Michael Gardner is an economist by day, a writer of fantasy and horror by night. Strangely, he aspired to do both as a teenager, and was encouraged in his writing by an English teacher who didn’t mind that his creative writing assessments were always about the supernatural, and influenced heavily by Clive Barker.

In between studying economics and commerce at university, he attempted to write an awful novel. A friend of the family—who had actually published three novels—read a few chapters, and was kind enough not to tell him to quit.

After university, he moved to Canberra, Australia for work. It was around then that his writing lapsed. Even with hindsight, he’s unclear why. Because he remained a daydreamer, and fascinated by anything weird. But that time wasn’t a waste, because that was when he met his wife, and later they had two wonderful kids. The experience of fatherhood continues to find its way into his stories.

The turning point for Michael came when his sister, perhaps remembering on his behalf what he once dreamed of doing, signed him up for a writing course. The course was run by a former Writers of the Future winner, Ian McHugh. Inspired, Michael submitted his first story to a magazine. Which was promptly rejected. But he got some useful feedback, which was enough to hook him.

His work has since appeared in Aurealis, Bourbon Penn, Interzone Digital, Andromeda Spaceways Magazine and Metaphorosis. And he has gone on to win a Writers of the Future Award himself. He is also a three-time finalist for the Aurealis Awards.