Tag Archives: Laurie Steed

Review of Australian Fiction special WA volume: issue #6

Just out, the final issue in the special WA volume of Review of Australian Fiction, guest edited by Laurie Steed. And what a finale, with tense, intriguing stories from David Whish-Wilson and Sam Carmody.

Established author David Whish-Wilson has published three crime novels, two of which (Line of Sight and Zero at the Bone) are set in 1970s Perth. His next, Old Scores, is forthcoming from Fremantle Press in 2016. He is also the author of Perth, in NewSouth Books’ city series. David coordinates the creative writing program at Curtin University.

David is paired with emerging writer Sam Carmody, whose debut novel, The Windy Season, was shortlisted for the 2014 Vogel Award and will be published by Allen & Unwin in 2016. His short fiction and non-fiction have been published widely, including in Griffith Review and ABC’s The Drum. Sam currently lectures in creative writing at the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Higher Education, Darwin.

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David’s story, ‘Speedboats & Bali’, creates two characters I won’t be forgetting.  The first-person narrator, whose singular character and intentions are revealed gradually through the story, introduces us to the second in this opening paragraph:

Butcher Bowse scratches his scalp through his bucket hat, turning the dial on his portable radio. It’s Nova FM, excruciating, but a small price to pay for Butcher’s landing the contract. It’s a hot summer afternoon, sea breeze knocking about the treetops. Seagulls are flying to coast, gorged on scraps from the nearby rubbish tip, noisy in the sky. Butcher surveys the scene, framing the worksite in his imagination. Perhaps he’s remembering the last time he worked in my elderly neighbour’s garden, building her deck. He built the deck then realised his trailer was parked in the back yard, blocked in. He had to remove a section of our shared fence to get it out. More likely, Butcher doesn’t remember. He wouldn’t be able to rise before dawn every morning if confronted daily with his incompetence.

Sam’s story, ‘Stark’, is at once harsh and tender. We see the fictional west coast town in which the story is set through the eyes of a recent arrival, senior detective Freda Harvey (Fred). The story begins with a murder:

The call came at five in the morning, patched through from Marine Rescue in Geraldton. Fred had been in bed just an hour when her phone rattled the cabinet. She reached for it through the cider bottles and tumblers.

A cray boat had found a body offshore, tied to a marker. The skipper said it looked biblical, the operator told her. A twenty-mile crucifix. They were waiting for a helicopter in Perth to fly out. The boat from Geraldton would take four hours.

She would beat them to it.

Fred threw the phone to the bedsheets and swore her way to the bathroom, peeling off last night’s clothes. Her shirt sweat-fused to the hollow of her back. The seam of her denim jeans twisted around to her shins, gripping as though glued to her.

I have loved reading this volume of RAF, which has showcased the work of some of my favourite WA writers and introduced me to new ones. My thanks to Laurie Steed for inviting me on board, and to the RAF editors for supporting Australian writers in general and, with this volume, twelve from WA.

RAF publishes two stories every two weeks, delivered in mobi (for Kindle) or ePub (for iPhone/iPad, Kobo, Nook, Readmill) format. Individual issues of RAF are $2.99. A subscription for six issues is $12.99.

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Review of Australian Fiction special WA volume: issue #5

The new issue of Review of Australian Fiction has just been published, no. 5 in the special volume showcasing WA writers, edited by Laurie Steed. I’ve just read my subscription copy—with a great deal of pleasure, too, as Natasha and Yvette are members of a much-valued writing group I belong to.

Natasha Lester, with two published novels (What Is Left Over, After, winner of the T.A.G. Hungerford Award; and If I Should Lose You) is the established writer of this pairing. Natasha’s third novel, A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald, is due out in April 2016. Paired with Natasha is Yvette Walker, whose stunning debut novel Letters to the End of Love won the 2014 WA Premier’s Book Award in the WA Emerging Writer category and was shortlisted for a 2014 NSW Premier’s Award (Glenda Adam’s Award for New Writing).

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Natasha’s story, ‘The Maelstrom’, re-creates New York City in the wake of Hurricane Sandy—scenes that resonate with me, as I happened to be there too a few days after Sandy hit. The story begins with a line borrowed from a Joan Didion essay:

She went to New York to stop herself from asking her husband for a divorce. But now she is sitting in a hotel in the East Village in the dark. She cannot turn on the lights because there is no power. She cannot flush the toilet because there is no water. She cannot telephone anyone to tell them she is fine because the phones don’t work. She cannot send an email because every network in the city is down. She is trapped in a speculative kind of fiction with an uncertain ending. Needless to say, this is not what she had in mind when she decided to go.

In Yvette’s story, ‘Brown Paper Parcels’, the protagonist, Kathryn, becomes enmeshed in the world of Forster’s Howards End as she rides the train to Fremantle:

Kathryn stood on the train platform reading Howards End. Margaret Schlegel had intercepted Mrs Wilcox at King’s Cross Station, having decided after all to accept Mrs Wilcox’s invitation to Howards End. Kathryn would have loved to hear the rattle of Pullman carriages, the curse of a surly porter; to watch cigarette smoke curl around the fingers of a young man, ash and lint about his coat. Perhaps all the decades of reading Forster had finally seeped into her blood. The train for Fremantle arrived. Kathryn closed Howards End and stepped into the first carriage.

RAF publishes two stories every two weeks, delivered in mobi (for Kindle) or ePub (for iPhone/iPad, Kobo, Nook, Readmill) format. Individual issues of RAF are $2.99. A subscription for six issues is $12.99.

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Review of Australian Fiction special WA volume: issue 4

Just out, the new issue of of Review of Australian Fiction, no. 4 in the special volume edited by Laurie Steed, featuring writers from Western Australia.

The first of this issue’s two stories is by dual Miles Franklin winner Kim Scott, author of novels That Deadman Dance, Benang and True Country, and chair of the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project. Kim is paired with emerging writer Liz Hayden, currently a PhD creative writing candidate, whose work investigates the life of a Nyoongar woman’s experience living and growing up in a rural town in Western Australia

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Kim Scott’s story, entitled ‘Departure’, introduces a vulnerable teenage girl, Tilly, on her way home from private boarding school to the southern camp that is her home:

Central Bus Station was built upon the principle of a large shed and, except for the large windows on one wall, barely disguised as such. Inside, a vast grey plain of concrete was enlivened not only by the dancing dust motes and large, sparkling rectangles of sunlight on the floor, but also by firmly anchored patterns of bright plastic chairs. A schoolgirl entered the building and, veering widely around the chairs, paused at a vending machine. The machine accepted her money, gave nothing in return.
The woman behind a pane of glass marked Enquiries looked away. She touched her stiff hair, pursed her bright lips and tapped the keyboard before her. The skin at her cheekbones seemed to be flaking away.

Liz Hayden’s ‘Our Warrior, Our Brother’ shows the tragedy of one young man’s death rippling through a family and a community:

Rich is a quiet family man, a country boy who spent most of his life in the country. Going to school, playing with family and friends, growing up, having girlfriends, falling in love with Flo (who he later married) made up the fabric of Richard’s life.
He was a hardworking man, taking on his first job as a thirteen-year-old, helping his dad and brother Olman in the shearing shed. Shearing was a way of life for the family and when shearing season came round, they would follow the contracted shearing sheds from local farmers. On marrying his sweetheart Flo, children came into their lives. Two girls were born to Rich and Flo, and a boy by Traditional Nyoongar Adoption, ie, placing of a baby boy into the arms of a chosen family. In this case, our first cousin placed little Brad into the arms of Rich and his wife, giving up her rights as a mother.

RAF publishes two stories every two weeks, delivered in mobi (for Kindle) or ePub (for iPhone/iPad, Kobo, Nook, Readmill) format. Individual issues of RAF are $2.99. A subscription for six issues is $12.99.

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Review of Australian Fiction special WA volume: issue 3

Here’s issue 3 of the special volume of Review of Australian Fiction, edited by Laurie Steed, that features writers from Western Australia. This issue presents a story by one of Western Australia’s most celebrated novelists, Brenda Walker, paired with emerging writer Maria Papas—and two fascinating, and unsettling, stories they are.

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Brenda Walker’s story, ‘Mouse’, begins with a singular voice that leads us into a small hell:

Inside the building next to the car park there is a flight of stairs that leads to the floor where the mice live. If you want to work with mice you must put on special clothing, heavy white plastic boots, gloves and a mask. You must walk through a sequence of doors, you must not carry bacteria from the outside world with you. This is to protect the mice from contamination. The mice live in translucent boxes. Their eyes are pink bubbles in their short fur.

Maria Papas’s story, ‘Fish’, is characterised with a voice with an almost choral quality. Here is the first, portentous paragraph:

She was interstate when she heard about the dead fish. She was interstate and in her hotel room after a long and inhospitable day when her sister called to say that the twins’ father had brought a dead fish into the house.

RAF publishes two stories every two weeks, delivered in mobi (for Kindle) or ePub (for iPhone/iPad, Kobo, Nook, Readmill) format. Individual issues of RAF are $2.99. A subscription for six issues is $12.99.

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Three pearls, a squirrel and a couple of jam biscuits

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.

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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!

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