Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 20, 2021

Featured author: Kate Ryan and her new book The Golden Book

Here’s another author who’s had launch events cancelled because of lockdowns.


Photo credit Susan Gordon-Brown

Kate Ryan is a Melbourne based author of fiction, non-fiction and children’s picture books. Her debut novel, The Golden Book, was published by Scribe in August 2021. Her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. She won the Writers Prize in the 2015 Melbourne Prize for Literature and the novella category in the 2017 Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Awards. She is represented by Jane Novak.

For many years Kate worked for publishing houses including Roland Harvey Books, Lothian Books, Macmillan Education and Penguin Books, commissioning new work, and editing fiction from picture books through to young adult novels. These days she teaches creative writing and does manuscript assessment and mentoring work through the Victorian Writers Centre, the ASA and in her own freelance practice, working with numerous emerging writers to help develop and refine their work.

Kate is writing a new novel exploring the intersection between houses and emotion. What do people reveal about themselves through the private spaces they create? What happens to the memories which houses contain? If we move countries as children, how are our attitudes to the homes we make as adults altered? If, as in Jung’s view of dreams, the house is a metaphor for the self, what does this mean for the real houses we inhabit and those who design them?

During lockdown, in a bid to remember a freer life, she wrote an essay on the myriad share houses she lived in during her late teens and early twenties, the diverse characters she came across and the ramshackle journey to becoming independent.

(I do love the sound of this novel about houses.  One of my lockdown projects is to scrapbook all 24 of the addresses I’ve had in my life.  Note that I’ve lived in my present house for over 40 years and you can see how often I packed my suitcase before that!)


Jessie had said they should go at midnight. ‘It’s the gods’ time,’ she said, narrowing her eyes dramatically. ‘Anything could happen.’

It’s the 1980s, and in their small coastal town, Ali and her best friend, Jessie, are on the cusp. With ‘The Golden Book’, a journal of incantation and risk taking as their record, they begin to chafe at the restrictions put on them by teachers, parents, each other. Then Jessie suffers a devastating accident, and both their lives are forever changed.

When Ali is an adult, with a young daughter herself, the news of Jessie’s death brings back the intensity of that summer, forcing her to reckon with her own role in what happened to Jessie so many years ago.

As this stunning debut moves back and forth in time, and Ali’s secrets are forced into the light, Kate Ryan asks profound questions about responsibility and blame, and, ultimately, about love.


The Golden Book is a quietly beautiful debut from Kate Ryan that asks profound questions about responsibility, blame and, ultimately, love … [This] is an exquisite and deeply resonant literary novel that captures the nostalgia of youth.’  Cheryl Akle, The Weekend Australian. 

‘An exquisite study of the liminal space between words and acts, and the necessary redrafting of our life stories. This is a golden book.’ Myfanwy Jones, author of Leap and The Rainy Season.

‘A gorgeous evocation of the wildness of youth, and of what it takes to find love after disaster. Kate Ryan writes from the heart. Earthy, lovely, and profound. A beautiful, resonant book.’ Peggy Frew, author of Islands and Hope Farm

Read a review of The Golden Book at Readings where you can also, of course, buy the book.


  • Publisher: Scribe Publications
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781922310088
  • RRP $29.99


  1. Sounds like she’s got impressive and pertinent experience that will aid in career building going forward. I’m partial to the idea of novels rooted in homes/houses and spaces that hold meaning for us.


    • Yes, me too. Penelope Lively wrote something about houses in A House Unlocked (as she downsized, if I recall correctly) but I can’t think of anyone writing about being uprooted over and over as I was. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she does with it.


  2. I liked this book a lot!


  3. […] You can read more about Kate Ryan here. […]


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