Posted by: Lisa Hill | October 20, 2022

Meet an Aussie Author: Ruairi Murphy

Here at ANZ LitLovers I do my best to keep up with the zeitgeist, but Tasmanian author Ruari Murphy was under my radar until he burst into prominence with a longlisting in the 2022 Tasmanian Premier’s Award for Fiction.

Ruairi Murphy is a librarian and writer living in Hobart. Two Sets of Books was drawn from his formative years as a librarian with the State Library of Tasmania.

Thanks to Robyn Mundy (also longlisted for the award with Cold Coast, see my review), Ruairi made contact with me via email so I learned something important about his book.

There are only a handful of copies of my book for sale, all in Tasmanian bookshops. The book was a small, self-published project, with profits from its sale going toward purchasing resources for Libraries Tasmania’s adult literacy collection.

A project dear to my heart! (A copy is making its way to me across Bass Strait as I write).

This is the blurb for Two Sets of Books:

Set in Hobart public library, ‘Two Sets of Books‘ contains eight stories, each exposing the astonishing secret lives of the staff. A book shelver burns down the library out of love. A technical support officer recreates a woman in an illegal sex videogame. A mute librarian is slaughtered and eaten in a vindictive fantasy. A home service courier gives an elderly widow an offer she can’t refuse. An archivist attempts to save a woman’s life with a rare book. A children’s librarian uses the power of story to learn who is abusing a child. A young librarian is seduced into killing a paedophile. A security guard deciphers book titles to prevent an armed robbery. Sex, drugs, cannibalism, arson, armed robbery – this is not the library as you know it.

In an interview with The Hobart Magazine, Murphy explains that the book is about the two versions of ourselves – the one we curate and present to the world, and the true self that we hide from others. Along the way it punctures the stereotype of the demure librarian!

Let’s see what we can learn about Ruairi from his answers to my questions for Meet an Aussie Author!

  1. I was born … in Dundalk, Ireland. It’s on the east coast, halfway between Belfast and Dublin.
  2. When I was a child … I almost died of an asthma attack. Mum tells the story of waiting at home for my dad to come back from the hospital alone.
  3. The persons who encouraged / inspired / mentored me … were my parents. Mum taught me that life was a game to be enjoyed, and dad taught me when to take the game seriously.
  4. I write in … between traffic on my bike. Cycling often provides a productive head space to turn over the syntax of a stubborn sentence in my mind.
  5. I write when … no one is watching. It feels more subversive that way.
  6. Research is … my profession and my most enjoyable aspect of writing. I love who and what it introduces me to, all under the guise of ‘work’.
  7. I keep my published works in … libraries, if they’ll have them. What better place to share one’s work?
  8. On the day my first book was published, I … lost my voice. I’d practiced my book launch speech too much.
  9. At the moment, I’m writing … a novel. It’s knocking me about like a prize fighter, but I’m hanging in there.
  10. When I’m stuck for an idea / word / phrase, I … get away from my desk. My creative mind only seems to be able to run amok when I loosen my hold on it.

The Enquiry Counter at the Hobart Library (see credits below)

You can learn more about Ruairi Murphy and the book from this article at The Hobart Magazine.  Aspiring writers will be encouraged by what he has to say about his manuscript being shortlisted for the Tasmanian Premier’s literary awards and a finalist in the 2018 Carmel Bird digital literary award. It didn’t lead to publication, but it set a trajectory which led to other opportunities… which did ultimately lead to publication.

If you too would like a copy of this book, it’s available at the following Tasmanian bookshops:

Ruairi tells me that it’s also available as an eBook with the usual behemoths, but I don’t advertise them on this blog.

Image credits:

  • Attribution: “Photograph – Side view of the enquiry counter for the Reference Library” by Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
  • Author photo supplied by Ruairi Murphy.


  1. I remember the media info about this book when it came out then I heard little. I applauded their effort but haven’t read it. Too many other books on the go.


  2. It is so good to see you discussing this delightful book and its lively, gifted creator.


    • This is a very good longlist, Carmel. I’ve got Waypoints sitting on my desk too. I bought it for Novellas in November but I hope to get to it before that,


  3. With a name like that, of course he was born in Ireland 😉


    • I have to confess that I don’t know how to pronounce it.


      • It’s roo-ree or Rory, depending on your accent 🤪


        • Ah, like Siobhan, easy when you know how!


  4. What a find Lisa! Congrats on tracking Murphy down to puzzle out the mystery behind this book. It’s a story in itself.


    • It wasn’t me! Robyn Mundy told him about my post and the speculation about where to buy the book, and he got in touch.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love Irish (and Welsh) names. My son’s first real date- to the Year 10 formal – was with a lovely girl called Aoife, I’d never seen it before but have seen it a few times since. Our granddaughter is Neve (instead of Niamh) which we love. But I didn’t know how to pronounce this author’s name – so, thanks.

    BTW, Lisa, surely we don’t still need to puncture “the stereotype of the demure librarian! “Do we? This sounds like a fun book for librarians.


  6. I am of the opinion that for a small population, Tassie authors sure pack a punch in terms of quality.


  7. Please carry on mentioning e-books even if you don’t approve of them. I was able to buy and download Ruairi’s book in about 10 seconds and look forward to reading it. Ordering physical books to be sent to the European Union has got a lot more difficult since new tax regulations came in last year.


    • Hi Paul, it’s not that I don’t approve of e-books as a concept, … I don’t approve of Amazon because of the way they treat their staff and have driven so many retailers to the wall, but I’m not pure about it, and I have a Kindle myself which I use in the same circumstances as you do, mostly for African books because they’re hard to get here.


  8. Great post. 👏👏 Sizzling questions 😁 ably answered by Ruairi.


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