You’re a self-proclaimed storyteller. Tell us about how you’ve made a career out of it.
My mother will tell you I always “embellished the facts” so I guess I’ve been a storyteller for a while. I loved English at school and went on to do the degree that is eternally mocked – an Arts degree – where I majored in English. I couldn’t see a viable pathway for a career as a writer back then so I travelled and worked a series of jobs that gave me great fodder for writing later on. When my first child was born I started freelance writing and although earned little money, it whet my appetite for storytelling once again. I spent the next 15 years working around 4 kids by writing articles and web content – telling my own stories and then the stories of businesses. I finally dipped my toe in the sea of books when my youngest started school. I wrote 4 children’s books which were published by Lake Press but was drawn to heavier topics of motherhood and the expectations of women in society so I turned my hand to novels. It took me 7 years from idea to book on a shelf for my latest novel, but I got there in the end. Decades of telling stories helped the process, even if I couldn’t see it all those years ago.
Tell us about your debut novel, Someone Else’s Child.
It’s a domestic thriller set in a fictional NSW town. Ren Hill will do anything for her best friend, Anna. The news that Anna’s daughter Charlotte has terminal brain cancer sends them on a desperate hunt for a cure and their only hope lies in an expensive European drug trial.
Ren jumps onboard Anna’s fundraising efforts, willing to put everything on the line—her reputation in their close-knit community and all the money she can beg or borrow—to secure Charlotte’s place. When the local charity drive quickly becomes a nationwide campaign, townspeople start asking questions about the trial. Questions Ren can’t answer.
The more she uncovers, the more Ren realises the truth is darker than she could ever imagine.
It’s a story of loyalty and female friendships, small communities banding together and ultimately wanting to see the best in people. Let’s say it goes to dark places that I didn’t know I was capable of writing!
What do you love about Melbourne?
There is something for everyone in Melbourne. Glorious parks and gardens, as well as forests and beaches within an hour of the city. The laneways of the CBD have incredible art and character, enhanced by the array of restaurants and bars. I don’t drink coffee (I know, blasphemous!!) so I won’t claim it as a Melburnian staple but I hear we have the best coffee in Australia (or is it the world? Sorry, Italy). Perhaps it is the festivals of Melbourne that bring me the most joy – the Comedy Festival falls around my birthday and it has become a tradition to attend shows. The jubilation in the streets at that time, where laughter is celebrated and people seem genuinely happy, fills my soul. The Melbourne Writers Festival is another one I love. It is where I learned that I could in fact pursue my love of writing. So many inspiring authors and creators, all speaking at events that were accessibly priced meant I could sneak in as an anonymous wanna-be writer and leave with the tools and confidence to go home and bash out a story or two.
The last couple of things I love about Melbourne are autumn leaves and low humidity!
Where are your favourite places in Australia to travel to, eat at and enjoy?
Apollo Bay has been a family holiday destination for over 40 years and I love it (although I selfishly wish others hadn’t discovered it because that sleepy town is now an expensive tourist destination!). Anywhere with a violent coastline has my heart. I am more crashing waves than trickling creek. That being said, I live in the Dandenong Ranges and have the glory of forests and creeks around me so I seek it less when I am “holidaying”. I have just visited Perth for the first time in 20 years and loved Cottesloe Beach. Gold Coast is a great and easy holiday with kids, especially to escape Melbourne’s winter. I adore Sydney because of the overt prettiness of the harbour. I could say something about every state of Australia because they all have something to offer depending on your desires and the age of travellers.
As for food – my husband loves cooking and is a great cook so we don’t eat out a lot but when we do we are spoilt with fabulous local eateries: Ripe in Sassafras, Earthly Pleasures in Belgrave, The Fat Goat for a beverage in Upwey. Otherwise anywhere in Carlton for Italian is a fine favourite or fish ‘n’ chips on St Kilda beach.
What does being Australian mean to you?
This is a tough question. Perhaps I need to answer it with what I hope being Australian will come to mean, because I think we are a little way off. Fair-minded and inclusive of a multicultural population is my greatest desire. Recognition of our First Nations people in more than tokenistic ways. I believe we are working towards compassion and empathy which we lost for a while. I’d love to say we are world leaders in education and environment but alas, we are falling short and need to get our skates on! From an outsider’s point of view, I’d say we are a fairly relaxed culture and I do celebrate that stereotype although it doesn’t always align with how I see myself as an Australian. I think as a nation we punch above our weight in the Arts (better funding for the sector would make us unstoppable) and I’m incredibly proud to say I’m an Australian writer. Maybe being an Australian means I am hopeful and optimistic that we have all we need to enhance the beauty and diversity of who we already are?
To find out more about Kylie’s work, please click here.