Kirsten is our 15th writer-in-residence for the year and is the author of two books of fiction, Tess (2017) and The Invisible Rider (2012). In 2018 Tess was long listed for the Ockham NZ Book Awards and shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Awards. Kirsten is from Wellington, where she lives with her family.
During her residency Kirsten hopes to achieve some concentrated time working on the manuscript for her third novel and has this to say about her project;
‘I’ve spent my very precious time here working on a large cast novel set at Castlepoint in the Wairarapa at the end of 1935. 1935 was the end of the Great Depression in Aotearoa and the country was in a mess, people were broken. It’s a period of time that’s always interested me, because that first Labour government came to power and introduced a raft of welfare measures — state housing, 40 hour working week, unionism — that was to build some equality into our country in the hope that the deprivations suffered in the Depression wouldn’t repeat. History tells a different story! Castlepoint’s a place I’ve been to most years since I was a teenager. I love it there and have long thought its extraordinary landscape a good setting for a novel.
My novel opens with a body hanging in a stand of pines. The first part of the novel, which is what I’m using my time to work on, follows the cast of characters around, as they prepare to gather for a large meal at the Castlepoint Station to welcome one of the lighthouse keeper’s nephews. Every one of them is running late, for different reasons. Finally they gather at the station and the dinner is interrupted by the news that a man has been found dead, hanging in a tree.
The incredible generosity of the Michael King Writers Centre has given me space to reconnect with the love I have for writing fiction. In the past few years children and work have taken me away from my practice. Having this quiet studio on the hill, all to myself, it’s been a gift’.