Australian Story: Leaving Lucy episode

This is the transcript of the episode of Australian Story that featured my family and me.

18 Responses to Australian Story: Leaving Lucy episode

  1. Alannah says:

    Dearest Kate,

    I just finished reading In My Skin – It was truly harrowing. I had to read it in small doses because it literally hurt my heart, thank you for having the courage to write this book. I knew it was going to be a difficult read – the prose is extremely beautiful but the mistreatment you suffered was soul wrenching. I got the pervading sense of sadness from this book but also so much courage, what a bold, extremely brave thing to put yourself out there for the world to see. Thank you for descending into hell so I didn’t have to. Through your experience I feel stronger as a woman. When you wrote in the book that you were twenty seven it really tugged at my heart because that’s the age I am now and you had gone through so much at my age. Your words are so emotive, they dazzle like precious jewels. I can’t wait to read your next book, The Romantic I just hope it’s not as painful as In My Skin. You are so talented at describing things visually I could see everything with the words you painted very real pictures. Sometimes I feel angry that your boyfriend (introduced you to heroin) but then I think you wouldn’t have become the amazingly strong, fierce, courageous woman you are now. I feel like now you do heroine. You are the heroine of your own story. It was heartbreaking but now you have emerged into a life much better. I read you have a son now, which must be a source of immense joy. I hope you keep writing.

    Lots of love from Queensland

    Alannah Lewis-Stafford

    • kate says:

      Hi Alannah and oh, thank you, what an incredibly kind message you sent me! I’m really touched. It’s such a long time since I wrote my book so to get a comment from a reader who’s discovering it now is just lovely. I don’t know if I’m such a heroine but I always wanted to explain, with my own experiences, how anyone might make decisions that seem like a good idea at the time and yet lead to hard places — so we don’t have to judge others who do the same. And I found such interesting things along my way. I’ll always be so grateful to have the chance to write that book and have it published — and to have the most generous and sensitive readers. And to have had those experiences. You’re very kind about my writing. Glad to say I’m working on a new book finally (I was doing smaller freelance work while my son was little) but it’s nothing like In My Skin or The Romantic, it’s a nonfiction book about a murder, and the environment. It should be out (virus notwithstanding) in November and will be called THE WINTER ROAD. I hope you like The Romantic meanwhile, it’s dear to my heart. Alannah just thank you so much for your sweetness, especially at this moment in history! Good luck with the reading and stay safe. All my best wishes, Kate

  2. Alice says:

    Hi Kate.. I am quite an avid reader but somehow only heard of you this year! I read ‘In my Skin’ about 6 months ago.. and again just the other day.. I absolutely love it and am recommending it all over the place and will continue to do so. I also read your second book just this week, and while I also enjoyed it, its definitely my second favourite! I am also suffering from a drug addiction, and while its not heroin to me it feels like it may as well be.. it just happens to be this drug that fell into my lap if that makes sense. I feel I can relate to you in so many ways, with our upbringings and personalities etc. I also lived in Melbourne for two years so I just love the Melbourne nostalgia in your book. Reading about your recovery gives me strength. I’ve seen some “critics” say that you glossed over your recovery a lot, however I might be wrong but I feel like you either a. didn’t want to bore people with it or b. ran out of writing room to go into too much detail. Its people like me, who would have loved you to write a whole book on your recovery! anyway, thank you for your honesty and writing such a wonderful memoir that now has a place on my favourite books list. xxx

    • kate says:

      Hi Alice, this is a very very embarrassingly late reply to your sweet message of 2018! I’m so sorry I didn’t answer at the time, but you left me a lovely and confiding message after reading my book In My Skin. I hope things are going well for you now, Alice, and thank you for recommending my book to your friends. I think I could have written more detail about my recovery process but to be honest, at that stage it still seemed a bit mysterious and hard to describe — no one single element, but several all coming together. Years of psychotherapy and just my own thinking have helped work it out a bit but it’s still mysterious — in a way it was just as I said in the book, heroin and I fell out of love. I was lucky though to find a swift way to get away from it before I fell back. If you’re still working through your drug use, take heart, this is all growing you and you will find your way. Stay true to your instincts and don’t be scared to believe you deserve a good life. All my best and again I’m so sorry to be late answering! Best wishes, Kate

  3. Steve says:

    Loved both books: Really special, engaging, entertaining and insightful.

    I perceived the Italian relationships to all be at their core abusive. If correct and an accurate reflection of the truth, I worry what it says about Kate’s state of being.

    Hopefully, just over-thinking as I usually do.

    • kate says:

      Hi Steve,
      Thanks for reading not one but both books — your words are very kind and I’m so glad you enjoyed them. I reckon you’re right in a way about the Italian relationships, they were all pretty fucked up one way or another but that was what I was trying to puzzle out: love without sex; sex without love; friendship with sex; sex for no reason… I don’t know that the men were the whole problem, I think I was a bit confused too. Basically I see it that everyone was lonely, and everyone was trying their best but making a mess. Thanks for the thoughts and nice to know I have an attentive and alert reader! Cheers, Kate

  4. Marlene says:

    Hi Kate,

    I requested ‘In My Skin’ years ago as a Christmas present but never had the chance to read it until now. It was an amazing read, once I started I couldn’t stop! I loved every bit of it! And now I’m so excited to find that you have written another book, which will be my next purchase 🙂 I’m curious to know (and I hope you don’t mind me asking) what happened to Robbie?

    Sincere regards,

    • kate says:

      Hi Marlene,

      Thank you for asking for my book – I take that as a great compliment! I quite understand about it taking a while to get down to it – I have a 2 metre high pile next to my bed of books I’m really keen to read. Anyway I’m so glad you liked In My Skin.

      Robbie and I are still friends though I haven’t seen him for a while. He’s doing really well and is still a lovely dreamer and a funny guy. He helps other people and is quite artistic. So I’m glad to say he’s doing fine.

      Hope you enjoy The Romantic if you get to it – and happy reading in general.



  5. Lana says:

    In My Skin changed my life, as it probably has with many others. One would hope that in the majority of cases, your writing about heroin has inspired them to finally quit. I’m afraid I can’t say the same.

    Having never touched a drug prior to picking up your novel, upon completing it, I was finding myself extremely tempted to pick up a needle and inject. In NO way do I excuse my foolish mistake nor do I blame your novel for planting the idea in my head. What am I trying to say is that your writing and your ability to re-create a personal feeling is overwhelmingly impressive and rare. You described the warmth and satisfaction of this drug with accuracy and perfection. I put the book down and said to myself, “Ok, I’ll never let it get out of control, but I HAVE to try this drug- just ONCE.”

    That was four years ago.

    I am now 8 months clean and planning on keeping it that way.

    You are a brilliant writer. In a way, I regret ever picking up your book, as I may not have tried heroin. However, due to your harsh reality and brave confessions, I frequently chose the occasional night of ‘hanging out’ over the offers of prostitution. I was often tempted, as the withdraws grew worse, but thankfully, the horrors of your working tales resulted in my refusal to participate, and my eventual cold turkey ending.

    Thank you for educating me with the information that my university professors never gave me. I now feel equipped to take on life.


    • kate says:

      Hi Lana,

      Wow. Okay. What to say? Thank you for writing to me – in a way I’m so glad to get your message and your generous words about my writing, but in another way I’m horrified beyond words. I guess this was the comment I have been dreading getting for years. To be honest when I read it I burst into tears. Just reading it again now I’m covered in goosebumps of horror.

      I cannot tell you how appalled I am to think that reading In My Skin led you towards heroin. I suppose it was always a risk that I took, that I’d make the seductive introduction to the drug so convincing that someone would follow the words to the reality. I remember a friend counseling me against this when I was writing the book. I always just hoped that the rest of the book, in which all the fairytale sparkles come off and the grimy consequences set in, would put anyone off.

      I know I’m not responsible, no one thing can lead someone to heroin, and I could never blame any one person or event for my own addiction, and thank you for not putting that on me either. The reasons why someone does smack, or someone else doesn’t, are mysterious and various and compliated. But I am so very sorry Lana if my words played a part.

      I should think the past four years have been difficult (and perhaps sometimes illuminating) and I’m so pleased you’re clean now. It’s not that heroin is itself entirely evil, but the life that goes with it is hard, hard, hard. I don’t know if sex work made it harder or easier for me, in the end – I do know that it helped, ultimately, to get me past the poverty. But everyone’s voyage is different.

      And anyone who can get off heroin is already a strong person.

      I wish you the very best, Lana, and thank you for the message, but I hope I never get another one like it.

      Xxxxxxx Kate

      • Lana says:

        Thank you for your reply Kate.

        You could not be more right when you say that no one person or thing is responsible for the unfortunate start of one’s addiction. That is the reason I never did and never will hold you or your novel accountable for my decision. That would not only be unfair to you, but most importantly, blaming you would be an insult to my intelligence and independence.

        I understand my message must have come as an unpleasant shock to you, and that is probably why it took me four years to approach you about it. I always wanted to tell you that your writing technique is wonderful and that your honesty and courage is admirable. However I held back from doing so because I was afraid of potentially turning a compliment into something sinister.

        Now that I am clean, I am able to see the reality. Upon picking up your book, I was at a point in my life that was filled with happiness and success. It was also an era I now see was consumed with boredom and isolation. I was in search for something foreign, unexpected and rebellious. You could have wrote about rabbit shooting and I probably would have tried that as a result. It just so happens your tale was about shooting heroin. The actual result is irrelevant and will one day be forgotten. The power of your writing and its impact is what I and others will remember.


  6. Sarah says:

    Hi Kate!

    I just finished “In My Skin” and I absolutely loved it! Could not put it down. As a worker myself you have given me a kick up the bum to remember why I am doing this – to see the world! You truly have inspired me. I can not thank you enough! Just purchased “The Romantic” and can’t wait to start reading that! You’re awesome! Keep the books coming! =)


    • kate says:

      Hi Sarah

      Wow, I’m so glad you liked In My Skin and especially since you’re a worker – that always means a lot to me when another worker gives it the thumbs up. Thanks so much!
      Hope you like the second one, it’s a bit different – and all the other books you read this year. How lovely of you to write to me.

      Xxxxxx Kate

  7. Penelope says:

    Hi Kate !

    You probably won’t remember me, but I met you at the Sydney Writer’s Festival earlier this year. I bought ‘In My Skin’ and ‘The Romantic: Italian Nights and Days’ and was lucky enough to have you sign both of them. I had already read In My Skin a few years ago, but I read it again after the Writers Festival. I am currently (typing this sitting in a comfy chair at my local library with your book next to me) reading, and thoroughly enjoying, ‘The Romantic: Italian Nights and Days’. At the festival, I heard you speak with Emma Forrest, whose memoir I have also just finished (absolutely loved it), and I just wanted to say that I really admire you. Not only do I think that you are a very talented writer, I can also relate personally to many of the thoughts, feelings and experiences that you write about in your books. Your books comfort and inspire me. I feel as though your writing enables me to both appreciate and understand life and its ups and downs.

    In short, i’m a huge fan.

    Thank you for your books !

    Kind regards,


    • kate says:

      Hi Penelope, yes of course I remember you and thank you so much for coming to the talk, buying the books and most of all for taking the time to write to me. That’s just so lovely. Emma’s book is wonderful and she’s a gorgeous woman, we made friends after that gig.

      Happy reading to you Penelope and thanks again!

      xxx Kate

  8. Tim Connor says:

    In My Skin was a beautiful, honest sensual literary street sojourn. I stayed up all night enthralled, reminded of my own girlfriend’s night voyage when I’d wait up for her – and unlike Kate she did sex work to meet friends out of loneliness without the impetus of the gear as motivator. I was captivated by the deep pathos of your life, tempered by a levity and humour – the georgeous, sometimes funny, sometimes sad life that as a fellow user-writer now typing up his own heroin reveries (albeit on done) found great solace in, a deeply felt heart-comfort.

    All the best with your writing, amor fati

    • kate says:

      Thank you Tim, what lovely compliments. I’m glad you liked it, and you’re one of the few to mention that not all the book is grim! Good luck with your own writing, and I’m very glad we communicated through my book.



  9. Tim Connor says:

    In My Skin was a beautiful, honest sensual literary street sojourn. I stayed up all night enthralled, reminded of my own girlfriend’s night voyage when I’d wait up for her – and unlike me she did sex work to meet friends out of loneliness. I was captivated by the deep pathos of your life, tempered by a levity and humour – the georgeous, sometimes funny, sometimes sad life that as a fellow user-writer now typing up his own heroin reveries (albeit on done) found great solace in, a deeply felt heart-comfort.

    All the best with your writing, amor fati

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