Monday, May 21, 2018

Transit - by Lauren Chater, which won second place in the HNSA 2017 Short Story Prize

Today we shine a spotlight on Lauren Chatter's short story, "Transit", which won second place in the HNSA 2017 Short Story Competition and was recently published in Swinburne University's literary journal Backstory.  

"Transit" was inspired by the actions of two men, Jeremiah Horrocks and William Crabtree, who were the first to record the transit of Venus which took place in 1639. Chatter's story takes the focus away from the men and places it on an unknown woman, a servant within Carr House. Recently orphaned, she’s had no choice but to write to her family and beg for a position. Exhausted and unfamiliar with manual labour, she little realises this amazing moment in history is unfolding in the dim little attic at the top of the stairs. 

"I love that idea – that history can be taking place right in front of us but we’re so concerned with our own problems we miss the significance.' Chatter explained when asked about the story. 'I think it’s comforting to know that the world goes on no matter how bad things can seem."

A poignant story of poverty and missed opportunity, Transit conveys the drudge and weariness of it's young protagonists' life and reminds us of the unique and oft times overlooked perspective of women throughout history. Here's how it begins:

Carr House, Lancashire — 1639
"Eliza Stone was hot. Moisture pricked beneath her arms. A bead of sweat inched its way down her neck, coming to rest in the small of her back. The flames in the kitchen furnace writhed. She felt their breath upon her face, melting her skin. It made her think of hell and of Papa. He had talked a lot about hell in his final weeks. Eliza had done her best to comfort him, assuring him that the fears were merely fancy but by the time he died, his face bloated and swollen, she felt so exhausted by grief that she did not much care where he went at all." Read more...


Lauren Chatter writes fiction with a particular focus on women's stories. After working for many years in a variety of media roles, she turned her passion for reading and research into a professional pursuit. In 2014, she was the successful recipient of the Fiona McIntosh Commercial Fiction scholarship. In addition to writing fiction, she established the Well Read Cookie, a blog which celebrates her love of baking and literature. She lives in Sydney with her husband and two children. The Lace Weaver, her first novel, was published by Simon & Schuster. She is currently working on her second novel, Gulliver's Wife, and Well Read Cookies, a non-fiction book based on her popular blog.

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