Burglars steal writer's new chapters

MATT STEWART
Last updated 05:00 22/05/2014
maike wetzel
ALEX LIU/Fairfax NZ

PILFERED PROSE: Despite burglars stealing her laptop and three chapters of her new novel, Maike Wetzel will return to Berlin with fond memories of Wellington.

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A German writer on a cultural exchange in Wellington has lost chapters from her new novel after thieves stole her laptop from her inner-city cottage.

Maike Wetzel is the Goethe-Institut inaugural writer-in-residence at the Wellington City Council's Sexton's Cottage in Thorndon.

She arrived home with her 3-year-old son early on Saturday night to find the historic Bolton St cottage's front door bolted from the inside and one of its windows smashed. 

Since the break-in, she has been too scared to return and was put up by the nearby Bolton Hotel for two nights and is now staying at a hotel in Cuba St.

She returns to Berlin next week as the three-month residency draws to a close, but said the ''unwanted invaders'' had not coloured her feelings about Wellington, which she said was full of ''overwhelmingly friendly and polite'' people.

''It won't change my view of Wellington or New Zealand in general - in the sleepy small town where I was raised, stuff like that happened, so it's just bad luck.''

Losing the work - including two film scripts, a book for young adults, personal items and her back-up data stick - was frustrating.

The theft also left her angry because the laptop would be worthless to the thieves or anyone who bought it because it had a German-language keyboard and components. ''It's useless to them, but it's invaluable to me.''  

She describes the Berlin-set novel she is working on as a psychological thriller and, although she emailed the manuscript to a friend a few weeks ago, any work done since has been lost and will have to be recreated from memory - including a chapter set in Wellington.

Police have been notified, and the council's parks team will look at lodging an insurance claim.

Sexton's Cottage, built in 1857,  is one of Wellington's oldest homes and is built on the edge of the Bolton St cemetery - a sexton is a church official charged with looking after graveyards.

Before she returns to Berlin, Wetzel will make her final public appearance at Unity Books in Willis St today at noon. 

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- The Dominion Post

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