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 Cat McLean.

What was your inspiration for ‘Monophonic Bliss’?

A mixture of mental illness, a re-reading of Leslie Jamison’s essay ‘Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain’, and the horror of doing the washing without a dryer in a Melbourne July.

Who are some of your favourite writers and why?

David Foster Wallace for his incredible ability to observe the minute in what it is to be human.

What do you like about the microlit form?

I find the world to be full of prolix. Microfiction is the antidote. I have always been attracted to the challenge of short forms of writing, starting with haiku as a child. It’s not always easy to be succinct as a writer, but I believe it’s the single most important skill. Micro-fiction is a great tool to work on this.

Did you write ‘Monophonic Bliss’ specifically as an audio piece or was it originally written for print?

I wrote ‘Monophonic Bliss’ for print. Before I came across Phone It In, it had never occurred to me to write micro-fiction for audio. However, I have always been interested in spoken word, specifically poetry, so I guess this is a natural step. Also, given that the female voice can struggle to be taken seriously, and given the subject matter, I think an audio format actually lends itself really well to this piece.

When it comes to really short fiction, do you generally start wide and then cut it down or was ‘Monophonic Bliss’ always conceived as a small piece?

It was conceived as a vignette. I’m a pretty concise person.  This is sometimes to my detriment, but most of my writing seems to start out as microfiction and grows from there.

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

I was an only child. I had a lot of time to invent characters, so I can’t quite remember exactly. I used to play out these months-long sagas with my dolls. From memory, some of the characterisation in those sagas was like something out of a telenovela. I was much more dramatic back then.


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