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Up From Down Under July 2008

Modern Australian Writers


Cate Kennedy



Cate Kennedy shines as one of Australia's top modern short story writers. She was born in Lough, Lincolnshire, England, in 1963, and moved to Australia while still a child.


During her teenage school years, she won a short story award offered by The Canberra Times. Apparently spurred on by this success, she went on to study at the Canberra College of Advanced Education (now University of Canberra) and the Australian National University. She graduated with a BA and B.Litt., although by that time she had stopped writing, as many do who find university study saps the spontaneity and joy out of being an author.


In her thirties Cate worked as a librarian in Daylesford, Victoria, during which time she recommenced writing short stories. Success in Scarlett Stiletto (winner 1994 & 1995), and shortlisting in the HQ/Harper Collins Short Story Competition (1996 &1997) followed. Soon after this she took up a position with Australian Volunteers International when, with her then partner, she moved to Mexico. From 1997 – 1999, she was immersed in a culture vastly different to her life in England and Australia. (Her memoir Sing, and Don't Cry: A Mexican Journal was published by Transit Lounge in 2005.)


Since returning to Australia, Cate has married and now resides with her husband on a farm near Benalla in north-eastern Victoria. In the years 2000 and 2001 she won back-to-back first places in The Age Short Story Award. Other awards have followed in subsequent years.


Cates's book of short stories Dark Roots (Scribe 2006) was received in Australia with generally favourable reviews. However, some reviewers have expressed reservations that the collection is of consistent quality.*


Cate worked with the Customs Service for a couple of years, and credits this experience with helping her understand the effect of stress on people and its manifestations in bodily cues. She believes this helps her with the characterisations developed in her short stories.



*Delia Falconer, Australian Book Review,



Up From Down Under July 2008 Les Stephenson