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Interview: Steve Rossiter on editing an anthology of interlinked stories

 Interview: Steve Rossiter on editing an anthology of interlinked stories

Set in a psych ward in Melbourne 2026,'Possessing Freedom'is a newly released anthology of linked short stories written by four upcoming Australian authors.

'Our approach to the near-future setting was to have a version of Melbourne we could play around with,' says editor and contributor Steve Rossiter.

'We wanted it to be generally a realistic portrayal of Melbourne, but the course of events beyond the present were written with complete artistic licence to change things aroundtheyre not predictions about what we think Melbourne will be like in 2026.'

Some of these changes involve the hospital setting of the first four stories. Although though it may be familiar to readers in some ways, they will notice that the hospital in the book runs differently from todays hospitals. Oh, and there are ghosts.

The supernatural element of the collected stories is partly what lent the anthology its title: Possessing Freedom'can be taken in the sense of a ghost wanting to possess'reside in or take over'a human body.

Its not just the ghosts who are seeking freedom, however.

'A number of characters in the book are pursuing a kind of freedom they dont currently enjoy. Freedom and confinement is a major theme of the book. This occurs on a number of levels, ranging from physical to the psychological and emotional and the supernatural and philosophical.'

The books setting and themes arose out of the mutual interests of the authors involved in the project, all of whom enjoy writing young adult paranormal fantasy'but not necessarily in the vein of the current work in this genre.

'We were unanimous that things like vampires, werewolves and angels had been done a lot recently and none of us had much interest in jumping on those bandwagons.'

Ghosts became the preferred supernatural element, with Steve pointing out that he hasnt read many ghost stories set in Australia. That said, Possessing Freedom, in spite of its ghostly characters, can be categorised in several ways.

'Some readers might describe Possessing Freedom'as YA horror, whereas I have described it as YA supernatural thriller or YA paranormal suspense.'

The structure of the book is an unusual one in that rather than featuring a single story from a series of contributors, each author has contributed at least one story. In addition, all of the authors have reprised the points of view of their characters at least once, allowing an alternating point of view approach that helped tie together the stories.

This provided a great opportunity for Belinda Dorio and Beau Hillier, each of whom contributed four stories to the anthology, to each narrate with two different point-of-view characters in the same story-world, says Steve. It also meant that they could incorporate one anothers characters as non-point-of-view characters in their stories.

'The collaboration between Belinda and Beau, combined with some group discussion with the other contributors, formed the core of the book,' he says. The rest of the stories were able to be built around this foundation.

Steve hopes that Possessing Freedom'will be a compelling book for readers in that it incorporates what Steve himself finds so interesting in fiction: deep portrayals of human thought and behaviour.

'Its what interests me in fiction and generally what interests people about reading stories,' he says.

He adds that these portrayals are part of what makes a story, rather than having to do with an authors 'responsibilities' towards readers. If writers do have responsibilities, he says, its to themselves: they should write the kind of fiction they find personally rewarding.

'If your aims for your fiction include commercial publication or to be read by other peopleand most writers want their writing to be read by other people in some capacityfind some overlap in what you find personally rewarding to write and what others find personally rewarding to read.'

 Interview: Steve Rossiter on editing an anthology of interlinked stories

If you can't see yourself, how do you know you exist?

Melbourne, Australia: 2026

Alice Travers, 17, is stuck in a psych ward. When she discovers her imaginary friends are ghosts, and that some of them are not so friendly, things get complicated.

Told in 12 short stories by four authors,'Possessing Freedom'plays out a'supernatural thriller'for Young Adult readers through 6 interlinked point of view characters.

Contributing authors:

Beau Hillier, Belinda Dorio, Steve Rossiter, Rhiannon Hart


Steve Rossiter

View other media coverage of the anthology

Visit the anthology website

Visit Steves website

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