Writers in Residence2012
Eleanor Catton held the 2012 University of Auckland Residency at the Michael King Writers' Centre. This is what she wrote about her experience:
"An idea can be either sedimentary or igneous, but a work of art is always metamorphic--in other words, the product of intense heat, intense pressure, and a good deal of time. Uninterrupted solitude is a state of pure focus and intensity: it provides heat and pressure in a way that is sometimes alarming, sometimes revealing, and always transformative. It is only in solitude that a writer can apply the necessary force to transform ideas and sketches into works of art. As Virginia Woolf insisted, a writer needs only two things to be able to write: money, and a room of her own.
"As the recipient of the 2012 University of Auckland Michael King Writer's Residency I have surprised myself by working many weeks of twelve- and sometimes fourteen-hour days-- something I simply would not have been able to do in my home environment. I have read many books that ordinarily I might have passed over in favour of those that are thinner or that seem easier. It is as a consequence of this residence that I have been able to read more widely, write more, read better, write better.
"The University of Auckland Michael King Writer's Residency provides the lucky resident with two spaces to work: a gorgeous office on the hill above Devonport, with views across to the Auckland skyline, and an additional space in the University of Auckland English Department, near to the fantastic University Library and Auckland's equally fantastic central library. The MKWC itself-- the first institution of its kind in New Zealand-- is a lovely and peaceful place to live. It is fun getting to know the familiar faces in the nearby Devonport Village, and the short ferry ride to the city is a real pleasure too. The staff at the MKWC are wonderful, offering both company and solitude; likewise the staff at the University of Auckland English Department are warm, welcoming, and supportive, making every effort to make the resident writer feel at home in Auckland's wider literary community.
This really is a wonderful residency; I will be very sorry to leave. I urge all my colleagues in New Zealand to apply."
Eleanor Catton, September 2012
Eleanor Catton is an exciting young writer whose work has already attracted international attention.
Her first novel The Rehearsal, published by Victoria University Press in 2008 was picked up in the UK, Canada and the US. Transation rights have been sold in 12 languages. She has appeared at writers festivals in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, China and Finland.
Originally from Christchurch, Eleanor completed her degree in English and Latin at the University of Canterbury, before doing Honours at Victoria University in Wellington. She completed a Master of Arts in Fiction Writing at the prestigious International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University before heading to the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop from 2008-10.
During her years at the University of Iowa, she taught creative writing at undergraduate level, including papers on creative writing and popular culture. She read submissions for the MA programme at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and served as an external examiner for the International Institute of Modern Letters MA programme. In 2010 she took part in the DylanEd programme in Wales and in 2011 she held the six-month Ursula Bethell Residency at the University of Canterbury.
Eleanor has won numerous awards for her work. She received the New Zealand Arts foundation New Generation Award in 2010. The Rehearsal received the Amazon.ca Best First Book Award (2011), was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Award (2010), longlisted for the Orange Prize (2010), shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award (2009), received the Betty Trask Prize (2009) and the Adam Prize manuscript award (2007). She received two presitigious scholarships for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 2007 she won the New Zealand Sunday Star-Times Short Story Competition for Necropolis.
As well as her novel, Eleanor has published short stories and articles, including Regarding the Long White Cloud in Velvet Magazine / La Repubblica (Italy, 2011), Strange Ground in NO Magazine (Australia 2010), and Letter from London in Booknotes (NZ, 2010)
Eleanor is using her residency to complete her second novel The Luminaries, which will be published in 2013. Her next project is a quartet of novels for young adults. She writes:
“The quartet will fantastically reimagine the seventeenth-century Enlightenment, conceiving of that period in Western history as the death of magic and the beginning of a new world order. Nearly every major area of Western thought – medicine, philosophy, astronomy, literature, navigation, music – was irrevocably changed in the middle of the seventeenth century, whether by a work, an invention, or a discovery: these watershed moments showed, across the board, a transition from a feudal worldview into a more democratic or empirical one.”
The books will read as thrillers, incorporating the Black Plague, the Great Fire of London, and spirits such as Oberon, Puck and Queen Mab.
Ellie has been awarded The University of Auckland Residency at the MKWC and will be at the centre for six months from July 2012. The residency is a partnership with The University of Auckland and is offered with the support of Creative New Zealand. While she holds the residency, she will contribute to the Master of Creative Writing programme at the University.