A murder mystery novel and a series of prose poems for Grimshaw Sargeson’s 2021 Fellowship

Novelist Chloe Lane and multi-award-winning writer and editor Lee Murray have been announced as Grimshaw Sargeson Fellows for 2021.

Lane will take on the fellowship first, starting in April 2020. Writing was not Lane’s first career choice, but quickly emerged as her leading creative talent while studying fine arts.  

“I started writing when I was an undergraduate student at Elam. Initially I wrote about my art and things I saw in galleries and soon realised this received more interest from my teachers and peers than any of the art I produced. I think that was when I decided maybe I’d chosen the wrong instrument,” says Lane.

Her fellowship project is a novel set in New Zealand and Florida that explores motherhood and marriage in the shadow of a small-town murder. The main tension comes from the narrator's relationship with her husband, and how it has changed since the arrival of the couple's young son.

“The Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship has a brilliant reputation, having already supported some excellent New Zealand writers, so naturally it was on my radar. During the fellowship I will continue to work on my second novel. I am currently just past the midway point with a first draft, and my plan is to get it to the finish line by the end of the fellowship,” continued Lane. 

The second Fellow, Lee Murray, is a multi-award-winning writer and editor of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, with many international titles for adults and children. She is New Zealand's most awarded writer in these genres. 

“I cried when I received the news. Just the thought of being counted among the award recipients, a who’s who of New Zealand literature, is a dream for any Kiwi writer. The Fellowship is such a wonderful opportunity. It will allow me some time to focus solely on my poetry collection, and without distractions,” says Murray. 

For her fellowship project Murray will draw on her experience growing up as a third-generation Chinese New Zealander to research and write a series of prose poems based on real life narratives which explore Chinese women's diaspora in a New Zealand setting, including some of her own family stories. The working title is Fox Spirit On A Distant Cloud. She will look at the sense of otherness and alienation experienced by Chinese women since Chinese immigrants first came to this country.

Sargeson Trust Chair Dr Elizabeth Aitken-Rose says there was a very good field of applicants this year and the demand proves how valuable this Fellowship is.

“The Sargeson Trust is delighted to have Chloe and Lee for the 2021 Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship. The quality of applications was excellent, and the strong interest reflects the value the Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship offers writers, to have the time and space to develop their work.” 

This distinguished literary fellowship allows the pair to share an annual stipend of $20,000 and a four-month tenure each at the Sargeson Centre in Auckland. Lane will take up the first four months of the Fellowship, beginning in April, and Murray will begin her stint in August.