CompleteMS Recipients 2018

Caroline Barron

Caroline Barron is a full-time writer living in Point Chevalier (Auckland) and Baylys Beach (Kaipara), and is working on her second book, a memoir. Recent awards include runner-up at both the 2017 NZ Heritage Awards (Short Fiction) and the 2016 Cathay Pacific Travel Media Award (Best New Travel Writer); Highly Commended in the 2017 New Zealand Heritage Writing Competition (Short Prose); winner of the 2015 Lilian Ida Smith Award (NZSA), and shortlisted for the 2015 Hachette Mentoring Programme (NZSA).

Caroline has a Masters in Creative Writing, a journalism degree, and a previous life as the owner of one of Aotearoa’s most successful model agencies. She is a board member of the Michael King Writers Centre and studies te reo M?ori at Unitec.



Nod Ghosh

Nod Ghosh graduated from the Hagley Writers’ Institute in Christchurch in 2014, and has had work is published in Landfall, JAAM, Takah? and various international sites and journals.

Nod completed a second novel The Iris Tattoo with support from Norman Bilbrough through the NZSA mentorship scheme in 2015.

The Crazed Wind, (Truth Serum Press) a novella-in-flash is published in July 2018.

Nod’s third novel Paper Prison, submitted for the completeMS scheme examines the world of a woman with a marked disability. A fourth novel, Echo Valley is currently underway. Further information can be found at


Emma Hislop

Emma Hislop’s work has appeared in Sport, Takahe, Hue and Cry, Ika, Ora Nui and Turbine.

In 2013 she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters.

Emma recently left Wellington and moved home to Taranaki where she lives with her partner and small child. She is working on her first collection of short fiction.




Celine Kearney

Born in Otago, where she worked as journalist, Celine moved to Auckland where she lived and worked as a journalist and a researcher. She later trained as a teacher of English as an Additional Language and has taught in Switzerland and Vietnam, as well as universities and institutes of technology in New Zealand.  She has found long interviews to be fruitful ways of exploring individual experience as well as broader social issues. Her first book was entitled Faces of the Goddess: New Zealand women talk about their spirituality.

Celine graduated from the Hagley Writers Institute in 2010 and has since then completed a PhD using narrative as method and text. The artefact she created through her research, entitled Southern Celts, is a collection of 25 interviews of women and men around New Zealand who have Scottish or Irish backgrounds. She is delighted that the NZSA will critique this manuscript.


Pip McKay

Pip McKay’s younger years were spent in a nomadic whirl around New Zealand, sparking her love of travel. She left home shores for an extended period of work and travel in the United Kingdom and France. Her journey through the former Yugoslavia, in 1989, has influenced the writing of her first novel, The Telling Time, an historical novel with family secrets and the power of discovery at its heart. Pip completed the Creative Hub’s Higher Certificate in fiction writing in 2014 and the Master of Creative Writing at University of Auckland in 2017. Most recently, she has worked in the not-for-profit sector, as President of Coeliac New Zealand. She has settled in Auckland with her husband and has embraced her love of writing while keeping abreast of her three sons as they embark on their own life adventures. Pip is thrilled to be a NZSA CompleteMS recipient.



Caoimhe McKeogh

Caoimhe McKeogh works in a bookshop in Wellington.  This year she is studying towards an MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters.  Caoimhe has had her poetry and fiction widely published in New Zealand and Australian journals, including Landfall, Overland, Turbine, Cordite, Miniscus, Geometry, and Mimicry. She is a member of Headland Journal’s editorial panel.

In 2017, Caoimhe was a recipient of an NZSA Mentorship and worked on her first novel, under the guidance of Mandy Hager.  The Complete MS Assessment is for a collection of short stories. These stories are loosely themed around love; they don’t shy away from death, decay, loneliness, sex, and gruesome bodily details, but they always steer clear of sentimentality.


J Michaels

JS Michaels was born and bred in Auckland. A middle child of three, she craved notoriety and recognition, which manifested itself in a passion for the written word from a young age. She divides her days between full-time study and working in youth mental health.

Her writing explores contemporary issues of politics, identity & biculturalism. Beneath is her first full-length work.


Samantha Montgomerie

Samantha Montgomerie lives in Macandrew Bay, Dunedin.  She works as a teacher of English and enjoys the energy that comes from working with vibrant young people.  She loves writing for children and had several works published for the educational market in recent years. She was also recently shortlisted for the Storylines Joy Cowley Awards for an unpublished children’s picture book.  She tries to squeeze writing time into the crevices of work and family life, where characters who have mulled in her head all day can run free.

Samantha also enjoys writing poetry, and her work has been published in Landfall, takahe, Penguin Days (The NZ Poetry Society Anthology) and numerous times in the Otago Daily Times.  

Samantha is delighted to be selected for the Manuscript Assessment Programme, and will use this as an opportunity to learn how to critically edit her first chapter book for young readers.




Dr Maris O’Rourke

O’Rourke describes herself as a walker and a writer, a poet and a peregrina. When she’s not tramping/hiking/ walking she likes to have a number of writing projects on the go at once and is currently working on another children’s book ‘Our Superbaby!’; a memoir ‘Zigzags and Leapfrogs’; a walking booklet ‘Finding Whaingaroa’; and another poetry book.  She is delighted and honoured that NZSA have awarded her an MS assessment for her proposed poetry collection – working title ‘Motherings’.

O’Rourke began writing in 2008 after attending a life-changing course with Siobhan Harvey and since then she has been well placed in a number of competitions including: Robert Burns, Caselberg, Kevin Ireland, Kathleen Grattan and Matariki.

Her work has been published in a wide range of journals in NZ, UK, USA and Australia. She has also been featured in a number of anthologies e.g. Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page, Starch Vol II, Aesthetica and Taking Latin America Home.

In 2013 O’Rourke’s first poetry collection Singing with Both Throats was published by David Ling to good reviews. She has also written three successful children’s books about an adventuresome Kunekune pig called Lillibutt – all illustrated by Claudia Pond Eyley and published by Duck Creek Press. In 2016 Lillibutt’s Te Araroa Adventure was translated into Maori by Ani Wainui, distributed to all Te Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Maori and a finalist in the National Children’s Book Awards in 2017.


Keryn Powell

I am absolutely thrilled to be a recipient of the CompleteMS assessment programme. My draft young adult novel, Before The Rising, has taken shape in fits and starts over the past 3-4 years between the needs of 4 children, 4 chickens, 1 cat, 2 frogs, a hive of bees and a very supportive husband and my part time work as a GP in Napier.

This is my first serious attempt to write something substantial. In a leap of faith last year I decided to take a month off work and see if I could sit down and write at home ignoring housework. (No problem). I enjoyed it so much I took another month earlier this year and was finally rewarded with a full, baby draft novel! It has been a huge thing to be brave enough to share my writing, first with a few chosen friends and family members, and then sending in a sample to NZSA. I am delighted at the chance to get help and advice with the last phase of my draft.


Jan Thorburn

Jan Thorburn grew up in the Post Office house in tiny coastal Awakino near the northern Taranaki border, and has since lived all over including Hamilton, Tokoroa, London, Manila, Christchurch and Waiheke Island. She now lives in Auckland.  Her first book was a practical handbook for teachers in the nineties who wanted to fully include children with special needs in their classes. She has published a range of stories and books for adults and children. The manuscript submitted for the MS programme is her first adult/young adult novel so she is very grateful to have support in tying together the characters, story lines and range of settings in a longer fictional work. The story is set in an imaginary future in New Zealand where a young woman and her aunt escaping the fascist government have to live off the grid in the remote countryside and later join the fight to take their country back to democracy.




Matthew Turner

Matthew Turner was born in Greytown and raised in Christchurch. After graduating from the University of Canterbury, he spent a year studying Japanese language and culture at Nagoya University as a Japanese Government (Monbusho) Scholar. He was later awarded a second Monbusho Scholarship to do postgraduate research at Keio University in Tokyo. He currently lives in Christchurch, where he works as a writer and translator.

Published in 2018, Matthew’s first novel, Sweden, is about a group of U.S. military deserters on the run in Japan during the Vietnam War. His second novel, the work submitted for the CompleteMS Programme in 2018, is set in post-earthquake Christchurch and Occupation-era Japan.




Karen Zelas

I am a former psychiatrist and psychotherapist, who has moved to a career in writing in the last twelve years. Since then, I have had four books of poetry published and two plays produced. I am currently in the throes of developing a new play, The Falling, with the support of The Court Theatre based on my most recent book – a verse biography, The Trials of Minnie Dean (for which I was lucky enough to receive a Complete MS Assessment through NZSA in 2016). As well as being a member of NZSA, I am a member of the South Island Writers’ Association and currently its patron.

I am delighted to be a recipient of a Complete MS Assessment for my new novel What You Wish For. My first novel Past Perfect was published in 2010. My second remains unpublished despite considerable rewriting, so this, my third, has been my dying swan effort and may yet have a life ahead.