Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 2, 2013

Meet an Aussie Author: Paddy O’Reilly

The Factory

Paddy O'Reilly (her copyright)

Paddy O’Reilly is one of my favourite Aussie authors, and *blush* I still can’t believe that I only discovered her writing in 2012!

My first discovery was The Factory, (2005) and it went straight into my Top Reads for 2012.  I am on a mission to get this fabulous book reprinted because I might never have found it if I hadn’t stumbled across it at the library.  It was included in best books of the year in Australian Book Review and The Sydney Morning Herald, and Highly Commended in the FAW Christina Stead Award for Fiction, and no wonder, read my review and then scour all the bookshops you know to source a copy for yourself.  It is worth the hunt. Update: It’s been published now in Australia by Affirm Press and you can buy it readily. here’s the link: The Factory.

The Fine Colour of RustMy next find was The Fine Colour of Rust (2012)Written under the name P.A. O’Reilly to signal a departure in style to ‘crossover literary-commercial’, this affectionate homage to the female battlers in small country towns is in the wryly comic tradition of great Aussie authors such as Ruth Park and Eleanor Dark, but has contemporary setting and characterisation.   Read my review here and see why I loved it too.

There is a highly regarded short story collection as well, called The End of the World (2007), but I haven’t read that yet.

The first time I met Paddy was when she launched Las Vegas for Vegans by A.S. Patric at Readings in St Kilda.  This was a great evening because I got to meet him and his publisher Barry from one of my favourite publishing houses, Transit Lounge, and I also got a great piece of advice from Paddy, which I put into practice when I did my first-ever book launch: ‘A good launch speech is a short launch speech!’  On that occasion I think I just gushed a bit about how much I loved The Factory …

But when Paddy turned up at an ASA (Australian Authors Association) event, I was able to share in  eavesdrop on a conversation amongst Paddy and two other authors whose work is reviewed here on the blog: Cate Kennedy and Toni JordanDorothy Johnston was there too – I read her One for the Master years ago when it was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.  In such company I listened awestruck as they talked about the respective merits of short story, poetry and novels and just gushed every now and again about how much I loved their writing.

By the time Paddy and I bumped into each other again at a book launch at the Embiggen Bookstore (the one conveniently just across the road from the Wheeler Centre so that you can buy a book to read over coffee before an author event), I had read The Fine Colour of Rust and so it was obviously destined that I should ask Paddy to participate in Meet an Aussie Author!

So, without further ado, here are Paddy’s answers to my impertinent questions:

1.  I was born some years after my siblings in a family planning mishap.

2.  When I was a child I wrote secret notes with instructions for finding hidden treasure (which I had hidden), reaching the end of the rainbow, making yourself invisible and so on. Then, because the notes were so secret, I ate them. It takes a while but eventually they turn into a kind of claggy substance you can swallow.

3. The person who encouraged me to write was a teacher in high school, Wendy Dick. Although I didn’t listen to her, in my late twenties the urge came, and I wonder if it was the seed she had planted finally fruiting. Or perhaps it was the inspiration of my father. He died when I was young, but apparently his correspondences, including letters to manufacturers either praising or critiquing their products, were masterpieces of wit and élan. He was also a fine storyteller.

Paddy O'Reilly's desk4.  I write in an uncanny space/time void that I can’t find if I look for it. That is, I’m never sure how I get my writing done but (see next question)…

5.  I write when no one is looking.

6.  Research is a labyrinth from which I emerge weary, elated and laden with facts and ideas I will probably never use in their original form but which will be the bedrock of what I write.

7.  I keep my published work in mind when I despair of writing anything decent ever again.

8.  On the day my first book was published, I visited about ten bookshops to see if it was there.

9.  At the moment, I’m writing notes for new work. (I’m superstitious about discussing unwritten work.)

10. When I’m stuck for an idea/word/phrase, I go and poke around in the garden or make tea and read. I do a lot of poking around in the garden, drinking tea and reading.

Wendy Dick, wherever you are, Australian readers owe you a debt of gratitude!

You can find out more about Paddy at her website.

To buy Paddy’s books, visit her page at Fishpond to keep an eye out for second-hand copies of The Factory or to buy The End of the World.

Click this link to buy The Fine Colour of Rust . (It’s on a different search page because of the name change.)

Update 20/5/15

The WondersPeripheral VisionDon’t miss Paddy’s latest novel The Wonders, (see my review and a Sensational Snippet) and her forthcoming collection of short stories entitled Peripheral Vision, due for release by UQP on June 24th but you can pre-order it. 



  1. This interview makes me even more keen to read her work. Those secret notes! The Factory is high on my list for AWW2013


  2. Love this … she sounds just like I’d expect from what I’ve read of her – short stories, articles. No wonder she’s a writer. Must get to one of her novels soon.


  3. She is such a lovely person, it’s a privilege to know her:)


  4. […] busy promoting the book (published by Affirm Press who also publish a favourite author of mine, Paddy O’Reilly)  but somehow she found time to answer my questions, and here they […]


  5. […] you’re not familiar with Paddy’s writing, you are in for a treat.  See her profile at Meet an Aussie Author, which has links to all her books and my reviews of […]


  6. […] sheer classiness of Paddy’s writing, don’t waste any more time.  See her profile at Meet an Aussie Author, which has links to all her books and my reviews of them, and discover just how good she […]


  7. […] Home was shortlisted for the 2012 Booker, and when Paddy O’Reilly recommended it to me, I ordered it from the library straight […]


  8. […] O’Reilly, featured in Meet an Aussie Author on this blog.  I’ve reviewed three of Paddy’s novels, The Fine Colour of Rust , The […]


Please share your thoughts and join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: