Four contributors chosen from national competition to join all-star Australian YA horror anthology … just in time for Halloween!

Four stories chosen from a competitive national open call-out will join some of Australia’s most celebrated YA authors for Hometown Haunts, a YA horror anthology published by Wakefield Press and funded by the Australia Council’s 2020 Resilience Fund – Create.


Four contributors chosen from national competition to join all-star Australian YA horror anthology … just in time for Halloween!

‘I’m so excited to be announcing the final four additions to the Hometown Haunts line-up,’ says YA author and anthology editor Poppy Nwosu, who supports her writing career with a day job in marketing at Wakefield Press. She led a panel of Wakefield Press judges, including submissions manager Maddy Sexton, YA publisher Jo Case and director Michael Bollen, through several rounds of judging over 120 stories submitted, including a final ‘blind’ read.

‘We were specifically looking for stories that showcased a strong voice, unique ideas and a horror element that felt intrinsic to the narrative of the piece,’ she says. ‘We had a difficult time – and many lively discussions – as we selected just four winners from a very strong and exciting pool of young adult fiction voices.’

The four winning stories are wide-ranging in subject and style. An intense, lyrical story about a high-achieving student literally monstered by her anxiety, by celebrated Adelaide YA author Margot McGovern. A harrowing dive into toxic masculinity and bloody rites in a dystopic future Australia by Melbourne queer, non-binary fiction writer and poet Emma Osborne. A sly, unsettling, black-humoured tale of ancestral ghosts and the age-old question of what we’ll trade for what we desire by Queensland children’s and YA author Marianna Shek. And a visceral howl of teenage angst and rage that literally transforms its protagonist by 21-year-old Melbourne screenwriter and horror fan Felix Wilkins.

Hometown Haunts features YA horror stories from commissioned contributors Wai Chim, Sarah Epstein, Alison Evans, Poppy Nwosu, Lisa Fuller, Holden Sheppard, Jared Thomas and this year’s Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year for Older Readers winner, Vikki Wakefield.

Learn more about the selected entries:

Margot McGovern, Hometown Haunts entrant

Margot McGovern says, ‘I’ve always loved horror, particularly as a teenager it was the genre I escaped into. For me, it’s a safe place to confront deep fears and anxieties that are otherwise difficult to voice. I’m absolutely thrilled to have ‘Euryhaline’ selected for the Hometown Haunts: #LoveOzYA Horror Tales anthology and am looking forward to working with Poppy Nwosu and the team at Wakefield Press.’

Margot McGovern is an Adelaide-based author and lifelong horror junkie. She holds a creative writing PhD from Flinders University and her debut novel Neverland (Penguin Random House Aus) was shortlisted for the 2020 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature and the 2015 Text Prize. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time at the beach and her love of the ocean and sea myths often spills into her fiction.

Emma Osborne, Hometown Haunts entrant

On being selected, Emma Osborne says, ‘This story has a special place in my heart, and I’m so excited that it has found such a wonderful home, amongst such fabulous company!’

Emma Osborne is a queer, non-binary fiction writer and poet from Melbourne, Australia. Their writing has appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Nightmare Magazine, Shock Totem: Tales of the Macabre and Twisted, Apex Magazine, Queers Destroy Science Fiction, Pseudopod, the Review of Australian Fiction, and GlitterShip. They are a graduate of the 2016 Clarion West Writers Workshop. Emma currently lives in Melbourne with their two cats. You can find them on Twitter as @redscribe.

Mariann Shek, Hometown Haunts entrant

Marianna says, ‘I’m thrilled to be one of the lucky four writers selected for this exciting anthology and I can’t wait to read the works of the other writers. Thank you Wakefield Press for applying for the Australia Council’s 2020 Resilience Fund – Create. The arts have experienced so many setbacks with Covid and this is a great opportunity for emerging writers that has come out of it.’

Marianna Shek is a children’s and young adult fiction writer with a PhD in transmedia storytelling. In 2020, she was the winner of the CYA Conference fiction prize, shortlisted for the Affirm Press Mentorship Award at Varuna House and longlisted for the Queensland Stories, Songs and Rhymes picture book project at State Library of Queensland. She was awarded the 2017 Conflux short story competition and shortlisted in the Deborah Cass
Writing Prize in 2018. Her short stories have been published by Space and Time Magazine, Serenity Press and Griffith University.

Felix Wilkins, Hometown Haunts entrant

Felix says, ‘I couldn’t be happier that my odious, nauseating, abhorrent story has a place amongst some of the finest voices in modern Australian literature.’

Felix Wilkins is a screenwriter, video editor, and filmmaker based in Melbourne. When he’s not sweating over how to portray himself in his own author bio, he’s likely to be watching classic horror movies, producing content for his production company, Yabba Films, or trying to convince people that Toni Collette is the greatest Australian actress of all time.

Congratulations to the winning entries, and a huge thank you to everyone who submitted to Wakefield Press.

Hometown Haunts: #LoveOzYA Horror Tales will be published by Wakefield Press on 31 October 2021. Learn more about the anthology here.

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