In times like these, good fiction can be a salve, a consolation, or a catalyst for change. Writing, too, can be a source of solace or transformation: with it, we take the raw materials of life and wring them for meaning, allowing us to navigate the possibilities, and the perils, of the present. With such reflections in mind, and following on from the outstanding successes of the past two years, we are proud to release our latest annual writing anthology! The aim of the competition was to provide a public platform for emerging writers, to nurture talent in our local community, and to encourage first-time authors to pursue their talents. A cornerstone of Australian independent bookselling for 24 years, Better Read Than Dead has consistently advocated for, and supported, creativity and excellence in Australian creative writing. There was no theme for this year’s competition. We accepted only short stories of no longer than 2000 words. Compiled here are what we considered to be the 30 most outstanding entries. The short story is one of the most difficult, and most rewarding, forms of creative writing to master. It is both an art unto itself, and a testing ground within which you can refine your craft – your understanding of form, pacing, plot, character, and expression. The short story is economical by default, so make every word tell. We looked for stories that surprised us, that challenged us, that moved us.
Published Stories: Across the Hall // Nadim Mansour Avgolemono // Izabella Antoniou Between Us // Laurel Henning Bone Scaffold // CJ Garrow Breakfast // Anastasia Hardman Burnt // Brenda Anderson Children’s Sins // Sue Brennan Electric Boy // Alaina Dean Elon’s Kiss // Nils F. Rain Gettin’ Wet // Guido Melo Home Is Where the Dad Is // Patrick Lenton Koma // Ch’aska Cuba de Reed Mostly Sunny Skies // Bethany Cody Mustella Putorius Furo // Eloise Aiken No Second Opinion // Stephen Knox Options // Susan Francis Paradise // Mary Haire Rowan and His Mate Joey // Joanne Galliher Rubbish Fisherman // Doug Jacquier Sansa // Jesse Hawley Sea Smog // Zoe Knowles Snakeskin // Dasha Maiorova The Baby // Victoria Manifold The F Word // Jo Jukes The Female Pope // Jean Kearney The Marketplace // Sally Coleman The Pandit // Sanchana Venkatesh The Roadside Funeral // Cecile Bester The Suitcase // Deborah Huff-Horwood To the Core // Rebekah Roma