Spin Off Festival 2019

We all know Adelaide flies under the radar: we are often defined by the Malls Balls or our filtered water. Although we aren’t considered to be the artistic hub of Australia, little old Adelaide is home to one of the most vibrant art scenes in our country. The proof is in the festival pudding. The most recent example: Spin Off Festival 2019.

For those who are not familiar with this festival, Spin Off states that it brings ‘the cream of the Splendour in the Grass line up to Adelaide, curating a concentrated super dose of sideshow revelry’. It was a concentrated super dose of talent, but not for a second did this festival feel like a sideshow.

We were blessed with a divine day. In the midst of what has been a cool Adelaide winter, the sun showed its face, the air was still, and it was blue skies as far as the eye could see. The space was decked out with food trucks that bordered grassed areas, and a KFC tent was providing free food on the hour. Transmission – who run Adelaide’s regular indie music nights – set up a dance floor that was buzzing well into the evening. Our showground was filled with so many beautiful, energised, and groovy people.

The day kicked off with Kian, our young hip-hop, indie singer who melts hearts left, right and centre. The Australian rapper Kwame, known for his performance energy, was unmatchable on stage. Around lunch time, Ruby Fields brought waves of crazed fans through the gate to see her rock out with her appealing angsty vibe. Mallrat followed – wearing the most fabulous red, frilly two piece– and drew us in with her sweet nature and infectious liveliness. The flow didn’t stop! The surf and garage rock duo Hockey Dad impressed, backed with artistic on-screen visuals, Wolf Alice gave us the music for a solid, high energy dance session, and Ocean Alley, as the modern reggae fusion group they are, did not disappoint their devoted fans. Ball Park Music were next and have established themselves as irreplaceable in the Australian music scene, always pleasing with their honest, upbeat tunes. Catfish and the Bottlemen were the penultimate act and, from what I heard, were a huge influence on the large attendance at this year’s festival. Boy, are these guys loved, and their music is what I like to call ‘boogie friendly’ – it’s awfully hard not to get into it. And then there was Childish Gambino. The big one. What talent. What spectacle. His dramatic display was captivating, and I have very rarely been a part of a crowd so enthralled by a performer. Gambino will be spoken about for generations, and Adelaide was stoked to have him here.

The thing about any festival, is there is a strong sense of community. For however long a festival lasts – a single day or an entire weekend – festival goers get to know the space and all its nooks and crannies: a festival and its set up grows to feel like home in a mere few hours. People bond over a shared experience, and sweaty bodies getting down for a groove creates a unique intimacy. But in our city, I can’t help thinking that these festivals are even more close-knit. You could stand in a single spot in our showgrounds filled with thousands of humans, and bump into half of the people in your life. In the mosh, all you have to do is look both ways and you are guaranteed to lock eyes with a familiar face. It’s nice to think of this city, and the young people who go to these events, as an interlocked community.

Adelaide not only showed up for Spin Off, but we gave the national and international artists before us a bloody good time. Good on us!


Words by Michelle Wakim

Photograph by Stazi Markovich



Meet Your Local NaNoWriMo MLs (Adelaide)

Recently, Tulpa Magazine sat down with Alexander Barratt, Caitlin O’Callaghan and Simone Corletto, Adelaide’s municipal liaisons for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). They talked about their personal experiences writing 50,000 words in a month, and gave some advice for aspiring writers looking to try NaNoWriMo for the first time this November.


How long have you been doing NaNoWriMo?

Simone: I think I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo for about six years. I’ve completed five times, I’ve won five times.

Alex: This will be my sixth time with in the Adelaide NaNoWriMo community. The first two I just tried it by myself. So this will be my eighth time and I’ve won it three times.

Caitlin: I am reasonably certain I joined the NaNoWriMo website a couple of days before Alex. I didn’t properly compete until last year, when I won Camp NaNo and then NaNoWriMo, because I didn’t know anyone and I was too scared to do it by myself.


What made you start doing NaNoWriMo and what keeps you coming back?

Simone: I heard about NaNoWriMo like nine years ago but it was during my science degree so I had exams during November, which meant I could never do it. I’ve always loved writing since high school and when I started (studying) creative writing I was like, ‘this is the year, I’m gonna actually do NaNo’. It was like a really great way to meet other writers and the write-ins were so fantastic for focus and getting so much done. I was able to write more than I’d written in the entire year leading up to NaNoWriMo, so yeah, I just fell in love with the atmosphere and the people.

Alex: I first heard about it online somewhere. I honestly don’t remember where. Why do I keep coming back? I think the people. I wrote 15,000 words in my first NaNo in the Adelaide community and that’s more than I had ever written ever before on anything. And then I just kept coming back. The following year I won, so I got my 50,000 and kept going.

Caitlin: Yeah, definitely the people is what keeps me going. I think I found a link to NaNo somewhere online and then proceeded to freak out and not do it for the next seven years. I met some really cool people out one night and they said, ‘you should do Camp NaNoWriMo’, and I was like ‘what’s that?’. And yeah, here I am.


As Municipal Liaisons (MLs), what do you do?

Simone: We basically run and organise a lot of the events leading up to and during November and also a little bit afterwards. We’re kind of like the social secretaries of the community. I’ve just started doing it this year and so far it’s been a lot of brainstorming dates, finding times when we’re free.

Alex: This is my third year being an ML. It’s mainly organising events, having opportunities for people to get together and write and engage with each other in the real world. Making sure the regional forum stays civil, and any other digital platforms that we may be running for the region. Having lots of different events, write-ins, plot-ins, and social events to keep people sane during NaNo, because it is stressful at times.

Caitlin: A lot of emails, and pretty much what the others have said, where we’re there to organise things and keep them running.


Adelaide has a pretty strong NaNoWriMo community, what are its best features?

Simone: I’ve been told that Adelaide has a really great writing community in general. There’s a lot of people that are really passionate about writing and writing professionally, and even writing just for fun. I think things like the Writer’s Centre, and also just NaNoWriMo, is such a big hand at bringing people together. And you know, the more people there are, the funner it is. I feel like we’re good at the people side and cause we’re a small ML team, we’re good at mobilising. Some larger regions may have a lot more area to cover, so it’s hard to bring everyone in to the one place, whereas Adelaide’s fairly centralised. Unless you’re living very far out north or south it’s probably easy to get to the city. I feel that helps.

Alex: I agree. Adelaide’s relatively small so it allows us to keep people in the region. I know of people who have left the physical region, but they’re still in our digital region and they contribute from elsewhere, because they still love the community.

Simone: We do try to keep a digital presence as much as we can for the more remote NaNoers, with the live chat and stuff. And we’re doing virtual write-ins as well this year. So people can watch a live-stream and chat in the comments, in partnership with the YA Jungle.

Caitlin: And we don’t judge what you’re going to write. If you want to write and you’ve got the passion for it we’re here to support you with that. If someone wants to write fan fiction, we’re here for that. As long as you’ve got the drive and the passion for words, we want to support. We’re not going to be like, ‘ugh, that’s not real writing’. Because all writing is real writing. And we’d rather promote the love for that instead of trying to pigeonhole people or turn them away.

Simone: In fact, the weirder you write, probably the better it is, the more fun you’ll have. Don’t feel like you have to be super literary. We had a weird chicken erotica in space going on. It was hilarious. If it’s a weird idea, go for it.


What are the benefits of being part of a writing community?

(In unison): Accountability.

Caitlin: The accountability. When I was writing by myself there was no one there to be like, ‘you should finish that’. Except my mum. Having friends who write and knowing other people who write. When you’re having a bad writing day they’ll suggest other ways to do it, or they’ll celebrate the day you wrote 5000 words in two hours. It’s good to know you’re not alone.

Alex: A couple of years ago I was sort of mentoring someone. This was, I think, my second year involved in the community, and it was her first year. She wrote 9000 words on the last day just to finish the 50,000. We were cheering her all the way. It’s why I decided to become an ML. Just so I could help other people get through that, or suggest ways through things.

Simone: Yeah, I think it’s one of the best bits because you’re all achieving the same thing regardless of your skill level. We’re all cheerleaders for each other. We want everyone to do the best they can. And I think everyone’s got a really positive attitude towards it, so even if you don’t get to 50,000 words, any words you do in NaNoWriMo is words you didn’t have before. That’s still an achievement and we’ll still celebrate you. But if you want that extra cheer squad to get you over the line we’ll also do that. Everyone’s just really community minded.


What are your thoughts on being writers in Adelaide, as opposed to one of the ‘big’ cities like Melbourne or Sydney?

Simone: I feel like we’re a lot more genre friendly. I know there’s a big literary scene in Melbourne and I think not everyone is into that, and that’s okay. I think people feel more free to just write the things they truly enjoy, regardless of how crazy they are.

Alex: I’ve never really written with the intention of publishing anything. I have literally never finished any work of fiction that I’ve done in the last ten years. So, I write for fun. I enjoy doing NaNo, I don’t normally write much throughout the rest of the year, other than occasionally trying Camp NaNos. I save all my creativity for NaNo and then fill the month. So when it comes to other places, I don’t know.

Caitlin: One of the really good things about the size of Adelaide versus somewhere like Melbourne or Sydney, is that there is a focus on the arts within the state. The writers aren’t really gatekeepers. You can talk to any other South Australian author, whether you’re published or not, and they’re happy to talk to you. They’re happy to share their experiences and they’re not going to tell you that you can’t do it.They’re all really welcoming, which is lovely.


Any advice for newcomers/prospective NaNo’ers this year?

Alex: First of all, work out if you’re a planner or a pantser. Or a plantser, if you’re a hybrid. Because, if you’re a planner and you haven’t planned, you may find it difficult. I did.

Simone: Just remember that the only real rule in NaNoWriMo is that you have to write 50,000 words during the month of NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t mean that if you get really keen for your idea that you can’t start beforehand and count the words from that point. That’s okay. If you handwrite, that’s okay. It’s your own work, you can do whatever you want. Sure, the intention is to start a novel, but if you’d rather write the next 50,000 words of a thing that you’re working on, or fan fiction, like that’s all fine. It’s okay. Write what you want to write. As long as it’s the numbers in the timeframe.

Caitlin: Have fun. Don’t worry about the quality of your words, it’s the quantity. I remember the first few times I got paralysed by fear because I was like, ‘oh this sentence isn’t good enough, it’s a terrible sentence’. Yes, it was a terrible sentence, but just get the words down. Don’t worry about how polished they are, just get them down and you can fix them later.

Alex: If you get stuck just write ‘ninjas attack’ and write the ninjas attacking. And then keep writing. Don’t stop writing when you hit the wall. Just keep writing. Find something to write about.

Simone: You don’t have to be chronological either. If there are scenes you’re looking forward to, and you’re really struggling where you currently are, just skip ahead. Making things in order is what the next draft is for.

Caitlin: Working full time you can still write a novel, you just do have to prioritise your writing over your TV watching, or whatever the vice you’ve got. But you can do it, you may just need to rearrange something for a month.


What are the best places to write in Adelaide?

Simone: I think my favourite is Cibo Espresso on Rundle street. It’s really great because upstairs it’s usually pretty quiet and there are power points so you can plug in your laptop. They don’t care how long you stay as long as you buy a couple of coffees. It’s my favourite place to go. Plus it’s pretty close to buses and car parking.

Alex: In 2014 I made a plan to myself to write in as many places outside of my house as possible. I wrote in fifteen other places other than my house, including various write-ins. I found that writing in parks is kind of fun. I did a day when I went to Bonython Park and just sat there on a bench. And somehow connected to the Adelaide free Wi-Fi. I assume there was like a router in the tree, because I was literally under a tree nowhere near anything that looked like a router. I quite like writing in parks, if it’s a nice day.

Caitlin: I’ve done a surprising amount of writing in either cafes or bars. By myself– because it’s not sad when you have a beer and a book. Basically, I find anywhere with a bit of background noise, I find the ambient noise is very productive.


Anything you want to add?

Simone: Join the local group. We’re really friendly and we’ll try to connect with you any way we can. Online or in person.

Alex: If you ever wanted to write something, just start.


Logo Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Background image by rawpixel on Unsplash


Thanks to Alex, Caitlin and Simone for taking the time to speak to us.


Alexander Barratt

You can find Alex on Instagram


Caitlin O’Callaghan

You can find Caitlin on Twitter and Instagram


Simone Corletto

You can find Simone on Twitter and Instagram. You can also read her Beginner’s Guide to NaNoWriMo here.


If you would like to get involved with NaNoWriMo in Adelaide you can connect and find out about upcoming events on the Australia :: Adelaide region page (https://nanowrimo.org/regions/australia-adelaide).

Interview conducted and transcribed by Lisandra Linde

Tulpa Magazine Turns ONE!

On October 27th 2017, Tulpa Magazine published Jess M. Miller’s short story ‘This Type of Exchange’. This was not only the first Fiction Friday, but the start of Tulpa Magazine itself. Since then this humble online magazine has grown, thanks to the support of readers, writers and a dedicated group of volunteers and artists.

Tulpa fiction art
‘This Type of Exchange’, Art by Rhianna Carr

Tulpa has published 192 stories, poems, articles and reviews, with many more to come. 

All editing, illustrations and review work at Tulpa Magazine is done by Adelaide-based volunteers.

A Word From Tulpa Magazine’s

Managing Editors

‘To our readers, I want to thank you so much for your continual support of Tulpa. When I first learned about Tulpa I wasn’t sure how it would go. Liam and Lisandra are both incredibly talented but an arts magazine in Adelaide? How many people would be interested? Since then we’ve all been amazed by just how well we’ve gone. The magazine has been so much more successful so far than any of us could have anticipated. I can only hope that we continue to grow and expand into something bigger.

What some of you might not realise is that there is a lot of love, time, and effort that goes into nurturing Tulpa. But there is no way we would be what we are today without the submissions we receive, the hard work of our team of writers and editors, and, of course, our readers. So a big thank you to everyone who reads, shares, likes, and talks about our little labour of love.

When Lis asked me to write something she also asked for my favourite pieces that we’ve published during our one year as a magazine. There are so many I’d love to pick but favourites have always been a difficult thing to chose for me; just like deciding what I feel like eating, reading, or drinking continues to be. However, the first piece that came to my mind when considering a favourite is Audrey J. Menz’s short story ‘The Lovelies’. I read this one morning and I was completely enthralled. So much so I had to send it immediately to all my friends as well as force everyone in the house to read it.’

~ Kayla Gaskell, Managing Editor

‘Seeing Tulpa turn one is such as surreal experience. It’s incredible to see how far Tulpa has come in twelve short months. I’ve had the honour of working with so many incredible writers, editors, artists and members of the creative community. Everyone has been so positive about Tulpa from the start and the feedback and support we’ve gotten from every quarter has been unbelievable.

I remember when Tulpa was just a bunch of ideas getting tossed around between me and Liam McNally. We were pretty much fresh out of Student Media and looking to do something different. It was a huge gamble to start an arts magazine in South Australia, I know that. And there were certainly times that I doubted we’d get this far. I definitely think a lot of the credit for reaching one year has to go to the incredible Kayla Gaskell, who joined our management team this year. She has worked tirelessly to help expand Tulpa with book reviews, features and so much more.

None of this would be possible without the small, reliable team of editors, artists and writers who make up the Tulpa team. A lot of them have been around since Tulpa’s earliest days and others have joined us along the way, making for a strong and supportive community. I also have to thank all the readers and contributors– you’ve all played a vital role in shaping Tulpa into what it is today. I’ve loved reading submissions from emerging and established writers from Adelaide and the world! I never expected to find stories sent in from other countries! It’s been incredible.

There have been so many amazing stories, poems, reviews and articles published in Tulpa Magazine. Some of my all-time favourites are Emma Maguire’s short story ‘Housemate Wanted’, Leeza von Alpen’s article on Instagram Poetry and the ‘Restarting Your Creativity‘ series with Kayla Gaskell and Rhianna Carr. But of course, there are so many more that I have just loved.

Expect to see big changes in 2019. We have a lot planned and can’t wait to share it with you all!’

~ Lisandra Linde, Managing Editor (Fiction)

‘This is not something that should have succeeded in many ways. At Tulpa by a mixture of determination and a committed team, we’ve managed to get somewhere exciting.

Is it wise to create an Adelaide-arts based magazine? Good God no. But we gave it a shot and we fortunately have made it to an online presence with a solid and consistent readership.

The key, I feel, to getting to a year of Tulpa is that we had a true and unadulterated passion for the arts behind our activities, from showcasing emerging writers to our coverage of some stunning local talent, we’ve achieved more than I could have hoped for.

Water for the green shoots of the arts community in Adelaide comes from well-acknowledged organisations such as Carclew, Arts SA, and the Helpmann Academy – all of whom are doing amazing work – but it also comes from local artists banding together and working to achieve more as a collective than can be done as individuals.

Well, it’s been a wild ride and it’s unlikely to get any more mundane in the next year – or hopefully many years after that.

Drink in the wonders of Adelaide – and Australia’s – fine emerging arts community. I’ve found a flourishing environment and with the team of Lisandra and Kayla with me on this, it’s going to be a great experience for some time to come.

Deep down, this is a team effort and it’s not just Lisandra, Kayla, and I working on this. We’ve had a wonderful team working hard to provide quality content and help us get (and stay) off the ground.

And without that wonderful team we would never have gotten to a year.

Descend into another year of Adelaide (and Australian) arts. There’s so much yet to come and when we launched a venture that in many ways shouldn’t have succeeded, and find ourselves here, I just want to say thank you.’

~ Liam McNally, Managing Editor




National Young Writers Festival 2018


The National Young Writer’s Festival (NYWF) has been a go-to for young writers across Australia for over twenty years. Held in Newcastle, NSW, over four days, NYWF is part of the This is Not Art (TiNA) Festival. This year it was held between September 27-30 and it was my first visit to both the festival and Newcastle. My time there has left my mind teeming with new ideas and a better understanding of what it’s like to be a young writer in Australia.

There was something for essentially every writer possible at NYWF. There were panels and workshops on fiction, journalism, and gaming to name just a few. I attended a variety of different topics, from community journalism to getting work as a writer.



I found there were two particularly memorable panels. The first was ‘Write Off the Page’, where four panellists gathered and discussed games and digital poetry. The panellists included: Andrew Gleeson, Karen Lowry, Chad Toprak, and Cecile Richard. Lowry spoke of her digital poetry and electronic literature, which includes a detective game with poetry (check it out here). Toprak mentioned a game (Cart-Load-of-Fun) he made for the trams in Melbourne to try and bring games into a public sphere. One of his successes of this game was convincing a sceptical stranger and making them smile. Read more about Toprak here. Twine, a game engine, was mentioned and recommended for writers wanting to explore game development.

Another memorable panel was ‘Narrative Prosthesis’, which was panelled by Robin M. Eames and Alistair Baldwin. I went into this panel at random and discovered it was about disability in the arts. Being someone with a disability, I found this panel extremely empowering. It made me feel equal to other issues discussed over the weekend and raised some interesting points about disability in the arts. One fact I discovered is how it’s cheaper to hire a non-disabled person to play a disabled role on television than someone with that disability. I was surprised to hear this and it’s got me asking two questions: why does this happen and how can they get away with it? I wish to explore this further in future.

Podcast Panel.jpg


As I travelled to NYWF with Empire Times (which I currently edit), I attended and participated in the ‘Student Media Symposium’. Held by the editors from Farrago (Melbourne University student magazine), the Symposium was mainly a discussion about student media, which included topics like what is expected of student media and how we address student politics. We also discussed issues in student media, coming back to common contemporary issues, such as budget, diversity and university politics.

Beyond the panels, discussions and workshops were plenty of other free events to attend across both NYWF and TiNA. Countless readings were on across Newcastle on a variety of different topics. One reading I sat in was called The Best Book I (N)ever Read. It was fascinating to listen to the stories on what other people thought about what are often referred to as the ‘best’ books and why they didn’t read them. Other readings included By the Sea (held at Newcastle Beach), Why I Write, and Late-Night Readings.

Zine Collection


Another event that took place was the NYWF Zine Fair. Held on the Sunday at Newcastle Library, the Zine Fair was where attendees could pick up zines from writers from Newcastle and across Australia. It’s here that I picked up copies of The Line (a free Newcastle zine) and a graphic novel called Ghost Beach by Ben Mitchell.

NewsXpress, a newspaper for TiNA, was also present throughout the festival. NewsXpress ran over the four days in different locations of the festival and was created by editor Danni McGrath through screen printing. The newspaper printed a new issue every day of the festival, typically discussing news and what’s happening around Newcastle. I watched McGrath create a copy of the Sunday issue when I picked my copy up (also on Sunday), fascinated by how it was done. It has now left me with the intention to try it out at smaller conventions here in Adelaide in future.

Overall, the 2018 NYWF overall was a lot of fun and full of useful information for every kind of writer. I enjoyed my visit and the addition of panels about gaming and podcasts make it the most contemporary and advanced literary festival I have attended yet. All the panels and workshops were free and the Zine Fair is a fantastic place to pick up a literary souvenir and support local writers and zine-makers. If I have the opportunity, I would love to go back next year, and if you do too, I highly recommend you visit it too.


Words and photography by Cameron Lowe


Cameron Lowe is a horror and sci-fi writer, editor and student. He’s had fiction and articles featured in Speakeasy Zine and Empire Times. He loves to read, play video games, and drink green tea. He’s one of the 2018 editors at Empire Times. He tweets at @cloweshadowking.

In Conversation With: Joel Martin- Speculate

A few months ago, in late April, I made the pilgrimage to Melbourne for an exciting new writers festival called Speculate. As a writer and reader of speculative fiction, it was everything I felt had been missing from my other festival experiences, which tended to focus rather heavily on Literature, with the occasional Genre fiction panel almost as an after-thought.

Speculate, a festival focused entirely on speculative science fiction and fantasy fiction, packed into a single day an amazing line up of informative sessions with some excellent big-name guests, including Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, Michael Pryor, Laura E Goodin, Alison Arnold, Trudi Canavan and more. The sessions covered everything from setting, language, character development and futurism, with some often surprising discussions. I was incredibly impressed by the quality of this festival – in its inaugural event – and the work of the relatively small but passionate team who made it happen.

In light of this, I spoke to Festival Director Joel Martin about why he started Speculate and what it takes to create a writers’ festival.


What made you want to start your own writers festival?

Speculate was started because we felt there needed to be more speculative fiction discussed in the literary circuit, especially focusing on the craft of writing.


How long did it take to go from conception to the festival?

Ian Laking (our comms manager and my co-host on [my literary podcast] The Morning Bell) and I had a coffee at Flinders Lane after hearing a talk by Vince Gilligan (of Breaking Bad fame). I think that’s about the first time I actually verbalized my desire to make Speculate happen. That would have been July 2017. In hindsight not a lot of time to set up the inaugural event in April 2018 but I think we pulled it off!


Did you have any pre-requisite knowledge, skills or connections that helped you? Do you have a background or day job in arts or publishing?

I work as a freelance editor and through that and the podcast [The Morning Bell], I’ve been really lucky to meet some amazing people, including some of the talented authors that were at Speculate. But I think the one thing I’d want to highlight for the question is the team behind Speculate. Ian Laking, Rachelle Dekker, Alex Fairhill and many more people put plenty of work into the festival, working volunteer hours while juggling home lives, full time jobs, studies & newborn babies to make it happen (they didn’t literally juggle babies).


What were your biggest challenges in this journey? Any triumphs you’re especially proud of?

One challenge (and it’s a great one to have) was how to feature so many great spec-fic voices in one day! We’re quite spoiled in Melbourne to have some of the best spec-fic writers in the country and it was a real struggle to have to focus down on just five sessions. I never like picking favourites, but I was very proud of showcasing Dungeons & Development: Characters Under Pressure. It was an absolute pleasure to put together and it was a joy to be in the audience watching those amazing folks make something wonderful of it. I think tabletop, pen and paper and video games have unlimited potential to deliver great narratives and I want to see more of that on the literary circuit. Indeed, we should be embracing it!


What have you learned from this experience that you’ll take into next year?

So many things! A lot of that is on the backend side, as you learn to implement systems a lot more effectively the second time over and streamline the entire planning process. And we’ll have more time, which should be a huge help!


Do you have any long-term goals for the future of Speculate? Any particular guests you want to host? Any special venues you want to run it in?

I like to take things one project at a time, but I often think just like predicting the future of Science Fiction is a risky business, I wouldn’t want to guess at what shape Speculate might take in the future. Honestly, I have so many guest names I want to throw out, but I think the wisest course of action [is] for me to remain silent on that. Just be assured that we plan to always aim for the sky! We were very lucky to have the wonderful venue of Gasworks Arts Park. It really suited the community focused vibe that we hope to encourage at Speculate. As much as I know the question of venue is a serious one, let’s fantasise for a moment. If I had my pick of any venue in the world I’d want to hold a Speculate opening, I’d be hard pressed to think of a more impressive setting than Italy’s Verona Arena. Speculative Fiction is big on wonder after all!


What’s the biggest piece of advice for anyone else looking to start their own festival?

I’m going to cheat and make it two pieces of the same whole.

Identify clear goals in order to find your niche, and bring in people with likeminded passion, who will support you but also challenge and refine your vision. The team behind Speculate 2018 was critical to its success, and that might seem like an obvious statement but I can’t stress enough the importance of having a good group of people behind an idea like this. Writing often seems like a lonely profession, but a celebration like this need not be.


It was great having a chance to chat with Joel about his process and team, after experiencing such an excellent festival as Speculate. I definitely recommend you all sign up when tickets are released for 2019.

And while often literary events and festivals seem like the stuff of magic, at the heart you’ll always simply find dedicated, hard-working people with a vision and a passion for books, writers and writing. I hope more dedicated festivals pop up around the country – especially here in Adelaide where our writing scene really could use some activity outside of Mad March – and that we remember that a robust writing community is the most important thing to keep our industry flourishing. Aside from actually writing.


Words and photo by Simone Corletto

20170920_080752Simone Corletto is an Adelaide-based YA and Science-Fiction writer. She’s performed her work numerous times for Speakeasy and at the National Young Writers Festival. Her first co-edited anthology, Crush, was published by MidnightSun Publishing. Her work has also appeared in Empire Times, Double Helix, RiAus, and the 2017 Visible Ink anthology “The End”. She spends her spare time crocheting lumpy hats, writing about teenage superheroes, and telling people about her science degree. She tweets at @SimCorWrites

Adelaide Writers Week: The Garden of Literary Delights

Adelaide Writers Week is an institution in this city. It is the largest celebration of literature in Adelaide. Every year authors and readers are brought together for six glorious days of thrilling panels and discussions, Q & A’s and signings, with writers from a wide range of genres, both locally and internationally. This year I was lucky enough to get a first-hand look of what it really takes to run such an event, working as an assistant.

My job comprised of two main tasks; creating the four-hundred odd signs for the Book Tent, where each guest and chairperson had their books for sale, and driving our guests to and from the airport. Both jobs presented different challenges and benefits. While the sign making was tedious at times (especially when it came to laminating all 400-odd signs one page at a time), I was able to develop a real sense of appreciation for booksellers and the difficulties they face in managing such a complex list of stock. And while driving, I learned just how difficult it can be to park an 8-seater Kia Carnival in the tiny Adelaide Airport parking lot. On the upside I got a solid 20 minutes of conversation with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met, more if we were stuck in traffic.

But all of this pales in comparison to the hard and complex work performed by the rest of my team. Like many things in life, it takes a whole lot of effort to make something look so seamless. In all my years attending Adelaide Writers Week as a reader, I never quite appreciated just what went into putting on such an amazing event. It takes over six months to plan, to contact and organise the extensive list of guest authors and the chairs, to program the various panels to fill out the six days, and to arrange transport, accommodation and other details for each of these people. This year we were host to around 84 artists, some of who were travelling with friends or partners, just to illustrate just how extensive this can be. And this doesn’t even take into consideration the physical set up of the event, the stages, the book and food tents, and the overall running of the festival. Every element is carefully planned and fine-tuned down to the slightest detail, and the end result is, as a good number of people I personally spoke to about it attested, one of the best writers festivals in the country.

Adelaide Writers Week stands apart for being one of the largest non-ticketed festivals in the country. While there are certainly larger festivals in other states, Adelaide succeeds in being completely free for attendees. And having outdoor stages in the beautiful Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens means we are highly accessible for anyone to simply wander down and take a seat. Being a free event also encourages attendees to spend big in the Book Tent. And as a festival to promote writers and books, this is highly advantageous.

This event is also an important opportunity for readers to meet their heroes. After each panel, the guest authors sit at signing tables for long lines of eager fans hoping to get up and close to the people they admire. While author-meet events exist at Supanova and Comic Con – both rather expensive events which usually only host a small roster of authors – and while authors do travel down our way on occasion when touring a new book, some of these writers have never before been to Adelaide. This year one of the biggest headliners was Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Poisionwood Bible and other crime classics. If you’ve never heard of her, just ask your mother. Her audience for her sole panel spilled well out across the gardens, as over a thousand fans gathered just to hear her speak. And as this may well be the US author’s only tour of Australia, it was well worth the effort for those who did appear in droves to see her.

The real advantage to Writers Week, as an emerging writer, is inspiration. There’s just something about hearing other writers talk about their craft that makes you want to get up and work on your own project. And above all, these sessions banish the illusions that writing is some sort of magic only certain people can achieve. Every successful author is simply a writer who did not quit. Yes there’s also a measure of luck finding the right representation and publisher to help excel them into the spotlight, but at it’s heart writing is about hard work and perseverance. And seeing these authors, these ordinary people, demystify the process, is the most inspiring part of it all.

Adelaide needs Writers Week. Our writing community may be small compared to those in Melbourne or Sydney, but we’re just as passionate. And festivals like this are able to stand their own on the national stage because of our passion and patronage of the arts. This year was one of our biggest – especially in terms of coffee sales, as our director Laura Kroetsch kept exclaiming – and we’re not the only ones. With the Fringe Festival reaching record ticket sales, and the success of Adelaide Festival, our growing commitment to the arts is also growing our economy and our tourist industry. And in light of the recent elections, where we are now led by a party with little to no consideration for our industry, it’s more important than ever to turn out for the Arts and show just how vital these festivals are to our state and our communities. And with events like Writers Week being completely free to attend, we’re breaking down the class barriers to these cultural institutions. Books are for everyone, after all, and despite what any scaremongering mainstream media articles may have suggested, in Adelaide access to writers and their work will always be free at this festival.

Adelaide Writers Week truly is the highlight of my year, and if you missed out this time, I hope you’ll join us next year. It’s only going to get bigger and better.

Words by Simone Corletto (@SimCorWrites).

To find out more about Adelaide Writer’s Week make sure to check out the Adelaide Festival website or follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

Speakeasy Flinders: Creative Readings

In the lead up to their final event of the year, Speakeasy’s president Amelia Hughes gives us a little insight into this student-led spoken word club.

Back in the 1920s, a speakeasy was an underground bar where its customers could ‘speak easy’ and freely in the times of tough prohibition laws without fear of being reported. The term has been re-appropriated, and now our speakeasy is a place where writers can read their creative works aloud without fear of ridicule.

In a city as small as Adelaide, Speakeasy is a great way to connect with other aspiring authors, especially when you’re young and maybe don’t know anyone else who writes. Small writing communities—such as ours at Speakeasy Flinders—can help encourage writers to take that final step to be published, and offer a network of support and people to bounce ideas off of. It’s also a lot of fun being able to talk about your own work with people who are interested in what you want to write, instead of a friend or family member and watching as their eyes slowly glaze over, their head nodding periodically.

A lot of what people choose to read at these events are short stories, segments from larger stories, or a few poems, but occasionally we have the chance to hear creative non-fiction, a scene from a play, or even a song.

We also produce a couple of zines each year. A zine is a type of hand-made portfolio crossed with a scrapbook, usually made by artists who want to creatively display a selection of their works. Our zine feature a collection of short stories, poems, flash fiction and even a bit of art, mostly submitted by the students of Flinders University. Many of those who submit also participate in the Speakeasy reading events, having the chance to share their work both verbally and on paper. We sell our zines at our event for only a few dollars, and the profits help us continue as a club.

At our events at The Wheaty we like to feature a prominent writer from the Adelaide community. Taking our stage for the final event of 2017 is Mark Tripodi, a playwright whose play, Anteworld, featured at the Adelaide Fringe in early 2017. Hearing established writers at a small event like ours shows the aspiring creative minds of Adelaide that anything is possible.

Our final event for the year is on the 22nd of November at The Wheatsheaf Hotel. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. Gold coin entry. We will also be selling the ninth volume of our beloved Speakeasy zine, fresh off the press.

Words by Amelia Hughes

Literary Papercuts: Reflecting on the Australian Short Story Festival

Neil Gaiman once wrote that short stories are journeys you can make to the other side of the universe and still be back in time for tea. Short stories are bold. They are shameless. They deserve to be celebrated. And on November 3-5, at the University of South Australia, they were.

A collaboration between Margaret River Press and MidnightSun Publishing, the Australian Short Story Festival (ASSF) is an annual celebration of short story writing, of the brief but poignant, the tiny and the fierce. Debuting in Perth in 2015, it approached its second programme with the tagline ‘good things come in short packages’. This turned into a vast understatement.

After a day of workshops on Friday, the festival was officially opened with an earnest and hilarious address from Tony Birch, winner of the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award  for Indigenous Writing. The good humour continued to flow right across the weekend, in discussions of genre, comedy, love and absurdity. Even in panels dealing with trauma, medical ethics, closure, and dark speculative fiction, the passion writers held for the short form was clear, and their audiences absorbed it all. Questions were asked thoughtfully and intelligently and answered in kind. Fun was had. Coffee was inhaled. Words were shared and considered and loved.

Lucy Durneen was the festival’s international guest, reading from her highly acclaimed short story collection Wild Gestures. This book shared the pop-up Dymocks table with an impressive list of names—Roanna Gonsalves’ The Permanent Resident was available to buy, as was Melanie Cheng’s Australia Day, Sean Williams’ Have Sword, Will Travel, Tony Birch’s Common People, and Lisa L. Hannett’s Bluegrass Symphony, amongst so many others. These titles were snatched up with glee and sold out fast.

Perhaps the overarching optimism of the ASSF can best be described by how it looked to the future—how it welcomed as well as reflected. Both days ended with the launch of a new collection, the first being Lynette Washington’s short story cycle Plane Tree Drive, a portrait of suburban isolation which has already garnered accolades and will be featured in an upcoming Tulpa review.   

After an empowering closing address by Rebekah Clarkson, focusing on the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery’ and the enduring attraction of short fiction, Australian literary darling Carmel Bird launched her eBook collection, The Dead Aviatrix. Reflecting on themes the festival had explored, Carmel noted that the word ‘subversion’ was a common thread, and without further ado announced that her launch would be a subversive one.

So we did what we’d expected not to do. We clung with sticky fingers to raffle tickets, and we won jelly, and when lyric sheets were passed around we didn’t think twice about belting out the Aeroplane Jelly theme in time with a live cello/trumpet duo.

And the whole time, all I could think was, what a great short story this would make.  

Because, at the end of the day, the Australian Short Story Festival—any festival, really—is designed to inspire. To provoke, to elicit, to prod everyone in the vicinity until someone picks up a pen and starts writing. I named this review ‘Literary Papercuts’ because I think that this is as good a metaphor as any—because the short story, after all, is characteristically small, humble, sometimes unnoticed. But it can hit infinitely more nerves across a shorter distance. And it can come from nowhere.

I walked away from the Australian Short Story Festival holding a notebook positively dripping with the ink of new ideas. These scribbles might become journeys to the other side of the universe. They might become bold or shameless. Subversive. They might become papercuts. Or they might stay scribbles.

But that potential—that glimmering maybe in something small—surely that is what short stories are all about.

Words by Jess M. Miller

The Hearth: Of the Night

In the last few years the creative writing community has retaken the night with a range of creative reading and poetry events popping up all around Adelaide. The Hearth is one such event, run by Flinders University Alumni Melanie Pryor, Alicia Carter, Lauren Butterworth, and Emma Maguire.

Words by Kayla Gaskell

In the last few years the creative writing community has retaken the night with a range of creative reading and poetry events popping up all around Adelaide. The Hearth is one such event, run by Flinders University Alumni Melanie Pryor, Alicia Carter, Lauren Butterworth, and Emma Maguire. Providing an outlet for creatives to share their work, The Hearth runs four themed events each year. The final event of 2017 was themed ‘Of the Night’, allowing several writers the opportunity to respond creatively to this theme.

The Jade has proven an excellent choice in venue with friendly staff and a stage for readers to present their work. While Thursday’s event was delayed due to another event having run before The Hearth, there was an excellent turn out of people wanting to support their writing community.

Readers for ‘Of the Night’ included: JV Birch, Marina Deller, Andy Lee, Lisandra Linde and Melanie Pryor.Music was provided by Dee Trawartha leading up to the readings, and between sets. The readers presented a mixture of poetry, personal essay, creative non-fiction, and fiction all with the common theme of ‘night’. This diversity in creative writing was excellent to see and kept the audience engaged throughout.

The Hearth Collective: Alicia Carter, Lauren Butterworth, Emma Maguire and Melanie Pryor, Photo: Brendan Davies

Lisandra Linde was the first reader; a creative writing honours student at Flinders University with a background in forensic archaeology. Lisandra presented a creative non-fiction piece dealing with her thoughts about her own mortality and her first experience confronted with death—encountering a corpse in her previous field of study.

Andy Lee, an environment student at Flinders, shared three of his poems, all written for performance. His work is heavy with naturalistic imagery and considers the world around him, how he views it, and how others view it. Drawing on his studies he is a able to bring in environmental concepts such as the twenty-ninth day in order to promote environmental awareness.

Marina Deller is one assignment away from finishing her degree and presented a moving personal essay about finding herself again after a terrible period in her life. Marina is a highly engaging speaker and held the audience captive as she spoke about her life experiences and how losing her friend and, shortly after, her mother changed her outlook on life.


Melanie Pryor, a PhD candidate, presented a piece crafted from three memories given to her in a previous project in 2013. These memories, together with some haunting music, inspired the story of a boy whose neighbour’s little girl disappeared. A captivating story, Melanie used the memories of people living with dementia and turned them into a story of her own.

JV Birch is a poet who moved to Adelaide from London five years ago. She claims to have the concentration span of a goldfish and says that is why her poetry is so short, although it seems more likely that she dislikes excessive verbiage. JV presented six short poems each revolving around the moon.

Q&A 2
Q&A Panel at the Hearth, Photo: Lauren Butterworth

The Hearth, as well as providing a place for writers to share their work, also invites audience engagement with a Q & A session following the readings. In the Q & A, the audience, as well as the presenters, are able to ask questions about the writing process and the pieces and ideas presented.

The Hearth was involved in the 2017 Adelaide Fringe Festival and has just announced their continued involvement in 2018. The theme for their next event, this coming March, is Masquerade, and they will soon be on the lookout for pitches.

For more information on The Hearth and upcoming events check out their Facebook page. Tulpa would like to thank The Hearth Collective for providing the photos used in this review. 

Photos by Lauren Butterworth and Brendan Davies

Review by Kayla Gaskell