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Dust Makers

Yay! I’ve had a short story published—my first! It’s in the anthology called Dust Makers, published by Rhiza Edge (imprint of Rhiza Press). Published in October 2022, it’s available now via or from bookshops in November. Classed as YA, the anthology is suitable for readers from 12 years and up.

In this exciting collection of short stories, the editors, Penny Jaye and R. A. Stephens, challenged Australia’s YA authors to tackle themes of sustainability, caring for the environment, and the legacy we leave for one another. The resulting thirteen stories are a range of historical fiction and dystopian adventure, sci-fi settings and contemporary feels—guaranteed to leave you thinking about the impact of humanity and the difference our actions could make. Each story is around 2000 words.

My story is called Gasp! and the inspiration for it came from a “chat” I had with someone who was concerned about the effects of climate change on human health. That was back in 2016, so the story percolated and evolved for a wee while—on and off. I think I was also quite influenced by my love of old sci-fi movies and series—like the classic movie Logan's Run (1976) and that phenomenal BBC series, Outcasts (2011; the fact that they didn’t make a second season still irks me and many others, greatly!).

Gasp! is a ‘cli-fi’, set in a post-climate change world in the year 2230. The unthinkable occurred 150 years earlier, but human-kind had time to prepare. Survivors were reduced to living as colonies in one of the 100 or so ‘Bells’ that protected them from the toxic atmosphere outside, enabling them to breathe. Protagonist, 17-year-old Pin, goes on a mission outside her Belle for the first time, along with fellow cadet, Arlo. The story is about what it’s like on the outside and why, what happens to Pin, and the gobsmacking truth she discovers.

This was a bit of an experiment for me, too. In the story, Pin is communicating with two others, Arlo and an unknown person. I hope the way that I’ve used formatting and different fonts as an integral part of the storytelling, will provide enough clarity to readers about ‘how’ she’s communicating with each one, and ‘who’ that unknown other might be. Apologies in advance, if I missed the mark. If I ever get the right time and energy combination happening, I’d love to expand this story into something more.

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