Truth Lies Somewhere 2010

Oct 2010

Biography, Autobiography, Memoir

The 2010 residential workshop, held at Vaughan Park Retreat Centre over Labour Day weekend, was the second in what is becoming an annual series of symposium-style residential Workshops organised by the Michael King Writers' Centre.

The first workshop in 2009 looked at history and biography. The 2010 workshop took a more intensive look at biography with Truth Lies Somewhere: Biography, Autobiography, Memoir.

Sessions focused on literary, historical and collective biography, Maori approaches to history and biography, memoir vs autobiography, creative non-fiction, research and publishing. Speakers discussed, among other things, the inspiration, dedication and organisation it takes to complete and publish major work, and their experiences in research, writing, book structure and publishing.  See link to the full programme below.

Over three days and two nights, participants discussed issues with speakers and publishers and reported on their current projects, gaining much from the interaction and intensity of a long weekend retreat in the company of colleagues and respected professionals. Vaughan Park offered the ideal setting for such in-depth discussions.

Vaughan Park was the venue in 2009 and 2010 and has been booked for future workshops.  The atmosphere is relaxed, informal and designed to enable maximum enjoyment of the location. The Long Bay Regional Park has a superb beach and a cliff-top walk with extensive views over the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. The Vaughan Park Retreat Centre overlooks the beach and offers a variety of lounges and meeting rooms and has a restaurant extending onto a large deck. Living accommodation consists of a series of houses, each with a central lounge opening onto a garden courtyard, two bathrooms and six individual rooms with bed, desk, hand basin and wardrobe. 

Go to for more about the venue.

Speaker and Chairs included Fiona Kidman, Philip Temple, C.K. Stead, Gordon McLauchlan, Diane Brown, Charles Royal, Deborah Shepard, Paul Diamond, Paul Millar, Peter Simpson, Liz Allen, Geoff Chapple, Bradford Haami and publishers Sam Elworthy, Lorain Day, David Ling and Bob Ross. See the link to speakers' biographies below.

In tune with the collegial nature of the residential workshop, some speakers also acted as Chairs, and most speakers stayed on for meals and attended another session or two. The programme also included time for attending writers to discuss the challenges of their own particular projects - formally, though briefly, on the first night, and informally during the longer breaks intended for this purpose.

Attending writers gave the 2010 Workshop a 96% rating for having met their expectations.

The most valuable aspects were deemed to be:

  • Interaction with other writers - 94%
  • Discusssion with speakers / Residential retreat aspect - both 88% 
  • Discussion with publishers – 82%

View 2010 Residential Workshop Programme
View 2010  Residential Workshop Speakers' biographies
For information about the 2011 Residential Workshop, please  email

The workshop acknowledges  the generous assistance of grants from Auckland Regional Services Trust (North Shore City) and ASB Community Trust.

ASB Community Trust Auckland Regional Services Trust (North Shore City)