If you’re looking at the heading of this post and wondering what the heck, these things have a place in a new story of mine that has just been published in Review of Australian Fiction.
RAF is a fabulous online publication dedicated to short works of fiction. It publishes two stories every two weeks, delivered in mobi (for Kindle) or ePub (for iPhone/iPad, Kobo, Nook, Readmill) format, and each issue pairs an established writer with an emerging writer.
The six-issue volume that has just begun is a special one featuring Western Australian writers—an innovative and generous gesture of support by the editors following the announcement a few months ago that funding for the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards would, in effect, be halved. Commissioning editor for the volume is Laurie Steed, whose own stories have been widely published in literary journals and anthologies; his is one of the first names that would come to mind if I were asked to name notable contemporary Australian short story writers.
The Western Australian lineup is a stellar list and I’m proud to be part of it: Kim Scott, Brenda Walker, David Whish-Wilson, Susan Midalia, Natasha Lester, Nicole Sinclair, Josephine Clarke, Maria Papas, Liz Hayden, Yvette Walker and Sam Carmody.
The first issue, just out, features my story alongside Nicole Sinclair’s ‘All That’s Gone Before’, set in Papua New Guinea and vibrant with ‘brightly torn strips of fabric’, the juice of betelnut and the sound of voices in Pidgin, as young Australian teacher Beth takes up her new job at Saint Mary’s Catholic School.
I’m delighted to be sharing the issue with Nicole, an emerging writer based in Western Australia’s South West whose unpublished novel was recently shortlisted for the 2015 T.A.G. Hungerford Award. I first met Nicole when she interviewed me at the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival in 2012, but I knew of her writing before then through having judged the Down South Writers Competition the year before and awarding her outstanding story first prize.
And so back to my story in RAF… It’s called ‘Pearls’ and its cast of characters includes a little girl called Ursula, a 1970s wannabe-rock-star called Bean, and a nightmare grandmother who is the antithesis of Elemental’s Grunnie Meggie. Here is Granny’s opening line:
We belong together, you know, she says, here in this house. Your mother, me you—all knotted onto the same silken thread. Three pearls.
Individual issues of RAF are $2.99. A subscription for six issues is $12.99—per issue, less than half the cost of a cup of Perth coffee. In other words, it’s pretty good value!