An Australian author living in Norway

Tag: short stories

North of the Sun…

If you’ve been wondering where the fairy tale posts have gone, it may appease you to know that they’ve taken a temporary backseat for a very good cause. I have been busy editing, proofreading and polishing fourteen great stories for the upcoming Oslo International Writers’ Group anthology, North of the Sun, South of the Moon: New Voices from Norway.

Today I’ve been working with fellow group member Chelsea Ranger to arrange our launch party. The e-book is set to launch on the 17th of May, to coincide with Norway’s grunnlovsdag (Constitution Day), with the paperback to follow in time for the party on the 7th of June. Profits from sales of the book will go to Utdanningshjelpen, a Norwegian charity which supports students in developing nations. The wonderful Anthony and Nicole from Cafe Fedora have offered to host the event at a steep discount, with the extra money raised from ticket sales to go directly to the charity.

The anthology has been written to two themes: Adaptation and North, and the pieces themselves range from short fiction to non-fiction to poetry. Some are uplifting, while others explore the darker side of human nature, but all together they make for a fascinating and thought-provoking read.

Book cover

The featured image on this post, The Wanderer, was painted by another talented OIWG member, Brian Talgo, and will grace the cover of the book, with the design by Ken Dawson. The book will be published by Holland House. And I can now reveal the actual cover:

I’m so excited to share these stories with you, and especially proud to be doing it for such a worthy cause.

I have two stories in this anthology, one a short fiction piece called The Social Animal, and the other a fictionalised account of real events, Far North, True North. These will appear alongside the fiction, nonfiction, and poetry of seven of my talented fellow OIWG members:

Audrey Camp

Chelsea Ranger

Brian Talgo

Mauricio Ruiz

Evelinn Enoksen

Bree Switzer

Anna Maria Moore

If you’re in Oslo, you might like to join us at Café Fedora for the launch party on the 7th of June. Here are the details:

Date: 7th June 2013 at 7:00pm

Place: Café Fedora, Frognerveien 22, Oslo

Price: 200 NOK per person

Food and drinks are included in the ticket price, and you will also hear the authors give readings, have the opportunity to buy the book and/or donate directly to Utdanningshjelpen, as well as be in the running to win a signed copy of the book.

Tickets are limited, so please buy yours today! Café Fedora’s owners, Anthony and Nicole Juvera, have made it possible for all tickets sold for the launch event to support the charity, too. The Oslo International Writers’ Group is open to writers of all kinds in the Oslo area. We meet once a month. Find us on Facebook if you’re interested in joining. We are always happy to welcome new blood, and you don’t even have to bleed–I mean read–at your first meeting!


At the January meeting of the Oslo International Writers’ Group, we decided that we would introduce readings this year. Previously, we have read each other’s work ahead of time and given critiques at the meetings, but now that we have a year behind us and we know each other quite well, it felt like time to break away from paper and share our work out loud.

Being the one who suggested it, I volunteered to go first, having brought along one of my pieces for what is currently being called The Oslo Anthology (we’re still deciding on a proper title). It was the first time I have ever read my work aloud to a group, and I was unusually nervous – public speaking doesn’t usually bother me, but this is a group of truly talented writers whose opinions I value and respect, and although they are unceasingly supportive, I didn’t know what the reaction would be.

I had originally intended to read a small section of the story which related to the wine we were drinking (a Hardy’s wine from the region of South Australia I grew up in, and in which part of the story is set). But when I’d finished the first part, I was quietly reluctant to stop – it had felt good to read it out loud, and I was enjoying hearing the story myself, in an odd way. When I paused, the group stayed silent for a moment, one or two sitting with their eyes partially closed, as if savouring the words the same way they had savoured the wine. And then I was suddenly surrounded by smiles and nods, followed by eager requests for me to read on. What more encouragement could I need? I continued.

What followed was everything a writer could ask for: laughter, gasps, and at the climax, a cheer! Then, when I’d finished, that same savouring pause . . . Then applause, bigger smiles, bigger nods. My story is based on an experience I’d had when I first moved to Norway, and these people are, as well as fellow writers, almost all expats, and they related. Success.

I went out of that meeting on a real high. But that was nothing compared to the high I experienced at last month’s meeting; three of my colleagues shared their work, and it was good. Really good. And let me say now, I am usually not a fan of poetry – but the two poems that were read were so honest in such different ways; one was lyrical, abstract and almost dreamlike, the other grounded, real and painful in its honesty – yet both left me with images and feelings as if I’d been right inside the head and heart of the readers. Then a third piece was read, this time a work of fiction, disturbing in both content and tone, written from the point of view of a twelve year old child, being lead into certain death by people she trusted. I was both sickened and grimly fascinated.

Strange Tales from the Scriptorian Vaults

I’ve been published! My story, Grace of Women, appears in Strange Tales from the Scriptorian Vaults, newly published on Kindle and other ebook readers by Kristell Ink. The book begins when newly appointed Sergeant Crystal Lewis is sent to the parallel world, Earth 267, where she and her team discover a London different to those their agency has investigated before. Steam powered ships fill the sky, metal creatures scurry through the streets, and The Great Library is now nothing more than a burnt-out shell. Crystal’s investigations discover the records of the Scriptorians: elite explorers, scientists and chroniclers, chosen for their wordsmith abilities, their tenacious belief in uncovering the truth, their passion for the bizarre and baffling.

The stories that follow are those Sergeant Lewis discovers, the stories of the Scriptorians themselves.

Strange Tales from the Scriptorian Vaults is available now on Kindle from and and in epub and other formats from Smashwords. Print versions are soon to follow.

All profits from sales of the book go to First Story, a UK based charity which promotes literacy and creativity to young people by holding workshops, which are often run by renowned authors.


Talking to writer friends online about a year ago, I realised how much I was missing being able to talk to other writers face-to-face. When I met Brian, a fellow writer and Oslo resident on a writers’ website, I got to thinking how great it would be to have a local network, especially of international writers. So I decided to start the Oslo International Writers’ Group. It began as a Facebook group, but a few of us quickly agreed to have regular meetings to talk about writing and critique each other’s work.

We’ve now been meeting regularly for more than six months, each month focusing on one writer’s submitted piece, which has been of great value both to the writer and the critics. We’ve read some great work so far, as well as talked about our own work and experiences in relation to the discussed pieces.

Now we’re venturing into new territory by putting together an anthology of short stories, both fiction and non-fiction, with the theme “Adaptation”. The theme will be interpreted by each individual writer in their own way, and each story will be written to showcase the writer’s personal style.

Many of us are ex-pats, so the theme of Adaptation is close to our hearts. First drafts will be presented and discussed at our next meeting after the summer break, and I’m really looking forward to reading what each of our talented members comes up with.

Watch this space for more details and news of a release date!

The Oslo International Writers’ Group is open to any writer living in or around Oslo, Norway. You are welcome to join the Facebook group without attending the meetings – join here. We exist to discuss writing generally as well as our individual writing projects, to support and promote each other and to add a social element to the oftentimes lonely life of a professional (or amateur) writer.

Historical Sci-Fi – Steampunk

A brand new publishing imprint, Kristell Ink, recently approached me to write a short story for their upcoming Steampunk anthology called Scriptorian Tales. I’m delighted to be a part of this project, even though this is a step into new territory for me, genre-wise. Steampunk is a fascinating genre, blending historical fiction with the science that might have been. It’s not for the faint-hearted and there is quite a bit of research to be done to make the stories authentic. Nevertheless, I am excited about my idea and am well into writing my first draft.

Here’s the brief from Kristell Ink:

The loopers, agents employed by the quorum on Tellus Primus, travel to parallel worlds to gather intelligence and weapons for the impending Chromerican invasion.

Tellus, Gaia, Earth, they all seem the same; until one day, Looper Team C from the Beta site (the colonies of British occupied America) land on a planet they name Earth 267 – where technology has taken a slightly different turn. Giant steam-powered machines (airships, scuttle-creatures, hot air balloons) all work diligently alongside the traditionally fossil-fuelled contraptions (cars, lorries, trucks), and society remains firmly in the grasp of Victorian ideals and etiquette.

During the loopers’ undercover search of what they come to realise is London, they stumble upon a locked room, full of the weird, the wonderful and the frankly insane. Inside that room lays a huge book bound in some unknown material.

Inside that book are the strange tales recorded by the Scriptorians, who created the Great Library of London that was tragically lost in some long ago fire.

The Scriptorians were elite explorers, scientists and chroniclers, chosen for their wordsmith abilities, their tenacious belief in uncovering the truth, their passion for the bizarre and baffling. There is some evidence that these mysterious adventurers, fighters and writers also discovered the technology to loop and visit other parallel worlds.

These are those tales…

I will take on the role of honorary Scriptorian, and will pen one such tale. I’m very excited to be part of it, and can’t wait to read the stories that will feature alongside my own. I’ll post again when my draft is complete (it’s due by the end of August) and tell you more then.


Waiting For Her

This week I decided to take a look at a day in the life of a shut-in. Someone who waits all day for the person who takes care of him to return, unable to leave, trapped inside by his own fears and neuroses.

The inspiration for this story came from my two cats, Sushi and Mojo. They have been inside-cats their whole lives. When we first brought them home from the shelter, we lived on the second floor and the only safe place to let them out was onto the balcony. Since we’ve moved to a first floor apartment, they have the opportunity to go out but are now too scared. Sometimes when the windows are open, they press their noses to the frame, breathing in all the exotic scents the outside world has to offer. They would love to venture out, but all those fascinating things are terrifying at the same time. They never make it past the doormat.

What I wanted to achieve with this story was a sort of exploration of these types of fears, but in a way that shows how people and animals share the same types of fears. And how the love of another can assuage those fears with the smallest touch.

Waiting For Her is complete at 1800 words.

What I’m Made Of

Jamie, his dad and his grandpa go on a hiking trip and stay in a remote cabin overnight. On the hike, Jamie slips and falls down a cliff, injuring his knees and face. After enduring his grandfather’s insults and abuse all day, Jamie lies awake listening to his father and grandfather argue about the best way to raise a boy. He learns things about his grandfather’s past neither he nor his father ever knew.

The inspiration for this story came from a night I spent in my partner’s family’s summer cabin close to Fredrikstad and the Swedish border. My daughter was asleep in one of the bunk-rooms and I spent the entire evening cringing every time someone’s voice would get louder than a whisper, terrified she’d wake up and give us all a terrible night’s sleep. My partner’s step-father got to talking about his life and his relationship with his father, and later I discovered he’d never really talked about it this way before. I began to wonder what it would have been like if my daughter, now almost two years old, had been a little older and had been lying awake listening to the conversation. I don’t have many memories of my grandparents talking about their lives, their experiences and their parents, and I realised that I’ve missed out on knowing about where I came from because of this.

A child often has so little knowledge of who and where they’ve come from. But much of the riddle of our own existence lies in the lives of others who came before us. I explore this theme in What I’m Made Of. The story is complete at 2000 words.

Rocks In His Socks

Reginald Bobich doesn’t mean to be a jerk. If he could just get rid of the tiny stones trapped in his socks long enough to think clearly, he’d be able to get through his day without hurting anyone. But they’re so damn irritating! He just can’t concentrate on anything else, not even a bank robbery, his wife’s panic or his office building burning to the ground.

The inspiration behind this story is to do with Norwegian sandpits: my daughter spends quite a large proportion of the day in the sandpit at kindergarten, and as such, brings a lot of it home in her shoes and clothes. What Norwegians call sand and what I call sand are two very different things. To me, sand is whitish-yellow, fine, soft and very slightly gritty if you get it in your eyes or mouth. To a Norwegian, sand is something more like very fine gravel; a substance once trapped in your socks seems never to come out again. I have spent many days at the office with this “sand” caught in my socks or stockings, being slowly driven mad. And when you have something so seemingly insignificant nagging at you all day long, you tend to lose all perspective. Rocks In His Socks is all about how we let tiny irritations blind us to what’s going on around us, sometimes at great personal cost.

The story is complete at 1500 words.

Saltines and Cat Poo

Finding out you’re pregnant doesn’t always make a woman jump for joy: for some women it’s a terrifying, unexpected and even unwanted discovery. Saltines and Cat Poo is about one such woman. She’s married to a man who has never been interested in procreation and she believes this one little accident could even end their marriage. Throughout her pregnancy she’s plagued with doubt and fear both for the life of the child she’s not sure she wants and for the relationship that has to withstand something it perhaps wasn’t built for.

This story was inspired by my own experiences and those of friends who had fears about what a new life would do to change their existing one. For a generation of women brought up to believe in nurturing their own lives first, this taboo subject is often only whispered about. There is something fundamentally wrong with that, in my opinion. Through this story, I’ve sought to unearth some of the feelings and experiences many women go through during their pregnancies, so that perhaps they won’t feel so alone, and may realise that these feelings are normal and don’t make them terrible mothers. In fact, I believe they make you a better mother: a bad mother wouldn’t worry so much.

Saltines and Cat Poo is complete at 3500 words.

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