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From song lyrics to graphic novel

From song lyrics to graphic novel

Writers working on a diverse and innovative range of projects, from song lyrics and memoir to a graphic novel, have been selected for residences at the Michael King Writers’ Centre in Devonport next year.

Leading New Zealand song-writer Don McGlashan has been selected for the eight-week Summer Residency, memoirist and teacher of life-writing Deborah Shepard will hold the Autumn Residency, while broadcaster and short-story writer Judith Bryers Holloway has been chosen for the Maori Writer’s Residency. The six-month University of Auckland Residency has been awarded to novelist and cartoonist Sarah Laing, to work on a graphic novel about Katherine Mansfield that is part-biography, part-memoir and part-fiction.

Writers who are selected for the three eight-week residencies receive free accommodation at the Michael King Writers’ Centre in Devonport, use of the writer’s studio and a stipend of $8,000. The University of Auckland Residency is during the University’s second semester and brings a stipend/salary of $30,000.

Auckland-based Don McGlashan is a world-famous musician and performer, who has won numerous awards for his albums and songs, as well as for his film and television scores. This year he was made one of The University of Auckland Distinguished Alumni. Described by the selection panel as a “literary lyricist,” he will use the opportunity to work on an album of new songs that will explore song structure and some aspects of New Zealand history.

Deborah Shepard’s project is a creative non-fiction book Writing Your Heart Out: The Art and Craft of Memoir, which is a meditation on the memoir genre. She has written four books, numerous essays and conference papers, as well as being an editor and consultant biographer for the Mercy Hospice Auckland. She has taught Life Writing for Continuing Education at The University of Auckland and the Creative Hub and was life writing author/mentor on the First Chapters new writers programme in 2010.

Judith Bryers Holloway (Ngapuhi, Ngati Manu and Te Mahurehure) is working on a collection of thematically-linked short stories for children. Now living in Levin, she has been a teacher, a scriptwriter/editor/producer of educational programmes for schools, a television scriptwriter and has written nine books, including a Maori dictionary and a Maori vocabulary book.

Sarah Laing, from Auckland, plans to write a graphic novel about Katherine Mansfield’s life, interspersed with a personal account of her own fascination with Mansfield. A multi-genre project, it will call on her skills as a novelist, cartoonist and graphic designer. Laing’s third book, her second novel, The Fall of Light will be published by Vintage in 2013 and she has a large number of short stories, poetry, comics and festival appearances to her name. She held a short residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre in 2008 and has won several other prestigious writing and design awards.

The convenor of the selection panel, Michael King Writers’ Centre Trustee Peter Simpson, said the panel was embarrassed with choice. Sixty-eight writers applied for one or more of the four opportunities available in 2013, with a total of 131 applications altogether.

“There was a tremendous response and the number and quality of the applications made the selection process very challenging. There was a very strong field of candidates and we regretted that many excellent projects could not be supported. The writers who have been selected all have a track record of high-quality work.”

The 2013 residency programme is offered with the support of Creative New Zealand and the centre plans to offer a similar programme in 2014. Twenty-two New Zealand writers have held residencies at the centre since it was set up in 2005. The current writer in residence is novelist Eleanor Catton.

The centre is also able to assist writers who do not qualify for its supported residency programme. It has a second bedroom which is let at a modest rate to visiting writers who need a quiet place to work.

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