All posts by alanbaxter

About alanbaxter

Weird word warlock. Martial artist. Whisky-soaked swear monkey. Cynical optimist. Britstralian.

Short Story and Flash Competition winners!

The Robert N Stephenson AHWA Short Story & Flash Fiction Competition has been run for another year. Once again we’ve had a stellar number of entries and the judges had a hell of a time trying to pick winners. I think there might even have been a fistfight at one point… wait, no, I’m being told that’s not actually true. Regardless, we truly appreciate the efforts of the writers who submitted their amazing work – you made the job of our judges genuinely hard.

Thanks also go to those judges – David Stevens, Pete Kempshall, Marty Young, Bernie Rutkay, Ronnie Smart, and Claire Fitzpatrick – who have done a great job under trying circumstances. This competition couldn’t go ahead without the awesome writers and these wonderful judges. And of course, massive thanks to our blood-soaked competition wrangler, the incomparable Anthony Ferguson. Apparently he’s the one who broke up the fistfight… oh, right, I’m being told that’s not true either.

So, without further ado, let’s celebrate the winners. They are:

Short story

Winner – “Test of Death” by Michael Botur

Huge congratulations, Michael.

And the judges give their Honourable Mention to “The Crossing” by Jeff Clulow. Congrats, Jeff!

Flash fiction

Winner – “Animal Parade” by Dani Ringrose

Huge congratulations to you too, Dani!

And the judges couldn’t split up the two deserving of an Honourable Mention, so they included them both: “Eggs” by P.S. Cottier and “Oily Man” by Sumitra Shankar

Big congrats to you two as well.

The two winners – “Test of Death” by Michael Botur and “Animal Parade” by Dani Ringrose – will receive a shiny winner’s plaque and paid publication in Midnight Echo 17, which is due for publication around the middle of 2022.

Here are our judges comments about the winners:

“Test of Death” – Original, dark and weird. Loved the characters and the whole concept. An entertaining blend of the grotesque, the humorous, and the crazed. A natural progression of insanity that somehow couldn’t be resisted.

“Animal Parade” – Visceral, demented, gritty, bizarre. I can hear the birds, smell the smoke from the fires and the antiseptic on the operating table.

Again, massive congratulations to the winners and HMs, and huge thanks to everyone who entered, our judges, and Anthony Ferguson for managing the whole thing. Horror is healthy!


Italian horror!

RiLL publishing has released a new anthology featuring a variety of short stories, including an Italian translation of last year’s AHWA Short Story Competition winner “The Best Medicine” by Pauline Yates. You can read the English version in Midnight Echo 16, which should be out by the end of this month.

Meanwhile, check out the Italian book. The page about the book on the RiLL website is here:

The book is available on

and on Amazon:

Here’s the cover art, by the Italian artist Valeria De Caterini:

2020 Australian Shadows Awards finalists announced!

The entries have been entered, the judges have read and judged. Great deliberations were made to decide who from Australasia had made the greatest contributions to dark fiction in the plague year of 2020. And now, decisions!

Firstly, enormous thanks to the judging panels for their tireless hard work in volunteering to judge. It’s a big task and every single one of them performed admirably. On behalf of the AHWA and all the entrants, thank you!

Congratulations to everyone shortlisted for this year’s Awards. A truly wonderful array of subject and author on display here. Horror is, indeed, very healthy.

The winners will be announced in an online Awards Ceremony on Friday June 11th, starting at 8.30pm AEST via the official AHWA Facebook page. Winners will also be announced simultaneously on Twitter (follow @AustHorror). Hopefully next year we’ll get to have an in-person awards ceremony again.

The 2020 Australian Shadows Awards finalists are:


Deadway by KS Nikakis (Journey: Seeking the Sacred, Spirit and Soul in the Australian Wilderness, SOV Media)

This Soundless Murk by Hester J Rook (The Future Fire)

The King of Eyes by PS Cottier (Monstrous, Interactive Press)

Mouthing Off by PS Cottier (Monstrous, Interactive Press)

The Tongueless Dead by Leigh Blackmore (Spectral Realms 13)


Exploration of Menstruation in Horror and Dark Fiction by Tabatha Wood

Queer Vampires in Modern Cinema by Tabatha Wood

Cthulu in California by Emmet O’Cuana

What Makes Good Horror by Tim Hawken

Phantasmagoria and the Earliest Forms of Horror Storytelling by Maria Lewis

Sandalwood and Jade: The Weird and Fantastic Verse of Lin Carter by Leigh Blackmore


Hellblazer: Rise and Fall, by Tom Taylor & Darick Robertson (DC Comics)

DCeased: Unkillables, by Tom Taylor & Karl Mostert (DC Comics)

The Mycelium Complex, by Daniel Reed

Redback Armageddon, by Nathan Grixti  (Self-published)

Undad Volume Three, by: Katie Walsh-Smith, Miranda Richardson, Big Tim Stiles, Ryan Lindsay, Shane W Smith / Illustrators: Mitchell Collins, Simon Robins (Self-published)


Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women, (ed. Lee Murray and Geneve Flynn, Omnium Gatherum)

Hadithi & the State of Black Speculative Fiction (ed. Eugen Bacon and Milton Davis, Luna Press Publishing)

Midnight Echo issue 15, (ed. Lee Murray, AHWA)

Black Dogs, Black Tales – Where the Dogs Don’t Die, (ed. Tabatha Wood and Cassie Hart, Things in the Well)

Trickster’s Treats 4 – Coming, Buried or Not! (ed. Louise Zedda-Sampson and Geneve Flynn, Things in The Well)


The Heart is a Mirror for Sinners by Angela Slatter (PS Publishing)

Behind the Midnight Blinds by Marty Young (Things in the Well)

Red New Day by Angela Slatter (Brain Jar Press)

Bleak Precision by Greg Chapman (Self-published)

Grotesque by Lee Murray (Things in the Well)


“Vision Thing” by Matthew R Davis (Black Dogs, Black Tales ed. Tabatha Wood & Cassie Hart, Things in the Well)

“Let Shadows Slip Through” by Kali Napier (New Gothic Review 2, pub. Ian McMahon)

“Brumation” by Anthony Ferguson (Midnight Echo Issue 15, ed. Lee Murray, AHWA)

“The Bone Fairy” by Martin Livings (Midnight Echo Issue 15, ed. Lee Murray, AHWA)

“Hideous Armature” by Joanne Anderton (Midnight Echo Issue 15, ed. Lee Murray, AHWA)

“Needles” by Kali Napier (The Dark #62, pub. Sean Wallace)


“New Wine” by Angela Slatter (Cursed, Titan Books)

“By Touch and By Glance” by Lisa L Hannett (Songs for Dark Seasons, Ticonderoga Publications)

The Attic Tragedy by Joseph Ashley-Smith (Meerkat Press)

“Barralang, pop. 63” by Deborah Sheldon (Dimension6 #19, Coeur De Lion Publishing)

“Kua Hinga Te Kauri” by Dan Rabarts (Outback Horrors Down Under, ed Steve Dillon, Things in the Well Press)


The Crying Forest by Venero Armanno (IFWG Publishing, Australia)

Gutterbreed by Marty Young (Eclectic Trio)

Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings (Picador)

Deception Pass by Matthew Tait (Dark Crib)

CONGRATULATIONS to all the finalists. Winners will be announced on Friday June 11th, starting at 8.30pm AEST via the official AHWA Facebook page, and simultaneously on Twitter via @AustHorror.

Robert N Stephenson Flash Fiction & Short Story Competition Winners

The AHWA is very proud to announce the winners of this year’s Short Story and Flash Fiction competition, for the first time named in honour of Robert N Stephenson to remember him and his excellent efforts with the AHWA.

Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone who made the effort to enter. We received many more entries in both categories this year, in comparison to last year’s competition. To those of you who didn’t get on the winner’s podium, keep trying and never give up. It certainly doesn’t mean your stories are not great, and we’re sure many of them will be published. And there’s always next year!

To this year’s winners.

In the Flash Fiction category, the winner is:

“Mother Always Gets What She Wants” by Tim Hawken

With an honorable mention to:
“Nightingale” by K.S. DeVille

Congratulations to you both.

Our judges said:
“Mother” stands out in terms of style, structure, clarity and overall delivery, as well as being a snapshot of despair.”

In the Short Story category, the winner is:

“The Best Medicine” by Pauline Yates

With an honorable mention to:
“The Favourites” by K.S. DeVille

Congratulations to you both.

Our judges said:
“The Best Medicine had well developed characters, is an emotional and satisfying read, and had an unexpected ending.”

Thank you so much to our six judges for giving up so much of their time, and to AHWA Committee Secretary, Anthony Ferguson, for coordinating the entire contest.