Shortlist for the 2018 VU Short Story Prize

The Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize encourages excellent and original short fiction by new writers of up to 3000 words in length. At a grand first prize of $6000, it is a coveted annual fiction award. There are also two runner-up prizes of $1000. All three winners, along with the judges’ notes, will be published in the spring issue of Overland.

While we’d like to thank all 863 entrants who worked hard to submit this year, the four judges for the 2018 competition – writer Sarah Schmidt, writer and editor Michelle Cahill, writer and VU academic Tom Clark, and writer and Overland fiction editor Jennifer Mills – have now decided on a shortlist of thirteen outstanding stories.

The judges, Overland and Victoria University are thrilled to introduce the 2018 shortlist:

Caoimhe McKeogh (Wellington)

‘Mr Bananafish’

Caoimhe_photoMummy needs a break, so Uncle Stanley babysits Mike-ill and Nazel, who teach him about acorns and planets and fruit.

Caoimhe McKeogh works in a bookshop and is studying towards an MA in creative writing. Caoimhe has had her poetry and fiction published in New Zealand and Australian journals, including Landfall, Overland, Turbine, Cordite, Meniscus, Geometry, and Mimicry. She is a member of Headland Journal’s editorial panel. @Keava_Rose

Beejay Silcox (Cairo/ACT)

‘Geraldton wax’

Silcox PhotoAt a pistol club in rural Western Australia, a teenage girl sharpens her aim – keenly aware of how conspicuous she is in a room of fathers and sons.

Beejay Silcox’s husband calls her ‘Lord of Chaos, Destruction, Small Fires and Minor Floods’. As pet names go, what this one lacks in sweetness and brevity, it makes up for in incontestable accuracy. Beejay is currently based in Cairo, where she works as a freelance writer and literary critic.



‘Nothing in the night’

A man nears the end of his life.

AS lives in Sydney.


Aurora Adams (Edinburgh/NSW)


Aurora AdamsA young woman breeds a microbial army to fight corporate culture.

Aurora Adams is interested in power and how to write about it, in both her day job as a campaigner and her evening experiments in fiction. @aanadams


Stephen Pham (NSW)

‘White April’

PhamPresented as a walking tour, ‘White April’ is a series of stories shaped by the Western Sydney suburb Cabramatta that subvert the White nationalist, Orientalist gaze cast upon it.

Stephen Pham is a Vietnamese-Australian writer from Cabramatta. He has been published in Sydney Review of Books, Meanjin, and Griffith Review. Stephen received the 2018 NSW Writer’s Fellowship to commence work on his debut manuscript Vietnamatta. @stpstpstpstpstp (Photo credit: Leah Jing McIntosh.)


Erik Garkain (SA)

‘Dear Ophelia’

GarkainIt’s hard performing Ophelia’s autopsy with her secrets splayed open for the forensic world to see; it’s even harder when you share those same secrets.

Erik Garkain is a queer transgender writer, forensic mortuary technician, 4×4 explorer, and body modification aficionado from South Australia. He has just finished his Advanced Diploma of Professional Writing and is dedicated to weaving stories around marginalised individuals and social outcasts. He’s promised to write happy endings sometimes.


Jenna Owen (NSW)

‘King of Woonona’

Jenna OwenKing of Woonona is the story of my childhood, spent for a while in an old bread factory, with my father and The King.

Jenna Owen is a 23-year-old actor, comedian and writer originally from Wollongong, Australia. She co-founded sketch group Freudian Nip, and currently writes political satire for SBS’s The Feed. She has previously written for The Chaser Online, ABC Comedy and Foxtel’s The Slot. This is her first attempt at literary publication. @jennaown


Sebastian Gonzalez Barlia (NSW)


Sebastian Gonzalez‘Ziggy’ traces the arc of a modern relationship through a collection of ephemera, seeking romance in the prosaic.

Sebastian Gonzalez Barlia is an emerging Uruguayan-Australian writer from Sydney whose work can be found on Writers Bloc and other corners of the internet. His interests include artificial intelligence, the future and mass obsolescence.


Katerina Gibson (QLD/VIC)

‘How to disappear into yourself (in 8 steps)’

Katerina Gibson PhotoA step-by-step guide on how finding your sense of self can be all-consuming.

Katerina Gibson is studying her honours in creative writing at the University of Melbourne. She is from Brisbane, but lives in Footscray. @katerinagibson


Lara Saunders (SA)

‘These tended things’

SaundersResearching chimpanzees in the African rainforest, Vivienne finds herself nurturing old wounds and committing new sins.

Lara Saunders lives in Adelaide. She studied creative writing and then social work. This career inspires her writing about people, their stories, and the essentials of being human. She has had a short story published in The Zodiac Review and is currently working on a novel-length manuscript.


Else Fitzgerald (VIC)


Else_FitzgeraldTwo archivists must decide what is really worth saving after the world is flooded by rising sea levels.

Else Fitzgerald’s work has appeared in various places including Visible InkMeanjinThe Suburban ReviewOffset and Award-Winning Australian Writing. She is currently working on a collection of short speculative fiction exploring landscapes, language and technology, and the ways they may shift and alter in a radically changing world. @elsefitz


Donna Mazza (WA)

‘The last of its kind’

MazzaOn a remote Wheatbelt property, a family run safari park offers a unique experience to hunt the last of its kind to extinction – but a moment of conscience alters the fate of a young woman and a strange bird.

Donna Mazza writes fiction and poetry and was recipient of the 2018 Mick Dark Fellowship for Environmental writing at Varuna Writers Centre. She lectures in arts at Edith Cowan University and recently delivered the Randolph Stow Memorial Lecture. She’s author of The Albanian (Fremantle Press), which received the TAG Hungerford Award.


Sandra Potter (TAS)

‘The rocks of New Norfolk and Environment D’

Sandra PotterA traveller to Antarctica contemplates the geology and looming ruination of one of the continent’s rare oases.

Sandra Potter lives in rural Tasmania and is a graduate of the University of Tasmania’s School of Fine Arts, and former School of Geography and Environmental Studies. Her work has been published in Southerly, Smith Journal, Frankie, The Australian and various academic monographs and journals.


Congratulations again to these exciting new writers. Final results will be announced at Overland shortly!

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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