Last summer (2016), I was staying in an Airbnb in Devonport and a friend drove me to the top of Mount Victoria to see the view. On our way up I noticed a beautiful house on the left and so on the way down we stopped to read the information in the driveway. I realised it was a writing centre and as a screenwriter based in Austin, Texas I decided to Google it and see what the place was about.
As soon as I found out they had spaces available for international writers I knew I had to apply. For the past 20 years I’ve worked as a writer/producer in the movie business, working on both big Hollywood studio movies as well as small independent films set in the American Southwest. I’ve had an idea for a psychological thriller set on a remote beach and having spent time in New Zealand earlier in 2016, I was convinced it would be the perfect place to set this project.
When Tania asked me when I would want to attend I knew that my summer, New Zealand winter, would be the best time so I made arrangements to come back in June-July.
Since I’ve been here, I’ve been able to do a complete outline of the story and have every confidence that I will be able to complete a rough draft of the entire script before I leave. It’s been an absolute joy to be here, Tania and Jan have been wonderfully supportive. And the house itself is just gorgeous; I love to sit on the front porch overlooking the harbour and do some writing in the early morning. I’m sure the many locals and tourists who walk up and down the road are curious about the wild haired crazy woman sitting in a long puffy coat in the plastic chair, typing away furiously. But I just wave to everyone and they all wave back.
I’ve also been incredibly lucky to share the house with two amazing writers, Frankie McMillan and Whiti Hereaka. Overall it’s been an amazing experience and I am incredibly grateful to the Michael King Writers Centre for the opportunity.