As part of this year’s National Young Writers’ Festival, the Spineless Wonders’ Slinkies team has been running the Phone It In competition, asking writers under 35 years of age to contribute a short audio story. They had a great response to this call-out and now with the festival only a week away, it is time to announce the six finalists. They are (in alphabetical order):

Brianna Bullen, ‘Night of the Killer Kittens’

Lauren Grubic, ‘Egg Scrambled and Beat’

Anna Jacobson, ‘Potato Stamp’

Cat McLean, ‘Monophonic Bliss’

Ben Schofield, ‘Lonely Phone’

Ben Volchok , ‘Oh, No! said Jarvis Cocker’

Now for the fun part! The Slinkies team want you to select the winning entry. Those of you going to the National Young Writers’ Festival (Sept 28 to Oct 1) will be able to listen to the six audio stories on the Spineless Wonders’ StoryPhones which will be installed, along with ballot papers, at four locations around the city of Newcastle. But if you can’t make it to the festival we also have the six entries on Soundcloud with a link to the voting form on Facebook. The winner and runners-up will be announced at the Wind Down session in Civic Park on Sunday at 6pm. Prizes include a selection of Slinkies and paperbacks and we will be giving away a Spineless Wonders’ gift pack to a lucky voter. So cast your vote online or at the Festival to be in the draw.


Slinkies team-member, Emma Howe, has been getting to know the six finalists and has produced a series of interviews so you can get to know them too. Today we are thrilled to introduce Ben Volchok.

What was your inspiration for ‘Oh, No! said Jarvis Cocker’?

Whimsy. Plus, my friend James wrote a short story about live umbrellas with a weird made-up word describing the way they moved and this is kind of a tribute to that.

Who are some of your favourite writers and why?

Douglas Adams, Peter Carey… The delicate combination of absurdity and mundanity is something that appeals to me greatly.

What do you like about the microlit form?

You can get something out that’s wild and evocative and yet totally specific. It’s almost like it draws its power from how concentrated the writing has to be.

Did you write ‘Oh, No! said Jarvis Cocker’ specifically as an audio piece or was it originally written for print?

It was written for print, but picking a narration style for the audio recording was a creative adventure that I relished.

When it comes to really short fiction, do you generally start wide and then cut it down or was ‘Oh, No! said Jarvis Cocker’ always conceived as a small piece?

This piece was designed for a 100-word brief. I suppose with microfiction my approach is either to start writing until I have to stop, or find the most concise way of getting at a concept. This would probably fit in the former.

What is the name and personality of the first character you ever created?

I’m going to cop out and say that I honestly can’t remember my first character but I do remember once writing a story about a carbuncle who was very ambitious but nervous. In a way that describes me perfectly.

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