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  • Published: 10 January 2023
  • ISBN: 9781761046551
  • Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $32.99


Set against the backdrop of the new millennium, a seductive summer read about obsession, sex, friendship and music from an exciting new talent.

'The cleverness is what's compulsive.' COURIER MAIL

A smart, swaggering love letter to smart, swaggering youth, told in a voice that’s racing hot, icy cool and always on the verge of losing its composure.’ Ronnie Scott

Strap in and let an unforgettable story of sex, drugs and electroclash rush past you like the wet neon blur beyond the windows of a speeding Trans Am.’ Clare Fletcher

It’s the turn of the new millennium, and the bright young things are partying like it’s the end of the world. Dark glamour and debauched music reign, gigs culminating with everyone on stage – or undressed. Lucy, editor of a music magazine, is at the blazing neon centre, ecstatically seeking oblivion. But as her life (featuring a stalker, a not-quite ex-husband, and an affair with a cold, charismatic musician) veers from complicated to chaotic, she burns it all down, decamping to the remote seaside town of her childhood ­– to start again.
In Abergele, Lucy recreates her old existence in hothouse miniature. Past friends and compulsions reappear, along with new fascinations. One of them is Robin, photographer and lonely son of a famous producer. Recognising in each other a fellow exile and a rich source of distraction, they fall into step on daily rambles across the cliffs. Their charged conversations about music and philosophy function as both high-stakes flirtation and a stealth mechanism for understanding themselves, resulting in an intense bond that disarms them both.
Compulsion is a razor-sharp debut about the transcendence of new highs, the allure of new lows, and the relentless power of our obsessions. Music, sex, food, drugs, fashion and nature coalesce to overwhelm the senses on every page.

  • Published: 10 January 2023
  • ISBN: 9781761046551
  • Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $32.99

About the author

Kate Scott

Kate Scott was born in Newcastle and grew up in Melbourne, California’s Mojave Desert, Nimbin and Brisbane. She began her career as a music journalist at age 18, before becoming the editor of (now defunct) street press magazine Rave at age 22. She interviewed hundreds of national and international artists, and her pieces were syndicated nationally.

She spent ten years with The Australian Ballet as their in-house writer, then head of marketing, and was Managing Editor of Luminous: Celebrating 50 Years of The Australian Ballet, a 360-page coffee table book. She now lives in Thirroul on the NSW south coast, works as a freelance strategist, and has two rabbits, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. Compulsion is her debut novel.

Kate Scott acknowledges the Dharawal people, on whose lands she lives and works. Sovereignty was never ceded.


Praise for Compulsion

Compulsion is quick witted, giving readers a slice of Sydney that feels like New York. Parties, vices, old loves and obsessions follow narrator Lucy as she navigates life and her compulsions. It's so well-written and will appeal to fans of Sally Rooney and Helen Garner's Monkey Grip.

Ariel Books

Scott's characters are bursting with life. Her prose is electrifying and brimming with music, sex, drugs and turn of the millennium nostalgia.

Samuel Bernard, The Australian

If you like your books with lashings of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, all wrapped up in quick-witted prose, this is perfect for you.

Gabrielle Williams, Readings

Compulsion’s strengths as a novel lie in its languid prose, a richness of writing that paints an evocative picture of almost Romantic-style dreamers and poets whiling away their evenings in a haze of cigarette smoke, sparkling wine and a veritable pharmacy of illicit drugs. Author Kate Scott has drawn from her own experiences as a music journalist, and the insights into the at-times chaotic music industry of the early noughties that Compulsion explores are as fascinating as the industry can be destructive.

Georgia Brough, Bookseller + Publisher

Kate Scott's chewable, lickable, gulpable prose transports you to clubs and hotel rooms and pool-side parties throbbing with dark electro, on a restless, reckless quest for rapture and oblivion. It conjures the laser focus of obsessions that burn what they touch; the halcyon glitter of a moment perfectly arranged and just about to tilt. It will live inside you, pulsing like a bass line, long after it's devoured.

Rose Mulready

Compulsion takes the feelings you have in your twenties and amplifies them through 60-inch subwoofers so they reverberate back through your bones, your organs, your heart. It should be shelved in the self-help section of every bookshop and library, such is its life-giving properties; it has given me back my pulse. The pages came at me like waves; sentence upon sentence hitting me with deep oceanic impulses, crashing into the frothy happiness that comes from being in the hands of a truly gifted writer. I was pulled back to the winsome, troublesome, threesome, lonesome, awesome days of my twenties, when music and life were the same thing.

Lorelei Vashti

A deliciously hedonistic tale sculpted out of words and sentences so good that they, at times, demand to be read twice. An utterly compulsive read!

Amber Creswell Bell

Surrender control and give in to Compulsion, Kate Scott's stylised, sexy and stiletto-sharp debut. Scott's diamond-cut prose is at once visceral and ephemeral, groaning with decadent feasts, coastal vegetation and teeth-clashing makeouts; forever just out of your grasp like wisps of cigarette smoke and laser light above a humid sea of bodies grinding to the perfect keyboard solo. Strap in and let an unforgettable story of sex, drugs and electroclash rush past you like the wet neon blur beyond the windows of a speeding Trans Am. Scott manoeuvres around sinuous curves and hairpin bends of plot and character, gleefully chainsmoking out the window, a ballet flat pressed to the accelerator and ruling the stereo with an iron fist in a velvet glove.

Clare Fletcher, Author of Five Bush Weddings

A smart, swaggering love letter to smart, swaggering youth, told in a voice that's racing hot, icy cool and always on the verge of losing its composure.

Ronnie Scott

The book captures with effortless lyricism the heady sense of decadence and doom suffusing youth culture in the early 2000s – and will appeal especially to those who lived through it.

Cameron Woodhead, The Sydney Morning Herald

It wasn’t long before I was intoxicated with the poetic, nostalgic, pleasure-seeking world where (metaphoric) pianos are thrown off cliffs, cars gobble up yellow lines as they speed down highways, and there’s a sense of complete freedom and escape from the mundane, hopelessness of ordinary life. Compulsion may seem superficial and selfish in the face of all the disasters and serious issues of our world ... but beneath the surface lies a deep existential yearning for love, meaning and purpose. It’s a yearning that many of us have learned to ignore or suppress through a constant stream of modern day distractions – some more destructive or creative than others.

Mia Ferreira, ArtsHub

Looking for the perfect summer read? Kate Scott's debut novel Compulsion is one to check out. Set in the whirlwind of early 2000s music, art and fashion, Compulsion is a thought-provking read about obsession, identity, relationships and music.


The cleverness is what is compulsive. Five stars.

Penelope Debelle, Courier Mail

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