‘Behind every situation recounted in this collection there is a story of vulnerability, and a quest for grace. Some find it only to lose it again, but there is always great courage in their pursuit.’ Sian Prior, author of Shy: a memoir.
This anthology edited by Estelle Tang is a collection of stories submitted to the annual Margaret River Short Story Competition. The competition continues to attract both emerging and established short story writers, some of which have won local, national and international awards or have been published in The Best Australian Stories, and in journals such as Overland, Southerly, Island and Griffith Review.
We live in the world. But how that world manifests for each of us is different—utterly dependent on circumstances. The people we are born to know and the places we are born to see fix us in their sights, and that’s it. That’s where our stories come from. The stories here are all charged with a human affinity that reaches through the page.
Of these worlds, we might note how geography shapes them, and so heed the callous colonialism of mid twentieth-century Sri Lanka, as seen in Michelle Wright’s ‘To Call Things by Their Right Name’, or note the different kinds of mystery Australian visitors to Laos might find, as Beverley Lello evokes in ‘Scenes from a Disappearance’. Other stories are circumscribed by the strictures and saving graces of family, which can create such specific, affecting universes. Take the child narrator of Rosemary Allen’s ‘What Has to Be Done’, whose observations unwittingly create rents in the fabric of her familial life. And while the bizarre behaviour of a lost man in Susan McCreery’s ‘The Uninvited’ alienates and frightens us, his understanding of parenthood humanises him once more.
We’re guided to still smaller spheres elsewhere in the collection: think of the atmosphere that produces its own pull between two people in conversation, as in Jeannie Haughton’s ‘Weight-Bearing Exercise’, or a girl communing with such an elemental force as the weather, which we witness in Cassie Hamer’s ‘Glory Season’.
We awarded first prize to Melanie Napthine’s ‘Lost Boy’ and second prize went to Eva Lomski’s story, ‘The Trapper’. Claire Aman’s ‘Ash Miss’ and Magdalena McGuire’s ‘Mojitos in Tehran’ were both highly commended, and the Southwest prize went to Carol McDowall for ‘Bringing Home the Ashes’.
We received 323 entries this year, a record number since the start of the competition. We thank all those who supported the competition and encourage all of you to continue writing. We were particularly delighted to receive twenty-six entries from the Southwest.
Estelle Tang (Ed.) is a literary scout and a staff writer for Rookie, Tavi Gevinson's website for teenage girls. Her writing has been published in The Guardian, The Age, The Australian, Salon, Pitchfork, The Monthly and several other publications. She is a program advisor for the Melbourne Writers Festival and has formerly been online editor at Kill Your Darlings and board member of the Small Press Network.
Rosemary Allan lives on the Sunshine Coast, where she runs a writing consultancy service, Writing from the Heart. Her two books of imaginative non-fiction, Out of this Whirlwind (Heinemann) and Spirit of Noosa (Spectrum Publications), use both word and photographic image. Her short stories and poetry have won literary awards and are published in Australia and America.
Claire Aman lives in Grafton, NSW. Her fiction has appeared in The Trouble With Flying and Other Stories, New Australian Stories, Best Australian Stories 2008 and 2014, Cracking the Spine, Escape, Southerly, Island, Heat, Australian Book Review and Griffith Review, and read on ABC Radio.
Julie Davis honed her writing skills in letters home from boarding school, then more letters and journals while living and travelling overseas. After several creative and travel writing courses her stories and poems have been shortlisted or placed in regional competitions. Julie seeks inspiration in her Illawarra community and in constant reading.
Jane Downing’s short stories and poetry have been published widely over the years in journals including Southerly, Westerly, Regime, The Big Issue, Verandah, Wet Ink, fourW, Overland and Best Australian Poems. She has a Doctor of Creative Arts degree from UTS.
David Halliday is Melbourne-based author of the non-fiction history The Bloody History of the Croissant. His short stories have appeared here and there in Australia and the UK. In addition to receiving awards for screenwriting, his novella Heaven Opens was shortlisted for the Busybird Great Novella Search. His feature articles have appeared in GQ and Huffington Post.
Cassie Hamer has a background in TV journalism and public relations but these days prefers to write fiction rather than fact. She lives in Sydney with her young family and tends to write a lot of stories in her head while walking around Centennial Park. Occasionally, she writes them down. In 2015, she launched a blog about books and writing at BookBirdy.com.
Jeannie Haughton is a freelance writer with both short stories and features published in anthologies and lifestyle magazines. A playwright-producer of community and socially relevant theatre projects, Jeannie is also co-founder of Off The Leash Theatre; works include: "Wild Dogs", "Salute The Man", "Quilting The Armour" (Haughton/Johns) and "About The Flowers".
Louise Hodge taught Literature, English and Drama before retiring to the little town of Balingup. She is a member of a local writing group and in the past published short stories and novellas for young people with Nelson Australia.
Glen Hunting’s short fiction has previously appeared in The Trouble With Flying and Other Stories, The Kid on the Karaoke Stage and Other Stories, and in Dotdotdash journal. He also received a commendation in the 2013 Katharine Susannah Prichard Speculative Fiction Award. He lives and writes in Perth, Western Australia.
Ali Jarvey is a PhD writing candidate at Edith Cowan University, Bunbury. Being the youngest of four girls—bless her poor dad—her fiction often focuses on family and the sense of homecoming experienced when reconnecting with childhood places and memories. She is working on her first novel, but will never be able to resist writing short stories.
Erin Courtney Kelly has been published in Voiceworks, SAND journal and Women of Letters. She is a previous winner of the John Marsden Prize for Short Fiction and was nominated for the Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Prize. She is currently working on her first novel.
Beverley Lello is a writer who lives in North East Victoria. She has won several awards for her fiction and been published in Country Style Magazine, page seventeen, fourW, Award Winning Australian Writing 2012, 2013 and 2014 and anthologies published by Stringybark Publishing and Margaret River Press.
Eva Lomski’s stories have appeared in Best Australian Stories, Sleepers Almanac, Kill Your Darlings, Griffith Review and Cleaver. She has won Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Award. She placed third in the 33rd Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition and is a past recipient of the Grace Marion Wilson Fiction Mentorship.
Alison Martin is a writer and photographer. She has worked in human rights advocacy, policy and campaigns, in climate change communications and as a political adviser, speechwriter and media strategist. She has written for The Guardian, New Matilda and SBS World News. She Tweets at: @ali_m_martin
Susan McCreery is a short fiction writer, poet and proofreader from Thirroul, NSW. In 2014 she won two microfiction awards (Peter Cowan 600 Short Story Competition and The Joanne Burns Award), the Bundaberg Writers’ Club Short Story competition, and received an inspiring Varuna fellowship and a wonderful ASA mentorship (and is sometimes incapable of killing adjectives).
Carol McDowall grew up in America and now finds herself based in Bunbury, Western Australia. Carol is an avid reader with a fondness for coming of age novels. She is a member of South Side Quills Writers Group and is currently working on her first novel. You can find her at www.inkstormer.com.
Magdalena McGuire is a writer and researcher who was born in Poland, grew up in Darwin, and now lives in Melbourne with her husband and her collection of vintage dresses. She writes fiction and conducts research into human rights topics, including women’s rights and the rights of people with disabilities.
Catherine Moffat lives on the NSW Central Coast. She’s had short stories published in literary magazines including Australian Book Review and Australian Short Stories, on Radio National, and in a number of anthologies—most recently the speculative fiction anthology Novascapes. She was shortlisted for the Margaret River Short Story prize in 2012.
Iain Murray is a writer from Melbourne, Australia. He has previously had some words that he wrote printed on paper, which gave him a warm fuzzy feeling inside. To read some of these words or for further information please visit www.inmurray.com or connect via twitter (@IN_Murray).
Melanie Napthine is a Melbourne-based writer with a particular fondness for the short story form, though she also currently has a couple of novels on the go. She works in educational publishing, and any time left over is spent reading, running, travelling and parenting (not necessarily in that order).
Su-May Tan is an advertising copywriter who tries to write between kids, work and life. Originally from Malaysia, she has been published in the Silverfish New Writing 6 anthology and Tincture Journal 2014. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and two kids.
Leslie Thiele lives in Capel, Western Australia, with her partner and two (mostly) grown children. She attends Edith Cowan University’s Bunbury campus, where she is studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature and writing with people who love words as much as she does.
Paige Townsend is a creative writing undergraduate at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. She won the Griffith School of Humanities writing prize and has attended two Griffith writing retreats, where she received one-on-one workshops with authors MJ Hyland and Frank Moorhouse. This is her first publication.
Michelle Wright’s short stories and flash fiction have won the Age, Alan Marshall, Grace Marion Wilson and Orlando Short Story Awards, and come second in the Bridport Prize and Overland VU Prize. She was the 2013 Writers Victoria Templeberg Fellow and will be a 2015 Laughing Waters Artist in Residence.
*‘Behind every situation recounted in this collection there is a story of vulnerability, and a quest for grace. Some find it only to lose it again, but there is always great courage in their pursuit.’* Sian Prior, author of Shy: a memoir.