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Writer benefits from award

LInda Bennett wins writing mentorship
Linda Bennett, winner of one of two NZSA/Hachette mentorship awards this year describes her novel as both ‘women’s fiction’ and ‘climate change fiction’.

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Linda reveals more about her novel, 'A Hole in the World', the writing challenges it poses and how she got to this stage.

Congratulations on your NZSA/Hachette mentorship! What prompted you to apply for it and what does it mean for you to get it?
Winning one of the two mentorships was a terrific boost and encouragement for me as an unpublished writer. Applying for it was a no-brainer—who wouldn’t want to have editorial support going into a second draft of a novel?

Can you tell us about your novel and the particular challenges for writing it?
The protagonist is a woman in her mid-twenties and the novel focuses on relationship and family issues, set against the backdrop of NZ in the throes of extreme climate change. It deals with grief, loss, guilt, shame and love—all the usual suspects!  One of the challenges I faced related to it being set decades in the future and deciding what things might look like at that time in terms of society, technology, communications, transport etc.

What stage is the mentorship at?
I sent the manuscript off to the editor at Hachette early in February and have recently had an email back looking at general structural and narrative issues. I’m now doing the thinking work around that.

What do you see as the benefits of doing a writing course (I think you’re also a graduate of the IIML’s Master’s programme)?
The greatest benefit of doing a writing course is building relationships and friendships with other writers. You get to spend hours hanging out with people who think that reading and writing are fun and necessary things to do. Yes, I earned an MA through Victoria in 2013—that was another wonderful year spent reading, writing and workshopping fiction projects with other writers.

What are the key things you learnt on the Whitireia novel writing course?
Mandy’s course contributed an enormous amount to my technical writing skills. I also learnt to let go and ‘just write’ in the interests of getting a full first draft out by mid-September. As a procrastinator and a perfectionist, this meant accepting getting the first draft of the story on the page was more important than having it all perfect from the get-go, which is of course an impossibility.

Are you involved in other writing projects?
Yes. I have another novel in development and I’ll be working on that in between working on the novel with Hachette.

What are your hopes for writing in the future?
I hope to build up a body of work that not only entertains, but also addresses some of the issues of our times. Climate change is a biggie but there are also other issues that are important to me. I’m not a card-carrying activist but I can write, so that’s my way of contributing to the greater good!

Written by

Whitireia Creative Writing Programme

30 Mar 2017

Interests Become part of New Zealand's writing landscape. Write part-time, full-time, online, on-campus, for personal goals, publication, degree or diploma. We are based in Dixon St, Wellington.