Read the Local Legends story here
See more of Andy's beautiful images here
|Kathryn van Beek|
I live in historic Port Chalmers, Otago, and my neighbour Andy Thompson happens to be a very talented photographer. We teamed up to create a photo essay about three historic Port Chalmers pubs that are still thriving today: The Portsider, Mackie's Hotel and Carey's Bay Hotel. After spending a lot of time interviewing the publicans and sifting through Papers Past, we are thrilled that our story, Local Legends, has been published in local magazine Down in Edin today.
Read the Local Legends story here
See more of Andy's beautiful images here
Over the next little while I'll jot down some of the ideas that the lessons are sparking in me. I am really enjoying being introduced to so many other great works and writers through Joyce Carol Oates. I think this course will also provide a lot of beneficial insights that will form part of my doctoral study.
Lesson one: Introduction
Lesson two: Principles of writing short fiction
That's a lot more homework than we had in the first session!
I am going to give myself a tick for the fifth exercise because I regularly seek feedback on my work.
I'll report back on the rest of the homework in my next MasterClass post!
It's been a delightful two weeks at Eramboo Artist Environment in Sydney Australia's Terrey Hills. I've written the final short story for my collection, Pet, and I've re-drafted a couple more. I put the finishing touches on the stories I co-wrote with Dunedin school children as part of the Little Landers programme earlier this year, and I've also done some work on a Port Chalmers project I'm involved with. So, it's been a pretty productive two weeks!
It's also been nice to have the chance to do some reading. I've read two and a bit books, Billy Bird by Emma Neale (a beautiful, inventively-written novel about a marriage in crisis - excellent), Evie's War by Anna McKenzie (a meticulously-researched young adult WWII novel - also excellent) and I've made a start on The Omnivore's Dilemma (absolutely horrifying, but also excellent).
I would highly recommend Eramboo to any writers or artists looking for a beautiful, affordable and inspiring environment in which to develop creative work. We've had the use of a studio bedroom with a little desk in it, and also the use of 'the teaching space' - a long, sunny room with desks, a couch and a well-stocked bookcase. There's also a gallery space, which I've been able to use as a Pilates space in the mornings. There are wallabies in the garden, along with an incredible collection of birds including kookaburra, cockatoos, magpies and our favourite, the cheeky butcherbird. If you're lucky, the friendly brush turkey might also function as your alarm clock by scrabbling around on the porch with its dinosaur claws.
Several artists have permanent studio spaces here, and everyone we've met has been welcoming and kind.
The township of Mona Vale is a relatively short drive away, and features an art supply shop, a great library (where you can do printing) and an excellent bookshop. Mona Vale beach is worth a visit, as is the glorious Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. It's also fairly accessible to central Sydney, and we spent a weekend in the city soaking up the art galleries and an opera.
A culture shock warning for fellow kiwis - I've never before stayed at a place where I couldn't just go for a stroll when I needed to stretch my legs. Eramboo is on a fairly busy network of roads with no footpaths, and we couldn't find any walks nearby. Having to get in a car to go for a walk was an adjustment - and the best walking spot we found was the National Park, which has a $12 entry fee. (Totally worth it, but not very sustainable for repeat visits.) Be sure to hire a car, otherwise you might find yourself going a bit stir-crazy.
However, we've still managed to see beautiful sights, have cultural experiences and do plenty of our own creative work - and we leave this beautiful environment feeling thoroughly inspired.
Thank you, Eramboo!
I've popped over the ditch to experience the Sydney winter for a couple of weeks (it's not dissimilar to the Dunedin summer!). I'm staying at Eramboo Artist Environment, which is a wonderful facility in Terrey Hills, near Sydney's northern beaches. I can't get over the incredible variety of birds here - and the incredible variety of creepy crawlies! Apparently the artists share this space with a goanna and a python, along with a magnificent kookaburra, a friendly butcherbird, several intrepid bush turkeys and the ever-present cockatoos.
Find out more about Eramboo Artist Environment.
While I'm here I'm completing what will (hopefully) be the final short story for my collection, Pet. I'll also polish up a couple of older stories, and do a couple of other writing tasks too.
Opening with award-winning story Emotional Support Animal (Sunday Star-Times), Pet is a collection of literary short stories. Each story peels a different layer of meaning from the word ‘pet’, and the collection addresses themes of captivity, animal attraction and pack mentality. The tone of the collection is contemporary and darkly humorous. The stories are not afraid to peer beneath the stone pillars of culture and confront what is wriggling beneath. Stories from Pet have been, or will be, published in Takahē, Fresh Ink, The Sunday Star-Times, Mindfood Magazine, Headland, Bonsai and Pot Roast. Kathryn is the ‘momager’ of one of New Zealand’s most famous pets, Bruce the Cat, about whom she wrote the children’s book Bruce Finds A Home.
This year the New Zealand Society of Authors AGM was held in beautiful Dunedin. I attended the afternoon sessions at the library - here are my rough notes.
To podcast or YouTube – getting your voice out there: Vanda Symon
Thanks, but no thanks – why agents turn people down: Chris Else
Getting the good word on copyright: Paula Browning
Te Reo in your writing – a when to, how to guide: Iona Winter
I was thrilled ... and terrified ... to be invited to contribute to the Otago Daily Times and Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature assignment 'the best book in the world'.
The first three pieces appeared in the Otago Daily Times today, and a further three will appear next weekend.
Naturally the best book in the world is my pick, Charlotte's Web, but E B White did face some pretty stiff competition in the form of The Third Policeman (argued for by David Loughrey) and The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (argued for by Emma Neale).
Read the first instalment of The Best Book in the World here.
I woke up early this morning and ran down to the dairy to pick up my copy (okay, copies) of the Sunday Star-Times with my short story in it!
It was a wonderful surprise to see that the story has been illustrated with a custom artwork by designer Neil Bond. I'm hoping to print and frame a copy!
You can read Emotional Support Animal online here.
You can check out Neil's website here.
It's the last day of 2018 and I'd just like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has supported my writing this year. 2018 has been a roller-coaster ride and the best writing year of my life. Highlights include:
I was shocked to learn that my story, Emotional Support Animal, was placed third in this year’s Sunday Star-Times Short Story Competition! I have been trying to get placed in this competition for literally years, so I am absolutely thrilled to bits.
Huge congratulations to winner Fiona Sussman and to second-place winner Eileen Merriman. Fiona's story is in today's edition of the Sunday Star-Times, and you’ll be able to read Emotional Support Animal sometime in the New Year.
Here are the seven stages I went through after hearing the news …
I’d finished work for the year, crawled onto the couch and was absent-mindedly scrolling through my emails when I saw a message from the Sunday Star-Times.
‘Hello Kathryn,’ it began.
‘Here we go,’ I thought. ‘I’ve had about 40 rejections this year, and they have all opened with some variation of Hello Kathryn.’
But I kept reading. The next words were, ‘I’m delighted.’
My brain, which had been expecting to see the word, ‘sorry’, ‘unsuccessful’ or ‘unfortunately’, struggled make sense of the rest of the message. When I finally twigged, I replied immediately in a dignified manner befitting the occasion.
‘Oh my God!!!!!!! Thank you!!!!!!!’
Then I kind of danced around the house in a state of crazed agitation.
3. More excitement
I called my husband, who was hanging out with a friend in another city and couldn’t talk. Frustrating!
I checked the email again. And then I checked it again, but on my computer this time. I read the 73 words over and over to make sure I’d understood them correctly. And then I read them again. And again.
I ate a whole packet of Frooze Balls!
Because I’ve had a string of rejections lately, I’ve been doing more ‘simultaneous submitting’. (Simultaneous submitting means sending stories out to multiple journals / competitions at once, rather than submitting to one outlet, waiting a few months for a rejection, and then repeating the process ad infinitum.)
So once the Frooze Ball party was over, I looked through my writing spreadsheet and withdrew the story from the other places I’d sent it to. That included the Commonwealth Writers Prize, the organisers of which replied saying, “I’m sorry it’s not going forward with us as it’s already made the 200-strong longlist to go before the international judging panel!”
Arrggggg! But also, Eeeeeeeppp!
Look I know this isn’t the Academy Awards, but there are some people I need to thank:
And of course, I need to thank the Sunday Star-Times.
Oh my God!!!!!!! Thank you!!!!!!!
Read the full announcement on Stuff.co.nz.
Read Fiona's winning story, Mad Men.
My short fiction has been published in Headland, Hue and Cry, Pot Roast and Aerodrome. I'm an award-winning playwright and zine creator, and my play Indiscretions was published by Playmarket. I have contributed articles and creative non-fiction to The Spinoff, The Sunday Star Times, The NZ Herald and more. I also manage the social media for my cat Bruce, and I wrote and illustrated a children's book, Bruce Finds A Home, based on his exploits.