The Townsville Writers and Publishers Centre (TWPC) will release an Anthology of short stories inspired by a single word: Infection.
While the topic may immediately invoke ideas of a zombie apocalypse or flesh-eating virus, the imaginative writers involved have proven that infection can span many a genre from Fantasy to History and even Romance.
Project coordinator and contributing writer Rachel Armstrong gave us more information, ahead of the Anthology’s upcoming release.
How did this Anthology come about?
TWPC ran a short story competition for Townsville residents last year. We were hoping to source 10 stories for the compilation, and we got the 10 that we wanted. Most of the writers involved in the compilation are members of TWPC, but not all of them.
How diverse were the responses to the topic, Infection?
I’m quite impressed with it! We had asked writers to submit under a wide list of genre and we accounted for every one; in fact I don’t think any of the 10 stories fits into the same genre as another. We’ve ended up with a couple contemporary general fiction stories, we’ve got a historical piece, we’ve got a futuristic science fiction-slash-fantasy one, a little horror story, a crime story…
What was your personal process for interpreting such a broad theme?
I just try to think about what I like to write, which usually falls into a romance category, so I think ‘OK, I’ll go from there and try to figure out what else it is I want to write about’. With Infection, I thought I might do something on cattle station with a deadly cattle disease that forces two people who don’t really want to get along to be quarantined on the farm together and the conflict can go from there. I also had the idea of writing about an STD because that’s a topical thing to read about, that may help people at the same time. But in the end, I wrote a historical story linked to one of my novels. It’s set in a made-up country and it’s just a historical piece about the deadly disease that killed off some of the members of the Royal family and therefore changed the course of history.
How did other writers interpret the theme?
The crime story is more about the metaphorical infection of rage and domestic violence. Some others fall into the fantasy genre with disease-ridden humans that have turned rabid. And another one of our other writers, Jill, writes outback fiction; she fell into that category again but took on the topic of the bats taking over Townsville and Charters Towers.
How does a project like this upskill local writers?
Our hope was that we could provide the opportunity for writers to be published, and that’s why we ran the competition. We also wanted to give the writers an opportunity to work with a professional editor. We received a Regional Arts Development Fund grant for a two part project: firstly we held a workshop as the Townsville Writers Centre for everybody to come to an editing workshop. And then in the second stage, the 10 writers for the Anthology all got to sit down with an editor and receive edits on their work as well. That was a real big thing – as writers, we don’t usually get to work with an Editor until we sign contracts with a Publisher.
Infection: An Anthology of Short Stories is available on Booktopia and Amazon Australia.