Katherine Mansfield Fellowship

mandy hagerKapiti author gets NZ’s top literary prize

By Alan Tristram

Acclaimed Kapiti writer – and KIN columnist —  Mandy Hager has just been awarded the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship for 2014.

The Fellowship, one of New Zealand’s top literary awards, provides at least six months’ residence at  Menton in southern France, plus $75,000 prize money.

Mandy, who writes novels for young adults and lives in Raumati South, says:

“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.’

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.

She will research Héloïse and Abélard

Ms Hager plans to do research for 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.mandy author at desk jan 2010

She says: “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 honoured — and also 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  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.

From her base on the Kapiti Coast, Ms Hager also works as a tutor in novel writing at Whitireia Polytechnic.

The chair of the Menton Fellowship Trust, Richard Cathie, says he’s pleased to see the 2014 Fellowship awarded to a writer of such compelling young adult fiction.

He says: “Her project in Menton, however, is (for) an 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.”

Award established in 1970

Established in 1970, the Menton Fellowship is one of NZ’s oldest literary awards and 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 says it’s grateful for a $20,000 grant from the Sheila Winn Charitable Trust and a $25,000 grant from the Jack Jeffs Charitable Trust towards the residency.

Fantastic news Mandy; very well merited. You will have a fantastic and appropriate setting for the medieval research. The south of France is so rich in history. Cheers Pam and Roger Childs

Wonderful news, well deserved. Can’t wait to read the book about of Heloise and Abelhard.