Sayer spent much of her childhood growing up in Kings Cross where her third novel, The Cross is set. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Masters in creative writing from Indiana University, USA, where she was awarded the 1989 Myrtle Armstrong Fiction Award, the 1989 Keisler Poetry Award and the 1989 N.S.A.L. Literature Merit Award for short fiction. Sayer taught at Indiana for a year.
Sayer also completed a PhD in Australian Literature at The University of Sydney. She studied tap dance and performed in Australia and New York City, and has taught in numerous dance schools and studios. As well as the works listed in AustLit, Sayer has written a play, 'Blind Faith' (1991).
Sayer's proposal for her novel Trocadero earned her the University of New South Wales 2002-2004 Literary Fellowship. The novel is inspired by her parents' love story and is set in a Sydney jazz venue that opened in the 1940s and closed in the early 1970s.
In 1997 Sayer was named one of the ten Best Young Australian Novelists by the Sydney Morning Herald.