Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 1, 2016

Authors from Western Australia (Australian Authors #3)

I’ve had a draft of Australian Authors #2 in the innards of this blog for a while, but I’m scampering on to #3 because the Australian Society of Authors is tweeting that literature funding in WA is in crisis.  There is a petition here, but I want to do my bit by bringing to your attention some of the cultural capital that Australia owes to WA writers, and that’s at risk because of funding cuts.  I don’t know the first thing about the economics of arts funding in WA, but I do know about literary talent that brings money into an economy, and you don’t need to be an economist to know that funding is always all about choices.

The Sugar MotherMiss Peabody's Inheritance (UQP) 001Doing LifeThe most notable WA author I know of is Elizabeth Jolley whose books fascinated a whole generation of readers.  I’ve only reviewed The Sugar Mother and Miss Peabody’s Inheritance but she’s an author I re-read so there will be more to come in due course.  Her biographer, Brian Dibble who wrote Doing Life hails from WA too.

Then there is Randolph Stow who wrote some of the most memorable books I’ve ever read.  Many readers remember The Merry-go-round in the Sea, but there is also his Miles Franklin winning To the Islands and also the enigmatic Tourmaline.

In alphabetical order, here are some WA writers that I know of.  If you haven’t read these authors, buy or borrow their books, because in a demoralising period, WA writers need your support.  (Links are mostly to my reviews).

Louise Allan: not published yet, but she was shortlisted for the TA Hungerford award in 2014 and her novel is due to be published by Allen & Unwin in 2017.  Louise blogs here, including a terrific series called Writers from the Attic, where you can discover more writers from WA.

two-sisters-a-true-storyFrom the Walmajarri people in the Great Sandy Desert, there is the superb memoir, Two Sisters from Ngarta Jukuna Bent and Jukuna Mona Chuguna with Pat Lowe and Eirlys Richards.  Two Sisters is an authentic account of an ancient way of life as it was lived by sisters Ngarta and Jukuna in the Great Sandy Desert, and then it covers the period when this way of life was disrupted by the coming of Europeans into the north, and as I said in my review the same epic quality as Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington.

Georgiana Molloy the mind that shinesBernice Barry: author of a beautiful biography about a significant botanical artist during the early settlement of WA, Georgina Molloy, the Mind that Shines.

The SinkingsElemental (Curtin)Amanda Curtin: I discovered her work through a serendipitous find at the library: I was really impressed by The Sinkings and her follow up with Elemental is utterly unforgettableI think another novel is on the way.  Find out more at Meet an Aussie Author.

TraitorComing RainStephen Daisley is one of my favourite authors.  I first read Traitor when it was shortlisted for multiple awards and then Coming Rain won the Ockham New Zealand Awards for Fiction.

Salt StoryThe Weaver FishSarah Drummond has a new book called The Sound, endorsed by no less an author than Kim Scott, but so far I’ve only read the fascinating Salt Story.

Robert Edeson wrote that brain twister The Weaver Fish.

Spinnerthe-breakRon Elliot: author of Spinner, which has the rare distinction of being a book about sport that I enjoyed.  (of course, it’s really about much more than that.  See Meet an Aussie Author.

Deb Fitzpatrick: author of The Break and also a popular YA novelist.  She has five books to her credit, and you can find out more about her at her website.

My PlaceWildlightthe-historians-daughterSally Morgan was the first indigenous author I ever read.  Her memoir  My Place is unforgettable.  Robyn Mundy wrote the stunning novel Wildlight, and (update 21/12/16) I’ve just read an impressive debut novel called The Historian’s Daughter by Rashida Murphy.

the-furNathan Hobby: author of The Fur (which won the TA Hungerford in 2003 and was shortlisted for the 2004 W.A. Premier’s Award Young Adult Fiction, and is waiting patiently on my TBR).  Nathan is working on a mammoth biography of Katharine Susannah Pritchard., blogging his progress at A Biographer in Perth.

Isabelle of the Moon and StarsS.A. (Sarah) Jones: author of Isabelle of the Moon and StarsOk, she lives in Melbourne now, but she hails from WA.  See Meet an Aussie Author.

The Mind's Own Placethe-end-of-longingIan Reid: author of The Mind’s Own Place and The End of Longing Find out more about the author of these intriguing books at Meet an Aussie Author.  

Kim Scott is one of my all-time favourite authors.  He is a two-time winner of the Miles Franklin Award, with his novels Benang and That Deadman Dance, which is one of the most magnificent books I’ve ever readI’ve also read Kayang and Me which he co-wrote with Hazel Brown (and some of the bilingual books he’s written for children in the Noongar language)See more at Meet an Aussie Author.


Craig Silvey was nominated for the Miles Franklin with Jasper Jones, and Annabel Smith has three books in the marketplace and is hard at work on her next one.  She is the author of A New Map of the Universe, Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, and The Ark.  See Meet an Aussie Author.

Letters to the End of Love

Reading by MoonlightThen there’s Julienne Van Loon whose novel Harmless followed Bloodwood Tree and her Vogel-award-winning Road Story, and Brenda Walker: author of The Wing of Night and the memoir Reading by Moonlight.  Thanks to Elisa McCune for reminding me:).

And finally, Yvette Walker: author of Letters to the End of Love, find out more at Meet an Aussie Author, and Josephine  Wilson whose novel Extinctions is on my TBR.

Now this is just a list of authors that (with the help of Amanda Curtin, see comments  below) I’ve read and been able to identify as being from WA, and of course there are many more, including those who are writing in genres I don’t review.  Still, this is an impressive list of talent, and shows you why the WA government needs to get its act together.

BTW I should also mention four publishers that I know of.  The links take you to all the books I’ve reviewed for these publishers, and I think that many of these titles have WA authors too:






  1. This is a great post about writer’s from Western Australia. I lived in WA for thirty years and brought my children up there and it is a beautiful place. I have Bernice Barry’s lovely book on my bookshelf and will read it over the Christmas break. I’ll also look up the other authors mentioned in the post.
    Another wonderful book by a WA author is ‘The Wing of Night’ by Brenda Walker it’s one I’ll keep on my bookshelf and reread.


    • Oh, Brenda Walker… I didn’t know she was from WA, I’ll add her to the list because I reviewed Reading by Moonlight ages ago…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a lovely post, Lisa. Your show of support for WA is much appreciated (and many thanks for mentioning The Sinkings and Elemental).
    As you say, there are many more, too. Names that come to mind, very randomly cited here: Gail Jones (yes, originally from WA!), Joan London, Tim Winton, Randolph Stow, Stephen Daisley, Craig Silvey, Sally Morgan, Robyn Mundy, Richard Rossiter, Susan Midalia, Lynne Leonhardt, David Whish-Wilson, Alan Carter, Felicity Young, Peter Docker, Rashida Murphy, Josephine Wilson, Michelle Michau-Crawford, Sam Carmody, Brooke Davis, Natasha Lester, Liz Byrski, Dawn Barker, Sara Foster, Julienne van Loon, Donna Mazza, Sarah Day…
    The children’s authors would take a page, but I should mention a few YA authors: Meg McKinlay (who’s just won the Prime Minister’s Award), Julia Lawrinson, Dianne Touchell, AJ Betts, Glyn Parry, Brigid Lowry…
    That’s only scratching the surface, but it’s quite a heritage, isn’t it?
    Thanks again, Lisa!


  3. It is indeed a heritage! I have reviewed some of the ones you mention and will add them ASAP. (*smacks forehead*) There are a couple there that I should have remembered myself!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for your generous tribute to Western Australian authors! Between federal and state funding cuts, and even declines in the creating writing programs at the universities, there are some real pressures here. I think there’s probably going to be a long post-boom drought of funding, but on the upside, rents, house prices, and cost of living will keep improving.

    I think it was a good thing you didn’t mention Tim Winton in your post, as he can cast quite a shadow.


  5. […] Murphy is another writer to add to my recent Authors from Western Australia post, and her debut novel, The Historian’s Daughter, comes recommended to me by one of my […]


  6. […] (Australian Authors #2) when a crisis in WA arts funding prompted me to jump ahead to publish Authors from Western Australia (Australian Authors #3).  And now the Tasmanian Writers Centre (TWC) is itself struggling with funding cuts, which will […]


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