Kirsty Murray is a multi-award-winning author of more than 20 books for children and young adults. Her works include eleven novels as well as non-fiction, junior fiction and picture books. Her historical fiction and time-slip novels are widely studied in schools and universities and are published internationally. When Billy was a Dog, illustrated by Karen Blair was an Honour Book in the 2020 CBCA Book of the Year Awards and their earlier book Puddle Hunters was included in the Victorian Premier’s Baby Bundle. Her historical fiction includes the much-loved Children of the Wind series, The Year it All Ended, and India Dark. Her speculative fiction work includes the dystopian novel Vulture's Gate and the groundbreaking anthology Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean.
Kirsty is an advocate for readers and writers of all ages and serves as a director on the board of both the Australian Society of Authors and the Copyright Agency.
What inspired you to become a writer?
‘The world is full of inspiration. My father was a natural storyteller and my mother was a passionate reader but from an early age I was a persistent eavesdropper. I loved listening to all types of stories in the school yard, on the street, and out in the world.’
What was your first job?
‘When I was still in high school I worked weekends and Thursday nights in a tiny bookshop in Toronto, Canada. It was run by a German bookseller called Manfred Meurer and he was the best employer I've ever had. We used to sit behind the counter together reading, talking about books, and eating Swiss cheese on Kaiser rolls from the German deli next door. The shop was called ‘The Book Barrel’ and stocked a fabulous eclectic mix of books. I didn’t earn much because even though he paid me half in cash and half in books, I could never resist blowing all my wages on lovely, glossy hard-cover books.’
When you're not writing, what do you do?
'There's always a passing parade of teenagers and young adults in our house. Luckily, I really enjoy catering for big crowds because I spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and catching up on gossip. We're all addicted to books, music, and film so the conversations are great. I'm also a member of two book clubs. Everything to do with books and stories fascinates me.
What are the best and worst things about being a writer?
‘The best thing about being a writer is you are your own boss. It's great being able to decide what idea or story you're going to work on next. But being your own boss is also one of the worst things about writing. If nothing gets done then there's no one else to blame!’
Where do you do your writing?
‘We have a workshop in the back corner of our garden with big, long windows and a little
verandah. I work next to the window that looks out at the plum tree. In the morning, it's full of sunshine which always puts me in a good mood for the working day.’
What inspires you?
‘Kids are amazing. The more I write about children in history and young people today, the
more convinced I become that they make the best heroes in any story. I really like their energy and their attitudes. Children's authors often get asked when they're going to write a book for adults, as if only adults and their experiences are important. But frankly, compared to kids and teenagers, middle-aged people are pretty boring. I also love listening to the stories that old people tell. If you listen closely, you'll find many of their best stories are about their own childhood. I think they've figured out where the really good stories come from.’