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Fandom, fans, followers, fanatics = Fandomonium

Involving his creative writing students in the real world of editing and publishing generates a genuine sense of pride in Dr Ross Watkins, Senior Lecturer, Creative Writing, Sunshine Coast University. 

by Judy Fredriksen

In 2021, Sunshine Coast micropublisher Revolutionaries, in collaboration with Dr Watkins and his students, initiated a pilot project to write, edit, produce and publish an anthology. This was an exciting development for both Ross and the students who previously self-published.

“Partnering with Revolutionaries was a significant step forward in terms of prestige and opportunity – now Revolutionaries take care of the practicalities of the publishing process, and our books have a much more effective way to get out into the world,” explains Ross.

This year, the students have conceived an eclectic romp of 55 pieces of short fiction, non-fiction and poetry in a book themed around fandom, fans, followers and fanatics. The clever title of the book – Fandomonium – has been conjured up by the students themselves with the project being completed in 15 weeks, a time frame that would leave most traditional publishers gasping for breath. 

Fandomomium covers a diverse range of genres and lengths of works.

“We’ve got everything from fantasy and science fiction, crime and other major genres, horror fiction, realism, some more literary works, some metafictive works … a real mixed bag,” says Ross.

“The course itself is called ‘Creative Writing and Editing for Publication’. It’s a course which is designed as a capstone course that students would study at the very end of the degree. It gives them an outlet, a vehicle to explore and I guess consolidate all of the things they’ve learnt so far.”

This includes ethics and the legalities around representation in a published work that is not just for assessment, but to go out into the broad public sphere on a commercial basis.

“Week one of semester I give the students the task of what’s ahead. Then, fifteen weeks later, we’re standing there with a book in our hands for the book launch.”

Critical to the success of the publication is the support given by Wallea Eaglehawk, herself a talented creative writer, published author, and CEO of Revolutionaries. 

“Back when I was at uni (in 2012) there was no publication pathway available to me so I never thought I could seriously pursue writing and publishing at a young age. I had so many ideas and I had nowhere to put them. I felt that was a missed opportunity for me and many others in my situation,” explains Wallea. So in 2020, she launched Revolutionaries. 

As the name suggests, Revolutionaries has a passion for publishing transformative and empowering cross-genre works that do not fit into the current commercial publishing landscape. In a leading example of how to bring about change, it seeks out subject matter that wrestles away conventional thinking to inspire new, more compassionate, attitudes towards how people engage and interact with each other, with animals and with our natural environment.

“Revolutionaries are reappropriating the word revolutionary to stand for love, nonviolence and justice,” says Wallea.

This fits perfectly with Ross’s ethos and approach.

“At the beginning of semester we talk about what is publishable work, we talk about who is the ideal reader for Revolutionaries’ work, what kind of other works they publish, and how our work can fit in with their catalogue.”

Working in groups of three or four, the students write the first draft within seven weeks, exchanging manuscripts constantly to progress through the editing and proofreading stages. Ross then steps in for the final proofreading phase before organising the individual stories into a logical structure, allowing Wallea to take over for the typesetting and printing. 

Fellow student Cat McNicholl was also involved by creating the cover design and book illustrations.

Wallea supports the project as a philanthropic undertaking because she wants to encourage creativity and creative expression. This is something for which Dr Watkins and the students are extremely grateful. Wallea also takes care of all of the marketing, with all of the students receiving a free copy.

“Being able to work with Ross to publish students' work is so meaningful to me because I get to be a part of an opportunity that could have changed my life if it had been around in 2012.” 

At the end of the course, the students walk away with “a broadened, honed skillset they can then apply within the industry, and that’s a crucial link,” says Ross.  

“The other thing is that they walk out with a sense of pride, and ownership, over what they’ve produced. And that’s another really important thing that they take out there into the world.

“Overwhelmingly, there’s such a positive glow among the student cohort when they see what they’ve produced, when they finally get to hold it in their hands at the launch – a physical copy of their labour throughout the semester. It’s really wonderful.” 

Fandomomium retails for $35 and is available online at:



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