Stephen Daisley – 2017

Photo of Stephen Daisley
Photo by Darren James

Perth-based writer Stephen Daisley hit New Zealand headlines in 2016, when his second novel, Coming Rain, took out the inaugural Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize at the New Zealand Book Awards. Although at that stage an unknown quantity in his homeland, Daisley has won or been short- and long-listed for major Australian literary awards, including the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction for his first novel, Traitor, the 2016 Miles Franklin Award and the 2011 Commonwealth Writers prize for best first book.

Born in Raetehi, Daisley has worked as a shearer, musterer and bulldozer driver, and served as a soldier in the New Zealand Army, and always nursed a secret ambition to write. Unemployment in the mid-1980s prompted the move to Western Australia, where he went on to enrol as a mature student at Murdoch University, emerging with degrees in English literature and philosophy and a diploma in creative writing.

He’d been writing and submitting manuscripts to publishers since his 20s but had little success until Traitor in 2010. His work deals with violence and love, with the impact myths of masculinity have on men’s lives and the struggle to find beauty and love in a harsh world.

Daisley worked on two projects while at the Cottage. The first A Better Place Than This is to be published by Text Publishing. He describes it as a picaresque tale of a return home – from the mines of Australia to a New Zealand farm, and a meditation on the various forms love assumes in our lives.

The second project The Clearances is an historical novel set in 18th century Scotland, after the Battle of Culloden.