WINNERS … Sydney Hammond Short Story Competition

Front Cover Allsorts Anthology

The family of Sydney Hammond could never have imagined that the inaugural Short Story Competition launched in his name would showcase such amazing writing talent, like the overall winner, Christine Johnson, for her entry New Girl.

Winner’s Bio:

Christine Johnson’s writing career follows sixteen years working as a professional theatre director. She has won numerous first, second and third prizes, and her short fiction has been published in anthologies around Australia. She has been shortlisted for the 2017 Alan Marshall Short Story Award, 2018 Elyne Mitchell Writing Awards and the 2019 Stuart Hadow Prize. An 8-part podcast she was commissioned to write on Inclusivity, Diversity and Bias in Business, 7 Seconds, launched in Hong Kong this year. She is currently working towards a final draft of her first full-length novel. Living and working with a disability, she is a Board Member of Arts Access Australia, peak national body for disabled artists.

Blind judging in the Sydney Hammond Short Story Competition:

However, the judges knew none of this during the blind judging process. Three judges unanimously chose the winning entry because it so beautifully captures the experiences of a child supplanted from a war-ravaged world to its antithesis, a quiet, isolated, outback Australian town. The story explores the child’s journey at school, from suspicious foreigner, to her eventual assimilation, thanks to a new friendship and their common love of soccer. The story captures the bewildered and innocent thoughts of a child who tries to make sense of a world that is torn up by adults, and the understanding and connection that she finds in another outsider. You can read Christine’s winning entry here.

Competitive field:

Judge C. T. Mitchell said, ‘I’m a strong advocate of the short read. There’s a devoted fan base that don’t have time to read longer novels but still enjoy a gripping story. Some people think it’s easier to write a shorter story, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It takes skill to capture character development, depth, emotion, suspense, twists and turns in a short piece. All these writing techniques were on display in the competition entries. It was a real thrill to judge. The top four should give themselves a big pat on the back – it was a competitive field.’

Second and Third Placegetters:

Diane Clarke secured second place for her story Life Lesson, while Lesley Boland was placed third for Home Visit. Hawkeye Books congratulates all three winners, along with all short-listed and long-listed place-getters.  All published entrants will receive a free copy of the anthology titled, Allsorts.

Front cover design:

As stipulated in the Sydney Hammond Short Story Competition Guidelines, the front cover was designed based on the winning entry – the concept of sport being a universal leveller. (The title was submitted by Sally Newman, and sub-title by Simone Busch – thank you ladies for your creative and catchy words).


Entrants were asked to write about diversity in Australia and the short story entrants didn’t disappoint. The scope and breadth of each writer’s ideas was inspiring, living up to the requirements of diversity in voice, ideas and representation.

Judges, C. T. Mitchell, Kylie Kaden and Carolyn Martinez were very impressed by the quality and calibre of writing and topics, which covered everything from life in rural and urban Australia, living with a physical or mental disability, immigration and the challenges of trying to blend two cultures together, the refugee experience and so much more. Including a diversity of genres, with one successful entry written in the absurd genre.

‘The stories covered a diverse range of Australian experiences,’ said Carolyn Martinez, author of Finding Love Again. ‘When we’re lost in daily life, it’s so easy to forget the many and varied experiences and narratives that are taking place across our country, and even abroad.

‘Australians travel extensively and many return home with an expanded view of other cultures, hopefully bringing greater understanding and tolerance of cultures in their own backyards’.

Fourth place:

The judges also applauded fourth place getter, Shira Deutsch for Marginalised Bonds, and the shortlisted and longlisted entrants. 

Judges, C. T. Mitchell, author of the Detective Jack Creed Series, and Kylie Kaden, author of The Day the Lies Began, Missing You, and Losing Kate, agreed that choosing a winner from the top four was a really big ask, given the high standard of writing submitted.

‘Trying to choose a winner for the Sydney Hammond Short Story Competition from the top four was challenging. The writing was exemplary and the wonderful mix of story ideas inspiring. Given what we’ve seen, Australian short fiction has a bright future,’ said Carolyn Martinez.

Competition background:

Photo of Sydney Hammond as a young man

The Sydney Hammond Short Story Competition was established by his family to honour his quintessential Aussie Spirit of giving things a go. As his family are avid readers, they wanted to encourage all aspiring writers to, in Sydney’s words, ‘give it a go mate’ and they hope that this competition will encourage all writers to put their work out into the world and find a place to share their own unique voices.

Sydney Hammond believed that the arts, especially music and story-telling, has the power to unite people and create a better world.

Next year’s competition theme:

The Sydney Hammond Short Story Award is founded by his family. Next year’s theme: If Only.

Allsorts is available for pre-order:

The 2019 Short Story Anthology Allsorts is available now for pre-order (delivery in time for Christmas).

For further information contact:

Carolyn Martinez on 0407 154 663

Hawkeye Publishing and Hawkeye Books extend a sincere thank you to family and friends of Sydney Hammond who made the launch of the Syd Hammond Short Story award possible through their generous donations: Tony and Christine Hammond (Gold Sponsors), Karen and Shane Traversari, Carolyn Martinez, Lynette Hammond and Silvana Nagl.

Full List of Short- and Long- Listed Entrants:

Congratulations to all of these exceptional short and long listed entrants whose stories are being published in Allsorts. Each of these entrants receives one free copy of the anthology.

Hugo Spooner
(Pen Name Hu Spooner)
A Man Among Friends Short-Listed
Carl Preller Roads Taken Short-Listed
Natascha Sprzagala Dear Depression Short-Listed
Jane Turner Goldsmith Braiding Short-Listed
Kata Kiss Angel Short-Listed
Rees Campbell Busking in Alice Springs Short-Listed
Richard Teague Posh Spice Long-Listed
John Longhurst Wozaustralia Long-Listed
Estelle Owen Satin Bowerbird Long-Listed
Valentina Reiken Joanna Speaks for Her Mother Long-Listed
Tim Moraitis Mydgee Long-Listed
Cindy Ng Blooming Long-Listed
Simone Busch A True Kindness Long-Listed 
Simone Busch Just Gus Long-Listed
Hannah Bilby Solace Long-Listed
Hayley Myors Mother Knows Best Long-Listed
Vyonne McLelland-Howe
(Pen Name Yvette Cusack)
We Lived in India Long-Listed
Jenny Woolsey Panic in the City Long-Listed
Anne-Marie Smith Pacific Safety Long-Listed
Victoria Griffin A Love Letter from God Long-Listed
Maria Radanov Most Days Long-Listed
Janet Brenkman No Worries Long-Listed
Ruth Gould Home Ground Long-Listed
Dianne Scotte Leah Long-Listed
Sarah Lambert
(Pen Name Sarah Jane Justice)
Perfect Match Long-Listed
Daniel Yuen My Dog, My Magic. Long-Listed
Annie Mullarvey Uncle Leonard’s Secret Long-Listed
Annie Mullarvey The New Neighbours
and Their Swimming
Pool Garden
Suzanne Hermanockzki (Pen
Name S. E. Hermanoczki)
Nit-picking Long-Listed
Rachel Armstrong Loving Nalini Long-Listed
Smita Sabhlok
(Pen Name Smita Riju)
Brown and Confused Long-Listed
Ramah Juta Rare Twins Long-Listed
Rees Campbell Thai Travel Travails Long-Listed
David Bobis Cotton’s Dad Long-Listed
Jessica Andreatta Vacating Long-Listed
Rosalie Enstrom   Biboohra – The Night The Floods Came Long-Listed
Sandra Macgregor The Teacher Long-Listed
Tania Burrows (Pen Name Anne Other) Harvest & Wild Dags Long-Listed
Risto Apuli The New Shearer’s Cook Long-Listed

To those entrants who missed out this year we urge you not to be discouraged in your writing. It was a very competitive field. The calibre of all entries made the selection process challenging for judges.

Judges’ tips for next year:

  • Carefully read the competition guidelines and ensure you address the theme and layout stipulations.
  • Take the reader on a journey with ‘show not tell’. Storytelling is your friend.
  • As with all writing evoke emotion: a beginning that grips, a middle that surprises, and an ending that fascinates.
  • Scour your short story line by line. Remove all redundant words. Make every word pop. eg. ‘I began to walk’ should be ‘I walked’. ‘I was very impressed’ should be ‘I was impressed’, etc.
  • Never use three adjectives together. It’s easy to think it adds gravity, but in fact, it does the opposite. For example, ‘the all-encompassing, wide, expansive view’ is much better as ‘the exquisitely expansive view’.
  • Use active voice, not passive, for a more engrossing reader experience.

Until next year …

Silvana Nagl

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