What I'm Borrowing: Kay Kerr

What I’m Borrowing is a blog series exploring our affection for libraries, loans, and sharing great reads. Each post we ask a Queensland writer and reader to tell us about their recent lending-loves.

This month we welcome Sunshine Coast-based author Kay Kerr. In 2020, Kay published her debut young adult novel Please Don’t Hug Me. She has just released her second novel, Social Queue, a romantic young adult coming-of-age story. 

Kay with her brand new, beautiful young adult novel, Social Queue

Tell us about the last thing you borrowed from the library. How did you discover it? Did you return it on time?

Aside from the mountain of Pokémon books that my daughter has been borrowing on my card, I have had quite a few books out lately. My reservations list is a mile long, and I have just downloaded the app for my local libraries, Sunshine Coast Libraries, so that I can add titles on the go if I see something I am interested in at a bookshop or online. I joined the Maroochydore Library soon after my daughter was born, and it has been such a comfort and a haven for me as I have navigated new parenthood, a new neighbourhood, and all the other ups and downs of this stage of my life. Thank goodness for story time. 

The last book I borrowed, which I still have out, is Blueberries by Ellena Savage. It has been on my list for a while, so it feels good to get around to reading it. I tend to take the following of rules quite seriously, so I try to return my books on time, or at least soon after the polite little overdue reminder email comes through. Sometimes the Pokémon books are kept a bit long, and re-borrowed, and kept a little bit longer. We are working on getting those back on time because the waitlists are long.   

Before she turned to novels, Kay was a journalist and editor of a community newspaper.

Do you remember your first library card? Can you describe the library you visited as a child?

I remember being very young and visiting the mobile library near where we lived in the Redlands. I can’t recall whether I had my own card– perhaps I was too small at that stage. There was something magical about all those books hidden away in the back of a huge truck, I thought. For some reason I can specifically remember borrowing The Secret Garden from the van, so that must have been when I was a bit older.  

Once I was in high school, I practically lived at the Cleveland Library after school. Initially, it was because we didn’t have the internet at home (wild, I know!) and I went there to work on assignments and read early fan websites for Lord of The Rings. I would also borrow and read for pleasure and hang out with my best friend there. It was one of the first and only places I had real freedom at that age, and I loved it so much. Cleveland Library is beautiful, and it is a real nostalgia hit if I ever drive past it when I’m down that way.  

Kay's stack at Maroochydore Library includes books by Rick Morton, Victoria Hannan, and Brit Bennett.

What other items are you, and people in your house, borrowing right now?

I love to lend and borrow clothes with friends, because it feels like an easy way to reduce that feeling of needing to buy something new for a one-off event. Vintage clothing particularly, because it doesn’t go in or out of style. I have a few friends with enviable wardrobes who I call on regularly, and I love seeing dresses of mine get another spin at a wedding or something like that. 

My daughter on the other hand, loves to borrow any random thing from someone’s house to ensure she has a reason to go back there. Anything. She will ask to borrow a tea towel or a peg if it means locking in another visit with someone she loves. 

Both of Kay's books are out with Text Publishing. While working on Please Don’t Hug Me, Kay received her own autism-spectrum diagnosis.

Thinking about your own bookshelf, what is your favourite book to lend out from home?

I love to lend out books by other neurodivergent authors, or to recommend them, especially to people who say they have never read any. There are so many to choose from, depending on moods and tastes. I recently read A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan, so now I want to press that into the hands of anyone and everyone who comes into my home. Before that it was Late Bloomer by Clem Bastow, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal by Anna Whateley, Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan, ah, I could go on and on. The novelty of reading something that reflects the processes of my brain in some way, irrespective of whether it reflects my own lived experiences, has not worn off.  

The fabulous Kay Kerr photographed by Jess Kearney

About Kay Kerr

Kay Kerr is an autistic author and journalist from the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Her debut novel Please Don’t Hug Me (2020) was shortlisted for Book of the Year for Older Children at the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) in 2021, and listed as a ‘Notable Book’ by the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA). Her second novel, Social Queue, was released with Text Publishing in October 2021. Kay’s freelance writing has appeared in The Guardian, SBS Voices, Daily Life, Broadsheet, and Peppermint Magazine, amongst others.  

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