Updated: Jun 2
'I tend to hate posed photos so usually pull a stupid face.'
(Oh I love this photo Kylie. Shelley.xx)
HAPPY LAUNCH DAY KYLIE!
Meet the wonderful Kylie Orr, whose fabulous debut novel Someone Else's Child hits bookstore shelves today! https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781867227281/someone-elses-child/
This contemporary fiction manuscript was Longlisted in The Richell Prize 2019, the MsLexia International Novel Competition 2019, and also commended by judge, JP Pomare, in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2019. It also led to Kylie being awarded the Dymocks & Fiona McIntosh Commercial Fiction Masterclass scholarship.
I was lucky to read an advance copy and it had me totally hooked and invested in the lives of the characters. The story covers complex issues which are so relevant in today's fraught world, where potentially life saving drug trials are often out of the reach of the average person. Your heart will break for little Lottie, in more ways than one, and we will all find ourselves longing for a best friend like Ren.
It is the story of friendship and loyalty, juxtaposed against betrayal. The drama slowly builds to a crescendo that delivers a twist at the end that I didn't see coming. Someone Else's Child is a definite page turner.
Not only is Kylie the author of adult fiction, she has also been shortlisted in several short story competitions, written feature articles and published the 'Whose?' children's picture book series https://www.kylieorr.com/picturebooks
But despite all the accolades for this accomplished writer, there has been one major blip in her writing career. It occurred when she wrote a heartfelt email to Princess Mary of Denmark. However, even that blip didn't stop Kylie getting a reply from the palace!
'I once sent an email to Princess Mary to tell her how much I admired her moving away from her home town and learning a new language and way of life. I said it must be so difficult being in the public eye. Only after I sent it did I realise I’d typed PUBIC.'
Oh I was rolling on the floor laughing when Kylie told me that story (oh ok, I wasn't exactly on the floor with my old arthritic bones, but I was doubled up whilst seated at my computer). And I bet Mary was too!
Kylie's sense of humour also came to light when we were discussing her previous success in the US:
'I went to the Dr Phil show when I was in the US and my husband refused to go with me. As a single attendee they sat me right at the front and the camera panned over me a few times. So I’m basically famous in the US.'
I am certain that once the US hears about Someone Else's Child they will make her famous again, with the novel flying off the shelves of Barnes & Noble. Yet perhaps this time Oprah and her book club might be a better option than good ol' Dr Phil.
So now, without further ado, I will hand you over to the lovely (and funny) Kylie.xx
Q1: What was your inspiration for this story and how long did it take you to write the first draft?
A: I was intrigued by how small communities band together when people are in need (I live in one and we have come together for many families who have needed support), but then I asked what if the recipients of those donated funds don’t spend the money where they’d promised?
I also wanted to explore female friendships and loyalty, and also how society judges mothers for how they act when something traumatic happens to their child. In this case, a cancer diagnosis of eight-year-old Charlotte.
The first draft feels like it took me a lifetime, but it was probably a couple of years. I struggled with whose story it was and switched protagonists a few times, as well as trying it from multiple points of view until I settled on the best friend – Ren – who kept speaking to me long after the other characters disappeared into my subconscious.
Q2: You are hosting a spectacular dinner party. Name four dream guests you would love to have seated around your table, and what would they be dining on and drinking?
A: I’d love to have a highbrow answer to this but actually my desires are simple. Laugh, dance, chat all things writing and eat.
Carl Barron because I think he’s hilarious and love his simple but poignant takes on everyday life. He’d be dining on biscuits because he tells a story about asking him mum for a biscuit and being denied. Maybe he’d pair it with a milo?
P!nkI love everything about her: her music, her vulnerability and authenticity and her general attitude to life. She could get the party started J I’m pretty sure she’d be up for some tequila shots and I hear she loves halloumi.
Gillian Flynn to pick her brain on all things writing and talk about how she wrote two books before her third, Gone Girl, went gangbusters. She’s from Kansas City so I dare say she’d get messy gnawing on barbequed ribs and knock back a beer.
Roy Kent. I know he is a character from the series Ted Lasso rather than a real person, but I think he would bring some spice to a dinner party! He brings emotional depth, gutsy honesty and a foul mouth. What’s not to love? His character is played by one of the show’s writers, (Brett Goldstein) so I guess I could get a double whammy there with character and writer insights. He’d dine on ice cream and Rosé.
(Carl Barron is SO funny. I remember the biscuit story too. Though I'm surprised that you didn't invite your bestie Princess Mary ha ha. Shelley.xx)
Q3: What is your favourite book of all time and why?
A: This feels like choosing my favourite child (and I have four of those). I don’t think I can answer it with absolute conviction. Books that have moved or challenged me are We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/we-need-to-talk-about-kevin
because it was gritty and honest and the most exquisite writing that I know I could never achieve.
And more recently A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/A-Man-Called-Ove/Fredrik-Backman/9781476738024 because it explores grief and loss through a cantankerous character that readers grow to adore. A skilfully written book with such a strong voice. I envied the writing.
I could probably name 1000 more …
'I used to share an office with my husband but he slurped peaches and crunched sourdough toast TOO LOUDLY so I encouraged him to fill in this tiny little deck area off our bedroom and it is now my very quiet, calm, slurp- and crunch-free writing nook. It works well for now!'
Q4: If you could travel anywhere in the world to write for a year, where would we find you?
A: I’ve been fortunate to have travelled a lot in my early 20s when I lived in Europe for a year. I also lived in SE Asia when I was a teenager so was lucky to explore Asian countries with my family.
But to write for a year? I am drawn to Canada. A little log cabin in the Rockies. Spotting whales and polar bears in Churchill. Then there’s Toronto, Quebec, Ontario, Lake Winnipeg, Banff … I mean, it has everything (or so I hear). Endless inspiring settings to write the next bestseller.
Q5: Describe your go-to reading spot at home and what book/s would I currently find there?
A: Out on my back deck in the sun. Currently reading my son’s year 8 English novel for this year: The Giver but I'm usually reading domestic crime or women's fiction https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9780007369881/the-giver-essential-modern-classics/
Q6: Tell us a bit about a typical writing day…
A: Get the kids off to school, go for a morning walk with a friend (very hilly where I live so it’s usually semi-hefty exercise), then I open my WIP and start.
Some days it’ll be typing notes because I haven’t quite nutted out the scene. Some days it’s research that takes me in strange and wonderful directions, others it’s writing utter drivel that I’ll edit later.
I usually hit the biggest roll in writing at about 3pm when I have to pick the kids up from school. It can be a bit of a bummer …
'This is a handblown glass paperweight with my dad’s ashes swirled into it. It sits on my desk with some other special things and reminds me to keep at it.'
(Oh how very special. Thank you for sharing that with us Kylie. Shelley.xx)
Q7: As a lover of words, is there a special quote you would like to share with us?
A: For self-motivation and a pick-me-up after multiple rejections (not anything poetic here though), I turned to Brené Brown: ‘If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.’
And we have this on our wall in our family room that I try to live and write by: ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Q8: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
A: Eating whatever my husband cooks, dancing badly, spending time with friends and family, reading a book uninterrupted (impossible with four kids) and once upon a time … travelling.
Q9: Any advice for aspiring authors?
A: At first, write crap and be okay with it. Others will judge you so why be so hard on yourself? Crap writing can be fixed.
Do short courses in areas that interest you. It’s a good way to find out what areas of writing fire you up.
Join a writers group. A vital part of my ability to keep going has been the support from other writers who share the ups and downs, a safe place where you can vent and celebrate. They understand the brutality of the writing profession.
Enter competitions. They serve as a deadline and you never know who might read your work. I had my first commendation from JP Pomare as a judge on the Vic Premiers Literary Awards and I was later longlisted in the Richell Prize. These were the crumbs I needed to keep going.
Finish the draft. To the end. Rest it. Go back. Edit it.
Q10: In a few lines, which debut/emerging Aussie author should we look out for?
A: I’ve heard great things about AL Campbell’s The Keepers https://www.uqp.com.au/books/the-keepers and am excited to read that!
A gripping contemporary novel from a magnificent new talent that tackles the almost unbreakable loyalty of female friendships, the generosity of community and the lengths we will go to save a child.
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.
Thank you Kylie for being my June 1st Author Stalker victim. xx
Someone Else's Child is hits shelves today and is available through bookstores and online.
If you would like to find out more about Kylie, you can find her here: