The Column | Short Australian Stories

Talking and Walking with Jen Craig

panthersthong“It’s an unseasonably warm day at the beginning of May, rays of sunlight are filtering through the leaves of a towering Moreton Bay Fig tree. I sit on a park bench waiting at the top of Glebe Point Park for Sydney author Jen Craig.” Recent USyd M.A. in Publishing grad, Alyssa Hanley takes an entertaining and informative stroll with Jen Craig, author of Panthers and the Museum of Fire in this essay, Talking and Walking: Sydney Literary Culture. Continue reading

Meet the Slinkies: Laurence Levy-Atkinson

levy_atkinsonThe 2016 Slinkies eSingles are now out, and we are excited to share this series of  interviews with under 30 emerging writers. Here, Slinkies‘ publicist, Ashley Mounser throws Laurence Levy-Atkinson, author of ‘Farblondzhet‘ some questions about his story, the influences on his writing and about where to next.

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Meet the Slinkies: Kyra Thomsen

kyra_thomsen_author_picThe 2016 Slinkies eSingles are now out, and here is the first of our interviews with under 30 emerging writers. Here, Slinkies‘ publicist, Ashley Mounser throws Kyra Thomsen, author of ‘Buzzing’ some questions about her story, the influences on her writing and about where to next.

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Loopholes of life

sue_wetsuitWhat do microfiction, ocean swimming and loopholes have in common?

Nicole Schalchlin talks to Susan McCreery, author of the new microfiction collection, Loopholes, to find out.

Driving down the windy road of Bulli pass into the beachside suburb of Thirroul near Wollongong, there is a down-to-earth calmness and authenticity that inevitably seems to settle in. At 6am, you can find Susan McCreery, with that same calm and authenticity, at the water’s edge of neighbouring Sandon Point, clad in a wet suit and swimming cap, ready to plunge into the chilly waters with her ocean swimming squad. As a writer, professional proof-reader and mostly solo parent to two teen boys, ocean swimming is her escape – it allows her to only focus on how good it feels to be in the water, particularly when the sun is rising. “I adore it”, says McCreery. “It is almost like a creative act in itself. You kind of find your essence in nature. And with writing you are trying to find the essence. The truth.” Continue reading

Microlit on StoryPhones

swstoryphoneWe are excited to be launching the Spineless Wonders StoryPhones. The first set of twelve audio stories to be featured on the StoryPhones are microlit – all under two minutes long. The subject matter ranges from shark attacks to shipwrecks and they are recorded by actors as well as  authors. In this article, intern, Jordan Meek asked the contributing authors about where the inspiration for their microlit came from, their views on this exciting new platform for audio stories and tips for writers interested in the microlit form.

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Introducing StoryPhones

phoneplantDo you remember push button phones? When the only form of communication, outside of face-to-face, was by picking up the phone and calling a friend? When there was no such thing as instant messaging or social media? And the only way to find out about someone’s life was by calling them? StoryPhones is about capturing this sense of whimsical nostalgia, tied together with the art of literature.

[Article by Jordan Meek, USyd publishing intern.] Continue reading

New Faces at Little Fictions


Patrick Zoerner, Holly Myers and Oscar Morphew

You probably didn’t know that you can vacuum your lungs. Well, actors can. Along with lip fluttering, spine rolling and repeating ‘BDGD’ and ‘PTKT’ at an amazing rate of knots without slurring or stumbling. These, and many other vocal tricks and tips were imparted by Holly Myers in the voice and microphone workshop she ran for Little Fictions’ actors earlier this month. Holly, a designated Linklater vocal practitioner, actor and voice artist has recently made the move from Adelaide to Sydney. A seasoned performer with Spineless Wonders Presents…, the Adelaide-based forerunner of Little Fictions, and all-round nice gal, Holly is a very welcome addition to the team.

We welcome Nicholas Starte, Oscar Morphew and Patrick Zoerner to the team and look forward to seeing them on stage very soon.

FacesOfLFAlso new to the stage this month was guest MC, Hayley Scrivenor. A well-read and witty raconteur, Hayley is a peripatetic writer, student and stationary seafarer. Here’s how describes herself: Hayley currently lives on an old sailing boat and sometimes in other people’s houses looking after their dogs. Only when they ask her to, of course. She spends her time thinking about the first person plural in literature (for which she miraculously receives money from the Australian government) and combatting seasickness (for which she has found singing loudly and off-key to be a cure-all). You can find some of her stories in Seizure, SCUM, Phantasmagoria, SWAMP, prowlings and Verity La. We are thrilled to have Hayley back on stage on July 11 to introduce stories and generally entertain us before she jets off to America for several weeks.

Pop Quizzes prove popular

Hayley Scrivenor - Little Fictions

Hayley Scrivenor

In 2016, we introduced a fun bit of audience participation – along with the ever-popular door prizes of the cocktail wheel and Quills’ Hoist. Each month we pose a question related to the show’s theme. The best written responses are read out at the end of the show and the winning entry wins two free tickets to Little Fictions. So far, we have asked about unusual pet names (for ‘It’s A Jungle Out There’), favourite feminists (for ‘Vaginal Spray’), best hacks (for ‘Life Lessons’), renaming suburbs (for ‘Sydney Stories’) and for the recent theme of ‘Addictive Text’ we asked about people’s obsessions. It turns out that our audience is addicted to anything from podcasts to TV series, from nose-picking to procrastination and from dressing up to re-dressing boring lecturers. The things you learn…

Calling Out New Texts

Another 2016 innovation has been the inclusion of brand new stories which have been submitted via our Little Fictions Call Out. Initially, the live readings which began in Adelaide and later moved to Sydney, were focussed on showcasing stories already published by Spineless Wonders. Late in 2015, we decided to put out a call to writers across Australia to submit new writing which would be suitable for performance onstage. The response was terrific and texts from that initial call out have already been introduced to this year’s line-up. In the latest show, held on June 20, four of the ten pieces performed were drawn from December 2015 Call Out, along with a newly-commissioned piece, ‘Invisible Writing’ by Jen Craig.

Judging of the May 1 Call Out is currently underway and the selected authors will shortly be announced.

Parramatta Rd back street roadworks

Photo Credit: Maree Cunnington

Meanwhile, submissions are currently being sought in the Writing Down Parramatta Road Call Out.  We are looking for writing set in the Parramatta Road corridor, taking in the Sydney suburbs of Leichhardt, Annandale, Petersham and Stanmore – writing that reflects the cultural life and gives a sense of place for these locales – past, present and even future. Your piece of writing (from 100 to 1000 words) can be prose in any genre, from microfiction, creative nonfiction to dramatic monologue or prose poem. Suitable pieces will be included in an upcoming Little Fictions event in which actors read stories to a live audience at Knox Street Bar, Chippendale. Entries close July 31.

Submit, or direct queries to,

Bronwyn Mehan, Little Fictions Producer & Curator.



Microlit Panel at 2016 Newcastle Writers Festival

microlit_panelIn China, they are called ‘smoke long’ since they can be read in the time it takes to smoke a cigarette. In Japan, they are called ‘palm of the hand’ stories which suggests they are about a paragraph or 200 words and the Swedish playwright, Strindberg published stories which told ‘a bit of human history on half a sheet of foolscap.

In April this year, Newcastle Writers Festival hosted ‘Short And Sweet’, a panel discussion on this intriguing form which included Bronwyn Mehan, Richard Holt and Joanna Atherfold Finn. Continue reading

Crime Scenes launch

crime scenesVeteran Australian crime writer, Barry Maitland described the Crimes Scenes anthology as ‘ a wonderful new development for Australian crime fiction.’ Barry Maitland, author of the Brock and Kolla and Harry Belltree crime novel series as well as short crime fiction which have been widely published, launched Crime Scenes at the 2016 Newcastle Writers Festival following a packed panel discussion, ‘Partners in Crime’ facilitated by crime writer, Jaye Ford and featuring Crime Scenes editor, Zane Lovitt, contributors Andrew Nette and Angela Savage. Continue reading

Meet the SW interns – Part Three

We bring you another instalment in our Where Are They Now series which profiles some of our former interns. We ask them to look back at their internship/work experience with Spineless Wonders and tell us about any highlights and anything they found useful from the experience. We also asked about other internships they have undertaken.
Of course, we are curious about what happens to our interns, so we asked what they are doing now – workwise, in any further study or training as well as other interests outside of work. We asked what they were reading or writing. And finally we asked them to look towards the horizon and say where they see themselves in the future.

You can read Meet the Interns Part 1 and Meet the Interns Part 2 . Interested in becoming an intern with Spineless Wonders? Direct inquiries to



I was fortunate enough to do an internship with Spineless Wonders as part of my Masters of Publishing at USyd. During this time, I got to work on both Panthers and the Museum of Fire and the Michael McGirr Selects project, which involved:

  • assisting in typesetting, proofreading and promotional material;
  • researching cover designs for the digital singles and liaising with the graphic designer regarding the creative brief, time-frame and image sourcing;
  • editing and proofreading long stories; and
  • converting final manuscript drafts into eBooks.


It was really exciting to be able to be part of these two projects; to be given the opportunity to actually apply what I had learnt in class about editing and writing author queries, and then to receive feedback about what could be done better next time. Being able to work closely with Bronwyn also meant that I learnt a lot about how a small publishing company operates, as she really takes the time both to teach and to listen to new ideas. Overall, it was a really rewarding learning experience that was not only a springboard to other job opportunities but also one that reinforced my decision to pursue a career in publishing.

I’m now working at Puddingburn Publishing Services , which provides editing, indexing, desktop publishing, proofreading and project management services to the publishing industry. We are a team of 14 ‘puddings’ based in a small sandstone cottage in Hunters Hill who do work for a wide variety of clients including academic and general trade writers; major legal, trade and academic publishers; and government departments.

It is a great team to work with, as everyone is super smart and good at what they do but also really friendly and approachable. Here at Puddingburn, my role is an interesting mixed bag of liquorice allsorts – indexing legal publications (which is what I do most, making full use of both my law and publishing degrees!), proofreading, contributing to our blog/social media updates and anything else that I can help out with. To be honest, before this role I had never fully grasped the importance of indexers and the complicated process that indexing often can be – how it is not just a list of where specific words (or phrases) are used in the text. In case you are curious, check out my first contribution to the Puddingburn blog

I’m currently reading a chick lit novel that I am a little ashamed to name, and when I’m not reading I like to eat cake and watch trashy reality television dating shows.



Alyssa Hanley and Bronwyn Mehan

Alyssa Hanley and Bronwyn Mehan

The culmination of my internship with Spineless Wonders, was the December launch of Jon Steiner’s book The Last Wilkie’s and Other Stories. For this book project I assisted in promotion and gaining publicity before the book party. We worked to a promotion schedule put together in conjunction with Bronwyn, and created a press release kit utilising my magazine design experience. One of the most exciting things that we did was produce a video interview panel with the author, editor and a host, that I was lucky enough to direct.

Interning with Spineless Wonders gave me some hands on experience within the book publishing industry that I didn’t yet have. It’s very different studying all the book publishing business methods at uni but they really become solidified one you put them into practice. I really enjoyed working with such a tight-knit team. Working directly with the publisher and the author enabled a true sense of pride and camaraderie which you simply do not get with a large company.

Since then several exciting developments have occurred across the areas spanning of my work. Firstly, I have been approached to write a forward and introduction for a history of Australian tattooing.

Burlesque_posterSecondly, outside the field of publishing, I shall be taking two months in June and July of this year to headline the Australian Burlesque Festival and travel to New Zealand to perform. I’m still doing my Master’s of Publishing at the University of Sydney and will be finished by the end of this year.



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