Whitireia Polytechnic on the Kapiti Coast has welcomed home one of their best-known teachers, Katherine Mansfield award winner, Mandy Hager.
Mandy, who is also one of KIN’s best-loved columnists, has already contributed to our paper, immediately after returning from six months in France.
And here is Whitireia Polytechnic’s account of her work while overseas…
‘Mandy Hager, well-known author of novels for young adults and tutor at the Creative Writing Programme of Whitireia Polytechnic, is back in Raumati after six months in Menton, France.
During her stay in Menton, which she describes as amazing and challenging, Mandy travelled extensively absorbing French history and culture and doing research for her next book, the story of a 12th century nun.
In terms of her work as a tutor, she found many great opportunities for professional development in France and England.
At the New Zealand French Embassy in Paris she ran a workshop for students from USA, Australia and New Zealand, went to a meeting about Arts funding at the Institut Francais and also spoke at Nice University about the translation of New Zealand books into other languages – apparently there are often difficulties with the ‘New Zealand voice’!
Book fair ‘soul-destroying and fascinating’
She acquired a UK agent, attended the Australia and New Zealand Literary Festival in London and the London Book Fair. “The Book Fair was both fascinating and soul-destroying,” says Mandy. “Soul-destroying because it showed how difficult it is for unknown writers to get recognition and a foothold in the world of big publishing houses.”
The Whitireia Creative Writing Programme recently established its own publishing house, Escalator Press, and is launching its next two novels in November.
Mandy says, “I think the small independents are incredibly important. They make a lot of effort to launch their writers and the more personal contact means the author does not feel just part of a big machine.”
Mandy’s latest book, Singing Home the Whale, which she describes as a fairy tale for our times, is being launched in October 2014.’