McCauley, Sue

McCauley, Sue

Information

residence
Hawke's Bay

In Brief

Sue McCauley is a fiction writer, a journalist and a scriptwriter. Her first novel Other Halves (1982) won both the Wattie Book of the Year Award and the New Zealand Book Award for Fiction. McCauley has had two plays performed, Waiting for Heathcliff (1988) and Hitting Fifty (2002). She was also writer-in-residence at the Universities of Auckland (1986) and Canterbury (1993). Sue McCauley was awarded the Foxton Fellowship in 2005.

FROM THE OXFORD COMPANION TO NEW ZEALAND LITERATURE

McCauley, Sue (1941 –), fiction writer, scriptwriter and journalist, was born in Dannevirke, grew up on a farm in rural southern Hawke's Bay and was a boarder at Nelson GC.

She worked as a copywriter and journalist in Napier, Wellington, New Plymouth and Christchurch, beginning her writing career with radio and TV plays and short stories in the 1970s.

Her first novel Other Halves (1982) won both the Wattie Book of the Year Award and the New Zealand Book Award for Fiction. An autobiographically based account of a relationship between a separated Pākehā mother and a much younger Māori man, it explored ethnic, gender, age and class differences. It has been frequently reprinted, selling more than 20,000 copies, and was made into a feature film.


Her second novel, Then Again (1986), is set on an offshore subtropical island and deals with the increasingly intertwined lives of several residents.

Bad Music (1990) focuses on the relationships between an ageing rock musician, a young woman half his age and the girl’s mother.

A Fancy Man (1996) also involves an apparent mismatch between an older man and a much younger woman.

McCauley’s novels are characterised by a mix of humour, realism and compassion, with strong sympathy for the underdog. She has also written many scripts for film, television and radio and has published numerous short stories. She has worked as a teacher of scriptwriting and fiction and as a judge of story competitions.

She edited (with Richard McLachlan) Erotic Writing (1992), and wrote the text of Escape from Bosnia: Aza’s Story (1996), the narrative being worked up from recorded interviews.

She was writer-in-residence at the universities of Auckland (1986) and Canterbury (1993). After living in various parts of the North Island 1970s–80s she moved with her husband to Christchurch in 1990.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

In 1982, Sue McCauley was awarded first place for Other Halves at the Goodman Fielder Wattie Book Awards. The following year, she received the New Zealand Book Award for Fiction for the same work.

McCauley's titles shortlisted for major awards include: Then Again in the 1987 Watties Book Awards, Escape to Bosnia in the 1997 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and It Could be You (1997) in the 1998 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. She also received the Mobil Radio Award for drama (1982) and was a finalist in the NZ Writers' Guild Best Screenplay Award (1993). She was awarded the Queen's Service Medal in 1986.

Sue McCauley was the 1993 Canterbury University Writer in Residence. The residency is designed to foster New Zealand writing by providing a full-time opportunity for a writer to work in an academic environment, and is open to writers in the fields of creative writing: fiction, drama, and poetry.

McCauley has had two plays performed at Christchurch's Court Theatre: Waiting for Heathcliff (1988) and Hitting Fifty (2002).

In 2002 McCauley edited Totally Devoted: New Zealanders Share their Love Stories, a collection of real-life stories written by New Zealanders, and the following year she edited the Whitirea Writing Programme's anniversary collection to mark their tenth year - A Magpie Stole My Heart.

Her second short story collection, Life on Earth was published in 2003. Her short stories and non-fiction have appeared in numerous anthologies; most recently The Best of New Zealand Fiction: Volumes Three and Four (Vintage, 2006).

McCauley moved back to the Southern Hawkes Bay and the farm where she grew up in 2004. She was awarded the Foxton Fellowship in 2005.

MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS

Sue McCauley's bibliography in the Auckland University Library's New Zealand Literature File.

Updated January 2017.