It was a great evening for the whole genre of
Children’s Literature in New Zealand.
I was so privileged to be there last night when it was announced that Mandy Hager, Young Adult writer and tutor extraordinaire, has been honoured with the 2014 Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship. This means she will be spending a big part of next year writing from the villa Isola Bella where Katherine Mansfield lived and worked toward the end of her life. Mandy told us she plans to spend much of her time researching for a novel about the French nun, scholar and writer Heloise d'Argenteuil, who had a sad love affair with the 12th Century religious philosopher Pierre Abelard. As well as looking mind- boggling gorgeous in a green silk dress, Mandy made a generous speech in which she said how inspiring it was going to be to be able to walk in the footsteps of the greatest New Zealand writers who have been there before her and to have the time and the freedom to work away from her usual commitments. She ended by saying how wonderful it had been to be able to say to her husband, Brian, ‘Darling – come with me to the French Riviera!’
I took this photo of Mandy in The Children’s Bookshop Kilbirnie last year. She is talking to Ruth MacIntyre and in the background are David Hair (back only!) Geoff Palmer and Fleur Beale.