Sarah Neofield grew up in regional South Australia before living in Japan for a year. Always fascinated by language, she completed a PhD in applied linguistics in 2010. She has written extensively on the topics of intercultural communication, how we communicate online, and language learning.
At the age of 30, Sarah resigned from her position as a university lecturer to travel, and since has visited over 60 countries. She blogs about the connection between language, money, and social justice at enrichmentality.com, and about reading, writing, and creativity at sarahneofield.com
Sarah’s forthcoming novel, Number Eight Crispy Chicken, follows the misadventures of an immigration minister stranded in a foreign airport.
You can find Sarah Neofield on Pinterest, or on Instagram @SarahNeofield
Number Eight Crispy Chicken
by Sarah Neofield
Minister for Asylum Deterrence & Foreign Investment, Peter Ruddick, is en route to the remote Pulcherrima Island, the site of his latest privately-run, fast food chain-inspired detention centre. But when he leaves the centre's blueprints on the plane, Peter misses his connecting flight and finds himself confined to the visa-free zone of the Turgrael airport.
One For You One For Me
on March 11, 2020
One for You, One for Me by Kenyan author Gerald Kithinji is the tale of how ‘professors’ hatch and carry out ‘get-rich-quick schemes and ‘heal’ people based on mythologies, such as the belief that the body parts of a person with Albinism have magical powers.
Luka and Oliver, having both retired from the army and received their gratuity, are looking for something to invest in, and consult a number of ‘seers’ along the way:
“… in their part of the world, nobody undertook serious business without first consulting a seer or seers to establish whether or not it would be worth their while. Accordingly, they consulted a self-proclaimed ‘famous’ seer aptly called Professor Moto Moto. His declared business was to ‘change people’s lives’ by enabling them to conquer poverty with skillful utilization of his wise counsel.
He charged 300 000 Tanzanian shillings for the said wise counsel.”
Kithinji’s prose is easy to read and alive with dialogue. As someone relatively unfamiliar with the society and environment in which One for You, One for Me is set, I found it surprisingly accessible. Although the characters sometimes codeswitch to Swahili, Kithinji provides unobtrusive translations to English. Their adventures throughout Tanzania, Masailand, Dar es Salaam and Kenya reminded me at times of the writing of Paulo Coehlo, and is littered with great lines such as “To help them think carefully, they ordered another round of beer.”
Ahsante sana, Gerald for the great read!
Two Sides Of Two Different Coins
on March 11, 2020
Two Sides of Two Different Coins by Nobo13 is a short story that caught my attention because of its eye-catching cover, the title’s new spin on an old phrase (‘two sides of the same coin’) and the author’s Japanese-inspired pen name.
“When we first met, I couldn’t help but think we were two sides of two different coins” it begins. Johnny lets us in on a variety of secrets he learns about an enigmatic stranger, the other side of the other coin. Both Johnny and Sigmund have extraordinary abilities (which, in the interests of avoiding spoilers, I won’t divulge here!)
Two Sides of Two Different Coins is a quick, enjoyable and polished read.
on May 31, 2020
AK Dawson’s Five Word Fiction delivers exactly what it promises – brief stories for busy people.
Legend has it that Hemingway once won a bet by crafting a complete story, just six words long: ‘For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.’ Setting aside that bet really took place – and whether Hemingway actually wrote the story, the general concept spawned the genre of flash fiction and Smith Magazine’s six-word memoirs. But AK Dawson takes it one step further, attempting – and succeeding with – five word fiction.
Some are ambiguous: “His silence said it all.” “That was all he had.” Others, chillingly specific. “The family stopped eating together.” My favourite: “Desk lamp. Battery. Pliers. Detainee”.
The stories span a variety of genres: quotes, post-scripts, pickup lines, obituaries, and what runs through one’s head during a parachute failure (before one’s unfortunate demise). Yet they all tell (or hint at) a complete story, and although Dawson says they’re stories for ‘busy people’, don’t let the small word count fool you. Five Word Fiction is not a book for skimming, but for pondering. If you have only a minutes or even seconds to spare between tedious tasks, Five Word Fiction will give you enough brain food to keep you going for far longer than your eyes are on the page.
on May 31, 2020
Three by Phil Wohl opens with Dr. Stephens – a man obsessed with what he calls the ‘method of three’. He believes that life’s decisions boil down to three choices, similar to a three-lane highway: ultra-conservency on the right, the greatest chance to maximise potential (although at the greatest risk) on the left, and in the middle are those ‘middle-of-the-road’ decisions. Although his father, Dr. Stephens snr uses this method in a therapeutic way, the son, Dr. Stephens jnr uses it to get his own way.
As a linguist, and having recently completed a certificate in hypnotism, I found the idea of using language to influence which style of thinking people would utilise to be quite intriguing, e.g. Brian’s use of the almost alliterative ‘left it in the loo’ to persuade someone into left-lane style thinking.
Do I find the psychological analysis convincing, the linguistic triggers for the different modes of thinking realistic? Not especially. But these ideas have the potential for a great story.
The Stephenses (the much manipulated father, Solomon, and the perpetually philandering son, Brian) have a practice together – something which results in quite a bit of shouting between the two men. The author regularly uses bold for emphasis, which some purists may feel could be accomplished through word choice, but I found it worked quite well and made the dialogue sound natural.
The first part of the book is particularly interesting - it will have you analysing the dialogue as you go to try and guess what ‘lane’ of thinking the characters are trying to suggest one another take. The second part ‘changes lanes’ or perhaps even veers off the road, shifting genres rather unexpectedly to the supernatural (vampires). Ultimately, I would have liked to see less of this angle, and more exploration of the interesting language/mind control elements. (In all fairness to the author, I read the shortened version of the blurb on Smashwords before downloading this work, and did not see the final line which relates this book to the author's Blood Shadow vampire series)
Note: this book contains some sexual language, which is sometimes censored by asterisks and sometimes not.
on May 31, 2020
Four AM by Joanne Surridge begins at the heart of the action. This is, of course, the part of a story any writing course would tell you to begin with, but Surridge takes this direction to another level.
We meet our protagonist at the staircase depicted on the cover, with ‘him’ ‘lying there at the bottom in his vest and pants, nice and clean.’ But things started out rather differently – a mirror image, one might say.
A truly touching tale, Surridge’s characterisations are spot-on, masterfully evoking rounded people with minimal detail. A highly recommended short story.