NZSA Mentorship recipients of 2018


Dale Alderson

Of Ngati Kuri descent, Dale is a classically trained sign writer but has worked for most of her career in the visual branding and marketing fields, here in NZ and overseas.

A first serious writing attempt, the story submitted, is about the most unnatural of existences – life on the inside.

It is a credible commentary on confinement, the system, the personalities and the over representation of M?ori.

Grateful for the opportunity of mentorship with NZSA, she is looking forward to a critical eye being cast over the pages of her work.


Heather Bauchop

Heather Bauchop was born in the USA in 1966 to Scottish parents who migrated to New Zealand in the early 1970s. She has worked as a historian for many years and is currently employed by Heritage New Zealand, writing about places and their people. She writes short fiction and poetry with a bent towards the silences between adults and children, and their relationships with the past. Her work has appeared in Headland, Alluvia, Takahe, Poetry NZ, and she was the winner of the 2016 Takahe Short Story Competition, and the 2017 Dunedin Public Library Winter Poetry Competition. Heather’s project for the mentorship is to work on a collection of stories.



Rose Carlyle

Rose Carlyle grew up in West Auckland and Port Waikato and started publishing poetry when she was ten. She studied law at the University of Otago, and for many years writing took a back seat to practising law, raising children, and a series of sailing expeditions around New Zealand, the Subantarctic and Africa. In 2017, Rose completed a Master of Creative Writing degree at the University of Auckland. She currently works as a law lecturer. Her novel is about jealousy and betrayal and is set in the Indian Ocean.



Vanessa Hatley-Owen

Vanessa was a daydreaming child whose nose was permanently stuck in a book, caught up in the wonders of stories that took her to magical places. As an avid reader, it was inevitable that she would ‘take up the pen’ eventually and she has been working on writing stories for children for several years (many, many, several years). Over that time, she has amassed an impressive number of rejection letters, of which she is very proud. She has had two pieces published by Learning Media, has been shortlisted for both the Tom Fitzgibbon and Joy Cowley awards for unpublished manuscripts, and her first picture book is scheduled for publication this year in November (hurrah!).  The opportunity to work with an expert author to polish up her YA novel was too good to pass up, so she applied and is thrilled to have been selected for a mentorship.
And she promises to work very hard.


Margot McLean

My partner and I live in Gisborne and my day job is as a public health doctor focused on woman and child health in Tairawhiti. I am drawn to wild and forgotten places and spent several years as a flying doctor, working in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. I have always been a private scribbler of journals and poems, and a justifiably unpublished romance novel. Three years ago I decided to focus my love of writing, and I have written the draft of a crime novel set on the East Coast. I plan to complete this in 2018, with the firm but fair guidance of a mentor. I am immensely grateful for this opportunity.



Sarah Myles

Sarah Myles is a Wellington-born writer currently researching and writing a manuscript, Towards the Mountain, about her grandfather’s journey home to New Zealand following the Erebus Disaster.  It is also a reflection on the legacy of grief, and the possibility of healing, forty years on.  Sarah’s research has taken her around the country, and provided her with an opportunity to meet and thank the very people who worked so hard to bring her grandfather home.  Her intention is to publish her work to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Erebus, and the unveiling of the Erebus Memorial, in November 2019.  Sarah received an Honourable Mention in the 2017 Lilian Ida Smith Award for her work to date, and is very excited and grateful to be working with a mentor on this project.  She lives in the picturesque Esk Valley in Napier with her husband and two children.  You can read more about her project on Facebook @ Sarah Myles Writer.


Szening Ooi

Szening Ooi writes transport policy by day and short stories by night. In 2017, she took part in New Kiwi Women Write, a series of writing workshops for migrant women facilitated by Renee Liang. Her stories have appeared in brief, New Beginnings and various zines. She is currently working on her first novel, The Pathos of Things, a coming of age story set in her hometown of Penang, Malaysia. Szening lives by a river in west Auckland with her husband and toddler, where they do a lot of singing and dancing.




Jessica Priestley

Jessica Priestley is a P?keh? writer based in Melbourne, where she works as a secondary school teacher and fits writing into the margins of her day. She has a PhD in Classics, and has authored an academic book on the Greek historian Herodotus. She began writing fiction in 2014, while living in Northern California, and has had short stories published in literary journals Headland (NZ based) and Short Fiction (UK based). She is currently writing a novel which uses a cold case from New Zealand’s early colonial history as a starting point for exploring narratives about justice. Jessica is delighted to have the opportunity to work with a mentor this year and will be focusing on editing and polishing her draft.



Rebecca Reader

Rebecca Reader once translated medieval chronicles and parliament rolls for a living. Now she teaches English in Palmerston North and belly dances in her spare time. Six idyllic weeks in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, inspired her to write a collection of poems about all things Mexican for her MA in Creative Writing at the IIML. The collection includes a verse biography of the British surrealist artist Leonora Carrington who lived in Mexico City for over fifty years.

Rebecca has had poems and short fiction published in New Zealand, England and Mexico. She now hopes to turn her MA manuscript into a first book, and donate the proceeds to Casita Linda, a charity building homes for Mexicans living in extreme poverty in the greater San Miguel region.


Andy Southall

Andy grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, spent too many years in the fog of London, then followed the long white cloud – and his wife – to Wellington.  Always wanting to write, he completed an Advanced Certificate in Creative Writing (Novel) at Whitireia in 2015, followed by a Graduate Diploma in 2016.  He writes contemporary fiction, science-fiction and travel blogs.  One of his sci-fi short stories has been published in

Last year while living in Samoa for three months, he published the travel blog, One Hundred Days in Samoa, which he’s hoping to adapt into a book.  He’s delighted to receive this mentorship and will use it to work on a novel set in Samoa about growing old and forgetting who you love.


Leslie Van Gelder

Leslie Van Gelder is an archaeologist, writer, and historian living in the Rees Valley near Glenorchy.  Originally from the States, she has lived in Glenorchy for the last decade. She is profoundly interested in the role of Place in people’s lives and much of her work revolves on the relationship between Place and Story. Her research work takes her to deep caves in France, Spain, and Australia where she studies a form of cave art called finger flutings. Closer to home she is actively involved in heritage work in her Head of Lake Wakatipu community and is engaged in a series of creative collaborations with sculptor Shane Woolridge. She is the author of Weaving a Way Home, The Horse Whisperer and Shane Woolridge: Intimacies and Expanses. Her essays, which have appeared in Irish Pages, Earthlines, The Wayfarer, Bellevue Literary Review, and The West, blend her experiences in archaeology with larger questions of life and legacy. She is looking forward to working on a memoir called The Archaeology of Love with her new mentor and taking her work into new terrain.


Chris Weale

I grew up in Wales, where I scraped through school with slightly above average results, but a below average behaviour record. However, whilst at school one teacher saw a glimmer of hope in my writing technique and convinced me to go to University where I gained Masters in history. Apart from some of the tall tales I told when I was a child, my first proper attempt at creating stories was in my twenties. Nobody got to see these first few efforts, but I kept at it, and (after moving to New Zealand in 2003) I was soon happy enough with one of my ideas to send it out into the world. What came back was a stack of rejection letters, but as the old adage goes, ‘if at first you don’t succeed…’. I finally had my first book published through Scholastic NZ in 2014 (How Does the Giraffe Get to Work?), and a second book came out in 2015 (The Tyranno-Sort-of Rex), also through Scholastic NZ. I still don’t know if I’m a natural writer, but I think I am a natural storyteller, and I always enjoy sharing my visions of the weird and wonderful with people (hopefully making them smile, and sometimes squirm a little as well).


Mary Wilkins

Mary Wilkins is an Auckland based writer. She studied her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and her Master of Creative Writing at Auckland University of Technology. Mary currently works at AUT as a Teaching Assistant.

For Mary’s mentorship she will be working on her Young Adult fiction novel, Pale Adolescence. Mary uses her writing as a platform to express her research and thoughts on teenage mental health.