Return of the Surrey Hotel Writers Residence


Reading room

New Zealand Literature’s Coolest Prize

Calling all writers who want the rare chance to sit down in privacy and comfort to work on their latest masterpiece. Applications are open today, now, this second, for the prestigious 2022 Surrey Hotel-Newsroom writers’ residency – with the added bonus of good money and a good roast.

The first place winner will receive a week’s free accommodation at the singular Surrey Hotel in Gray Lynn, Auckland, complete with cooked breakfasts and Surrey’s famous Sunday roast. Vegetarians can opt for extra carrots I guess. They will also receive $3,000 from the selfless pockets of one of New Zealand’s greatest living painters, Dick Frizzell. He decided to sponsor the award just because he’s a good guy.

There are two finalists. Second place will receive five nights accommodation in Surrey and $1,000; third place will receive three or four nights of accommodation and $500. Some of that money will come from another set of altruistic pockets: Sir Bob Harvey, one of New Zealand’s greatest living legends.

The Surrey Hotel is widely regarded as the most groovy writers’ residence in New Zealand arts and letters. There are old-fashioned Tudor styles and the pool has to be seen to be believed. The residence offers winners the comfort, glamor and honor of staying in distinctly eerie and certainly very striking Surrey to work on any literary project close to their hearts (with caveats, below).

Nominations for the Surrey Hotel Writer’s Residency Award 2022 in association with Newsroom close very soon. The cut-off time is midnight, Saturday, July 30.

Email me at [email protected] with the subject line in screaming capitals THE SURREY HOTEL WRITERS’ RESIDENCE IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE EDITORIAL ROOM. Send a brief cover letter outlining the project you have in mind, and it wouldn’t hurt to attach a few pages of work in progress. Established authors and complete dummies will be evaluated on merit as long as they have something published somewhere. Novelists, novelists, poets, memoirists, biographers… This is reserved for authors of books and books reserved for adults; no screenwriters, no playwrights, no comic book illustrators, no AAs or children’s authors. This is a book written for adults.

The winners must take up residence before December 1st. Covid could always come back and mess things up. Shame. The prize money will only be collected when the winners actually arrive at the Surrey Hotel.

A shortlist for the 2022 prize will be released around Wednesday August 10 and the winners will be announced a day or two later, live on Radio New Zealand by good old Jesse Mulligan, a longtime supporter of the Surrey residency.

Last year’s winners were Talia Marshall (first), Kōtuku Titihuia Nuttall (runner-up), Kiran Dass and fake baby author Amy McDaid (shared third place). I asked Amy what it was like staying and writing in Surrey for three nights to work on her second novel, and she replied, “My spacious bedroom with its old oak desk, plush carpeting and hardwood dark, felt like a writer and looked like the kind of place where masterpieces are produced. My bed was comfortable, the breakfast was nourishing. I felt at home in the quirky Tudor decor. Did anyone mention the heated pool, framed by a mural of boats sailing the Waitematā?

“Surrey Hotel Residence has been a wonderful opportunity to hide away, free from the demands of a child and a messy kitchen, and do what I love most: write, worry, delete and write even more. I completed my first draft of novel two in Surrey, so it will always hold a special place in my heart.”

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