Shibboleth & other stories Edited by Laurie Steed


Shibboleth & other stories

Edited by Laurie Steed

These are stories to be felt, read, and remembered. They cover births, deaths, and moments that define our hopes, fears, and failures.

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Short Stories

Publication Year



Margaret River Press








Many of the stories are built around powerful central images that linger long after you turn the last page.

Editor Laurie Steed describes the ‘right’ short stories as ones that ‘sear their mark upon one’s soul’. Repeatedly, this collection does that.’ – Joanne Shiells, Books + Publishing

The 2016 Margaret River Short Story Competition anthology presents the finest emerging and established voices in Australian literature.

These are stories to be felt, read, and remembered. They cover births, deaths, and moments that define our hopes, fears, and failures.

They are stories that connect with a deeper sense of humanity. They are stories to be enjoyed at home, in our bed, or on the train: wherever it’s possible to savour the quiet, loud, and unforgettable moments of life.

With her prize-winning story, ‘Shibboleth,’ Jo Riccioni paves the way for a collection of twenty-four immaculate stories. Other contributors include Magdalena McGuire, Julie Kearney, Cassie Hamer, Phil Sparrow, Michelle Wright, Mirandi Riwoe, and many more.

Editor Laurie Steed writes that, ‘When I tell people I’m an author and editor of short fiction, they often reply that they don’t like reading short stories. One might expect me to be dismayed by such a response. Instead, I’m all the more committed to assuring them that it is not that they don’t like short stories. It’s that they have not yet read the right ones.’

2015 Margaret River Short Story Competition winner, Melanie Napthine says, ‘Over the years, the Margaret River Press short story collection has established a reputation for excellence. To appear in it in 2014 was exciting; to have the winning story in 2015 was an absolute thrill. There’s no prize quite like having appeared in such a beautifully produced book among such talented company.’

‘Shibboleth and other stories’ is a celebration of talented Australian and New Zealand writers, both emerging and established. With twenty-four stories selected from over 200 entries, ‘Shibboleth’ is a delicately selected collection of outstanding original stories.

Laurie Steed 

Laurie Steed is a writer and editor from Western Australia. His fiction has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in Best Australian Stories, Award Winning Australian Writing, the Review of Australian Fiction, The Age, Meanjin, Westerly, Island, Kill Your Darlings, The Sleepers Almanac, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of fellowships from the University of Iowa, the Baltic Writing Residency, the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, the Katherine Susannah Prichard Foundation and the Fellowship of Australian Writers (Western Australia).

He won the Patricia Hackett Prize for Fiction in 2012, and in 2014 was selected as the first Australian Fellow in the history of the Sozopol Fiction Seminars. He lives in Perth, Western Australia with his wife and two young sons.

Mikaela Castledine is a writer, artist and sculptor, born in the WA wheatbelt, living in the Perth hills. She has a bachelor of Applied Science and an MA in Literature and Writing. She uses creativity to make sense of the world, finding that some things require pictures, some shapes and some words, so jumps between disciplines as needed.

Melanie Cheng is a writer of fiction and nonfiction from Melbourne. She was a finalist in the 2015 Bridport Prize. Her writing has appeared in Overland, the Griffith Review, Sleepers Almanac and Peril, and is forthcoming in Meanjin. She is currently working on a short story collection. She tweets at: @mslcheng

Laura Elvery is a writer from Brisbane. In 2013, she won the Josephine Ulrick Literature Award, and has twice been short-listed for the Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize. Laura was awarded the 2015 QUT Emerging Writer’s Mentorship. Her work has appeared in Rex, Bide, Kill Your Darlings, Yen Mag, Award Winning Australian Writing, The Big Issue fiction edition, and Griffith Review.

Kathy George has a BFA in Creative Writing and is currently undertaking an MFA in Australian Gothic Literature at the Queensland University of Technology. Two of her short stories have been published in previous Margaret River Press collections, and her Gothic manuscript Sargasso was short-listed for the Emerging Queensland Writer – Manuscript Award in the 2015 Queensland Literary Awards.

Penny Gibson lives in Sherbrooke in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges of Victoria. Her work has appeared in Right Now, Nothing Prepared Me For This, Thank you for Listening, The Big Issue fiction edition 2014, and SALA Short Stories 2015, and has been Highly Commended in the 2015 Southern Cross Literary Competition.

Kate Glenister is a young writer from Melbourne. She is in her final year of the Master of Creative Writing, Editing and Publishing program at The University of Melbourne, where she is writing her thesis on the inherent falsehoods in contemporary fiction writing. Kate is particularly interested in reading and writing short fiction, and enjoys experimenting with form, narration and point of view. This is Kate’s first published piece of work.

Cassie Hamer lives in Sydney with her young family and tends to write a lot of stories in her head while walking around Centennial Park. This sometimes leads to unfortunate encounters with cyclists, and occasionally, to publication. A passionate reader, Cassie blogs about books and writing at

Julie Kearney is an award-winning artist and writer of fiction, memoir and art reviews. Her work is published in Griffith Review, Cleaver Magazine (USA) and ABC Arts Online and her novel 3 for a Wedding, 4 for Death was short-listed in the Queensland Literary Awards. Currently she is working on a novel about the impact of war on women whose men did not come home. Her website is

Wes Lee lives in New Zealand. Her chapbook of short fiction, Cowboy Genes, was published by Grist Books at the University of Huddersfield in 2014. She was the 2010 recipient of The BNZ Katherine Mansfield Literary Award. Her poems have recently appeared in The London Magazine, Westerly, Cordite, Meniscus, Poetry London, Verandah, The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s Poetry Prize Anthology, and Landfall. She has work forthcoming in The Best New British and Irish Poets 2016.

Georgina Luck’s short stories have been published in various journals/anthologies including Griffith Review, Southerly, Overland, Etchings and the 2012 Margaret River Press anthology. She received the inaugural Griffith Review/Text Publishing Emerging Writers Award for Fiction and has been highly commended and short-listed in various national competitions. She has won two scriptwriting awards and has received two Varuna fellowships as well as an Australian Society of Authors mentorship.

Susan McCreery writes stories, micro-fiction and poetry. Stories have appeared in Sleepers Almanac, Seizure (online), Award Winning Australian Writing, Island, Spineless Wonders anthologies and Margaret River Press anthologies, among others, and been read at Little Fictions in Sydney and Wollongong. She is the author of Waiting for the Southerly (Ginninderra Press, 2012), and the recipient of a Varuna writing fellowship (2014). She lives in Thirroul, NSW.

Magdalena McGuire was born in Poland, grew up in Darwin, and now lives in Melbourne. Her short stories have been published in Australia and internationally by The Big Issue, The Bristol Prize, and Margaret River Press. She has published widely on human rights topics, including women’s rights and the rights of people with disabilities. She is an avid reader and particularly enjoys reading books about girls who like reading books.

Catherine Moffat lives on the NSW Central Coast. She’s had short stories published in literary magazines including Australian Book Review and Australian Short Stories, and in a number of anthologies, and broadcast on Radio National. In 2011, she won the Katharine Susannah Prichard Short Story Competition and has been short-listed or commended for other prizes including the Newcastle Short Story Prize and the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Competition. She was short-listed for the Margaret River Short Story Prize in 2012 and 2015 and dreams of one day winning the residency in Margaret River.

Catherine Noske is currently the editor of Westerly Magazine. She has a PhD in creative writing, and teaches at the University of Western Australia. Her manuscript ‘The Call of Salt’ was the subject of a Varuna fellowship in 2014, before being shortlisted for the Dorothy Hewett Award in 2015. She has twice received the Elyne Mitchell Rural Women Writers Award.

Emily Paull is a bookseller by day and a writer by night. In 2015, she was shortlisted for the John Marsden / Hachette Australia Prize, and in 2014 she was lucky enough to be Emerging Writer-in-Residence at the beautiful Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre in the Perth Hills. You can read her work in the (Re)Sisters Anthology or on her blog,

Helen Renwick is a linguist, an accredited editor, and an EFL teacher. She teaches in the editing and publishing units associated with the professional writing and publishing degree at Curtin University and on the bridging course at CELT at the University of Western Australia, where she did her PhD. Her story ‘The Treasure Box’ plays to a fascination with the unexpected intersections that pepper everyday life, and with everything that remains unspoken.

Rachelle Rechichi lives by the sea and enjoys waking to the sound of waves on the sand. She recently completed a BA with First Class Honours at the South West Campus of Edith Cowan University. She values her continued involvement with the university and actively participates in various local arts projects. Rachelle’s research interests include the representation and interaction of sound, body and place in literature.

Jo Riccioni’s stories have appeared in Best Australian Stories 2010 and 2011, The Age, and literary journals in Australia and the UK. Her first novel, The Italians at Cleat’s Corner Store, won the International Rubery Award for Fiction in 2015. She is currently working on her first short story collection, Can’t Take the Country out of the Boy, the title story of which has been optioned for a short film.

Mirandi Riwoe is a Brisbane-based writer and PhD candidate at QUT. In 2015 her work was longlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association (UK) Debut Dagger and short-listed for the Legend Press Luke Bitmead Bursary. Her first novel will be released by Legend Press in 2017.

Sue Robertson is a Melbourne-based writer. Her stories have appeared in Best Australian Stories 2005, Melbourne Subjective, SALA Short Stories 2015, Australian Women’s Weekly and Australasian Post, and have been presented on Radio National Short Story. In 2010 she won the Bluethumbnail Prize and in 2013 received a Special Commendation in the Scarlet Stiletto. She is currently working on a collection of interlinked short stories.

Phil Sparrow started writing in his teens. He has had a number of stories and plenty of articles published, many of which draw on the years he spent in Afghanistan as an aid worker. His first book, From Under a Leaky Roof, was published by Fremantle Press. Phil continues to work overseas in aid projects.

Leslie Thiele lives in Capel, Western Australia. She attends ECU South West part time while learning how to write. She lived in the Kimberley for a long time, has two kids (mostly grown) and a partner who plays guitar a lot. She also has one dog, one cat, and two fish in a murky pond (and also a frog, she suspects). She writes in a messy writing room with stuff pinned up everywhere and never has enough time to follow the thought trails they suggest—but is ever hopeful.

Chloe Wilson is the author of two poetry collections, The Mermaid Problem and Not Fox Nor Axe. She has been awarded the John Marsden Prize for Young Australian Writers, the (Melbourne) Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Award for Poetry, the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize, the Fish Publishing Flash Fiction Prize and the Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award.

Michelle Wright’s short stories have won several awards including The Age, Alan Marshall and Grace Marion Wilson. They have been published in many Australian and international anthologies and journals. She has been awarded a Writers Victoria Templeberg Fellowship, A Faber Academy scholarship and was a 2015 Laughing Waters Artist-in-Residence. Her short story collection, Fine, was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. It will be published by Allen and Unwin in 2016, along with her debut novel in 2017.

The volume’s abundance means it is best read slowly or intermittently to savour each story’s intricacy and craft. Margaret River Press’ commitment to showcasing Australian writers deserves support. Editor Laurie Steed describes the ‘right’ short stories as ones that ‘sear their mark upon one’s soul’. Repeatedly, this collection does that.

Joanne Shiells was formerly a retail book buyer and an editor of Books+Publishing.  Four Stars.

‘While the anthology is always a good read, this year’s collection – Shibboleth and Other Stories – is particularly impressive. Perhaps more than most years, the 2016 anthology embodies a small number of distinct themes, although several stories cross thematic categories.’  Fiction Craft

In this well-shaped collection, editor Laurie Steed has nestled the diverse work of emerging and established writers comfortably together. He says that the 24 stories chosen for the anthology ‘uniformly took risks, presenting new scenarios, vulnerable protagonists, and a willingness to think outside of the box’. There’s also a thread of darkness running through them—so pace yourself in your reading or you could easily feel overwhelmed.

Margaret River Press is a small press that produces good-looking books and this one showcases a wealth of Australian talent. It should be pondered with relish. a bigger brighter world

‘In just a few sittings, Shibboleth took me around the world, into lives I’d never heard of. It introduced me to characters both sympathetic and not, and to writers I can’t wait to hear more from (Magdalena McGuire and Cassie Hamer, I’m looking at you!). It pivoted gracefully around the chasm introduced in Jo Riccioni’s title story, and made me consider the turning points and breaks in my own life.’ Sam van Zweden

“Many of the stories are built around powerful central images that linger long after you turn the last page.” – Julie Koh in her Sydney launch speech.

Shibboleth and other stories is a collection worth celebrating and worthy of enduring.” – Nathan Hobby in his Perth launch speech.

More than anything, Margaret River Press offers an engaging, approachable alternative to mass publication, selecting those titles that speak to us, and bringing them to you, the reader.

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