Tag Archives: Short Story

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.

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!


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.


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 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)

Members News – January to March 2016

Update: Edited to correct the spelling of Rivqa’s name – sorry Rivqa!

Awards Season

Several of the major Australian genre awards are upon us, with nominations recently announced for the Aurealis and Ditmar Awards. CSFG members were well-represented on the shortlists:

In the Aurealis Awards shortlist:

  • Kimberley Gaal featured with two nominations for Best Young Adult Short Story (“In Sheep’s Clothing” from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #61, and “The Nexus Tree” from the CSFG anthology The Never Never Land). Congrats Kim!
  • Clare McKenna and Kaaron Warren will be facing off for Best Science Fiction Short Story for “The Marriage of the Corn King” (Cosmos) and “Witnessing” (The Canary Press Story Magazine #6) respectively
  • Tehani Wesselly has been nominated as editor for Best Anthology for Focus 2014: highlights of Australian short fiction (FableCroft Publishing)

In the Ditmar Awards shortlist:

  • Cat Sparks has been nominated for Best Novella or Novelette for “Hot Rods”, Lightspeed Science Fiction & Fantasy 58
  • Alan Baxter has been nominated for Best Short Story for “The Chart of the Vagrant Mariner”, in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan/Feb 2015
  • Tehani Wesselly as co-editor has been nominated for Best Collection for Cranky Ladies of History, edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)
  • Shauna O’Meara has been nominated for Best Artwork for her beautiful cover for CSFG’s own The Never Never Land
  • Rivqa Rafael and Tim Napper have both been nominated for Best New Talent
  • Tehani Wesselly has also picked up nominations for the William Atheling Award for Criticism or Review for her collaborative review project Reviewing New Who and Squeeing Over Supergirl

In a bit of unusual news for CSFG, Donna Maree Hanson (under her Dani Kristoff pen name) is a finalist in the Australian Romance Readers Association 2015 awards for her paranormal romance novel Spiritbound!

Congratulations to all the nominees and good luck for the upcoming awards!


Kaaron Warren shared the very exciting news of a new book deal with Australian speculative fiction publisher IFWG, who will be publishing her novel The Grief Hole later in 2016.

Gillian Polack’s new non-fiction work History and Fiction: Writers, their Research, Worlds and Stories is out from Peter Lang International Academic Publishers in the UK in April-May. The book is about how writers use history in their fiction and includes interviews with a number of CSFG authors.

Short Stories and Flash Fiction

Tim Napper has been busy lately: he has sold short stories to Lontar: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction and Grimdark Magazine (appearing in issue #6, out now). His previously announced story ‘The Flame Trees’ is coming out in Asimov’s Science Fiction in April or May. Tim has also sold two translated stories to Austrian magazine Visionarium and the Hebrew-language SF site Blipanka.

Rivka Rafael has a short story forthcoming in Twelfth Planet’s anthology Defying Doomsday.

Zena Shapter’s short story ‘Let the Tempest Hold Me Down’ will be free to read from 24 March at Sci Phi Journal. Zena adds “Sci Phi Journal is an online science fiction and philosophy magazine that ‘explores questions of life, the universe, and anything that delves into the deep philosophical waters of science fiction universes. Oh, and I’m also supposed to encourage peeps to subscribe (in March!) because the journal’s authors get paid a percentage of subscription fees.”

David Versace has a flash fiction story in the February releases at EGM Shorts called ‘Incidental’.

Literary Festivals

Canberra’s Noted Festival is coming up in March. Kaaron Warren will be running a workshop on getting away from the desk to find inspiration for writing horror: Where the Wild Words Are


Finally, congratulations to Donna Maree Hanson, who started her PhD studies at the University of Canberra in February.



Members’ news – October to December 2015

CSFG members have been busy as usual – here’s the latest news. Congratulations in particular to everyone who picked up various awards and gongs! And here’s to a bountiful and successful writing year in 2016!

Short story

Alan Baxter has enjoyed a few publications in an end-of-year rush:

Alan also has a heap of stuff coming out next year:

  • “Under Calliope’s Skin” – SNAFU: Future Warfare anthology (ed. Geoff
    Brown and A J Spedding, Cohesion Press, due Feb. 2016)
  • “Served Cold” – Dreaming in the Dark anthology (ed. Jack Dann, PS
    Publishing, due 2016) (Novelette)
  • “Golden Fortune, Dragon Jade” – And Then… anthology (ed. Lindy Cameron,
    Clan Destine Press, due mid-2016) (Novelette)
  • “Crying Demon” – Suspended In Dusk 2 (ed. Simon Dewar, Books of the Dead
    Press, due mid-2016

Darren Goossen’s “Every Useless Parameter” is coming out soon in Kaleidotrope,

Tim Napper’s short story “A Strange Loop”, which the CSFG critiquing group helped him to polish, will appear in the next next Interzone (#262 – Jan/Feb).

Serial fiction

Kaaron Warren and Craig Cormick have serialised stories coming out over ten days during the Christmas & New Year period on the RiotAct website. This link takes you to Part One.


Elizabeth Dunk (the nom de plume of Nicole Murphy) has the third in her series of contemporary romances Much Ado About Love coming out on 5 January 2016.

Gillian Polack has sold her novel Secret Jewish Women’s Business, to Satalyte. Gillian describes it as “a very Australian feminist Jewish novel with magic and superpowers and bushfires”.


The Wheeler Centre has commissioned new CSFG member Nalini Haynes to write a piece on disability: “Eye and Prejudice: A vision for equity

Chris Large recently interviewed Ann Leckie for Aurealis #86 (the current issue). He also spoke with Trudi Canavan about the release of her new novel Angel of Storms. That interview will appear early in 2016 when Aurealis goes global.

Gillian Polack study of the past decade or so will be going to press sometime in 2016. History and Fiction: Writers, their Research, Worlds and Stories. Several CSFG writers were interviewed in the early stages of this and are quoted.

Awards and Honours

Alan Baxter is going to be the Special Guest at Conflux 12 in October 2016.

Donna Maree Hanson is about to commence a PHD in Creative Writing at the University of Canberra; her topic will be Feminism in Popular Romance.

Nalini Haynes recently graduated with an Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing. Her grades were sufficiently high to attract an invitation to join the Golden Key International Honours Society.

Chris Large’s story “Future Me, Future Her” was highly recommended by the SciFi Film Festival and won a Dimension6 encouragement award at the ceremony.

C.H. (Celia) Pearce won the Marjorie Graber-McInnis Short Story Award for a speculative short story titled “Torvald’s Year”.  The ACT Writers Centre will publish the story on their blog and in their magazine early next year.


Gillian Polack teaches creative writing course through Belconnen Community Service every Wednesday morning during term.

Gillian also has a number of courses available through the Australian National University Centre for Continuing Education:

(These will all go on the Workshops and Courses page soon)

The inaugural CSFG/Conflux 11 Short Story competition is now open!

The competition is now closed for submissions. The winners will be announced at Conflux in October!


The CSFG is partnering up with Canberra’s premier speculative fiction convention, Conflux 11, to run a short story competition. We want your stories of 4000 words or under, in any speculative fiction genre, on this year’s theme, which is: light and light based technologies.

The competition is open to all Australian residents and members of either the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild or Conflux 11.

All the details can be found on the Short Story Competition page.

We’d appreciate it if everyone could get out the message through their social media channels. The more entrants we get the better!