This short story collection is a must-read for aspiring writers and students of the craft.

Who’s it for:

Anyone who loves short stories, but particularly useful for those readers wanting to write short stories.

The structure:

There are ten short stories, and each author has written a companion essay about how they wrote the story. In all, the book is 220 pages.

What the back cover says:

‘Cracking the Spine is a deftly curated overview of the contemporary Australian short story, including pieces by ten of the best practitioners at work today. Literature, life, landscape, history: the whole gamut of Antipodean experience may be gleaned from its pages. An ideal resource for those interested in Ozlit, Cracking the Spine is also a pure pleasure to read.’ GEORDIE WILLIAMSON

What I say:

You can read short stories. You can read critiques of short stories. But rarely does a reader get a chance to go inside an author’s mind – to find out what they are thinking and doing when they sit down at the computer to write. This is what makes this collection so innovative and inspiring.

It is a gift for aspiring writers, and all thanks and gratitude must go to independent publisher, Spineless Wonders, for producing it.

There are numerous gems to be gleaned here. Writer Claire Aman explains her ‘notebook’ method, where eclectic thoughts and ideas are recorded and synthesized before any writing of story takes place. (It’s as if my subconscious needs to be fed before it will throw me a plot.)

Michael Giacometti’s essay ranges from discussing the important of the first sentence (It is a boxer putting you on your arse with the first punch) to his haphazard process (The ‘rough’ is my method) and the ethics of writing from the indigenous perspective.

Ultimately, this is a reassuring read. Writing is not magic. Writers do not sit down and have the words flow out of them. What these authors show is that writing is a process. It is hard work. It is full of self-doubt and interrogation.

But, as this collection shows, the end product is worth it.

Buy the e-pub here, or the printed copy here