Announcing the return of the most glamorous writer’s residency in New Zealand – the one at the Surrey Hotel

Calling all New Zealand writers! Apply now for the writers residency at the Surrey Hotel in Auckland.

New Zealand literature’s coolest writing residency is up and running again. The fabulous Surrey Hotel – named the Best Hotel in Auckland by a well-known writer in the New Zealand Herald – has once again agreed to offer a writers residency award in association with The Spinoff.

The winner of the second annual Surrey Hotel Steve Braunias Memorial Writers Residency In Association With The Spinoff Award will be given a week’s free accommodation at the Surrey in Grey Lynn, along with free breakfast and free wifi. They will also pocket a cool $500 from The Spinoff.

There is also be a second and third prize with less nights and less money but the same thrill.

The Surrey Hotel: built in the Tudor ages (1989)

Applications are open from today, and close on July 10. The winner will be announced on July 21; they have until the end of September to take up their residency at the Surrey.

Note writing desk (left)

Last year’s grand winner was journalist Kelly Dennett. She worked like a demon in her residency and broke the back of her first book, a true-crime story about the murder of Jane Furlong. It has been accepted by Awa Press and will be published later this year.

The runners-up were young adult fiction writer Antony Millen, of Taumaranui, and Wellington poet and essayist Ashleigh Young.

The winners in 2016 were announced live on the Jesse Mulligan radio show on Radio New Zealand. This year they might be announced live on the Jesse Mulligan television show on Newshub, you never know.

The idea for the award came from Spinoff Review of Books editor Steve Braunias after he chose to stay at the Surrey in 2015 to write a crucial section of his best-selling book, The Scene of the Crime.

“It was such a great place to write,” he said. “It’s warm, and dark, and quiet, with thick carpets and dark wood. There are no distractions, it’s clean as a whistle, and the only concern is to sit down and work.

“I cherished the experience and wanted other writers to have an opportunity, too, to write in splendid comfort.

“The Surrey took that idea and have run with it. They are very generous hosts.”

A room much like the one where Steve Braunias wrote a lot about Mark Lundy

The Surrey Hotel is an independently owned hotel complex in the Tudor style, with standard and deluxe rooms, swimming pool, conference facilities, restaurant, bar, and a cat called GM, a stray which now enjoys the good life.

It occupies land on both sides of Great North Rd near the Grey Lynn shops.

The winner can take up their room on a Sunday, and have a free roast dinner on arrival. Breakfast is also gratis during their stay, and there are two free dinners, and complementary wifi. Before they check out the following Sunday, they can sit down and have a farewell free roast.

You may be visited by this cat or a different cat (Image: Ashleigh Young)

Winners will need to negotiate dates with Surrey management, who are incredibly nice.

“We applaud the Surrey for their continued generosity and are happy to award $500 to shower upon the successful applicant,” said Spinoff publisher Duncan Greive.

“The Spinoff is where good things happen and what more good can there be in the world than pampering a few writers.”

The Spinoff will raid its coffers to provide funding for a single value menu Domino’s pizza every night except on Sundays when there is a roast.

Writers from any discipline are invited to apply for the prestigious second annual Surrey Hotel Steve Braunias Memorial Writers Residency In Association With The Spinoff Award.

They should send a very brief outline of their project to: madeleine@thespinoff.co.nz


The Spinoff Review of Books is brought to you by Unity Books.

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