International Writers' Workshop NZ International Writers' Workshop NZ Inc

Auckland, New Zealand

Gay Johnson

I returned to New Zealand in 2001 after many years living in Ireland, and joined IWW in 2005 and since then have found it an inspiring group to belong to, not only because it gives aspiring writers a platform on which to display their talents, but also because the group is made up of interesting men and women who have become friends as well as critics.

I have been writing short stories for about ten years. In that time I've entered quite a few competitions both internationally and locally with some success, although the big one still eludes me!

Having had some successes in IWW competitions I've been inspired to enter others.

In 2005 I was commended for my entry in the Kathleen Mansfied Short Story Competition and took second place in the Bill Naughton competition (Ireland). In 2010 I was highly commended in both the Western Writers competition and the South Canterbury Writers Guild and longlisted in the South Island Writers Association competition.

Some of my stories have been published – 'There's No Place' in the collection Home, and 'Panther' in Best New Zealand Fiction 6. I've also had a story published in online magazine Quality Womens' Fiction, and of course, my story Beyond the Persimmon Tree lent its name to the IWW 2011 anthology, which was an honour!

I've also had several articles published, in the Irish Independent newspaper, and NEXT mgazine. The one that makes me most proud is 'The Hangman's Kiss' which told the story of my mother's encounter with Pierrepoint, the British hangman which appeared in the Independent at Christmas 2009.

I really love writing and wonder why it took me so long to get started. Like everyone else, I hope one day to complete a novel. I just need a really, really good idea!


Sample Writing

The Hangman's Kiss
Cat's Cradle

The Hangman’s Kiss

    Everyone’s life is full of stories. Stories of coincidences. Stories that are bizarre, or sad or funny. This story is a true one. It happened to my mother, so in a sense it’s stolen.

    My mother, Lizzie, grew up in Dun Laoghaire, a small town south of Dublin most notable for its two long piers which embrace the harbour like a pair of loving arms. Lizzie was the second daughter of the Church of Ireland clergyman in the town. I never really knew my grandfather but he was by all accounts a liberal man, ahead of the times in many respects, particularly in the way in which he brought up his two daughters; they were the first girls in the town to wear shorts, to the chagrin of several of the more stuffy of his parishioners.

    When the Second World War began ... Read more

Cat's Cradle

Why are you sleeping on his chair?

    You didn’t even like him! That’s why it’s so odd, because I know you disliked him as much as he disliked you. In fact, he wouldn’t allow you into his room, even when you were housetrained, and after your first attempt when you crept in and he shooed you out, you never tried again. And now here you are, not only going into his study but curling up in his precious recliner as if you owned the place. Sometimes you look at me with those knowing yellow eyes of yours and it’s almost as though you are telling me that you’re glad how things have turned out.

    Remember that first day when I brought you home? You’d suddenly appeared in the café and made a beeline for me, attaching yourself to me, rubbing against my ankles, staring at me with your strange golden eyes until I lifted you onto my lap where you dug your claws into my clothes. The lady who made the coffee had shrugged in displeasure.

    ‘Damn thing keeps coming in here,’ she said. ‘I’ll have to get the SPCA to take it away, unless ... Read more