Prized recognition

2021 has certainly been my year of short stories. I discussed some of the benefits in a previous blog, where I mentioned I was shortlisted in the Furphy Literary Prize.

Turns out, my story Holden was runner-up in that prize. A collection of those Furphy stories will be published in an anthology and I’m looking forward to seeing all the stories in print.

More recently, my story The Group Booking was highly commended in the Australasian Association of Writing Programs / Australian Short Story Festival Emerging Writers Short Story Prize (yes, it’s a mouthful, isn’t it?)

That story was described by the judges as a “genuinely unsettling story about women’s fear” and I was so glad to hear it. I did intend for the story to have a low but persistent beating of dread throughout. So in that way, I suppose it was partially a thriller.

The Group Booking is based on a kernel of truth.

In the story, two young women are travelling in remote South Australia and stay at roadhouse accommodation overnight. Other guests arrive, and the atmosphere suddenly changes.

I drew on my own overnight stay at Glendambo, decades ago, as the spark for this tale. Everything else is fictitious – the women themselves of course, their focus on social media, and the main character’s relationship with her grandmother.

I wanted a very modern element for this story. One of the characters is a social media influencer, and her offsider is a wannabe influencer. It’s part of the motivation for their trip – to share outback imagery online. The centrality of social media is common in this era, yet I don’t see it reflected often in literature or stories, as if it’s somehow of no interest or consequence.

The social media element, and a somewhat competitive partnership between the two, also enabled me to weave in a little bit of humour. (Well, I hope some humour is apparent).

Aside from those short story forays, I’ve been refining my thriller manuscript and I’m determined to see it hit bookshelves one day. Stay tuned!

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