Holden Sheppard


It only took Holden Sheppard two summers of working as a labourer for his father's earthmoving business to realise he wanted something different from life. At 18, he packed up everything he owned (including a pogo stick and a bunch of mix tapes), left his hometown of Geraldton, Western Australia and drove his '91 Nissan Pulsar four hours south to the state's capital, Perth, to pursue his passion for writing.

After a rough landing at university - learning literary theory was a world away from digging trenches and laying pipes - Holden eventually found his feet. Studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Writing, he was listed as one of the Top 100 students at Edith Cowan University, achieved the highest overall mark in the course and graduated with First Class Honours in 2013.

​After winning a prestigious ArtStart grant from the Australia Council for the Arts in 2015, Holden began work on his first full-length book. In 2016, he undertook a mentorship through the Australian Society of Authors to develop his manuscript, a Young Adult novel. His short fiction has been published in Indigo Journal and page seventeen, and he has also written for the Huffington Post, the ABC, DNA Magazine and FasterLouder. Holden has three short stories available as free eBooks through all major eBook retailers.

When he's not writing, Holden works as a copywriter and sessional lecturer at Edith Cowan University. In 2017, he became the Vice President of the Peter Cowan Writers’ Centre in Joondalup.

Holden has always been a walking contradiction: a gym junkie who has played Pokemon competitively; a sensitive geek who loves aggressive punk rock; and a bogan who learned to speak French. He is the only writer he knows who has switched to decaf and lived to tell the tale, and he's quit smoking more times than he cares to admit.

Smashwords Interview

What's the story behind your latest book?
There is a whole lot behind my current release, THE BLACK FLOWER, but probably the most important catalyst was during the winter of 2015. I was home sick with a head cold and had to go to the local pharmacy, and while I was in line, I noticed the guy in front of me. He was swaying pretty violently and was clearly drunk or high or both; he was really quite wildly out of it and I just had that sixth sense that he was about to turn around and talk to me. Sure enough, the bloke turns around and says, out of nowhere, "I drink ..."

Now, my own prejudices kicked in and I chose not to engage. I say "prejudices" to be generous: I'm pretty sure most people would do the same, based on their past experiences with drunkards who looked pretty rough and fairly likely to kick off. Plus, even if I felt like chatting to a random drongo about his addiction, I really wasn't up for it with the head cold clouding my mind. So, I pretended to be on my phone, and moved away until he was out of the way.

While I'd probably do the same again, I immediately wished I had heard what he had to say. The tone he started speaking with seemed to be explaining why he drank to me, like he needed me to know the backstory. It made me think of a short story draft I had sitting on my laptop, and that encounter prompted me to tidy it up and send it off to journals. Page Seventeen in Melbourne published it later that year; and in 2017, I revisited it to flesh it out into a longer story, which is the published e-book.

THE BLACK FLOWER is a tale of alcoholism, violence and broken relationships. Mostly, however, what I wanted to do with this story was show the human side of the addict. Nick, the protagonist, is probably not someone you would want to be mates with in real life (or say g'day to at the pharmacy) - but he is a product of his environment and his trauma and I wanted to get that across here. I hope I succeeded.
What are you working on next?
I've just completed my second novel, so I'll be working on some edits of that over the next few months. I'm also putting together some paperback versions of both THE SCROLL OF ISIDOR and THE BLACK FLOWER, which I hope to release in late September.

In terms of new titles, I'm aiming to release a new fantasy short story from the world of THE SCROLL OF ISIDOR in late October. It centres around a different character than Levin Ruck, so I am excited to get this story out there to broaden that universe. Stay tuned!
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Holden Sheppard online

Where to buy in print


The Black Flower
Price: Free! Words: 7,290. Language: English. Published: July 17, 2017 . Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Drama
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Nick’s a binge-drinking redneck; Ashlea’s a wild party girl. It’s a perfect match – until it isn’t. When tragedy strikes, Ashlea grows up fast. But Nick can’t escape the booze – or the ghosts of his childhood. With Nick out of control, Ashlea delivers an ultimatum – with deadly consequences. THE BLACK FLOWER is a raw portrait of teenage chaos. It was originally published in Page Seventeen.
The Scroll of Isidor
Price: Free! Words: 9,730. Language: English. Published: March 6, 2017 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Levin Ruck was once a great warrior mage, but in peacetime he serves as Deputy Chief of Dervine Village. When orchard keeper Desma brings news of trouble in the mountains, Lev knows the time for action has come again, but with the Chief refusing to act, Lev and Desma must defy orders to investigate. What they discover is a deadly threat – and they are Dervine's first and only line of defence.
A Man
Price: Free! Words: 3,050. Language: English. Published: January 4, 2017 . Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
(5.00 from 4 reviews)
Sam is a labourer, and like most working men, he doesn’t like to talk that much. If he does, it’s shouting instructions on the job or talking shit with his mates about sport, cars, women and dirty jokes. But there’s a lot going on in Sam’s head - about his job, his girlfriend, and his stagnant life - that he doesn’t share with anyone.

Holden Sheppard's tag cloud

addiction    adventure    alcohol    angst    australia    australian    blue collar    coming of age    epic fantasy    fantasy    high fantasy    issues    kings    mage    magic    male    man    masculinity    medieval    men    new adult    short story    social issues    stream of consciousness    sword    teen    warrior    working class    young adult   

Smashwords book reviews by Holden Sheppard

  • Wajemup: Place across the water where the spirits go on Oct. 29, 2016
    (no rating)
    Wajemup by Georgina Gregory is a taut short story that evokes a light-hearted holiday at a location with a troubled past - a past that is glossed over by the characters and the narrator. The author displays an economical use of words, drawing a sense of place and character with brief, but deft, brushstrokes. The voice is particularly strong and suggests the author could extend these characters' stories if she wished to explore them further in a longer piece. In all, a pleasant read that captures a quintessentially Australian aesthetic.
  • Graylands on Oct. 29, 2016
    (no rating)
    Graylands is a brief but evocative work of flash fiction. It brings a character to life in just a few words, with glimpses of memories - letter writing, the flies of Australia - crafting the story of a war survivor. Worth the read.
  • Carried Away on Aug. 31, 2017

    This is a really sweet gay romance perfect for a YA audience. The interactions between Mason and Asher feel very realistic and Mason is a particularly endearing protagonist. I found myself wishing I'd read something like this when I was a teenager. I strongly recommend this for fans of m/m romance.
  • Firefly on Nov. 22, 2017

    There is something so sad about Firefly that immediately struck me. I really felt the desperation of the main character and it was really heartwrenching to see what an extreme state of loneliness can do to a teenage boy. Excellent work from Raphael once again - as always, the characters and dialogue shine through.