Mandy Hager wins Mansfield Fellowship

Raumati novelist off to Menton in France

Last updated 18:30 07/11/2013
mandyland
ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ

AWAY FROM THE BOOKS: Mandy Hager calls her Raumati South Garden 'my indulgence'.

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Kapiti Coast writer Mandy Hager has joined an esteemed circle of Kiwi literary heavyweights after being awarded the $75,000 Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship.

Ms Hager, a writer of fiction for young adults, will take up residency for at least six months in Menton, a port town on the French Riviera.

She will write from the Villa Isola Bella, where Wellington-born Mansfield lived and wrote towards the end of her life.

"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," she said.

The Whitireia Polytechnic novel-writing tutor plans to use the residency to research a novel about the life of French nun, scholar and writer Heloise d'Argenteuil, who had an ill-fated love affair with 12th Century religious philosopher Pierre Abelard .

"To be able to walk through the actual medieval locations, and steep myself in the culture and history surrounding Heloise's story, is a priceless gift - one I am sure I will treasure forever."

Ms Hager has written eight novels, as well as short stories and scripts. 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 latest book, Dear Vincent, is about painting, suicide and Vincent Van Gogh.

Fellowship Trust chairman Richard Cathie said he was pleased to see the 2014 fellowship awarded to a writer of ''compelling young-adult fiction.

"Her project in Menton, however, is a 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."

Past fellowship winners include Janet Frame, Michael King, Lloyd Jones, Witi Ihimaera, Bill Manhire, Dame Fiona Kidman, Justin Paton, and last year, Greg McGee.

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