Toowoomba local, Rory H. Mather, won the 2016 Gold Coast Writers Association Award for his novel, Hansel and Gretel: Zombie Siblings.

Mather was first struck with the inspiration for Hansel and Gretel: Zombie Siblings, when he stumbled upon a vividly illustrated edition of the Brothers Grimm fairy-tale. In one particular image of Hansel and Gretel baring their teeth, whilst devouring candy, Mather thought they bore a heavy resemblance to zombies.

This initial idea fixated him for months, before he finally began writing. As the title divulges, the novel is a re-imagining of the classic fairy tale. The premise of the story is that Hansel and Gretel transform into zombies, and are hence led by their father into the woods. The novel is written entirely in verse, and while it has its dark moments, it is largely a humourous tale.

Given his recent success as a writer, it may come as a surprise that his journey to authorhood began recently.

While writing has always been one of his pastimes, Mather never considered it as a serious career option. In earlier years, he entered several poetry competitions but never found success.

The end of 2015 marked a turning point; Mather decided he wanted to be an author. At this point, he said, “I began thinking of characters and as cliché as it may sound, I just had to get them out of my head and onto paper.” Once he had completed a few stories, he discovered that his best chance of publication was to seek feedback from judges at literary competitions. He entered four competitions, and contrary to his previous poetry endeavours, he won the Gold Coast Writers Association Award.

“I was ecstatic,” Mather said, “even to be a finalist meant a great deal to me.” While his friends and family reacted positively to his novel, the encouraging responses from industry professionals were something else altogether. Their feedback instilled within him the belief that his story was genuinely good. Mather said that “it certainly inspired me to consider taking my writing more seriously.”

While attempting to get published is an arduous task, Mather is determined to publish Hansel and Gretel: Zombie Siblings.  He is currently working with author, Laura O’Connell, to polish both the novel and proposal to publishing houses. His ultimate goal is to be published by Penguin Random House. In order to secure an agent to help with the publication process, he is focused on boosting his online profile and following. Mather is active on Facebook, Instagram and has launched a website.

For Mather, the future holds more than Hansel and Gretel: Zombie Siblings. He has completed an additional seven stories, which are aimed at a younger audience. Although they’re intended to be picture books, Mather confesses that he is no artist. He intends on holding a competition through social media, asking people to illustrate his stories for fun. Since most publishing houses have in house illustrators, Mather says that “if there [were] some illustrations that I love I see no harm in showing them to the publishers as ideas of what I would like.”