BooksJune 13, 2016

Announcing the TEN FINALISTS!!! in the Surrey Hotel Steve Braunias Memorial Writers Residency in Association with The Spinoff Award


In which we name the ten finalists of our amazing new writers residency award – and also announce a second and third-place prize of free accommodation with pizza.

Ten finalists have been chosen in the inaugural Surrey Hotel Steve Braunias Memorial Writers Residency  in Association with The Spinoff Award.

Applications for the new and extremely groovesome writers award closed on Friday, and attracted over 50 entries. The grand winner will be named on Friday – and the winners of two newly created runner-up awards will also be announced.

The first prize is seven nights accommodation at the fabulous Surrey Hotel in Grey Lynn, Auckland, with $500 spending money as well as pizza allowances across the road at Domino’s.

Spinoff Review of Books literary editor Steve Braunias said the standard was so high that he couldn’t bear for just one person to win so he approached Denise King, general manager at The Surrey, to see whether she’d be all good with awarding a second and third prize, with four and three nights accommodation respectively. She immediately and happily agreed.


The 10 finalists competing for the three residency awards are:

Tina Shaw, a novelist who lives in Taupo

Sunday Star-Times crime writer Kelly Dennett

Antony Millen, a short story writer based in Taumaranui

Story teller, poet and performer Callum Gentleman of Auckland

Nelson playwright Laura Irish

The acclaimed Wellington poet Ashleigh Young

Auckland food writer Delaney Mes

John Summers of Featherston, author of the non-fiction stories The Mermaid Boy

High school musical playwright Naomi Ferguson. We don’t know where she lives

Wellington young adult fiction writer Fifi Colston

Steve Braunias and Spinoff chief Duncan Greive wished to thank everyone who entered.

“There were a lot of fantastic entries, many spectacular and fascinating and good.

“There were talented YA fiction writers, experienced screenplay writers, novelists with very ambitious and sometimes plain crazy ideas, obscure poets, a chap seized with the interesting notion of writing a satire set in a bungalow, writers of haikus, translators, memoirists, journalists, teachers, the elderly, and we loved the one from a guy who enclosed a piece of writing titled How I Ended Up Cold-calling Bill English’s Daughter and Taking Her to My Year 13 Ball.

“It is with genuine regret that the selection panel passed on their applications, and we hope these writers find an opportunity to complete their projects.

“There were one or two time-wasters who will receive terse replies from the selection panel.

“We look forward to announcing first, second, and third place this Friday, and appreciate that the 10 finalists will experience a nervous wait. But that’s just the way it goes sometimes.”


All three winners will receive free breakfast and wifi during their stay. The winner pockets a cool $500 in cash from The Spinoff, as well as two free roast dinners at The Surrey. The Spinoff will also provide funding for a single value menu Domino’s pizza every night except on Sundays when there is a roast.

Steve Braunias said he would probably be “a good guy” and personally spring for an extra night’s accommodation for the second and third place winner, to cover a fifth and fourth night respectively, and Duncan Grieve has confirmed The Spinoff will provide funding to pay for three value range pizzas for second place and a single value range pizza for third.


The idea behind the residency was to give writers an opportunity to work on a long-ish project in an intense burst day and night without interruption and in comfort and style.

A selection panel of 43 writers and publishers, mostly based in New Zealand but also in Japan, Canada, England, Scotland, South Africa and Germany, and who communicated primarily via email and Snapchat, narrowed the entries to a shortlist of 10.

The winners have until the end of August to take up their residency.

“A special thanks to Denise King at the Surrey for her generosity in establishing a second and third-place prize,” said the men from The Spinoff, speaking at the same time.

The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books, recently named 2020 International Book Store of the Year, London Book Fair, and Creative New Zealand. Visit Unity Books Wellington or Unity Books Auckland online stores today. 

Image: Tina Tiller

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