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Julie Helean wins Katherine Mansfield Award

Wed 19 Sep 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

  Julie Helean Auckland author Julie Helean has won the Katherine Mansfield Award, with a story about a child’s struggle to meet an expectation she is not sufficiently grown up for. Misjudged is based on Helean’s own childhood experiences, working after school in her father’s shop. Her father was a tailor and kilt maker in Dunedin and taught her about being a craftsperson. The tale beat over 550 other entries to take the top honours. Helean last year released a first novel, The Open Accounts of an Honesty Box, which reviewed here and found to be the “New Zealand lesbian must-read of the year”. A health planner by day for the Auckland District Health Board, she has been writing for a number of years but it was her Masters in Creative Writing from Auckland University, and her mentor Witi Ihimaera, that really gave her the springboard to launch into serious writing. “I always loved writing, especially bringing the imaginary world to life,” she says. In her job with the ADHB, she is immersed in writing though she describes this as deeply bureaucratic. “I write reports, strategy and planning documents by day and by night I flip into creative overdrive,” she explains. And, while the two disciplines are very different, they do complement each other. Helean says just being used to writing all day, every day is a big help. “There’s some dexterity needed to get large documents through to completion. You need a certain fluidity in writing, perseverance and staying relaxed around chaos.” Helean says the $10,000 prize is an enormous help, as every bit of extra cash goes towards her creative writing. She has her second novel in development, a costly process for someone who describes herself as a relative beginner. “It’s an expensive process to get a manuscript reviewed by a mentor, assessed and then edited,” she says. The writer has also been published in Landfall magazine and in 2012, received a Highly Commended from the New Zealand Society of Authors in their short story competition.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 19th September 2012 - 7:57am

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