8 Nov 2013
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Acclaimed young adult fiction writer Mandy Hager has been awarded the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship for 2014.
The Fellowship is one of New Zealand's oldest and most esteemed literary awards. It provides a residency of at least six months in Menton, France and NZ$75,000. The support of the city of Menton enables a New Zealand author to work at the Villa Isola Bella, where Katherine Mansfield lived and wrote during the latter part of her life.
“This generous residency is every New Zealand writer’s dream, not only for the opportunity to travel to Menton and walk in the footsteps of many of our greatest writers, but also because it provides the gift of time and freedom from usual work commitments,’’ Hager says.
She plans to research a novel about the life of nun, scholar and writer Héloïse d’Argenteuil, known for her doomed love affair with 12th Century religious philosopher Pierre Abélard.
“To be able to walk through the actual medieval locations, and steep myself in the culture and history surrounding Héloïse’s story, is a priceless gift: one I am sure I will treasure forever. I am thrilled, honoured and also extremely grateful to the Winn-Manson Menton Trust for acknowledging the importance of young adult fiction.’’
Mandy Hager has written eight novels, as well as short stories, scripts, and non-fiction resources for young people. She won the Esther Glen Award for Fiction for her novel Smashed and Best Young Adult Book in the 2010 NZ Post Book Awards for The Crossing, the first book in the popular ‘Blood of the Lamb’ trilogy. Her 2012 novel, The Nature of Ash, was a finalist in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards in the Young Adult Fiction category, and won the LIANZA Young Adult Fiction award. Her latest book, Dear Vincent (2013), about painting, suicide and Vincent Van Gogh, was written with the support of the 2012 Beatson Fellowship.
Based on the Kapiti Coast, Hager is a tutor in novel writing at Whitireia Polytechnic.
Chair of the Fellowship Trust, Richard Cathie, said he was pleased to see the 2014 Fellowship awarded to a writer of such compelling young adult fiction. “Her project in Menton, however, is a historical novel with general readership in mind. It is a hugely imaginative and exciting concept and Menton will offer every opportunity for her to realise this goal.”
Established in 1970, the Menton Fellowship is open to established and mid-career New Zealand writers. There have been 42 recipients, including Janet Frame, Michael King, Lloyd Jones, Witi Ihimaera, Bill Manhire, Dame Fiona Kidman, Justin Paton, and in 2013, Greg McGee.
The Fellowship is an initiative of the Winn-Manson Menton Trust and is administered by Creative New Zealand. The Trust gratefully acknowledges a $20,000 grant from the Sheila Winn Charitable Trust and a $25,000 grant from the Jack Jeffs Charitable Trust towards the residency.