February 2016


‘Panthers’ longlisted for the Stella Prize

Jen Craig’s Panthers and the Museum of Fire, launched by Spineless Wonders in 2015, has been longlisted for this year’s Stella Prize.

Spineless Wonders publisher Bronwyn Mehan said she was thrilled the novella was chosen because the Stella Prize was such a prestigious and important award on the Australian literary scene and it would bring well-deserved attention to Jen Craig’s wonderful book.

The Stella Prize judges said of Panthers: ‘The unpretentious truths and agonies, soul-searching and tenuous self-regard of the artist’s life are brilliantly and immediately depicted, in writing that deploys European modernist literary techniques in an Australian setting. In Jen Craig’s novella, voice, character and vocation combine in a sophisticated and accessible narrative.’

As described by Bookseller + Publisher reviewer Angie Andrewes, Panthers is ‘Bold, original and urgent ... a complex work of fictionalised-memoir in the style of writers such as Karl Ove Knausgaard and Sheila Heti.’

Ms Mehan thanked the Spineless Wonders team that helped bring the book together, including Ali Jane Smith, Linda Godfrey, Annie Parkinson and Bettina Kaiser, and those responsible for the fabulous video (Jon Steiner and Stephen Adams). She expressed further thanks to Susan McCreery and Jen Leung and to Nicole Mangura, the publicity intern for the project.

So what is Jen Craig’s Panthers and the Museum of Fire like? Watch the book trailer.

Buy your copy here.

Jen Craig is pictured above between other longlistees Peggy Frew and Alice Robinson in Melbourne at the Stella Sparks Launch Party. Also pictured are graphic artist/photographer Bettina Kaiser, composer/musician Stephen Adams and videographer Jon Steiner.

The 2016 Stella Prize shortlist will be announced on March 10 and the 2016 Stella Prize will be awarded in Sydney on the evening of April 19.


Cleverly-crafted ‘Crime Scenes’ on their way

Teachers, cops, mothers, wives ... everyone has a moment of crisis ─ when things could go either way. From the prostitute with no way out, to the bitter author and the cop who just wants his leave, the characters in this collection all reach a turning point.

What do we have here then?

Crime Scenes is short crime fiction at its best ─ stories filled with deceptions and misdirections, high-stakes action and characters facing difficult moral choices ...

Some witness statements:

Gabrielle Lord (‘Australia’s first lady of crime’): ‘Highly original stories ─ many using the standard elements of cop, crook, crime and punishment and yet producing fresh and intriguing tales. People who like reading crime stories will love this book.  Australian crime writing is soaring.’

Adrian McKinty (Irish crime novelist; winner of the Ned Kelly Award; shortlisted for the Edgar Award, Dagger Award and the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière): ‘A clever, diverse and exciting collection of some of Australia's finest new crime writers as well as gems from more established voices. If this is the future of Australian crime writing then the genre is in good hands!’ 

Marele Day (Australian author; winner of the Shamus Award and a Ned Kelly Award for How to Write Crime): ‘A gripping ensemble of dark delights.’

Sue Turnbull (Australian media academic; crime fiction reviewer): ‘Dazzling, different and totally unexpected. This thrilling collection of cleverly-crafted short stories illuminates both the diversity of the crime genre and the ingenuity of the writers who experiment with its possibilities here.’

Insufficient evidence?

Judge for yourself.


First call out stories selected for Little Fictions

Actor Eleni Schumacher, one of the Little Fictions Call Out judges, takes a quiet moment before reaching a final decision.

And now — now that she’s finally finished that refreshing ale — we’ve selected stories from our first call out to short story writers beyond those published by Spineless Wonders.

We’ll be adding the chosen stories — 17 stories from authors in nearly every Australian state and territory — into the mix of forthcoming Little Fictions events.

Would you like your story to feature later in 2016? The next call out deadline is May 1.

Here’s where to find out how to submit and what we’re looking for.


Menagerie lured to Little Fictions

Mooing, barking, chirping, mewing, chewing … a menagerie was summoned to Little Fictions @ Knox Street Bar on Monday February 8 thanks to Little Fictions’ ‘It’s a Jungle Out There’ theme.

There was Kate Liston-Mills’ wetland creatures, Michelle Wright’s shark, Julie Chevalier’s cow, Irene Wilkie’s hare, Mark O’Flynn’s budgie as well as Mary Manning’s Murakami cat, Ryan O'Neill’s Rwandan feline and a pack of dogs brought to you by Louise Swinn, Tyler Mahoney, Madelaine Baud and Pip Smith.

We were delighted to have MC Adam Norris and actors Eleni Schumacher, Alex Williams, Lauren Neill, Nick Radinoff, Tim McGarry and Ella Watson-Russell.

The night was also a fundraiser for Sydney Dogs and Cats Home.

Ariella Van Luyn, whose story will be read at Little Fictions on Monday March 14, says, ‘I could not think of a better event at which to have my story read.’

The theme for that night is ‘Vaginal Spray: feminist tales for women and men’. Guest MC will be Monique Schafter.


Snap up Steiner’s ‘The Last Wilkie’s’

The Last Wilkie’s and Other Stories was released last month and you can purchase it online or email your order.

Who: Jon Steiner is ‘clearly a writer who delights in approaching the short story format at new and challenging angles’.

What: His ‘brilliant and innovative short story collection veers from surreal to hilarious to disturbing to touching and back again’.

Want to know more?


Short and sweet

Spineless Wonders’ Bronwyn Mehan will be at the Newcastle Writers’ Festival, April 1-3, to participate in ‘Short and Sweet: The art of microlit’, a panel discussion and presentation of short-listed microlit competition entries, and for the launch of Crime Scenes, a collection of short crime fiction, with special guest Barry Maitland.

Look out also for the Festival Masterclass ‘Short Order Fiction with Carmel Bird’.

Visit the festival website to find out more and download the program.


‘Quote’ unquote

Wind drives the rain up the valley, their house built right where it shouldn’t have been, on top of a ridge, unprotected, assailed on all sides. The rain hits with diagonal force. She stirs and makes herself check all the windows. Fights with the wooden sash in the bedroom for long enough to soak her t-shirt before she gets it shut. She dumps the shirt on the floor, slides it around the puddles with her foot, abandons it soaking in the largest.

The storm toys with the kitchen roof. A flap, flap, flap of something loosening draws her into the doorway, a dark stain left over from the last rain now shines freshly wet as lightning paints the walls. She turns her back on the room, returns to the couch, the radiator dull and cold.

Camouflaged by the rattle of branches and leaves, it takes a while before she connects the rhythmic knocking at the front door to a non-storm sound.

She pulls the rug around her, opens the door a crack.
 She smells him before she recognises him. Spices and smoke and dirt. Dan from the pub.

‘The Local’ by P. M. Newton, published in
The Great Unknown, Spineless Wonders, 2013



December’s competition winner is Kath Harper from Port Fairy who wins a copy of Crime Scenes. Thanks to all those who entered.

This month, tell us which Spineless Wonders publication was recently longlisted for the Stella Prize to win a copy of the fabulous book.


Dates for your diary

February 25 - Spineless Wonders online bookclub: ‘Polyethelene’ by Jarryd Luke.
March 10 - Spineless Wonders online bookclub: ‘Porch Steps’ by Rose Grahame and ‘Plain White Reptile House’ by Ben Spencer and hosted by Jess Magrath.
March 14 - Little Fictions, ‘Vaginal Spray: feminist tales for women and men’; guest MC Monique Schafter, 7pm, Knox Street Bar.
March 20 - Noted Independent Publishing Fair 2016, Canberra 10am-4pm.
April 1-3 - Newcastle Writers Festival – announcing winner and finalists of ‘Liminal’ microlit competition.
April 11 - Little Fictions @ Knox St Bar, ‘Life Lessons’, 7pm.