Spy-vs-spyWe thought we would let you into a little controversy we’ve had at Spineless Wonders HQ this past month over our new sponsorship deal with the Wilkie’s Family Restaurant Corp. If you missed the big announcement, you can check it out in our October newsletter. But it seems not everyone in the indie publishing sector is enthusiastic about corporate sponsorship of the Arts and, in particular, one of our previously-beloved interns has thrown a temper tantrum and kicked up a royal and very public stink over our links with this fast food chain. For those of you eager to know the ins and outs of the Wilkie’s debacle, we provide below some confidential emails (the whistleblower’s name has been withheld in interests of not jeopardising her future job prospects) as well as media releases and links compiled on Facebook by our erstwhile intern under the pseudonym… WilkiLeaks.

>> —–Original Message—–

>> From:NAME REMOVED [mailto:NAME REMOVED@hotmail.com]

>> Sent: Tuesday, 3 November 2015 12:38 PM

>> To: Bronwyn

>> Subject: Wilkie’s sponsor?


>> Hi Bronwyn,

>> I’ve just seen in the October newsletter that you have gained a new sponsor. Wow. What a great opportunity, especially for a company so dedicated to Australian fiction. An odd sponsor – don’t you think? This is, surprisingly, the first I’ve heard of it. I thought you might have called a staff meeting to inform us but that might not be the way your sponsor wants you to roll.


>> I’d like to talk to you a bit more about it – maybe we can make a time. There are a few things about your new sponsor that you need to hear…

>>Kind regards,


>> On 3 Nov 2015, at 12:48 pm, Bronwyn <bronwyn@shortaustralianstories.com.au> wrote:


>> Hello NAME REMOVED, and thanks for your email. Yes, it really is a welcome infection of funds, this Wilkie’s sponsorship. I’m sorry that you felt you were out of the loop but I guess it was all a bit a whirlwind – being approached by the CEO himself yadayada. But I’m sure you, the rest of SW staff and authors will forgive me for the ‘executive’ decision when there is a bit more cash around for projects etc.

>> And by all means, I am interested in hearing what you have to say about Wilkie’s although I’m not sure that a total vegan such as yourself will really have an open mind, ha ha!

>> Cheers

>> Bron

> —–Original Message—–

> From: NAME REMOVED [mailto:NAME REMOVED@hotmail.com]

> Sent: Tuesday, 3 November 2015 12:58 PM

> To: Bronwyn

> Subject: Re: Wilkies sponsor?

> Hi Bron,

> You had the CEO himself come to visit you? Really – this I do find interesting. Don’t big companies like that have gophers to do jobs like that? That’s really bizarre.

> And ouch, Bron – leave my food choices out of this – and FYI, I’m a paleo vegetarian – you know this after we had to cancel that work bbq! Anyway – it’s about being ethical and knowing where your food comes from – which is actually why I’m so worried about Wilkie’s! I’ve heard rumours that they are being investigated for their, how to put this… their choice of meat – isn’t exactly sustainably farmed…

>Just thought you should know… they are being investigated…

> On 3 Nov 2015, at 1:32 pm, Bronwyn <bronwyn@shortaustralianstories.com.au> wrote:


> Oh, yeah, that BBQ. How could I forget? Wanted to ask you about our xmas party plans – we’ll be taking over a Wilkie’s restaurant for the night… and I’ve been working on the invites – see attached. I’m sure we’ll be able to get them to put on some veggie burgers for you, NAME REMOVED! Can you recommend a good vegan caterer?

> Re the so-called ‘substitute meat’ scandal I think you are referring to. I wouldn’t read too much into this – probably some scuttlebutt whipped up by the competition. The one with the golden arches… I think you’ll find Wilkie’s is one of the good guys in the fast food industry. Just take a look at all the great causes they support… not just small publishers 🙂 Check out their website…

> Will you see you dressed up as a glamourous Lady Pickles at the xmas bash?



> —–Original Message—–

> From: NAME REMOVED [mailto:NAME REMOVED@hotmail.com]

> Sent: Tuesday, 3 November 2015 12:58 PM

> To: Bronwyn

> Subject: Re: Wilkies sponsor?

No self-respecting vegan caterer that I know of is going to step foot inside a Wilkies restaurant unless it’s to trash the place. Which wouldn’t be surprising considering they are closing down their outlets faster than you can say embezzlement and sexual harassment lawsuits. Their CEO is a real piece of work according to A Current Affair. How does the franchise even have money for a sponsorship – I thought they had just filed for bankruptcy?

Substitute meat scandal? Oh it was meat all right! Just a collection of varied animals that aren’t exactly farmed – ferret meat…

>> Best wishes for your doomed xmas party!!!


wilkileaksFBcoverSpy-vs-spyIndie artists and arts organisations are encouraged to seek sponsorship from the business community. But is there a danger of commercial interests gagging artistic freedoms? What about the pressures for product placement? WilkiLeaks has been set up to keep an eye on your Arts, Australia. Follow us to keep up with the latest…

Spy-vs-spyAfter some damaging media coverage, this latest puff piece from beleaguered fast food chain, Wilkie’s Family Restaurant Corp… can CEO Crumbkin save his bacon by throwing money at disadvantaged schools?

Wilkie’s Family Restaurant Corporation Promoting Fitness and Creativity in Kids
Beloved restaurant chain supports local schools

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Bartholomew P. Crumbkin AO, CEO of the Wilkie’s Family Restaurant Corporation, today visited Calhan High School in Western Sydney to open the new gymnasium, the construction of which was funded by a generous donation from Wilkie’s.

The Wilkie’s Gymnasium features a full-length basketball court with foldaway bleacher-style seating for up to 276 spectators, as well as a full complement of floor gymnastics equipment including a state-of-the-art pommel horse.

Wilkies signage adorns Calhan High’s new gym

“Being physically active is an important part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle,” said Crumbkin. “At Wilkie’s, we know how important it is to get kids moving, so we’re just doing our part for the community by providing them with these fantastic new facilities.”

Calhan principal Amy Thurman was also present at the opening of the gymnasium. “We’re just so grateful to Wilkie’s for this generous gift,” said Thurman. “It’s wonderful to have a large corporation like Wilkie’s get so involved in the community like this. The kids are just over the moon. We’ll be holding our first basketball game in a couple of weeks and everyone is super excited.”

The donation by Wilkie’s of the gymnasium at Calhan High School comes on the heels of several other recent sponsorship moves by the company, including funding an international tour for an all-albino mime troupe and a partnership with Spineless Wonders, a small publishing house specialising in Australian short stories.

That media release was the last we heard of the Wilkie’s largess. The outcome of the whole debacle is that Spineless Wonders is now no longer involved with the Wilkie’s corporation. Apart from the adverse publicity of late, they have actually been declared insolvent, so hasta la vista corporate $$$$. Our lavish xmas party plans have now been canned and our publishing program for 2016 will need to be revised – at least that plan to produce the full-colour, hardback editions of Wilkie’s CEO, Bart Crumbkin’s bush poetry/memoir. (It seems that this proposed publication also produced disquiet among the SW team. But our upcoming bungie-jumping -paintball-beading workshop will go a long way towards  rebuilding the old SW team spirit, I am sure.)

Good news is that the release of Jon Steiner’s collection, The Last Wilkie’s and Other Stories is going ahead. In fact, you can take advantage of a great pre-release deal we have running until the official release in Feb, 29781925052169-WIDGETCover-The-Last-Wilkies016. The collection has a stack of great stories including ‘The Last Wilkie’s’ which traces the fortunes of the very last franchise from the ill-fated Wilkie’s Family Corp. Well worth the twenty dollars for that story alone! But don’t take our word for it… Click the cover to grab a $5 discount and free shipping now!

And what, you are wondering, happened to our whistleblowing intern? We concealed her identity in this post to protect their future employment prospects. So you could imagine how shocked we were to learn that she had now gone to the dark side and has taken up an internship as Bart Crumbkin’s personal publicist! She’ll certainly have a job on her hands as that now-disgraced CEO  attempts to reinvent himself. On the bright side, her recent experiences will be very useful to her for a future career in the book industry.

Bronwyn Mehan,

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