CSFG

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

theneverneverland

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.

leifeshallcross

‘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.

 

theneverneverland

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!

theneverneverland

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.

dreamtiger

‘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.

 

theneverneverland

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

The Never Never Authors – Darren Goossens

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.

Darren Goossens

‘Ghost Versions’ by Darren Goossens is a hard-edged ghost story about dark impulses and second chances.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a physicist by training.  I started publishing back in the early 90s, with stories in Aurealis and a magazine called EoD.  Since then I’ve published a scattered handful of pieces, but no longer works.

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

It might sound odd, but there was no inspiration behind the story, apart from a desire to use a particular structuring device (and then that device was cut from the final version).

Can you outline the writing process a little bit?

It began as a thing called ‘MS Found All Over the Place’, and it began a long time before The Never Never Land was announced.  I had a vague idea about a narrative pieced together from fragments found at an isolated house — some notes on the back of some bills stuffed into a kitchen drawer, something scrawled on a bit of cardboard and discovered in the bottom of a toolbox, that sort of thing.  I typed it out as far as it went in a file called ‘typing.txt’ which is full of false starts and fragments going back many years.

When something seems promising I copy it into its own file and work on it from there.  This piece naturally lent itself to a series of short sections.  Originally these had headings, notionally added by whoever was piecing it together.  Things like ‘Undated, written on used fish and chip paper, found folded up under the leg of a table.’ It sat for probably five years as a couple of sections and a vague structural idea.  At some point while I was brewing over that file of fragments, I realised how the story could work and I typed out a precis.  Then it sat for another few years.  I’m not exactly sure how long.  I think the announcement of TNNL prompted me to finish it, and I did so in a few weeks.

The idea of some fantastical event giving you a second chance (or more, in for example Groundhog Day) is hardly new, but it was never the initial idea of the story.  The idea was the structural one, and the story grew out of trying to make it work.  Then Ian said I should cut that device and we turned it into a bunch of unadorned sections — I even took out paragraphing, except for the last sentence or two, because I felt that the narrator would not be worried about things like that.  Each section was meant to be more like a blurting out, undertaken at random intervals when the desire to do so had grown too strong to ignore, and had to be dealt with as quickly as possible.  I rearranged some sentences to make the grammar more colloquial (‘[[turns out to be a friend of Mary’s only.]]’) for the same reason.

Some sections are virtually first draft, others were rewritten multiple times, and there was a whole branch of development that I tried out and then canned.  All told, from first note to holding TNNL in my hand it was probably eight or nine years.

Was there anything you found hard about writing this story?

I think getting from the fragments to the precis was the hard part.  I wrote a handful of sections after that that I had to throw away because even though I had worked out the arc of the viewpoint character, and I had most of the other characters, I still did not quite know which incidents would be most illustrative.  But that was just raw grinding out words.  Knowing there was a story to tell and its rough shape – the arc of the protagonist – was the hardest thing.  I’m not good at plots.

Why did you decide to submit to the TNNL anthology?

I decided to submit to NNL because it fitted the brief and because I knew of some of CSFG’s earlier productions and thought they were worth contributing to.  I recall being delighted when I saw the announcement because I knew I had something that would fit.

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

Once TNNL was announced, I set myself to ‘churn out’ the story on a fairly fixed schedule, and it was interesting to see how the ‘quality’ of the prose was largely independent of whether I was in the mood or not.  I knew this, but I think amongst my works this story has provided the clearest illustration of it.  Also, I had never been to a launch of a book I was in before, and I learned that that was a lot of fun!

What was your favourite other story in TNNL?

I don’t want to single out any one story.  Sorry.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a couple of stories, one that looks like creeping out to novella proportions or longer.  I have a couple complete that need to be reread and beaten into shape, in at least one case with great wailing and gnashing of teeth.  ‘Ghost Versions’, my TNNL story, is one of my more serious efforts, and I think I need to get back to something with more jokes in it.

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

I’d like to take it with me on a long, lonesome camping trip, but I can’t see that happening any time soon… My goals are to get stuff published now and again, and to avoid writing nothing at all.  I’ve had some patches where I wrote nothing for years at a time, and I didn’t like it and I wish I had stuck at bit more consistently, because my craft is not where it should be for the number of years I’ve been going at it.

Where can we find you?

darrengoossens.wordpress.com, although there are lots of posts about Linux which might put you off.

 

theneverneverland

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

The Never Never Authors – Angus Yeates

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.

theneverneverland

‘The Swagman’ by Angus Yeates is a post-apocalyptic reimagining of one of modern Australia’s most enduring mythological figures.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I grew up in a remote town (Kalgoorlie) in Western Australia before moving to Perth. After studying a Bachelor of Arts at university I moved to Canberra where I’m currently based.

As a child, my time was split between city and country Australia. I think this, combined with a healthy amount of travel, gave me a love of learning and an intense curiosity about the world and other people. I think this more than anything drew me to writing.

Currently I divide my life between my full-time job in the public service, and family and friends, writing and some of my hobbies, which currently include martial arts and acting.

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

The theme certainly helped. In ‘The Swagman’ I wanted to explore a quintessential myth from colonial Australia and not just get a story and throw in eucalypt trees and red dirt.

At the risk of sounding hopelessly metaphysical, I also wanted to explore the link between man, myth and the landscape. I think Australia is hugely underrated for dystopian fiction, to which it lends itself to so well. Australia is a haunting and lonely landscape and a place where the old and new blend uneasily. Hence the story of a man on the run from the ghosts of his past.

What did you bring from the rest of your life to your story and writing that you think enhances it?

I think that all art-forms can teach something about writing. The more I’ve done public speaking, stand-up comedy and acting, the more I’ve learned about writing. What patterns of speech should a character have in dialogue? If you’ve done enough public speaking then you gain more clarity around dialogue. How should I structure the story for a reveal? Stand-up comedy teaches you about structure and different ways to treat reveals. How should I pitch this character? What mannerisms will he have? Do I know how he speaks? Acting helps with these because it’s absolutely necessary to think about these things before playing a character – it removes you from just thinking about a character’s thoughts and gets you thinking about their actions more broadly.

Was there anything hard you found about writing the story?

Of course. For me it was my perennial problem of keeping my short story ‘short’. It’s not something that comes naturally to me, but it’s an important discipline and, unsurprisingly, was where I learned the most. There should always be something hard about writing every story or I’m probably not stretching myself enough.

Why did you decide to submit to The Never Never Land?

The decision was a no-brainer. I’d read some of the previous anthologies published by CSFG, so I knew it was a high-quality publication. I also had some ideas that I thought fit well.

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

It was my first publication, so more like ‘what didn’t I learn’… That it’s not as easy as I thought it would be? That writing is fun, but sometimes editing feels like hell (and if it doesn’t then I’m probably being lazy)? That I need to edit until I’m sitting rocking in a corner and praying to the writing god to make it stop? (Well, maybe not that last part).

But seriously: that competition is a good thing and producing a final product is a group effort. That beta readers are like gold and editors are like diamonds and their advice should be treated as such. The importance of listening and accepting feedback, and sometimes the decisiveness and wisdom to reject it if I feel it does a disservice to the story.

What was your favourite other story in TNNL?

Oh such a hard choice!

For example, I’m envious of the writing in Dan Baker’s ‘Against the Current’, which is so rich, languid and otherworldly, like the river the protagonist travels up. It’s like Australia’s answer to Heart of Darkness. I love the wryness of Thoraiya Dyer’s ‘Tirari Desert, Saturday’ and the whimsy in Kimberley Gaal’s ‘The Nexus Tree’.

But I’m going to say Charlotte Nash’s ‘Seven-forty from Paraburdoo’. I grew up in Kalgoorlie – a remote mining town in Western Australia. I’ve been along some of those roads at night and they’re long and remote and lonely. If it’s just you and the darkness then that can be a scary thing. The fear of breaking down or hitting a kangaroo is constant. Sometimes there’s no phone reception and no one to help you. The story captures this anxiety fantastically. It also captures the salt-of-the-earth characters that work in the industry perfectly. It won me over with its writing and finely-nuanced mix of darkness, loneliness, mateship, distance and death.

What are you working on now?

I have a novel that’s cooking away in the background (burning on the stove?) that I go back to whenever some other shiny short story idea hasn’t caught my attention.

At this immediate point in time I’m working on a short story about a girl who travels to fix her sometimes artificially not-so-intelligent toy. Through it I’m exploring humanity’s relationship with technology and how it can make us more human. I think that too often (in Hollywood particularly) technology is portrayed as bad (e.g. Elysium, Terminator) or shown in how it makes someone powerful and good or evil depends simply on the user (pick any superhero movie). But I think these dominant views are over simplistic. What do machines teach us about ourselves? How can technology bring us closer together and make us more human than we are?

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

I’d like to complete a novel and hopefully get it published. Once I’ve done that, I’ll see where I go to from there. Don’t get me wrong – I dream big like any writer, but baby steps…

Where can we find you?

At www.angusyeates.com.

 

theneverneverland

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

The Never Never Authors – M. James Richards

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.

theneverneverland

‘Looking for Ben’ by M. James Richards is a steampunk recounting of the hunt for the notorious bushranger Ben Hall.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am an instructional designer/graphic artist/developer working mostly in the eLearning field. I also have a background in film and video, specialising in editing and directing. I also do a bit of acting on the side and I have produced and co-produced a number of short films

Writing prose is relatively new for me. I have been writing scripts since I was a teenager and I have been writing training material for years, but ‘Looking for Ben’, as prose, was something new for me and also my first published story.

What was the inspiration behind your Never Never Land story?

I had been mulling over several ideas. I wanted to write something in the steampunk vein. I also have an idea for a modern day take on Capt. Thunderbolt, the bushranger, and I wanted to write an Australian time travel story involving historic figures. The final story contains elements from all of those ideas.

Are all of the characters in ‘Looking for Ben’ based on real people?

No, Angus and his wife aren’t. But everyone else is.

Mad Dog Morgan was sadly very real and a complete terror. If he had been born 150 years later he would have been diagnosed as suffering a range of psychiatric problems. In real life he was a cruel, murderous thug, and a pyromaniac.

John Donohoe was the real name of Jack Doohan. His name in the song was changed when the government banned the original version of the song. In real life he died at a young age well before the time period of this story.

Sir Fredrick Pottinger was really a police officer that had attempted to catch Ben Hall. The attempt failed, he lost his job and earned the nick name ‘Blind Freddy’. In real life, he died shortly after failing to catch Ben, on his way to defend his reputation in Sydney. His pistol went off as he stepped into a carriage fatally wounding him.

Edmond ‘Toby’ Barton is most famous for being Australia’s first prime minister. While he would have been a teenager in the 1860s he probably didn’t run away to be a bush ranger.

Was there anything you found hard about writing this story?

The opening was the hardest. I think the version that appears in print is the third complete rewrite of that scene.

The other hard bit was to get up the enthusiasm for yet another rewrite. The first draft came, as ideas sometimes do, almost wholly complete and was written in one sitting in a tiny notebook because I was at my in-law’s house and that was all I could find at 4 am. What at first felt like a breezy experience quickly degenerated into something that felt like actual work – how dare it.

Why did you decide to submit to the TNNL anthology?

The story which was originally drafted in 2011 was just sitting on my hard drive. I had been distracted by work etc. When the anthology was announced this story seemed to tick all the boxes, so I decided to submit it.

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

The most valuable thing for me was working with an experienced and talented editor. A really good editor is like a coach, and Ian was fantastic.  He was able to get more out of me than I thought I had.

What was your favourite other story in TNNL?

‘Against the Current’ by Dan Baker

What are you working on now?

A ‘maybe’ time travel vengeance/redemption short story. The title keeps changing but the tag line is “I’m a mass murderer, Doc, but I only ever killed one man”.

I also have a non-steampunk Victorian era horror/fantasy story. Originally it was a short film, then a short story and now I am leaning towards a feature film format.

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

While I have been ‘writing’ professionally for several years, it is writing a specific form of non-fiction – training material to be delivered via eLearning. I would eventually like to be writing fiction professionally.

Where can we find you?

Somewhere in Canberra, Sydney or Bega! If you want to contact me however, I am a member of the CFSG and can be reached through the group.

theneverneverland

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

The Never Never Authors – Rivqa Rafael

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.

theneverneverland

‘Beyond the Factory Wall’ by Rivqa Rafael is about Jewish magic and steampunk inventions in a women’s penal colony.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I used to say I’m an editor and writer, but these days I’m putting writer first (imposter syndrome, I’ll beat you yet). Mostly I write science fiction, but every so often I stray into fantasy, as I’ve done in ‘Beyond the Factory Wall’, which is steampunk with magic. When I’m not writing fiction or editing science books and papers, I’m likely reading, video gaming, working on my Brazilian jiujitsu skills, or kid wrangling (my partner and I have two, who we’re raising to be as geeky as we are). I am overly fond of parentheses.

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

It diverged a long way from the original inspiration, the real-life story of Jane Hawkins, a midwife who was accused of witchcraft and exiled from her Puritan American colony for assisting the birth of a severely deformed stillborn. When I heard a talk about the abuse that women suffered in jails in colonial Australia, the ideas merged and evolved into the story as it’s published. I mixed in the Jewish elements to create an alternate history that meshed the two concepts in a way that made sense (at least to me).

What research did you do for the story?

After those sparks of inspiration, I did a lot of research online before visiting the Cascades Female Factory in Hobart. As well as taking a tour of the historic site, I was there for a dramatised tour with brilliantly convincing actors, who really drove home the injustices that these women were subject to. Much of the detail in the story was drawn from the scribbled notes I took at the Factory. I followed that up with a couple of books bought from the site’s shop, which were also invaluable.

Was there anything you found hard about writing this story?

The subject material was difficult. Female convicts and prisoners were abused by wardens and free settlers, and had their babies taken away from them regardless of their wishes. And the idea of a midwife being accused of witchcraft for delivering a deformed baby was deeply unsettling. Anything with stolen or dead children pains me. An earlier draft featured a stillbirth scene that was agonising to write. It was even harder to edit out, but it just didn’t fit with the final story.

Why did you decide to submit to the TNNL anthology?

I wrote the story for the anthology – the ideas were brewing in my mind at exactly the right time, so it was an obvious choice.

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

So, so much. Although I’m an editor, I don’t edit fiction, and being edited at all was a relatively new experience for me. Ian McHugh edited my story, and we went through several rounds of editing in which he challenged me to streamline and flesh out (yes, both, simultaneously!) the story. It’s immeasurably better than it was when I submitted it.

What was your favourite other story in TNNL?

Of all the questions, this is the hardest! At a pinch I’d say Kim Gaal’s ‘The Nexus Tree’, which is hilarious, pitch-perfect Aussie gloriousness.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on various short stories while I gird my loins to start redrafting my science fiction novel.

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

The usual: world domination, of course. It’s required for CSFG membership.

Where can we find you?

My other short stories are available in Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga Publications) and Defying Doomsday (Twelfth Planet Press).

My occasionally updated blog is at www.rivqa.net, but I’m most active on Twitter as @enoughsnark.

theneverneverland

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

The Never Never Authors – Thoraiya Dyer

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.

Photo by Cat Sparks

“Tirari Desert, Saturday” by Thoraiya Dyer is a pointed story of border protection, journalistic integrity and violent xenophobia. It opens The Never Never Land.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an Australian writer with over 40 short stories published here and overseas, and my debut fantasy novel Crossroads of Canopy, about hijinks in a kilometres tall, magical rainforest, is coming out in January 2017. I used to be a veterinarian. I didn’t get expelled for incompetence or anything, just took a break to have the Small One and then became a writer instead!

What was the inspiration behind your Never Never Land story?

Mururoa Atoll protesters. And living in a mining town.

Is it more important to have stories set in Australia, or by Australian authors, or both?

The Never Never Land guidelines made me immediately enthusiastic, because I’d just been re-reading Dreaming Down Under which is an excellent anthology (it won the World Fantasy Award in 1999) but I was struck by how few of the stories were actually set here, as though Australians had to prove not only how well they could write SFF, but prove how worldly they were.

Was there anything you found hard about writing this story?

Making it short enough to fit the guidelines. This is my eternal dilemma. Right now I’m trying to prune a novelette down to short story size and I wonder why I must always do this to myself.

Why did you decide to submit to the TNNL anthology?

Because we live in an amazing place with so many stories.

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

I learned to specify lunar orbit when I mean lunar orbit and solar orbit when I mean solar orbit 😉

What was your favourite other story in TNNL?

So many! See my review on Goodreads. I loved the finished anthology.

What are you working on now?

Worldbuilding for a novel. Transforming our ancient saltwater crocodiles into a means of transport. I hope that when the novel comes out in three years you find them as awesome as I do, hahaha!

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

I want to be a writer for my job and make enough money to give the Small One as many choices in life as possible. I want writing about tree kangaroos or saltwater crocodiles in a fantasy novel to be equally or less remarkable than writing about horses or deer.

Where can we find you?

My website, thoraiyadyer.com or on Twitter @ThoraiyaDyer

theneverneverland

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

CSFG/Conflux 12 Short Story Competition – Red Fire Monkey

The CSFG/Conflux  Short Story competition is back for Conflux 12

We want your stories of 4000 words or under, in any speculative fiction genre, on this year’s theme, which is: red fire monkey.

The competition is open to all Australian residents and members of either the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild or Conflux 12.

Entry is $5, unless you are a member of the CSFG or Conflux 12 or you are aged 16 or under, in which case it is free!

Prizes

First prize is $200 and a 2017 Conflux 13 membership! Second prize is $50 and a discounted Conflux 13 membership, and third prize is $25 and a discounted Conflux 13 membership.

Guidelines

Stories should be written in English, suitable for a general audience (ie, no gratuitous violence or erotica), and, of course, your own original, unpublished work.

Please submit them in the following format: RTF, double spaced, courier font, with the story title in the top right header.

Make the first page of your document a cover sheet that includes your name, contact details and story title (we’ll remove this before we give it to the judges). YOUR NAME MUST NOT APPEAR ON ANY OF THE OTHER PAGES OF THE STORY.

Get it to us at csfgshortstorycomp@gmail.com before midnight on 31 July 2016.

Fees

Fees can be paid by direct deposit (BSB: 805022 Acct: 03421621) or Paypal to canberra.specfic@gmail.com (For other options or any more information contact us directly at the csfgshortstorycomp@gmail.com address)