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Frances Edmond joins 2018 Shanghai Writing Program

23 May 2018

Frances Edmond has been selected as the third New Zealand writer to join the Shanghai Writers’ Association’s International Writing Program. Frances is a Waiheke Island based writer and reviewer who works across disciplines in film, theatre and literature. Her project for the residency is to complete a new draft of a screenplay for a film about Kathleen Hall; an unsung heroine. During the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s, this unassuming New Zealand missionary nurse risked her life to smuggle supplies through enemy lines in aid of Canadian doctor, Norman Bethune who was appointed by Mao Zedong as Medical Advisor to the Communist Army. Kathleen’s story is that of a remarkable New Zealander waiting to be told. Ironically Kathleen is much better known in China than she is in her native New Zealand.

This opportunity is available through a partnership between the Michael King Writers’ Centre, the New Zealand China Friendship Society, the Shanghai Writers’ Association and the Shanghai People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

Frances says: “I am both honoured and thrilled. The film project about Kathleen Hall is very close to my heart and I think it is such an important New Zealand story and being able to work on a new draft in China is an amazing opportunity”.

Frances will join writers from Argentina, Spain, Israel, Russia, USA, and Poland for two months in Shanghai in September and October this year. The writers receive free accommodation in an inner-city apartment, a small stipend for living expenses and air travel.

Since the exchange began in 2013 three Chinese writers have enjoyed a residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre. In 2013 Huo Yan, a young writing star from Beijing, took up the first Rewi Alley Fellowship and in 2015 acclaimed novelist Xiao Bai from Shanghai was the second resident and Yin Jian Ling, a poet, essayist, novelist and literary critic, was last year’s resident . In 2014 Alison Wong was the first New Zealand writer selected to join the international writers’ programme in Shanghai – Heidi North Bailey followed on in 2016.

Michael King Writers’ Centre Chair Catriona Ferguson says that the exchange with Shanghai provides the opportunity for New Zealand writers to experience living and writing in a vibrant part of the world. “We are pleased that our partnership offers this experience for the benefit of New Zealand writers.”

George Andrews, Vice President North, NZ China Friendship Society said “Frances will be a wonderful ambassador for NZ and the NZ China Friendship Society. Her long career in film, theatre and literature and her knowledge of China is an ideal background for the Shanghai Residency and Kathleen Hall was one of the founding members of our society. We're delighted that thanks to Frances, Kathleen's story will now be better known in China and New Zealand.”

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