Kirsty Murray

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.’

Books by Kirsty Murray

Puddle Hunters

Published: June 2020

A gorgeous board book that captures the eternal delight of young children splashing about in puddles.

When Billy Was a Dog

Published: June 2019

If you can't have a puppy, maybe the next best thing is to be a puppy.

Kids Who Did: Real kids who ruled, rebelled, survived and thrived

Published: April 2019

A collection of true stories about kids and courage. Ordinary kids doing extraordinary things. Extraordinary kids trying to live ordinary lives. Real kids doing it tough.

Puddle Hunters

Published: July 2018

This beautiful book captures the eternal delight of young children splashing about in puddles and experimenting with language.

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean

Published: January 2015

A ground-breaking intercontinental collection of speculative stories, in both prose and graphic novel form, with contributors from India and Australia including Isobelle Carmody, Margo Lanagan, Nicki Greenberg and others of similar calibre.

The Year It All Ended

Published: August 2014

From one of our most gifted storytellers, a novel about the impact of war on those left behind, set in Australia and Europe in 1918-19.

The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie

Published: July 2013

A gripping time-slip adventure set in a hidden valley. 11-year-old Lucy travels across the river of time to fight fires, battle floodwaters and discover the meaning of true friendship. 'Enchanting, exciting, and shimmering with magic, this is a gorgeous adventure from a master story-teller. I wanted to follow Lucy right through the wall.' - Kate Constable

India Dark

Published: August 2010

A strong and vivid novel based on the fascinating true story of a group of young Australian performers - children aged from seven to seventeen - who toured Asia and India early in the twentieth century before mounting a strike against their manager and precipitating a sensational court case.

Vulture's Gate

Published: August 2009

It is 40 years into the future and the world is in turmoil. A plague has destroyed humans' ability to conceive females, or so Callum thinks until he meets Bo. A page-turning adventure unfolds as the pair rely on each other to survive a dangerous journey to a safe haven in the city of Vulture's Gate.

The Secret Life of Maeve Lee Kwong

Published: September 2006

Where do you turn when your family is tragically torn apart, your close friends fall away, and your long-lost father is out of reach? Where do you fit when you're part Irish, part Chinese, part Australian? A warm-hearted story about teenage life in Australia now.

Zarconi's Magic Flying Fish

Published: March 2006

An exciting story of discovery, change and identity, with all the drama of life under the big top.

A Prayer for Blue Delaney

Published: September 2005

A Prayer for Blue Delaney follows the outback adventures of orphaned Colm, who runs away from the cruelties of Bindoon Boys' Home and goes in search of a family of his own. Set in the 1950s.

Becoming Billy Dare

Published: December 2004

Becoming Billy Dare follows the life of a feisty Irish boy who runs away to Australia and finds his vocation as an actor in the colourful theatres of Melbourne, around the time of Federation.

Bridie's Fire

Published: November 2003

Bridie's Fire is the tale of a fiery Irish girl who leaves Ireland to find a home for herself in goldrush Australia.

Walking Home with Marie-Claire

Published: October 2002

A story about the friendship between 12 year old Pauline ('PJ'), and a daring, unpredictable new girl, Marie-Claire, whose instinct for adventure leads them both into trouble

Market Blues

Published: February 2001

A timeslip adventure novel about a boy who goes busking at the market and finds himself transported back to a century ago.

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