June 2014

This week’s award asked authors to use Marius De Zayas’ portrait of photographer Alfred Stieglitz as the inspiration for a story in the genre of Magical Realism.

Seven’s a lucky number, a magical number even. That’s how many stories we have on this week’s short list, so head over and check out the full short list here

Also, a big NITH welcome to first timer Sandra Mendes!

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The curvature of his back delineated a life of lost love and carefree morals. A slouch designed to confuse the innocent. Shoes made for waltzing over carefully polished surfaces. Hair strands falling awkwardly around his head, like beloved trees caught in an unavoidable storm. He had been a debonair, a pseudo-intellectual, a suave master of quick romantic interludes between music halls and dance halls, street lights and stage lights. Until, that is, the Lady of the Night had flitted daintily across his path on a moonlit sidewalk: a small woman of such graceful moves and breathy voice that for a moment he had floated off the ground a bit. Two inches of air, a feeling of powerful joy, and none the wiser to his own fate, the slouchy dancer had …

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Who has lost their faith in the other first?  That’s a (rhetorical)  question from Judge J on this week’s winning entry. If there’s a consistent theme through the CLIMATE FICTION stories, it’s of characters searching for humanity. Be it human contact, a moral purpose, or a sense of identity. It’s exciting then, that our winner is someone who writes under a pseudonym. Someone who’s writing consistently focuses on the relationships and ‘Who has lost their faith first?” In third place, on her third short list in a row, was Ingrid Cor with Future Vision, a story praised for it’s creative and interesting concept. In second place, on his first visit to NITH, is J Perry Kelly with the powerful Nowhere to Hide. Congratulations Mr Kelly, we look forward to more from …

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Moosa stirred the soup around the pot like she was stirring her soul. Slow, steady, a tumbling hum caught under her lip that soon spilled into a wordless, lilting song. Beejap listened. She heard the rib-ribbets of toads in the trees outside. The leg-rubbings of crickets. But there was something else her mother was tapping and sliding her toes to. She couldn’t put a finger on it. A slow, hum-tum beat that Moosa stirred the soup alongside and swayed her hips with. Moosa always told Beejap this: listen, you can feel the music anywhere. It’s in all the animals, all the trees, all the bugs. When you start listening you lend your own song out. Then you join the symphony. And Beejap believed now. She didn’t until she saw Abraxas. …

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Robert Walters wakes before dawn. He lays there, the lights out, listening to the night noises of the hospital. They come in hushed hurry. Soft footfalls, scattered chatter, the squeak of a stretcher as it rolls past on its way to the emergency ward. By day, Robert watches the other patients. Two men kneel by their dying father, holding hands and whipping tears from their eyes. A half-gone women babbles amongst the hissing and sighing of Latin prayers. There is a child by the corner. Injured at the last bombing, she reads in the winter sunlight. Sometimes, Robert receives visits from the Leather Man. Against the pale pallet of the hospital, the Leather Man’s hair is red like wildfire. He dances around chanting, in well-worn clothes he slinks up to …

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Lauren knew that man, black suit, tall, thin and wild hair that had that drive with the top down look about it. Of course it was impossible, she was likely going mad from the adrenalin surge induced by the huge success her showing had been so far. Add one too many glasses of expensive champagne and she had herself on hell-of-a hallucination. His back was to her and he appeared to be appreciating the painting she had named ‘Afterglow of Mourning’, her favourite piece. Whoever he was, her growing curiosity was enough to keep her eyes fixed directly on him. He must have sensed someone watching him. He began to turn around and for the briefest moment, their eyes met and she knew, without having to know a thing that …

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The players take the stage in an orderly line, moving to their places with practised ease. A lone oboe sounds out the tuning note for each section of players. Eventually, the note sounds in unison, tuned to perfection. The players rise to their feet as their leader walks on, the audience taking this as their cue to applaud. The tall greying man bows to the audience before taking his place at the head of the violins. The orchestra is ready and waiting. The audience hums with anticipation. A sense of fevered excitement grips the occupants of the stalls while on the balcony, crowds lean precariously over the edge, looking down towards the rostrum. Tonight the new maestro will take the baton for the first time. Rumours have been flooding this …

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  When the man went walking in the woods the cat trailed behind him. The man did not look back. This is the way one must walk in such a town, in such a wood. If we hold such things as true, and also assume that no one is to blame, then it is just a walk. A day. A lichen-veined bough above. Church crumbling rye-bready to the east. The earth a sandwich held in a broad hand. We can assume. I would like to say I met this man walking. But I did not. I came from a distance, met him at the train station where he kissed each cheek twice. His head bobbed, as if for apples. There was a mild aggression to the way he maneuvered my …

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I was planning to study, I swear. But instead, I fell asleep on my desk and dreamt about my father. In my dream, my sister and I were standing on a piazza, facing an empty stage. We were not alone. There was a couple with toddler in tow, a little boy holding a red balloon, young lovers who wore matching shawls, and a lanky guy who came on a bicycle. There was even a hotdog vendor nearby. Soon, my father stepped onto the stage. He wore a perfectly pressed white shirt underneath his black suit, and held a tambourine in hand. His hair covered half of his face. He was followed by a jazz quartet. My father tapped the standing microphone twice. He cleared his throat, and began to sing, …

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While it might not be immediately obvious, writing forms the backbone of most art / entertainment projects and games are no different. I sat down with NITH regular and twitter baron Dakoda Barker to talk all things digital. I started by asking him about games in general, and why he’s decided to make that a writing focus?

Dakoda: Growing up, I was always interested in video games. I read a lot as well, but I used to love playing those old games like Double Dragon and Sonic. When I started to get older and branch out into different genres, I started to appreciate the narratives more. I’m fascinated with what you can do with narrative in video games. I’m fascinated with video games in general, and I don’t think games get enough respect as an aspect of popular culture. I’m hoping to apply some of the critical approaches used in literature to video games so I can show the value of games and the creativity that developers infuse into their work. Gaming is a lot deeper than a lot of people think! Continue Reading →

Recently I caught up with Dan Bloom on Climate Fiction and books he thought paved the way for the genre. Dan is a fan of On The Beach by Nevil Shute. I started by asking him why he was drawn to Shute in particular?

Dan: Well, he wrote that powerful 1957 novel ON THE BEACH which became a movie two years later. That novel and movie did much to change human thinking about nuclear war and nuclear winter. So I think we need a contemporary  ON THE BEACH about climate change. Continue Reading →

If you haven’t already, check out our write up on Climate Fiction

The CLIMATE FICTION award asked authors to focus on climate change and how it might affect characters, their relationships, and their way of life. The stories this week do not disappoint. Congratulations to everyone who made the short list and a big welcome to first timers J Perry Kelly, Joshua Keeling, Lachlan Bullivant, Rhiannon Cowan and George Garnett.

You can find the complete short list here

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Hi everyone, hope you love the new site design as much as we do. Here’s a quick breakdown of the features


Awards, past and present, can be found under the Awards and Collaborations Page. There’s a neat filter that lets you sort them all out. Because we’re growing in popularity we think having more awards up with spread the load out a bit so we’re not culling too many stories from each short list.

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What are Collaborations?

Collaborations are short story digests written to a particular set of themes, genres or ideas. You can sign up to a collaboration through the awards and collaborations page by submitting a brief before the deadline.

We run a writing workshop for each collaboration. Authors submit drafts and provide feedback over three rounds of drafting. Spots in these workshops are limited, and while participation is not a requirement, if you participate in the workshop, you’re guaranteed a spot in the finished product.

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Alayna is a fourth year university student, writer, and currently manages the Needle In The Hay tumblr. She’s been gracious enough to answer a few questions, so here we go.

Martin: Tell us a little about the novel you’re working on. What’s it about? Who are the main characters?

Alayna: My novel is titled ‘Elymas’ and it’s about a girl named Lily who is in her early twenties and is generally disillusioned by where her life is going. When the circus comes to town, a mysterious man, who introduces himself only as ‘The Magician’, asks her to run away with him and become his beautiful assistant. Lily embarks on an adventure and, as events unfold, is left to decide whether this new life is better than the one she left behind. I’m currently editing my novel for the sixth time – I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it, really. Continue Reading →

The title of a sixties hit whispered in my mind like the punch line of a sick joke. How odd that I could hear it despite the siren that wailed above my head. Even stranger, why should I imagine the title or sense that it somehow held reproach? I surely wasn’t to blame for this lousy mess—for my sitting here trapped in a wheelchair, unable to push it to safety. After three endless minutes, the siren cycled from a pulsating screech to a robotic voice:

“Flood warning…flood warning! Move to higher ground! Flood warning…flood warning! Move to higher ground!”

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Eduardo and Luciana were walking hand in hand along the shoreline of Corcovado Beach. To their left side, the slope of the big hill rose above them, topped with the man-like statue that towered on the peak.

In spite of having lost its arms in the everlasting battle against acid rain, the Cristo Redentor was still majestic and breathtaking. A symbol of men being able to put their art above nature, telling the world that in their faith of God and Jesus, anything could be conquered.

When has God turned His back on us? Eduardo thought like he always did when he saw the mutilated statue. Who has lost their faith in the other first?

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The door swung open and a middle-age man entered. Closing his wet umbrella and leaving it at the corner, he took a seat at the center of the bar counter. Inside the warm, dimly lit bar, one would not guess that it has been pouring heavily since the afternoon.

“Harada-san,” the young bartender greeted his patron with a smile. “It’s been a while.”

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On the wateredge lies a television set and a lungdead man.

In the South Pacific there was an island much like this one. Its three tiered plateaus holding in their plains no life. The tripping gulleys of a spring, which broke out as an interruption, a green splinter of eden on the west of the aerial map, were the homes that some evolution had made. Alike was the fact that the island and its gulley ferns had broken away from the mainland millions of years prior to their discovery by concious, human minds. Visited by men from the northern regions, the island saw nothing but occasional breaks in its peace by dry mouthed and deceased crew members, looking for freshwater in an ocean of denser turquoise salt, and finding this little plateaued eruption bulging lustily from the curves of the waves. It washed them all back out to be buried at sea.

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They had been planning this holiday for an eternity, so to have finally arrived felt like a dream. They had been driving for days, stopping at beaches along the way, but nothing compared to the bustling vibe of Surfer’s Coast. They had heard about it before from a few of their friends who travelled here one summer, but they’d never actually been. And now they were here.

They gaped at the number of people on the main street and the crowd cluttering the sand. They stood in the car park together for an unreasonable amount of time, leaning against their four wheel drive and attempting to burn the scene into their memories.

Eventually, Erik turned to Emmelie. ‘What would you like to do first?’ he asked.

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