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Deadline for NZ’s coolest writing residency award extended to midnight

New Zealand writers – published and unpublished, sane and unsane – have until midnight to apply  for the writers residency at the Surrey Hotel in Auckland.

The deadline to apply for New Zealand literature’s coolest writing residency has been extended but not by much: writers have until midnight (Monday night, July 10) to send in their applications to the 2017 Surrey Hotel Steve Braunias Memorial Writers Residency In Association With The Spinoff Award.

“Hurry,” said judges, who received 42 applications as of Saturday morning.

Grey Lynn’s Surrey Hotel – named the Best Hotel in Auckland by a well-known writer in the New Zealand Herald – will host a winner and two runners-up in the second annual residency award.

The winner receives week’s free accommodation at the Surrey 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)

Winners will be announced on July 21; they have until the end of September to take up their residency at the Surrey.

Judges are looking for book projects but will settle for less. Last year’s winners included two writers who used their time to write 25,000 and 23,000 words respectively of their book projects. Runner-up Ashleigh Young wrote a poem.

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. Each wrote a report of their experience, which is pretty much the only condition of the award.

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

In case they didn’t see the headline, applications close at midnight.


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