The Stats:

* Eleven submissions recieved
* Three disqualified for not matching submission guidelines
* Three were not fully read – one because story took too long to get going; one because story structure made it too difficult to read; one because language was too dense to make sense of story

In the end, there were two stories that grabbed me – both had similarities in that they were fantasies set in the modern world and both were well told stories that had a unique (to me at least) take on the genre they were representing.

I was torn. I had hoped that it would be easy – that one story would jump out at me, grab my heart, inspire me above all others.

As I was getting myself a cup of tea, two things occurred to me. First, I’d been very clear in the submission guidelines that this was going to be a subjective choice. Second, that this was going to be the first In fabula-divinos story and thus it would say something important about me and about what I want to achieve.

With those things in mind, I chose Holly Kench’s story “The Secret Life of a Zombie Fan”.

I chose Holly’s story because I liked it (I smiled at the end, which is always a good sign) but also because she’s female and Australian. These are two things that are important to me. I believe that overall, women don’t get as much of a fair go in the publishing industry as men do, that their work is devalued and not given the same gravitas, and believing that it should be something I personally stand up for. I did that in The Outcast, ensuring that it was a 50/50 split male to female writers.

I am also proudly Australian, fiercely patriotic and glad of the incredible writers that we have. We well and truly punch above our weight in literature and I loved the idea of giving another Australian a chance to make their mark on the world.

Does that mean that next time I have to choose between stories, I’m going to go for the woman and/or Australian? Not necessarily. Other factors may well come into play – next time, for example, I may be choosing between two male non-Australian authors. But for this story, the first, it was an important line to draw in the sand.

Will the non-Australian, male writer that I didn’t pick be pissed about this? I guess so, but then I did clearly state in the submission guidelines that this would be subjective and not to submit if that bothers you.

Rejection sucks, regardless of the method it is delivered. At least in this instance, there’s the knowledge that it was a close thing and that I really liked his story too.

But I chose Holly and I’m glad I did. I’m really looking forward to working with someone so enthusiastic about the process and so willing to learn. I will undoubtedly learn from her as well – that’s one of the great things about writing, perfection is always there to be striven for.

Holly’s story will be published on this website on May 1. In the meantime, I’ll blog about the process somewhat here and you may well want to follow Holly’s blog