French writer

Farewell to Caroline Laurent

Farewell to Caroline Laurent

After a whirlwind two-month stay, Caroline Laurent is on her way back to France via Tahiti, which will be one of the settings of the novel she has been working on during her residency. Caroline was enthusiastic about the writing she has already completed and the lasting friendships she has developed in New Zealand. Trustees Jean Anderson and Christine Hurley farewelled Caroline from Randell Cottage and look forward to news of her safe return home.

Julien Blanc-Gras – 2024

Julien Blanc-Gras – 2024

Julien Blanc-Gras is a writer, traveller, journalist, and father, and has explored the four corners of the world, drawing inspiration from his journeys for many of his works.

His debut book, Gringoland, was awarded at the First Novel Festival in Chambéry in 2005. Among his other works are Paradise (before Liquidation) and A Bit of a Special Envoy, written during the lockdown to counter the prevailing atmosphere.

He has also contributed extensively to the print media, with publications in renowned outlets such as M le magazine du Monde, L’Obs, Philosophie magazine, Le Temps, Le 1, Long cours, Aller-Retour, GQ, Technikart, and Grazia. He is also a presence on Radio France with the podcast Oli and a travel column on France Inter, as well as on Radio Nova with a literary column.

Following the birth of his son and his account of his experiences during his partner’s pregnancy in In Utero, he was entrusted with a column in Parents magazine. In his novel Like in War, he continues to explore the theme of fatherhood in our modern world.

Sedef Ecer – 2023

Sedef Ecer – 2023

Sedef-Ecer. Photo by Brigitte Baudesson

Born in Istanbul, Sedef Ecer grew up in the world of movie-making, theatre and television. Her latest book, Trésor national, was published by JC Lattès in 2021. She writes in different genres and in two languages: she has written more than 500 articles or opinion pieces for the press, novels, screenplays, explored new genres and translated Montaigne, Charlotte Delbo and Saint-Exupery’s works into Turkish.

As a writer and actress, Sedef Ecer has been a nominee or a recipient of prestigious awards. (French National Center of Theater, French National Center of Cinema, Beaumarchais Award, French Society of Multimedia Writers, Draft of a Dream, Velasquez Price, Writing Stipend of Paris Region, National Theater Award of Guérande, High School Students Favorite Play, nominated for Godot Award, Collidram Award, Best Television Comedy La Rochelle Festival) She is one of the founders of Parlement des Écrivaines Francophones.

Her major work is in the field of theatre. Her plays have been performed in numerous theatres and festivals in different countries, published, awarded and translated into Polish, Turkish, Armenian, German, Greek, English, Persian and Italian. As an actress, she has played in feature films and several plays since she was three years old and has worked recently under the directions of Amos Gitaï (with Jeanne Moreau), Lorenzo Gabriel and Thomas Bellorini.

During her stay in Wellington, she hopes to explore an exciting subject: a novel that will focus on the role of New Zealand and Turkish women and the fighting at Gallipoli – her parents live close to the site, and the project is something she has had in mind for some years.


Stuff, 05/03/2023: Turkish-born novelist in NZ to research women and Gallipoli

Watch Sedef Ecer – an interview at Randell Cottage, from the French Embassy in Aotearoa New Zealand
Caroline Laurent – 2022

Caroline Laurent – 2022

Photo by Philippe Matsas

Born in 1988 and of French-Mauritian origins, Caroline grew up between French Polynesia, Bordeaux, Italy and Paris, where she currently resides. She still travels regularly to Mauritius to visit her maternal family.

Caroline is a graduate of modern French literature and has been an editor for the past 12 years (JC Lattès, Les Escales, Stock). Her areas of interest include contemporary literature and non-fiction.

Following the success of And suddenly, Freedom, co-written with Evelyne Pisier (80,000 copies sold, and awarded Prix Marguerite Duras and Grand Prix des Lycéennes ELLE 2018), in 2020 she released her second novel, The Shores of Anger (Prix Maison de la Presse 2020) in which she pursues her exploration of the colonial world and the lives of prominent women who have shaped history.

Her feminist convictions and commitment to fighting for what she believes in, led her to establish an opinion column against sexual violence in the publishing industry, bringing together 50 literary figures.

Read Caroline’s full report on her stay here: en français / in English

Caroline Laurent – an interview at Randell Cottage, from the French Embassy in Aotearoa New Zealand

Watch the extended interview.

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.