A Tauranga writer and art historian has been awarded a prestigious writer's residency for 2020 at the Michael King Writers Centre in Auckland.
Penelope Jackson, a former Tauranga Art Gallery director and curator, said she was "absolutely blown away" when she heard she had been awarded the residency.
"I know how many people apply for the Michael King [residency] ... it's a fabulous opportunity. I was absolutely stunned," she said.
The winners of the residencies, which are sponsored by Creative New Zealand, stay for up to a month at Signalman's House on Mt Victoria in Devonport, Auckland. The University of Auckland also sponsors several residencies, which include a dedicated space to work in near the university library.
Jackson said while she has been writing for a long time, starting with writing catalogues for the Tauranga Art Gallery and articles for academic journals, she has only written two books so far.
Jackson's first book - Art Thieves, Fakers and Fraudsters: The New Zealand Story - was released in 2016 and the second, Females in the Frame: Women, Art, and Crime, was published earlier this year.
While at the residency, she will be working on her third non-fiction art book.
However, it may not focus on art crime, which is her main area of research, Jackson said.
"This one will have New Zealand content, as well as international content ... having the residency means you get access to archives at the university library," she said.
She said while planning a book; she writes everything by hand, which makes it easier for her to get straight into writing the book instead of worrying about getting the formatting right on a computer.
She said she was most looking forward to having a complete break from the world and fully dedicating her time to writing her book.
"It's dedicated time to concentrate on a project, which feels like an absolute luxury," Jackson said.
"I guess I really haven't had that before, I've always had other projects on the go ... having the residency, that's all you focus on - research and writing."
She said she aimed to maximise her time in Auckland and get the most out of access to the university library.
"Being an independent researcher, being here in Tauranga, I don't have access to the resources that you do in a major city," Jackson said.
"It's hard being a writer in New Zealand ... the Michael King residency, in terms of what they offer, is amazing. They cater really well across the board."
This year there were a record-breaking 125 applicants for the residency programme, a 40 per cent increase on applications from 2018.
Michael King Writers Centre Trust chairwoman Melanie Laville-Moore said the lift in numbers validated previous decisions to extend the number of shorter residencies.
Equally pleasing was the quality of the applications, Laville-Moore said.
"There is no doubt that 2020 will be an exciting and seminal year at Signalman's House."
She said when the panel looked at applications, they were looking at two main qualities: the writer's track record, and the potential of their project to be successful.
Dr Paula Morris, a former trustee of the Michael King Writers Centre who teaches creative writing at the University of Auckland, was on the panel that awarded the residencies.
She said Jackson's application stood out from the "dozens" who applied because of her skill as a writer.
She also said that as an art historian, it would be good for students at the university to have Jackson on campus for five or six weeks.
The other University of Auckland/Michael King Writers Centre residencies were awarded to Pip Adam, who won the top prize at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards in 2018, Whakatāne playwright Albert Belz, and Wellington author Tom Doig.
Other Bay of Plenty recipients included Joshua Pomare from Rotorua.