French writer and activist Josef Schovanec named as 2017 Writer in Residence

Josef Schovanec

The 2017 French resident at Randell Cottage is Josef Schovanec, 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.

Josef Schovanec is also a weekly guest on radio stations Europe 1 (France) and la Première (RTBF, Belgium). In 2016, he was appointed as an advisor to the French Secretary of State for Disabled People and the Fight Against Exclusion.

Josef Shovanec will arrive in Wellington in mid-January 2017 for five months. While in New Zealand, he will work on his next book and will travel on a speaking tour throughout the country.

Dame Fiona Kidman: Trustee Emerita

Courtesy of Random House NZ
Courtesy of Random House NZ

With her literary reputation higher than ever, and growing commitments at home and abroad, founding Trustee, Dame Fiona Kidman, has reluctantly stepped down from the Trust to focus on her busy life and work.

Fiona was one of a small group of determined writers who established the Randell Cottage Writers Trust in 2002 following the generous gift of the Cottage from the Randell-Price family. Since then, she has been a leading light and inspiration in all aspects of the Trusts’s activities, including its Friends Association. She leaves a big gap but we are delighted that she has graciously agreed to retain her interest and involvement as our Trustee Emerita.

Stephanie Johnson selected as 2016 Randell Cottage Writer in Residence

Stephanie-Johnson-Auckland writer Stephanie Johnson is to be the 2016 Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writer in Residence. 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.

Johnson’s Randell Cottage project is a non-fiction work, West Island: Five Twenthieth Century New Zealanders in Australia. The five are writers Dulcie Deamer, Jean Devanny and Douglas Stewart, journalist Eric Baume, and painter Roland Wakelin. Johnson says their lives provide a series of lenses through which to consider New Zealand’s broader historical and ongoing relationship with Australia.

Selection panel convener Vincent O’Sullivan says this is “an exciting and original project in a much neglected area. It’s a highly topical project that Stephanie, with her own experience of living and writing in both countries, is uniquely qualified for.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming Stephanie to the Cottage,” O’Sullivan said.

Johnson says she is delighted to be the 2016 resident and is looking forward to her six months in the capital. While at the Randell Cottage she will take advantage of the National Archives and Library to research for her book ‘West Island’. ‘The seclusion of the residence will encourage concentrated work, not only on the non-fiction project but also on a novel ‘The Writers’ Retreat’, the third in my trilogy begun with ‘The Writing Class’. I haven’t lived in Wellington for any length of time since I was eighteen and I am very much looking forward to becoming more familiar with the city.’

The Randell Cottage Writers Trust was established in 2002. The restored B-category historic, gifted to the Trust by the Price family, building hosts two writers a year; one from New Zealand and the other from France. It is currently home to Owen Marshall who has shared this year’s fellowship with Witi Ihimaera. The 2016 French resident, novelist Nicolas Fargues arrives in Wellington in January 2016.

Writers Owen Marshall and Lawrence Patchett at the National Library

What makes a short story? Is it a question of length? Or is it the plot? What about flash fiction? Twitter fiction? The long form? What makes a New Zealand short story? Is it the landscape? The shape? The theme?

Writers Owen Marshall and Lawrence Patchett will address these – and other – questions in in an evening of discussion and readings at the National Library on 2 December 2015.

Owen Marshall Timaru-based Owen Marshall is regarded as a master of the short story. He is currently writer in residence at the Randell Cottage in Thorndon. He is a prolific writer and editor of short stories, poetry and novels who has held fellowships at the universities of Canterbury and Otago and in Menton, France. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Canterbury, which awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in 2002. His work has seen him honoured with some of New Zealand’s top literary awards, including the 2013 Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in fiction. 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.

Lawrence-PatchettLawrence Patchett is the author of I Got His Blood On Me: Frontier Tales, a book of short stories. His fiction has been recognised in the New Zealand Post Awards (NZSA Hubert Church Award for Best First Book of Fiction), and the Long and the Short of It Short Story Competition (long section). His work has also appeared in Sport, Landfall, Dominion Post, Hue & Cry, Turbine, and on Radio New Zealand National. He has a PhD in creative writing from Victoria University, and lives in Raumati Beach. He is currently working on a dystopian adventure novel set in the North Island of New Zealand.

The event is being held under the auspices of the Friends of the Randell Cottage and the National Library of New Zealand, as part of the Library’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations.

Time: The venue opens at 5:30pm and the discussion will run from 6:00-7:30pm
Date: 2 December 2015
Venue: Co-Create, Ground Floor, National Library, Molesworth Street


RSVP: by email to with the words Owen Marshall in the subject line. (Note seating is limited to 120.)

2015 Goncourt Prize nominee, Nicolas Fargues, new Randell Cottage resident

© J.Foley/POL
© J.Foley/POL

The Embassy of France in New Zealand and the Randell Cottage Writers Trust are pleased to announce the new laureate of the Randell Cottage Residency, Nicolas Fargues.

Nicolas Fargues is a renowned French author who has published ten books, including J’étais derrière toi – I was Behind You (Pushkin Press, London) – which has been translated into fifteen different languages.


Nicolas 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. Nicholas’ first novel Le Tour du propriétaire was published in 2000. He has spent the last few years between Indonesia, Paris, Yaoundé and Madagascar.


Nicolas was nominated on the 3rd of September of this year for the prestigious Goncourt Prize for his latest book Au pays du p’tit (In the land of the lil’).    


The author will arrive in Wellington in January 2016 to enjoy a
five-month residency. While in New Zealand, he will work on a new novel and will tour the country to give a series of talks and readings.


Cultural counsellor at the French Embassy, Mr Raynald Belay shares his enthusiasm at introducing Nicolas to the New Zealand audience: “Nicolas Fargues is an up-and-coming successful writer in the French literature circle, as testified by his recent nomination for the Goncourt Prize. His writing is honest and poignant, with a hint of ferocious irony. He likes to draw inspiration from his own experiences and I know that his stay in New Zealand will provide him with a source of new ventures to explore in writing.”


For its part, the Randell Cottage Writers Trust looks forward to welcoming Nicolas Fargues to Wellington: “Nicolas Fargues is a prolific and well-regarded writer. It will be a privilege to have him as the Cottage’s French writer in residence in the first half of 2016,” Trust Chair Sarah Dennis said.

“Having spent much of his life living and working in other countries and cultures, Nicolas Fargues will find much in New Zealand’s landscape and history and in its Māori and Pacific cultures from which to draw inspiration.”

“I know that the New Zealand French speaking and literary communities will be keen to hear from Nicolas. The Trust and Friends of the Randell Cottage look forward to supporting his public programme,” Sarah Dennis said.

Life Writing with Dame Fiona Kidman

We are delighted to announce a very special fund raising event, especially for those with an interest in life writing and memoir. Founding trustee Dame Fiona Kidman will be running a one-day seminar, offering skills for writing your personal stories, whether for publication or family record. This follows the sought after workshops she has been running over the past four years.  

Date: Saturday 5 September 2015
Time: 9 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.
Venue: Thistle Inn, Mulgrave Street, Wellington.
Cost: $125 (includes catered morning and afternoon teas)

Application Form: You can download the application form from Fiona’s website and send it by mail or email to

This is a wonderful opportunity to learn from a prize-winning author of more than thirty books, which include two volumes of memoir. Numbers, we are sorry to say, are strictly limited so get that form in quickly!

All proceeds will be donated to the Randell Cottage Writers Trust.

Invitation to RCWT Friends Annual General Meeting


Notice of Annual General Meeting

You are invited to the Annual General Meeting of Friends of the Randell Cottage to be held on:

Monday, 8 June 2015, 6.00 for 6.30pm, Room 1 upstairs, Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave St, Thorndon

RSVP to or call Robyn on 4758 155 evenings


  1. Welcome
  1. Apologies
  1. Quorum: 10 people
  1. Receive and approve the Minutes of the June 03, 2014 Annual General Meeting of Friends of the Randell Cottage:
  1. Matters arising from the Minutes:
  1. Receive and consider the Annual Report from the FRC Committee Chair:
  1. Receive and consider the Annual Financial Statements:
  1. Receive and consider a recommendation from the Committee of the annual subscriptions for the following year (2016/17): to be notified on the night
  1. The election of the Officers of the Society:

President: The Chair of the FRC Committee, Sian Robyns, has expressed her willingness to be nominated as President again

Treasurer: Tim Gruar has expressed his willingness to be nominated as Treasurer

Secretary: Robyn Skrzynska has expressed her willingness to be nominated as Secretary again.

  1. The election of the three Ordinary Members of the Executive Committee:

In accordance with the Rules:

Maggie Rainey-Smith has offered to be nominated to the committee again.

Anita Woods has expressed her willingness to be nominated as a member of the Committee again.

  1. Any other business

At the conclusion of the business the Randell Cottage French resident writer, David Fauquemberg, will speak.

Wine available for purchase at the bar downstairs. Juice and nibbles will be served upstairs.

An evening with David Fauquemberg

Dave FauquembergFree public event at the National Library

An evening with David Fauquemberg
6.00 PM National Library – 13 May 2015


Come along and hear the current Randell Cottage writer-in-residence David Fauquemberg talk about his writing, his travels, impressions and insights gained so far from his time here in New Zealand.

About: David immerses himself in the country he’s writing about. Two years in Australia were the inspiration for his first novel, Nullarbor, (Hoëbeke, 2007), which won 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. His most recent novel Manuel el Négro, published by Fayard in 2013, is the result of a long stay in the world of Andalucia’s flamenco gypsies.

This event will be held in the lower-ground seminar rooms at the National Library
— access via the side entrance on Aitken Street.

Entry to the event is free, but a gold coin koha to the Friends of the Randell Cottage would be appreciated. Tea/coffee will be available from 5.30pm.

RSVP to Robyn Skrzynska at not later than Monday 11 May.

The evening is being held under the auspices of the Friends of the Randell Cottage, The Randell Cottage Writers Trust and the National Library.

Randell Cottage welcomes David Fauquemberg

David FauquembergThe Randell Cottage welcomes the 2015 French writer-in-residence, David Fauquemberg. David lives in the Cotentin area of Normandy, France. He’s a novelist who has also published in magazines such as XXI, Géo and Long Cours and is a translator from English of Nadine Gordimer, R. L. Stevenson, James Meek, Willy Vlautin and other fiction writers.

David has travelled in Patagonia and Lapland, sailed across the Atlantic, and lived with gypsies in Andalucia. His first novel, Nullarbor (Hoëbeke, 2007), was inspired by two years in Australia and won 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. His most recent novel Manuel el Negro, published by Fayard in 2013, is the result of his time with Andalucia’s flamenco gypsies.

Haere mai David!

You can listen to the Radio NZ interview with David Fauquemberg here: