Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 3, 2023

Author Talk: Kylie Ladd in conversation with Sally Hepworth

One of my favourite local bookshops, Ulysses Books in Hampton, is now regularly hosting author talks in the Hampton Life Saving Club.  We don’t have enough bookish events on our side of town, so this is a very welcome innovation.

Tonight’s event featured local Bayside author Sally Hepworth (whose books I’ve reviewed here) in conversation with Kylie Ladd about her new novel I’ll Leave You With This. 

Kylie is the author of six novels, 2 works of non-fiction, essays and articles, and combines her writing career with working two days per week as a neuro-psychologist, specialising in dementia.

It’s interesting to hear about the inspiration for a book. These two authors are great friends with an easy rapport full of wit and laughter, but they have shared some difficult times and Sally was able to draw from Kylie the painful experience of having had a book rejected.  (Later, talking about ‘the path to publication’ they were keen to share the up-and-down reality of being an author.  Anyone who thinks in terms of an upward trajectory from the publication of a debut novel is in for a rude shock.)

Anyway Kylie Ladd was in recovery from a book rejection and in the throes of some other difficulties in her life when she serendipitously came across a newspaper headline about a woman in India who had had a double-forearm transplant. She was intrigued, and followed it up.  It was a while before she revealed to the audience that her own brother had died in tragic circumstances and her own family had had the experience of being approached by the organ transplant team when he died.

So she wanted to write about organ transplants, but the thing is, she said wryly, someone has to die for this life-changing gift to take place.

Sally asked about the Prologue with such intensity that I had to read it myself (and I won’t have been the only one in the audience to do so almost immediately.) It is spectacular, and what is really remarkable is that it was never intended to be included in the novel.  Kylie is a planner, and she writes ‘practice chapters.’ This ‘practice chapter’ to the author’s own surprise, became the one to begin the novel.

This is the blurb:

I’ll Leave You With This is a heartbreaking, funny, thought-provoking and honest novel about a brother’s legacy and the tangled bonds of sisterhood.

The O’Shea sisters couldn’t be more different.
Allison, an obstetrician, has always put others before herself and is torn between her job and young family.
Prizewinning film director Bridie hasn’t had work in over a decade, though her actor husband is on the brink of stardom.
Clare, desperate for a baby, is bereft when her wife leaves her after their latest IVF failure.
And Emma, the youngest, has turned to God to fill the aching loneliness in her life.
When their only brother Daniel is killed the four women drift even further apart…
Then, on the third anniversary of Daniel’s death, Clare proposes an idea: they should trace the many recipients saved by his donated organs. Perhaps their brother’s gift of life can bring them back together again?

So the novel ‘about organ donation’ becomes a novel about sisters, which is why there is a quotation at the very beginning of the book:

Cerney (1993) argues that to understand the response of the donor family to specific aspects of their bereavement, one should understand their previous functioning.

I’ll Leave You With This is published by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2022, ISBN 9780143778950.  I purchased it on the night from Ulysses Bookstore Hampton, with thanks to Tracey for organising the event!


  1. I look forward to your review on it. I really enjoyed it.


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