Gina Cole: 2022 Australian Residency Exchange – to Varuna

Gina Cole: 2022 Australian Residency Exchange – to Varuna

Gina Cole: 2022 Australian Residency Exchange – to Varuna 1708 1707 Michael King Writers Centre

Gina is of Fijian, Scottish and Welsh descent. She is a freelance writer and lives in Tāmaki Makaurau. Her collection Black Ice Matter won the Hubert Church Prize for Best First Book Fiction at the 2017 Ockham Book Awards. Her work has been widely anthologised and published in literary journals. She was the inaugural Pasifika curator at the Auckland Writers Festival in 2021. She is a qualified lawyer. She holds a PhD in creative writing from Massey University and is an Honorary Fellow in Writing at the University of Iowa. Her second book Na Viro is a science fiction fantasy novel and a work of Pasifikafuturism – this is due to be launched in June/July 2022.

Gina says: “The project I will work on at Varuna is my third book, a novel titled Turukawa Star. This work builds on my first two books; Black Ice Matter and Na Viro.

My new work, Turukawa Star, will be the second book in The Turukawa Trilogy. The novel features a young woman named Turukawa Star who is of Fijian and Tongan descent, born and raised in Aotearoa. She is a scientist grappling with her part in a battle between the academy and the government over the use of her creation of transhuman artificial intelligence (“Bot AI”). The Bots are the subject of acrimonious societal and political debate over exploitation and extraction of resources from other planets.

The novel is a thought experiment that centres Indigenous Pasifika peoples and Indigenous oceanic concepts of the future, weaving in traditional knowledge and culture with futuristic ideas and settings. Indigenous Pasifika concepts and values inform my perspective in imagining new futures, including concepts such as the vā, talanoa, wayfinding navigation, and our central relationship with the Pacific Ocean.

What I hope to achieve at Varuna is to take advantage of peaceful and beautiful surroundings to inspire me and to use the gift of time and solitude to work on my draft of Turukawa Star. I find it important to change up my surroundings during the creation of a long form project so that I can concentrate on craft and inject fresh momentum into my writing.