Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Flurry of Launches

CSFG members have a veritable outburst of book launches happening in the new couple of weeks:

Felicity Banks’ debut steampunk adventure novel Heart of Brass will launch as part of the Canberra Writers Festival in the Ferguson Room at the National Library on Saturday 27th August at 10 am. (Details here)

Immediately afterwards, Kaaron Warren’s latest novel The Grief Hole will launch at exactly the same location (what are the odds?!): 11:00 am at the Ferguson Room (Details)

And finally for our Melbourne members, Gillian Polack’s latest novel The Wizardy of Jewish Women will launch at Readings in Hawthorn at 6:30 pm on Monday 5th September. (All the details)

We encourage everyone to get out and support our local authors if you can!

Event – An Evening of Awesome – 24 August

CSFG members may be interested in an event next Wednesday:

As part of the Canberra Writers Festival fringe event, ten of Canberra’s best writers – including CSFG alumni Kaaron Warren and Craig Cormick – have come together to showcase the talent we have inside our small, but passionate, territory. Join Canberra’s award-winning authors for a night of readings and celebrations about being a writer in Canberra.

An Evening of Awesome

7:30 – 10:00 pm
Main Hall, Gorman Arts Centre
Ainslie Ave, Braddon

ACT Writers Centre are excited to announce the authors and writers reading at this event include: Craig Cormick, Zoya Patel, Hal Judge, John Clanchy, John Stokes, Kaaron Warren, Melinda Smith, Shu-Ling Chua, Sarah St Vincent Welch and Tony Eaton.

Book early as space is limited.

Late notice for August meeting

For anyone that did not catch the news via social media, be advised that CSFG’s August meeting will be back in the ACT Writers Centre.

7:30 pm Wednesday 17 August 2016
ACT Writers Centre Meeting Room
Gorman House

Author Felicity Banks will be there to talk about writing interactive fiction (and there are unconfirmed reports of cake!)

Member News – July 2016

Lots of exciting activity going on with CSFG members during this winter months. Canberra’s wet and miserable weather seems to be spurring us to great (indoor) efforts!

Sales and Publications

Tim Napper’s story ‘The Great Buddhist Monk Beat Down’ will appear in an upcoming edition of Galaxy’s Edge Magazine.

Tim has also secured the services of a UK literary agent (Piers Blofeld of Sheil Land Associates) to help him sell his debut novel.

Shauna O’Meara’s flash fiction ‘Photo of a Tiger’ is currently appearing in The Worcester Journal.

Shauna also has a military SF novella ‘Hashtage WhiteBitch’ in The Last Outpost anthology from Pushpin Books and the story ‘The Laugh Contagious’ in the anthology Let Us In Volume 1 from Time Alone Press.

Finally in Shauna’s big news month, she was also a finalist in the Arizona State University Climate Fiction Short Story Contest (judged by Kim Stanley Robinson!) with her story ‘On Darwin Tides’.

Gillian Polack’s article on how she constructed the conversation in Langue[dot]doc has been published the most recent edition of postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies.

With the revivication of Satalyte Press, the launch date of Gillian’s next novel The Wizardry of Jewish Women should be rescheduled soon.

(And congratulations to Gillian, of course, for getting through her recent health troubles. We’re all very glad to hear you are on the mend, Gillian!)

Cat Sheely has been leading the charge down at the coast: the Secret Society of Words (SSOW) recently released their NaNo 2015 shared writing project – a novella called Alien Zoo. It is available this month on Smashwords for USD $0.99 for July.


Chris Large’s interviews in Aurealis continue with an excellent two-part interview with Jennifer Fallon in issues 90 and 91. That’s followed in issue 92 by an interview with Tasmanian author Francesca Haig, whose novels The Fire Sermon and The Map of Bones have been purchased by DreamWorks and are in the process of being adapted for film by Nicole Perlman of Guardians of the Galaxy fame.

Chris’ interview with David McDonald about his Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America novels will appear later in the year.

Ian McHugh has interviewed Alan Baxter about the relaunch of his Alex Caine novels, in which they handily propose a new Principle of World Building.

Conventions and Talks

Another reminder, if anyone still needs one, that Alan Baxter will be the Guest of Honour at this year’s Conflux convention (29 September to 2 October in Canberra).

Cat Sparks will be speaking on speculation, science fiction, collective consciousness and environmental narratives of the future, an ‘In Conversation’ with Chris Palmer as part of ANU’s Student Research Conference, 5.30pm, Thursday, 14th July.

Gillian Polack will be presenting the latest in The Write Stuff series of free writing workshops at the Gunghalin Library on the subject of world-building on Wednesday 20 July. Bookings essential as places are limited.

Alan Baxter and Zena Shapter will be appearing on a speculative fiction panel at this year’s BezerkaCon, along with Richard Harland and Keith Stevenson (Sunday 31st July in Croydon, Sydney).


Rob Porteous and Paula Boer will be among the mentors attending The Writers of the Far South Coast retreat in Tathra on the weekend of 5-7 August. A great opportunity to do some writing in a peaceful location and get some one-on-one mentoring as well.

Writing Opportunities

A reminder that the Conflux/CSFG short story contest closes on 31 July. Free entry to CSFG members, and the prize money is Not To Be Sneezed At!

The deadline for Cat Sparks and Liz Grzyb’s Ecopunk anthology has been extended to 31 August.
Cat adds: If you’re not really clear on what we’re looking for, I suggest getting hold of a copy of Loosed Upon the World, The Saga Anthology of Climate Fiction edited by John Joseph Adams. Several of the stories within hit the Ecopunk nail right on the head. Eg: ‘Staying Afloat’ by Angela Penrose or ‘Outliers’ by Nicole Feldringer, or ‘Mitigation’ by Tobias S Buckell & Karl Schroeder.

Workshop Reminder – How to Use History in your Novel

Just a late reminder that Gillian Polack is presenting a workshop tomorrow at the Gorman Arts Centre. No guarantees that places are still available but if you are interested check the contact details at the bottom of the post.

How to Use History in Your Novel with Gillian Polack

10am-4pm Saturday 9 July

This course takes the concepts and practical advice developed from twelve years of research into how fiction writers use history and condenses it into a single day of intensive learning.

At the heart of using history in fiction is the type of novel and the world it requires. In this course you will examine this, and then look at what kinds of history and historical research work best with what kind of novel. Gillian will discuss the differences between the past the reader sees and the one the historian knows and how writers can bridge this gulf (or choose not to). You will also look at writing techniques you can use to make history come to life.

Learning outcomes

  • An understanding of the relationship between history and the novel
  • An understanding of how the world of the novel impacts on the novel itself and how it can work to carry readers into the story.
  • An understanding of writing and research techniques that can be used to help create novels.


Gillian Polack has five published novels, two anthologies, a co-authored book about the Middle Ages, seventeen short stories, and a historical cookbook. One of the novels (Ms Cellophane/Life through Cellophane) was a Ditmar Finalist, as was one of the anthologies (Baggage). She was awarded the Best Achievement Ditmar in 2010.

She has PhDs in Medieval History and in Creative Writing and advises writers on subjects ranging from grammar to the Middle Ages. She has recently finished a major project on how writers think of history and how they use it in their fiction. Gillian has received two writing fellowships at Varuna, arts grants, and is in demand at SF conventions because she carries chocolate most of the time.

Cost: $130 members, $105 concessional members, $195 non-members (includes 12 months of membership), $155 concessional non-members (includes 12 months of membership)
Venue: E Block Seminar Room, Gorman Arts Centre (formerly ACT Writers Centre workshop room)
Bookings: You can book into this course online or by calling 6262 9191. If you have any queries, please email admin@actwriters.org.au.

The Never Never Authors – Kimberley Gaal

The ebook launch of The Never Never Land, CSFG’s speculative anthology of
Australian myths, yarns and campfire stories, is coming on 1 July 2016.
We interviewed some of the authors to hear what inspired
their unique version of the sunburnt country.


‘The Nexus Tree’ by Kim Gaal is a laugh-out-loud yarn about chainsaw-based landscaping and some unexpected squatters.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Questions like this always make me wish I had an interesting backstory (or at least a cool scar that hinted at a daring escapade) but truthfully I’m very ordinary. I live in Canberra, I work in graphic design and event management, and I just had a baby who I think is the greatest human on Earth but who is probably less exciting to everyone else.

What was the inspiration behind your The Never Never Land story?

My writing group held a session on the use of indigenous culture and material in fiction. Before that I’d had a vague notion that I might like to write a story using a creature from Aboriginal mythology, but after hearing from the speakers I realised that using something from that culture for no other reason than because I’d ‘had a vague notion’ was actually really insensitive. So instead, I came up my own, non-specific Aussie whatzit, which turned out to be Mr Muggund. I enjoyed meeting him, and thought he would be fun to write a story about.

Was there anything you found hard about writing this story?

Not really. It was a fun, casual story about a few ridiculous and adorable characters. I enjoyed writing it a lot.

Why did you decide to submit to the TNNL anthology?

I’m a member of the CSFG and wanted to be part of one of their anthologies. I’m proud that the group of puts out such strong, professional SFF publications, and glad I finally got to add my name to their impressive list of contributing authors.

What was your favourite other story in TNNL?

There are a lot of good stories in The Never Never Land, but I got was part of the critiquing process for both ‘The Swagman’ and ‘To Look Upon a Dream Tiger’, which means I got to read them in their ‘before’ and ‘after’ states and see how the authors absorbed critiques and used them to improve their work. I learn so much about writing from critical reading so these stories had an extra layer of enjoyment for me.

What are you working on now?

A multi-perspective YA novel set on an alternate Earth in which monsters are swarming up out of the ocean and killing everyone who lives within two-days of the coast. I got the idea during a seminar I attended about rising sea levels and how people should be way more concerned about them than they are because so much of the world’s population lives right next to a major body of water. Your house being in the ocean is going to cause you some problems, even if you don’t care the tiniest bit about the environment.

(And I’m not judging you if you don’t.)

(Except that’s a lie, I am, but only on the inside.)

(And maybe a little on the outside.)

Climate change, and the serious issues it’s going to cause, is something we all have a habit of burying our collective heads about, and I think part of that is that we’re just so good at ignoring problems until they are right in our face, chewing off our noses. I want to write about the problem as if it were something impossible to ignore – something immediately nose-chew capable.

Where do you want to take your writing? What are your writing goals?

I want what most writers want, I guess. That is: *inserts pinky tip into mouth* one MILLION dollars!

Nah, I just want to write stories readers love, and hopefully encourage them to think more deeply and more openly about the world. I believe that everything you put out contributes to this massive, global conversation we’re all having, and I hope I can contribute something positive.

Where can we find you?

You can’t. I’m like Wally – always hiding, surrounded by people who look and dress exactly like I do, sometimes behind an elephant.

However I am on Twitter (@KimberleySG) and I’m represented by the wonderful Rachel Letofsky at The Cooke Agency (www.cookeagency.ca)



The Never Never Land is available now in paperback and
launched in standard ebook formats on 1 July 2016.


The Never Never Authors – Cat Sparks

The ebook version of The Never Never Land, CSFG’s speculative anthology of
Australian myths, yarns and campfire stories, launched on 1 July 2016.
We interviewed some of the authors to hear what inspired
their unique version of the sunburnt country.

Cat Sparks

‘Dragon Girl’ by Cat Sparks is a story about new love, doomed pilgrimage and survival in a harsh future Australia.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m not sure how long I’ve been writing fiction, but I sold my first stories in the year 2000. Many more short stories followed, then in 2012 I received an Australia Council grant to write a novel and travel to Key West, Florida to take part in Margaret Atwood’s Time Machine Doorway workshop. The workshop was fantastic. I met a bunch of fabulous people, did a bit of travelling around, eventually winding up in New York to catch up with my agent. But for some reason that novel took a very long time to get right. I repeatedly turned in drafts and they kept bouncing back.

Meanwhile, I was accepted to do a PhD in climate change fiction through Curtin University. I never intended to be doing endless novel rewrites while simultaneously attempting to study… To cut a long story short, the PhD is due in December and the novel, Lotus Blue, finally comes out in February 2017.

What was the inspiration behind your The Never Never Land story?

‘Dragon Girl’ is set in the landscape of Lotus Blue. It provides a bit of backstory for one of the novels characters, Iago, and his dragon — which isn’t actually a dragon.

Was there anything you found hard about writing this story?

This story? No. The novel it spawned from? Hell yes. I can’t believe that book didn’t kill me.

Why did you decide to submit to the TNNL anthology?

I felt ‘Dragon Girl’ was a particularly good fit for this anthology. Fortunately the editors agreed.

What was your favourite other story in TNNL?

Probably Thoraiya Dyer’s ‘Tirari Desert, Saturday’.

What are you working on now?

Finishing my climate fiction PhD. It’s due on December 31st and its pretty much all I care about right now.

Where do you want to take your writing? What are your writing goals?

I want to write ALL THE THINGS! I’ve learnt so much through the PhD process but it has, by necessity, forced my writing and reading into a narrow focus. I have a fantastic idea for a new novel and am busting at the seams to get stuck into it across 2017. It’s like nothing I’ve ever written before, short or long form. A sci fi mystery set in the current day.

Where can we find you?

My story ‘No Fat Chicks’ appears in Fablecroft’s In Your Face anthology, another one, ‘Jericho Blush’, will be published in Cyclopean online speculative fiction ezine, and ‘Prayers to Broken Stone’ will be published by Kaleidotrope next year.

Web: catsparks.net Twitter: @catsparx


The Never Never Land is available now in paperback and
launched in standard ebook formats on 1 July 2016.

The Never Never Authors – Leife Shallcross

The ebook version of The Never Never Land, CSFG’s speculative anthology of
Australian myths, yarns and campfire stories, launched on 1 July 2016.
We interviewed some of the authors to hear what inspired
their unique version of the sunburnt country.


‘Adventure Socks’ by Leife Shallcross is a heartwarming story about old age and never surrendering your sense of adventure.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Like most writers, I’ve been dreaming up stories most of my life. I’ve always loved fairy tales and folk lore, and a lot of my stories draw inspiration from these. I was a big reader as a kid and one of our family legends is that I read Charlotte’s Web all by myself when I was six. I can also remember getting the book The Ordinary Princess by M M Kaye for a gift around then (I still have it). I think that became the archetype of a perfect story for me. So I grew up loving the idea of princesses and castles and dragons and fairies and curses and..and…and, but my princesses were the kind who climbed down the wisteria vine and ran off into the forest to have adventures.

I’m a huge fan of trope characters that don’t quite fit the mould: runaway princesses with forest survival skills, criminally-minded princesses who fake curses for their own advantage, lesbian fairy godmothers, grandmothers who get annoyed when well-meaning relatives disturb their hard-earned isolation with patronising baskets of goodies. Oh dammit. Now I have another batch of short story ideas (see response to “What am I working on now”).

What was the inspiration behind your The Never Never Land story?

I had a few points of inspiration for this one. The first was a conversation I had with a friend of mine, sculptor Jacqueline Bradley. We were discussing one of her works in development, and I misheard her say “Adventure socks”. I had this instant image of a pair of homely, cosy, knitted socks complete with knitted wings. If you check out Jac’s work, you will see this is exactly the kind of whimsical, homey sort of object she creates.

My second point of inspiration was the voice of the main character, George. He embodies a particular type of Australian character who grew up in the Depression and saw WWII. He says things like “Strewth” and “Saturdee”. The inspiration for his voice comes from my father and uncle, who were these guys and spoke like this.

Finally, when I was considering exactly how to bring a sense of “Australian-ness” the story, I naturally turned to the idea of trying to capture a sense of the land. But I wanted to go with a landscape that doesn’t necessarily get a lot of attention, so I picked the mountains. The Snowy Mountains and the Kosciusko National Park are some of the most beautiful places I’ve been. I grew up reading and loving Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby books, and I can’t tell you how many times I watched The Man From Snowy River with my Dad. In Australia we don’t have the kind of soaring peaks you get in some parts of the world – Australia is an old, old country, and our mountains have been well worn down to their bare bones. But the Australian High Country has a spare beauty that is utterly unique and I wanted to try and capture some of it for my story.

Your story has a scene in it that could be seen as something of a hat-tip to a key element in Peter Pan. The submission call deliberately said No Peter Pan Stories. What’s up with that?

I swear it was an accident. I didn’t even realise until one of the editors mentioned he thought I’d been very cheeky to sneak that in.

Was there anything you found hard about writing this story?

I really wanted my story to have a whimsical, feelgood vibe, but it’s set in an aged care home and its protagonist, George, is a man in his nineties who is feeling very alone at this late stage of his life. Initially I really struggled with it getting very bleak and depressing very quickly. I’ve tried to offset the very dreary world where my main character is living, with some of his memories of his life in the High Country to bring some beauty into the early parts of the story. Hopefully this keeps it from descending into cheerless gloom until Maisie, the feisty secondary character, arrives on the scene.

Why did you decide to submit to the TNNL anthology?

I’ve had stories in the previous two CSFG anthologies – in fact my first ever published story was in Winds of Change, in 2011 – so I have a lot of affection for these anthologies. They have published some great Australian authors, and continue to provide an opportunity for new voices in speculative fiction. And the theme of The Never Never Land was a real challenge to do something I hadn’t done before and write something set in Australia. It is always such a buzz being involved in a project like this. I really wanted to be in it.

What did you learn about the writing/publication/editing process from your experience in being involved in The Never Never Land?

I probably had a bit of a different experience to many of the other authors in that I’m involved with the CSFG Committee, so I had a role to play in that capacity in getting the book out. So I was involved with things like arranging for typesetting, managing the contracts, choosing a printer. There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to get all that sorted out. There’s definitely also the basic and invaluable experience of having your work edited, which never fails to teach you how to make your writing better.

What was your favourite other story in TNNL?

Oh, tough one. I haven’t actually finished reading the whole anthology yet (guilty face), but so far Chris Large’s Rust Titan really stood out. I loved his characters, and the world he built around a big mining operation gone wrong was so convincing.

What are you working on now?

Trying to finish off the first draft of a novel! I have been focusing on that this year and trying to resist the siren call of the short story ideas that keep wafting my way. Don’t ask me when it will be done. Soon. Maybe. I hope.

Where do you want to take your writing? What are your writing goals?

Find a publisher for novel project #1. Finish novel project #3. (Novel project #2 is sitting in a folder marked “trunk” awaiting serious remedial work.) Write and publish more short stories. Have a word I made up be included in a mobile phone autocorrect dictionary. (Try typing “parseltongue” into your phone.)

Where can we find you?

I blog at leifeshallcross.com and tweet from @leioss.



The Never Never Land is available now in paperback and
launched in standard ebook formats on 1 July 2016.

The Never Never Land – Ebook Editions

CSFG’s fabled tenth anthology, The Never Never Land celebrates its worldwide ebook launch today!


Available in Kobo/Sony/Nook/tablet-friendly epub format from Smashwords!
Available in Kindle-exclusive mobi format from the Amazon stores of Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan!

Purchase this handsome cover to add to your online library today and as an added bonus we will attach thirty stories of Australian speculative fiction!

The Never Never Authors – Shauna O’Meara

The ebook launch of The Never Never Land, CSFG’s speculative anthology of
Australian myths, yarns and campfire stories, is coming on 1 July 2016.
We interviewed some of the authors to hear what inspired
their unique version of the sunburnt country.


‘To Look Upon a Dream Tiger’ by Shauna O’Meara is about obsession and the delusion that one moment of luck will fix years of mistakes. Shauna also did the magnificent artwork for The Never Never Land, including front and back covers and the book’s glorious centrepiece. (Not to mention this sweet illustration of her own story!)

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a veterinarian, artist and speculative fiction writer whose stories and reading habits tend toward near-future science fiction involving climate change, overpopulation and consumerism and their impacts upon the natural world, vulnerable peoples and world order. I also love stories and graphic novels that explore artificial intelligence, bio-engineering and the many aspects, good and bad, of our obsession with social media and personal branding.

What was the inspiration behind your The Never Never Land story?

‘To Look Upon a Dream Tiger’ was the product of a long-term fascination with cryptozoology: the search for mythical and/or folkloric animals like the sasquatch, Loch Ness monster and chupacabra as well as extinct and/or prehistoric animals like the dodo, thylacine and many species of dinosaur. In particular, I was interested in the people who not only believe such creatures exist, but dedicate significant time, money, reputation and energy into pursuing them.

My old hometown in rural Western Australia has long been a place of big-cat sightings. According to local legend, a circus either went broke or suffered enclosure failure resulting in a number of very large cats (leopards, lions and panthers) being released into the Australian bush, where they not only survived, undetected by people, but interbred. “Apparently,” these animals are very secretive, only coming out at night to kill large livestock and leave tantalisingly big paw-prints. “Successful” attempts to film or photograph them have generally resulted in poorly-focused or motion-blurred images, or pictures of cat-like animals set against a backdrop of bush: impossible to scale.

The blurred-image factor which seems to plague so many of the “unconfirmed sightings” prevalent in the field of cryptozoology was the basis for my story. My premise hinged on the question: What if it wasn’t just bad photography creating those imaging artefacts?

I chose the Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine) as the focus for my story because it is a recently extinct animal that many people still search for, believing it to be present in remote pockets of the state. It is also a creature that some believe should remain secret and unpublicised if ever it is rediscovered, that it may remain protected from harassment and trophy collectors. The other reason I chose this species is because it allowed me to write about the Lake St Clair district of Tasmania, some of the most remote and beautiful wilderness on Earth.

Why did you submit to the TNNL anthology?

I submitted to The Never Never Land anthology for several reasons:

The first was that the anthology was being produced by CSFG Publishing. CSFG has had a strong and consistent track record of producing high-quality speculative fiction anthologies; some of their short stories have even gone on to make the various Years Best lists and Ditmar and/or Aurealis Award shortlists (‘The Nexus Tree’ by Kimberley Gaal which appears in The Never Never Land was recently nominated for an Aurealis Award).

They also use a blind submission process, which I personally prefer because it means that the writing, rather than the name of the author, becomes the main consideration in story selection.  With new voices able to be counted equally among the more well-known, the result has been that quite a few people have been able to get their start by making their first short story sale to a CSFG anthology.

I also decided to submit because the editors – Ian McHugh, Mitchell Akhurst and Phillip Berrie – were all people I had attended various critiquing circles with in the past. Having seen the high level of scrutiny they brought to bear during the critiquing process, I felt they would bring sound judgement to the project and choose good stories. I also thought that they would be sufficiently harsh on my work during the editing process that I might end up with an even better story.

The last reason I submitted was because I liked the theme of the anthology and was able to come up with a story that I thought was worth telling. For me, each tale has to have a thread of social commentary at its core. It isn’t that I don’t derive joy from a straight-forward story meant to be taken at face value – I very much do – but all the works by other writers that I have found to be the most powerful have been those which made me think twice about the world I thought I knew and this is something I am working hard to cultivate in my own writing craft.

What did you learn about the writing/publication/editing process from your experience in being involved in the The Never Never Land?

I learned once again that no work should ever go to submission without first running the gauntlet of beta readers whose opinions and eye-for-detail you trust. ‘To Look Upon a Dream Tiger’ went through the CSFG critiquing group and was greatly improved by the suggestions I got from that process.

What are you working on now?

Currently, I am trying to write a near-future climate change story for an anthology I was invited to submit to. I say “trying” because I have also thought of an awesome parasite space opera which keeps popping into my head every time I sit down to mull over rising sea levels and soil salinity. 😛

Where to next?

My plan right now is to complete the climate change story, finish the parasite space opera, finish an art commission due in September and then focus on The Novel (capital letters intentional). I have a few short stories coming out this year and am looking forward to sharing them with everyone.



The Never Never Land is available now in paperback and
will be launching in standard ebook formats from 1 July 2016.