaching French language and French literature. It was during this time where she wrote a great deal and was involved in organizing lithographies exhibitions.
Ribault now lives in the North of France, on Côte d’Opale. Her first book of short stories Un caillou à la mer was published in 1999, and her first novel Festina Lente in 2000.
The next collection of short stories, Coeur Anxieux was written in New Zealand during her time at the Randell Cottage. The collection Un caillou à la mer has been translated in English by Jean Anderson (a Trustee of the Randell Cottage) under the title A pebble in the sea. She has recently published Moments Littéraires, a short story in which she describes her meeting with Janet Frame in Dunedin. Ribault is married and has a daughter.
Peter Wells (1950-) 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.