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McCallum, Mary
Writer's File

Mary McCallum

Wellington - Te Whanganui-a-Tara
McCallum, Mary
In brief
Mary McCallum is a fiction writer. She has worked as a freelance feature writer, book reviewer, broadcast journalist and television presenter. Her award-winning novel, The Blue, was published in 2007, reprinted twice in 2008 and translated into Hebrew in 2009. The Blue won the New Zealand Society of Authors Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction, and the Readers' Choice Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards. She has won and been nominated for key awards and bursaries, and has published fiction and poetry in literary journals.
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McCALLUM, Mary (1961 - ) was born in Lusaka, Zambia, and arrived in New Zealand at the age of four. She attended schools in Wellington and the UK, and went to Wellington Girls’ College. She has a BA in English Literature and Political Science from Victoria University of Wellington (1979-81) where she studied poetry in Bill Manhire's Original Composition course, and later completed her MA in Creative Writing (Distinction) in 2005, studying fiction.

McCallum has had a short story published in the journal Turbine 2008. In 1979, she received the PEN Young Writer of the Year Award, in addition to having her work was commended in the Denis Glover Awards. She has also had poetry published in Landfall 133 (1980).

As a freelance feature writer, McCallum has written articles for the NZ Listener, the Dominion Post, The Press, New Novel Review and Seafood NZ magazine. She has been a book reviewer for Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon programme since 2002, and for TVNZ's Good Morning show in 2007. She has also worked as a news and current affairs journalist in New Zealand and Europe, and as the presenter for the television arts show The Edge (1994-5).

She has also received the 2003/2004 Lilian Ida Smith Award, and was the recipient of the 2007 Louis Johnson Writer's Bursary, awarded to help her develop her second novel, Precarious.

Eastbourne: 100 years was published in 2006, which included one of McCallum's essays.

Her award-winning novel, The Blue, was published in 2007, and reprinted in 2008. The Blue has received attention and critical praise from readers and critics alike. The novel received two awards at the 2008 Montana New Zealand Book Awards: the New Zealand Society of Authors Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction, and the Readers' Choice Award. In 2008, she was also short-listed for the Prize in Modern Letters.

The Montana New Zealand Book Award judges write, ‘we rarely find a first-time novelist who can write with such precision, maturity and real emotional insight.' Nicola Smith writes that McCallum moves ‘seamlessly between past and present,’ and she goes on to say, ‘The freshness of her prose is remarkable, with descriptions so vivid you can almost taste the salt spray and smell the pine needles underfoot. Her portrayal of the 1930s man is particularly subtle and insightful.’(The Press, 28 July 2007)

Since 2008, Mary has taught creative writing at Massey University, and worked as a private tutor and manuscript assessor. She has also worked as a part-time bookseller since 2004.

Her children's novel, Dappled Annie and the Tigrish, illustrated by Annie Hayward, was published in 2014 by Gecko Press.

She lives in Eastbourne.


McCallum, Mary
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