Kay Kerr

Date of Success: 



Kay is a former journalist and community newspaper editor, now freelance writer living on the Sunshine Coast. Her chapbook Take Care, Brisbane was published in 2015. She has written for publications including Peppermint, Organic Gardener, Broadsheet and Daily Life. Her debut YA novel Please Don’t Hug Me is due for release with Text Publishing in 2019. It’s a contemporary coming-of-age story about ‘a neuro-diverse and socially awkward year 12 student, Erin, who is dealing with tragedy by writing letters, ditching sham friends, and discovering true companionship in the most unlikely of places—a mature-age women’s clothing shop’.


The CYA Competition was the very first time I dipped my toe into the world of books and publishing, when I entered in 2016 with an earlier version of my first novel ‘Please Don’t Hug Me’. After years as a journalist, it was my first attempt at fiction. It didn’t win, but it placed reasonably enough, and garnered positive enough feedback to make me believe it wasn’t a completely outrageous idea to want to have it published.


That motivation and support right at the start was exactly what I needed. I took the incredibly valuable feedback and ran with it, rewriting and chipping away at the manuscript until it started to resemble something like a novel.


I brought it back to CYA in 2017 for an agent session with Danielle Binks, because I knew she was looking for YA fiction and might be interested in the ‘own voices’ element. By the end of the 10-minute session Danielle had given me some excellent pointers, a list of comparable titles to have a look at and (best of all) requested a complete manuscript. I signed with her not long after and had a book deal by the end of the year.


It still feels quite unreal.


I would probably still be trying to work up the nerve to pitch my manuscript if it wasn’t for CYA!

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