Posted by: Lisa Hill | February 5, 2018

Debut Mondays: new fiction from Laurie Steed and Kali Napier

Welcome to Debut Mondays – a series where debut Australian authors have the opportunity to spruik their novel!


Photo credit: Chris Gurney

This time it is my pleasure to introduce two authors from Western Australia, Laurie Steed and Kali Napier.


Laurie Steed is a writer and editor from Western Australia. His fiction has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in annual anthologies such as Black Inc’s Best Australian Stories, and Melbourne Books’ Award Winning Australian Writing, and also in literary magazines such as Meanjin, Westerly, Island, Kill Your Darlings, as well as The Age newspaper and elsewhere.  He has been awarded multiple fellowships including from the University of Iowa, the Baltic Writing Residency, the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, the Katherine Susannah Prichard Foundation and the Fellowship of Australian Writers (Western Australia).  He won the Patricia Hackett Prize for Fiction in 2012, and in 2014 was the first Australian Fellow selected in the history of the Sozopol Fiction Seminars held in Bulgaria. He lives in Perth, Western Australia with his wife and two young sons.

Coming up on March 1st, 2018, is the release of Laurie’s first novel: it’s called You Belong Here and it’s published by Margaret River Press in WA. (ISBN: 9780648203902) (That enticing cover design is by Debra Billson, proving once again that small indie publishers do the best covers!).

This is the blurb for the novel:

‘Come in. Press PLAY. Tell me what you like about this song. Shout out your dreams, cravings, obsessions from when the track starts, right through to the end. I’ll shout too, you, me, together, louder until we’re a wall of sound. We are trying to find things, people, places we love, and everything counts—songs, films, books, fathers, lovers, friends, and brothers.’

Jen and Steven hope to build a home unlike the chaos in which they grew up. Meeting at sixteen, they marry at eighteen. Soon they’re the parents of three young children.

Initially, the kids help keep them together until love turns to lies, and the family implodes. As they become adults, each child faces fundamental questions about love, loss, and life in the shadow of their family legacy.

You Belong Here follows a Western Australian family from 1972 – 2002, finding faith, flaws, and redemption in a raw but hopeful meditation on what it means to be a family in modern Australia.

This is a book about trust and connection. About what keeps us going, in spite of ourselves.  About a place where we belong.

Laurie’s blurbers have this to say:

‘Laurie Steed’s dazzling novel You Belong Here has a tenderness, honesty, and sense of humour that’s rarely seen in Australian fiction,’ (Ryan O’Neill, winner of the 2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Award)

‘Laurie Steed is a master at conveying relationships that could be real to any of us, writing with depth, nuance, and subtlety. A beautiful read that will make these people as real to you as your own family.’ (Les Zig, author of Just Another Week in Suburbia).

You Belong Here is not yet available from Fishpond, but you can pre-order it until March 1st directly from Margaret River Press  , or at Booktopia.


Photo credit: Katie Bennett, Embellysh

Kali Napier worked in Bangladesh on gender programs before moving home to Australia where she was an Aboriginal family history researcher for the Queensland government and a Native Title anthropologist in the Mid-West of Western Australia, the setting for her first novel The Secrets at Ocean’s Edge. It was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award, as was her first manuscript — also a finalist in the QWC/ Hachette Australia Manuscript Development Program.


Kali is currently an MPhil candidate in creative writing at The University of Queensland.  Apart from writing, Kali also enjoys binge-watching Outlander, sangria, and bookish events.  (*chuckle* We have some things in common, but it’s not the sangria). You can find her on Twitter @KaliNapier and Facebook @KaliNapierAuthor.

Kali’s debut novel is called The Secrets at Ocean’s Edge (ISBN: 9780733637919).  Published by Hachette Australia, it was released on January 30th, 2018.

Here she tells us about the inspiration for the book:

This novel unknowingly started its journey when I worked as a family history researcher, connecting Indigenous clients with records of who their family members were, where they came from, and how they were connected to their Country. Only when piecing together these families’ stories of trauma, secrets, and belonging from the government archive, did I voice aloud an urge to ‘write a book’.

However, their stories were not my stories to tell. At one point in my novel, Mrs Feehely, an exempted Aboriginal woman, cautions her daughter Ruby: “Those are our stories, girl. You keep them to yourself.” when Ruby shares a Dreaming story with Girlie. Girlie learns a valuable lesson about the power of stories to create connections and delineate who she did and didn’t belong to.

But as Girlie discovers, there are gaps and inconsistencies in the story of who she is. Just as there are in my own, caused by migration, estrangement, and the silencing that comes with second marriages.

I lived in the Mid-West of Western Australia in the mid-2000s, where the novel is set, and where to be considered an insider, I would have needed ‘three generations in the boneyard’. Later, I discovered that I had family connections to the Mid-West after all. My great grandfather had been a bankrupt who’d moved to Dongara during the Depression to establish a shop. This sparked the idea for my novel, as I sought to discover through fiction what my unknown ancestors’ lives might have been like. What would it have meant to have to walk away from their way of life and begin again amongst strangers? What aspects of their past would they have not been able to leave behind, carried within them? And what happens when that which they’d thought long buried catches up with them?


Debut authors of literary fiction who would like the opportunity to be featured in Debut Mondays, should read the ANZLitLovers review policy to get an idea of the scope, style and readership of this blog and if interested, get in touch using the comment box here.



  1. Looking forward to getting my hands on both of these!


  2. I’ve heard great things about Kali Napier’s novel and, up until now, I’ve heard nothing of Laurie Steed’s but I’m sure I’ll hear plenty about it in the coming months. I am familiar with his work though so I’m looking forward to it. That cover does indeed look fabulous.


    • Well, that’s good, that you’d heard nothing about Laurie’s, and now you have! That’s what I want to do with this series, give new authors a bit of a publicity boost especially with audiences outside the cities.


      • Yes, it’s a fantastic series and I gives us all a chance to hear about authors who we might otherwise miss out on.


  3. I read somewhere that Kali Napier discovered there were no cars in Dongara in the 1930’s and had to turn them all into horse and carts. The perils of historical fiction! I should read WA fiction. I’ll try.


    • Perils indeed! In that era, there would have been plenty of places off the beaten track (as I assume Dongara was then) where there were no cars I… that book I just read … A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler featured a town in the mountains where there were no cars, and I’ve read others too, set outside cities in various places in Europe.


  4. […] Lisa and Amanda have both also written about You Belong Here. […]


  5. […] tells me that the book started as a short story collection, which makes sense. Lisa (ANZLitlovers) featured Laurie Steed in her occasional series on Debut […]


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