Brisbane author Kirilee Barker chats about her debut novel, The Book of Days.

With her first novel on shelves now and a panel spot at Brisbane Writers’ Festival, Kirilee Barker says getting to where she is now took lots of hard work and a sprinkling of luck.

“I’d get up early in the morning and write before work and also during my lunch hours,” she says. “I have advice for new writers – never give up, believe in yourself, and hope like hell you have that little bit of luck because you really need it in the publishing industry,” she says.

Barker caught the attention of publishers after the first chapter of The Book of Days won the 2010 John Marsden Prize – a competition she almost didn’t enter in the first place.

“It was on a whim and because my best friend said I should,” she says. “John [Marsden] actually emailed me after and said ‘How much have you got done because I’d love to introduce you to my editor,’ and thankfully I had about three quarters produced.

“It was completely unexpected and wonderful. I feel like he’s really been supporting me along the way.”

Barker says she drew inspiration from works of historical non-fiction to build the colourful world of the novel.

“I was really fascinated by the Victorian era and the Industrial Revolution,” she says. “I took aspects from different cultures and different time periods and sewed it all together.

“I love that you can just open the page and jump into a different world.”

The Book of Days by K.A. Barker is available in bookstores now. RRP$18.99. We’re giving away three copies of the book here!