NZSA Mentorship recipients of 2017

Helen Caldwell

Helen is an English language teacher living in Wellington. Her love of books is reflected in her writing. She has interviewed a number of authors and reported on literary events for her website and various online publications. She is a keen traveller and recently completed a travel and health themed memoir. Her current work in progress is a mystery novel and she is excited about the opportunity to work with a mentor on this project.





Paul Chapman

For the past eleven years I have lived on Banks Peninsula with my partner and was from England before that. I’ve had some past success with short stories, including one published in a Best New Zealand Fiction anthology. I have also completed some novel length pieces, which have been put to good work suppressing weeds in the vegetable garden. I am drawn to writing about how people might react to peculiar and extreme situations—mostly realized under the broad description of speculative fiction. I like to keep a foot in contemporary settings while imagining how people’s belief systems and behaviours change when the everyday has gone. 




Makyla Curtis

Makyla Curtis is Scots P?keh? and lives in Auckland. She is studying an MA in English at the University of Auckland, alongside a Certificate of Languages in te reo M?ori.

Makyla is a poet as well as a maker of marks in various forms. She is a letterpress printer, a printmaker and a visual artist. She volunteers at MOTAT in the Print Shop where she handsets and prints her own poetry and work by local poets. Her poetry has been published in various magazines and journals including Shearsman, REM, Brief and Blackmail Press. Her interests are wide-ranging and include language & dialects, sound art & recording and typography & zines. During the mentorship, she will be working on a collection of landscape poetry.



Michelle Elvy

Michelle Elvy is a writer, editor, book reviewer and manuscript assessor. Founder of Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction and National Flash Fiction Day, she is also Assistant Editor (International) for the Best Small Fictions series. This year, she is editing, with Frankie McMillan and James Norcliffe, an anthology of New Zealand compressed fiction, prose poetry and experimental writing (forthcoming 2018). Her background as a historian and her experience with the compressed form has influenced the development of this novel, which began with a series of short stories. The fundamental question underpinning the manuscript is how narrative works: where, and how, the line from beginning to end is interrupted; how fragments can create a whole (or not); whether the story can be told in a different order, sometimes unwinding, sometimes diving deeper into one part, sometimes skirting the edges of truths (and lies), sometimes listening to dreams. The novel is also, inevitably, influenced by Michelle’s life at sea. With this mentorship, she hopes to bring the novel to its final draft, with impressionistic vignettes that move back and forth in time, across geographies and decades. 



Joy Fu

My name is Joy Fu and I have recently completed my Post-Graduate degree in Digital Design at Auckland University of Technology. In my studies I have learned about storytelling, animation and filmmaking. But my passion lies with comics, as I believe it is a media that transcends illustration and written text, and a fantastic tool for storytelling. My university projects have mostly been surrounding comics and how to push its boundaries. My work does not strive to make any concerning social commentary, nor is it going to change the world; but through this mentorship, I wish to be able write strong characters, interesting narratives and create high standard artwork to accompany them.





Rachel Honey

A series of ship-wrecked themed stories is what comes to mind when Rachel recalls first becoming passionate about writing at the age of eight.  The daughter of primary school teachers, Rachel attended a number of schools in isolated New Zealand locations and on a remote South Pacific island, and while she loathed the idea of leaving behind friends to move to a new school, the experience of growing up in small communities and experiencing Maori and Pacific Island cultures was priceless.  Rachel is proud of her own Maori and Pacific Island ancestry and has begun writing about her experiences and those of her family to capture a slice of history and as a record for her children and generations to come.




Caoimhe McKeogh

Caoimhe McKeogh is known to most people as Keava.  She lives in Wellington with her partner, Rhys, and works in disability support.  Keava is currently taking part in numerous creative writing workshops at Victoria University’s IIML, including screenwriting and creative non-fiction, but feels most comfortable writing poetry and fictional prose.  In 2015, Keava won Headland Journal’s inaugural Frontier Prize, for the best story by a previously unpublished writer, and since then she has been published and anthologised in Landfall, Headland, and Brief journals, and The Poetry New Zealand Yearbook.  She is very excited to have the opportunity to work with a mentor, and will use her NZSA mentorship to try to turn a jumble of finished stories and unwritten ideas into a cohesive first draft of a book-length project.




Nadine Millar

He mihi t?nei ki te kaip?nui, t?n? koe. Ki te taha o t?ku P?p?, he uri ahau n? Ngati Hine me Ng?puhi. Ki te taha o t?ku M?m?, he P?keh? ahau, n? Ingarangi.

Kia ora, I am Ng?ti Hine and Ng?puhi on my father’s side, and P?keh? on my mother’s. I grew up in South Auckland, but I’m a traveler at heart. I have lived and worked in Chile, Argentina, Samoa and the United Arab Emirates. After immersing myself in a number of foreign languages and cultures over the years, I recently returned to New Zealand to learn my own language – te reo M?ori. I began writing about my experiences as a way to make sense of some of some of the struggles and conflicts I faced, often using my time abroad as a point of reference. Since then, I have had over twenty creative non-fiction essays published. This year, I plan to build and expand on these essays, exploring themes relating to language, identity and belonging. My hope is to produce a completed manuscript that contributes thoughtfully to the evolving national debate about what it means to be a New Zealander.



Wendy Nolan

Wendy Nolan lives in Wellington where she uses her PhD in French and professional chef’s training to run innovative cooking classes based on recipes of the Impressionist painters. She also lectures part-time for Victoria University and leads culinary art-themed tours to France. In 2013 she was thrilled to win a scholarship to complete a Masters in creative writing at the International Institute for Modern Letters. Her debut novel set in Perigord, France, won a NZSA manuscript assessment award and was short-listed for a number of publishers’ prizes through Varuna, the Australian writers’ centre. She is very excited to have the opportunity of working with a mentor with the goal of polishing her newest book into a work of publishable quality.



Alex Stone

Alex Stone is a writer and artist from Auckland. He has written a weekly column In the Wind, for Waiheke Island’s feisty newspaper Gulf News for 20 years, never missing a deadline. In his day job, he has specialised in interpretive writing for natural and cultural history projects.

A collection of his short stories, jesus of the credit cards, was launched in late 2016. Eight of those stories have previously been recognised in New Zealand literary awards. Of jesus, Bruce Ansley wrote in a review, “Alex’s perspective is unusual. This gives his stories their outstanding quality: they are original…”I have not read stories like this before. If one of the objects of good writing is to move the reader to a different place, then he succeeds very well.”

David Hill in a NZ Herald review wrote : “Stone has that essential and sometimes under-respected quality of writing stories that engage you till the end. He likes his people and enjoys his eccentrics…”

Alex will use the mentorship to finish (to be ready for submission), the manuscript of a novel based on the short story Taken.



Judith Stanley

Judith has been writing since she could grasp meaning in a word. In the last ten years or so, she has begun to finish what she started. Family secrets is her first novel. It is ghost story for young readers and has been short listed in several competitions. Her short stories and poems have appeared in anthologies. She plans to use the mentorship to take her story from short-list to publishing contract.  She has also written a yet-to-be published, political thriller called, Undercurrents. She is a project manager, communications professional, mother of two, senior fire-fighter, former parliamentary staff writer and teacher.




Simon Thomas

Simon Thomas lives in the country, not far from Waikanae. He studied creative non fiction with Dinah Hawkins at Victoria’s International Institute of Modern Letters in 2010 and completed the Institute’s MA in 2015. He says that writing gives him permission to be curious about the world, and is working to finish a book that he began during his MA – which combines an exploration of eels with one of ourselves as inhabitants of this land. Simon is delighted to receive a NZSA Mentorship, and will use this to refine his book’s narrative threads and complete it.





Jane Va’afusuaga

Jane Va’afusuaga (nee Davitt) was born and raised in Eastbourne, Wellington and is of Scottish heritage. Jane currently lives in the village of Falease’ela in Samoa with her husband, Olsen and daughter, Coco.

Their home is beside the Liua le Vai o Sina River, where they host visitors from around the world through their ecocultural adventure tourism business and manage a community based conservation project. Jane writes mostly for children. She has previously had her work featured in the School Journals and has three picture books due to be published in 2017. She is excited to have the opportunity to have a mentor alongside her  as she re-navigates her way through the manuscript she has written for a Junior fiction novel.




Gareth Ward

Gareth Ward has travelled from the late 1800s to be with you today. He is an author, magician, hypnotist and bookseller. He lives in Hawkes Bay with his wife Louise where they run two independent bookshops, Wardini Books and Wardini Books Napier.

Gareth’s first novel ‘The Traitor and the Thief’ won the Storylines Tessa Duder award in 2016 and will be published by Walker Books Australia in August 2017. His second novel is another rip-roaring Steampunk adventure and he is delighted to be receiving mentorship on this project.