Posts Tagged ‘short story’

Photograph by Mathyas Kurmann

‘Sorting Things Out’ is a short story set in a small country town in New South Wales. It contains two kinds of truth. Firstly, I did sort mail at a country post office. I also used to do a mail run. I’ve never heard of Snake Road though, and all the characters are fictitious.

The second truth concerns the alienation that hits someone when they return to a place after a long spell away, and how relationships change and families grow apart. It takes a lot of effort to let go of closely held prejudices, open the heart, and step into the new.

I’m honoured that Fictive Dream found merit in my story. Doubly honoured that they’ve published it as part of their first anniversary celebrations. You can read the full story here – https://fictivedream.com/2017/05/28/sorting-things-out/

 

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All Because of You: Eleven tales of refuge and hope received this awesome badge last month!

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“Throughout the collection, Blackthorn utilizes rich descriptions and language to portray vivid images of the women and their lives, both the ones they are living now and the ones that they had escaped…a powerful collection of stories that hits you hard, leaving you contemplating the good and bad of life and looking forward to the future.”

https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/all-because-of-you/1

You can buy from Amazon and all good bookstores.

I’m honoured to have been given the opportunity to perform one of my short stories in support of Knox PLEDGE for gender equality.

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The high tea serves to launch a series of creative writing workshops I’ll be giving next year for survivors of family violence.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful mediums we have to convey our truths. I’ve laid to rest many inner demons that way. The short story form lends itself to autobiographical reflections. Above all, the effort of writing our truth in a form fit for other’s eyes leads to personal transformation and empowerment.

2017 is set to be an extraordinary year!

 

It’s been a hectic month of moving house and in amongst it all Odyssey Books re-released my short story collection All Because of You: Eleven tales of refuge and hope. 

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It’s an eclectic collection and they’re mostly semi-autobiographical. Two were written from the point of view of my former partner, the late Alex Legg, who ought to be remembered forever as one of the world’s genius songwriters.

The timing of the release is remarkable. I’ve been invited to run a series of writing workshops for survivors of family violence as part of Knox PLEDGE and to perform one of the stories with my daughter pianist Elizabeth Blackthorn. Details to follow.

I’m indebted to Elizabeth and to Alex for helping me compose and revise each of these stories. And to my publisher Michelle Lovi at Odyssey Books for continuing to believe in my work.

I started writing The Refuge in 2010.  Now, four years on, and here it is published in the American literary magazine Mused.

http://www.bellaonline.com/review/issues/winter2014/f004.html

There is a little bit of truth in the story. It would be hard to write convincingly about the experience of living in a women’s refuge unless the author has done so herself.

When I heard recently that in New South Wales, Australia, women’s refuges were being put out to tender by local government, the contracts almost invariably won by the corporate giants,I felt inspired to revisit the original draft of my story that had remained untouched for years.

The Refuge portrays what it might be like to find yourself in a corporatised women’s refuge. It’s dystopia.

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I should have done something sooner. That’s what my neighbour said. Best nipped in the bud. A good hard slap across the face will shut her up. Said she never had any trouble in the playground after that. But my best friend’s husband was right about me. I’m a coward. And cowards cower. They don’t punch or slap. I found that out about myself in my old school playground. Now I was a teacher with a demon of a boss who had never outgrown the playground thug.

I was working at a new school. The kids were friendly and polite. The principal had vision. And I didn’t mind that my classroom was a leaky old hut that was sinking on its stumps. I had a pleasant view of rolling pasture.  I made friends with the other teachers. Soon it was obvious the principal had taken a shine to me. And that was probably how it all began.

First it was a dismissive wave of her hand. Or a bollocking when I forgot to return the text books. I would swallow my humiliation. She was, after all, my boss.

She drew me into her warped little world, made me her ally and included me in her plots and schemes against her enemies. She even warned me off making friends with the entire geography department who were all loose cannons according to her. I can’t believe I never made a friend in geography. I love geography.

I should have done something when she stormed into class and yelled at me in front of thirty kids. I froze where I stood with the whole class staring until she left, slamming the door behind her. She apologised later but it’s hard to trust an apology when you know she’ll do it again.

I should have done something when my class of year twelves used my lessons to complain about the way she treated them. You should be the head, they’d said. We like you. Which was nice to hear but it didn’t change a thing.

I should have done something when she locked all the resources in the departmental  storeroom and kept the only key. She’s nuts, I thought  at the time and my union rep, who had a key for everywhere, helped me steal paper and exercise books from other departments. He had a weird way of dealing with things.

I did complain to the deputy principal and was told all department heads were the same and to take no notice.

Maybe I should have done something more but only the kids would believe me. Or more likely no-one wanted to hear it.

So I left. I left not before I slapped her – that was never going to happen. I left before she slapped me.

It proved a wise move. She left too, not long after, for slapping my successor across the face.

That slap had my name on it.

The thing my best friend’s husband doesn’t know is that cowards don’t just cower. They also walk away. And that takes courage.