word to the reader before you begin:
liquorice allsorts (after which this story collection got its name), these
stories are different but they all have one thing in common. In each there is a
skeleton, or a skeleton gets a mention. Just as you’ll find some pieces in the
liquorice allsorts bag that are all liquorice, so you’ll find some stories
here that are actually about a skeleton. Part of the challenge for those who
read all the stories will be locating the skeleton.
mostly these stories are about young people like you—well, perhaps a bit older
than you in some cases—doing things that Aussies do or dream about doing:
exploring in national parks; participating in big sporting matches; feeling
awkward about sharing classes in another school; hanging around a hospital where
a relative is a patient; flying; meeting some seriously weird people; being
terrified of certain kinds of local wildlife; telling ghost stories; stealing
cars ... well maybe not ... but hey! Lots of kids your age do it ... they get
into terrible trouble if they get caught, but you must have heard about them ...
anyway there’s even one about that in this book.
there are also some ‘issues’ stories but don’t be frightened off by them.
None of them will preach at you. You’ll just see how some guys and girls deal
with these situations, and often it’s funny if the victim isn’t you. In this
collection you’ll find stories where bullying and teasing are involved,
likewise eating disorders, racial insensitivity, helping friends or siblings in
danger, drug use, impact of war on those involved and those who were left
behind, danger of leaving a car (or dwelling) unattended with a key in the lock.
the plot of most of these stories could take place anywhere, a few are set in
places that are named by the author:
behalf of the clever writers of this collection, I wish you happy reading. If
the stories make you think a bit, feel, dream, imagine, or you simply enjoy
reading them, then they have served their purpose well.
Barney, an award winning Brisbane writer who
served two years as fiction editor of Scope,
has written for radio, stage and had short stories and poetry published. A
recently-completed novel is set during convict times and takes place in
England-born Richard Blackburn migrated
Bowers was only four when she convinced herself
she could fly—if only she could run fast enough to launch herself. This dream
inspired her story High Flyers in this
collection, which she is now expanding into a young adult novel. A professional
journalist and editor, Helen loves writing crime stories and is represented in
most Crime Writers Queensland collections.
She holds the Scope Editor endurance
record—11 years. She is also an award-winning poet and short story writer.
Forsyth is a Scots-Australian who spent six years
as a governess in the central west of
globe trotter James Hamilton has
Irvine. Graduating with Distinction from a
three-year Creative Writing extension course at
Marwick, another England-born Australian, has two
teenagers, a dog, three cats and a passion for writing that goes back as far as
she can remember. She loves people, making cakes, reading, going to movies and
travelling. For three years her monthly Wordsmith column appeared in Scope magazine, as did several of her stories.. For FAWQ, Rose
convenes the annual Lovers of Good Writing
competition, and she has served as Vice-President on their committee.
McGoldrick’s involvement with FAWQ goes back
twenty years, first as a writer and then as a member of the committee
(Vice-President twice), and as convenor of several writing competitions. She
helped found Sunnybank Writers’ Group (now known as Orange Grove Writers) and Wordfest,
and twice took her community writers’ project Chalk It Up to Warana Writers
Week. After successes with short stories and poetry, she is determined to
finish her first novel this year.
over 20 years Duncan Richardson has
been publishing poetry and short stories for adults and children. He has two
collections of poetry in print, and for Brisbane City Council, a guide for a
literary walk of
Rigby always wanted to be a writer. Her school
teachers recognised her talent and encouraged her, but she discovered how hard
it was to make a living as an author, so she switched to pharmacy as a career,
but kept writing as a hobby. A member of FAWQ as well as Kenmore Writing group,
she won many awards with her short stories, and it was at Joan’s instigation
that the FAWQ writing group The Westerlies
Reluctant Dragon book hooked Jennifer
Riggs as a child. School introduced other dragons, all breathing fire, but
not all with wings! Jennifer writes stories, verse (especially poems with clever
word play), and articles on ‘learning about learning’. A story of hers
recently made the short list in a national short story competition, and an adult
novel is presently doing the publishers’ round. A member of The Westerlies, she also reviews children’s books for educational
Rosenberg began writing academic papers, then
turned to poems. Some of these appeared in university student anthologies; one
was even selected for a religious school text. He moved on to short stories,
achieved competition successes there, and converted a couple to moderately
successful plays. As a Canberra Public Servant he turned his hand to writing
science fiction. Currently Barry is President of The
Poetry and Prose Society on
Sargent went to a
Spanish-Italian-Australian, left school at 13 and pursued a variety of jobs.
These provided him with fascinating characters and life experiences that give
his writings the ring of authenticity. He prefers writing poetry in free verse,
which has won him many awards and resulted in a critically acclaimed collection After the Storms. Recently he ventured into short story writing, a
new and interesting challenge. John enjoys travel, growing vegetables and trees,
and lives in Eumundi SE Queensland.
McKee loves overseas travel, people and has worked
at many jobs, but principally as a teacher. Jay has written for television and
theatre, as well as short stories, poetry and articles. To his two successful
biographies, Pawn of War (with Rudi
Stiebritz) and Never Upstaged—the Life
and Times of Babette Stephens, he hopes to add a humorous collection of
travel adventure stories. He is President of The Fellowship of Australian
you to all the members of the Fellowship of Australian Writers,
Of course there was a great deal of overlap in the stories—in any one story we considered perceived age of the principal character(s), topics dealt with, and relevance of the plot and setting, as well as criteria already mentioned. In the end I believe the selection team have come up with a splendid compilation, providing both ‘reading for pleasure’ and ‘food for thought’.
The other manuscript selectors were Adele Moy, Helen Bowers and Miriam McGoldrick. (Selectors who entered stories were barred from adjudicating the suitability of their own entries.) I am seriously indebted to my colleagues for the time they spent agonising over the relative merits of stories.
At the subsequent editing and suitability-assessment stage, I was assisted by teachers in the field who read the stories and added their comments and suggestions about appropriateness for the target market. To Pat Ryan, Elli Housden and Barbara Baker a heartfelt thankyou also for your professional advice and support.
Finally, I thank Bill Henderson for casting a ‘fresh editorial eye’ over the stories; Adele Moy for proofreading the final manuscript versions of both the book and the Teachers’ Handbook copy; and Ian Wynne for his assistance with layout and preparation of the Teachers’ Handbook pamphlet.
To all the team at Zeus Publications who quality-checked the stories, designed the cover and layout, and produced the book, go sincere thanks on behalf of the authors and from the FAWQ team.
Jay McKee (June 2006)
(Skeletons Allsorts compiler)
a sample of one of the stories:
runs in our family. It’s in the genes. Like fair hair and brown eyes.
all long and skinny, with big feet, which are good things to have when you want
to get somewhere in a hurry. If you don’t believe that, ask Ian Thorpe.
Aerodynamically designed, Dad says, and I reckon he’s right, not that it does
me much good.
hair’s grey and he isn’t as switched on as he used to be but he says he’d
just as soon be sold for scrap once he can no longer buzz into town on a
Saturday arvo. Just as likely to go belly-up on the gravel these days instead of
easing down near the clubhouse. A bit of gravel rash, maybe a few cuts and
bruises. Nothing major and the next Saturday he’s all done up in his whites,
bowls bag strapped to his back, raring to go. He gives us a wave, then recycles
the family joke no one but me seems to get tired of: ‘Gotta fly,’ he says.
knowing what colour Gran’s hair will be from one month to another. It’s been
red for a while. She says redheads have more fun than blondes but I reckon
she’s putting the best spin she can on the job-lot of henna she bought on
special at Woolies. She’s a bit stiff in the joists these days, not much
altitude either but enough revs left to get her to the Seniors’ Club on
Tuesdays for a couple of cut-throat games of mah-jong and to drop in on her old
mates for a zillion cups of tea and what Mum calls “recreational character
big brother Scott is a regular revhead. When he comes home from Uni the place is
swarming with girls who should know better, fawning on him and screeching,
‘Beam me up, Scotty!’ Loves every minute of it, the big poser.
and Dad are real jetsetters. They go full throttle day in, day out, here, there
and everywhere, never missing a beat.
brings me to my baby sister, Amy. She’s not even one yet and has just started
walking so no way she’ll be taking off. Not for a long time I reckon. Maybe
now Mum comes in, Amy in her arms, and says, ‘Keep an eye on her, Ashley.
I’m going shopping and your Dad’s busy mowing the lawn.’
I say. And I mean it. Amy’s no sweat. Prettier than most pictures and cuter
than any button I’ve ever seen.
be long,’ Mum says as she puts on her goggles. She waves goodbye and says,
wouldn’t you know it, ‘Gotta fly.’
supposed to be doing my homework but I award myself a break and turn on the TV.
Which means I only have half an eye on Amy. If that.
happy enough sitting on the floor, playing with those plastic shapes you have to
fit into the right slots. After a while I hear her grumbling. The grumbling
keeps getting louder till it sounds like the baby talk version of four-letter
words. I glance over and see that she’s straining on tiptoe, holding on to a
chair, trying to reach the schoolbooks I left on the table. No worries. She’ll
never make it. Next commercial I’ll get her a different toy and maybe a drink.
That should calm her down.
I hear her give a sort of strangled gasp. She’s not the only one surprised.
She’s let go of the chair and is rising up towards the tabletop, head high,
little arms flapping up and down until she makes it to the top. Not a
three-point landing by any means but pretty good for a first attempt. I just sit
there, mouth open, unable to move. I watch her tiny starfish hands grab a page
of the book review I’d meant to put in a plastic envelope but hadn’t. She
screws it up and holds it out to me with a gap-toothed smile.
glare at her, hating her, longing to screw her little neck. At that moment,
murdering my baby sister seems like a good career move. Not that I care about
the review. Printing out that page again will be dead easy. What’s bugging me
is that now I’m the only one in my entire family who can’t fly. The misfit.
I can squeeze the life out of Amy, Mum yells out from the back door: ‘Yoohoo!
I’m home. Give us a hand with these bags, Ash.’
grab the little wretch, go through to the kitchen, plonk her on the floor and
take two of the carry bags.
longer than I expected,’ Mum puffs. ‘A headwind on the way home, not to
mention a bit of turbulence, and, as usual, I bought more than I meant to. Still
it’s good to get some really fresh air in the lungs. Amy been okay?’
tell her what happened. She lights up as if she’s just had a call saying
she’s won Gold Lotto, picks Amy up, whirls her around and hugs her. ‘Clever
girl! Can’t keep a good girl down!’
gurgles and looks smug. Little does she know how close she came to extinction.
be gross, really awful,’ I say, determined to cast a pall of gloom on all this
rejoicing. ‘She’ll be into everything. What if she goes up somewhere really
high and falls? What if she gets into the knife rack? Or the medicine cabinet?
And what if she flies outside? While the magpies are nesting?’
a problem,’ Mum said. ‘I’ve been through it all with you two…’ Her
voice trails off and she gives me that apologetic look, the one that says she
loves me every bit as much even though I’m different. Differently abled.
That’s what they say these days when they really mean disabled. Unable to do
things others can. ‘With Scott, I mean,’ she corrects herself. ‘I’ve
practised on him. Don’t worry, darling, I know how to handle it.’
decide to make a dignified retreat. ‘I’ll take my books up to my room. I
really must finish my homework and it’ll be quieter there.’
voice sounds a bit wobbly but I don’t cry. Not until I close the bedroom door
behind me. It should have a lock. A fourteen-year-old girl needs some privacy.
What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I fly? I throw myself down on the bed, push
my face into the pillow and howl like a baby.
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