Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 8, 2012

Meet an Aussie Author: Karen Foxlee

Karen Foxlee is the talented author of The Anatomy of Wings which I had had on the TBR since its release but have only recently read.  (See my review here).  It was Karen’s debut novel and it won immediate acclaim,  capturing the 2008  – Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Best First Book in the South East Asia and South Pacific Region);  the 2008 – Dobbie Encouragement Award;  and the 2006 – Queensland Premier’s Literary Award (Best emerging author).

I contacted Karen after I’d read it to let her know about my enthusiastic review, and she very kindly agree to take part in Meet an Aussie Author.   Here  are Karen’s answers to the usual questions, with some rather unusual answers!

1.  I was born in Mount Isa and grew up there.  I still dream about it a lot.  I’m always walking along the dry river bed or cycling along the streets.

2. When I was a child I wrote about a family of sisters who were orphaned.  I loved that story.  All the sisters were separated and sent to live in different cities.  I wrote the story in a blue feint lined exercise book and I illustrated it with pictures from the back of reader’s digests.  I was suitably impressed with myself.

3. The person who encouraged/inspired/mentored me to write was my grade four/five teacher.  She was really into creative writing – we had to imagine we were all sorts of inanimate objects and I can clearly remember writing from the perspective of a lost marble in the playground.  I loved her lessons.

4. I write in my living room, mostly on my sofa.  Sometimes I get serious and go to the sleep out where I have a desk but it’s usually covered in a ridiculous amount of paper, notebooks and overdue library books. I quite like the sofa.  My cat sits with me to keep me company.

5. I write when ever I can.  I have a three-year old daughter so things can get a bit tricky.  I usually write early in the mornings from 5 until  7:30.  I write in blocks.  I’ll set a goal and do three months of intense writing.  Afterwards I’ll crash and burn and say I’m never going to write again.  Usually though in that time I’ve given birth to a story.  And I always forget the pain it caused.

6. Research is incredibly calming.  Right up there with therapeutic photocopying.  I like researching almost anything. I’ve been obsessed with the geographical location of specific types of grass, the lives of the saints, birds, types of clocks, and Brisbane history to name just a few.  Currently my fascination is with the hidden rivers of London.  I know I should stop googling it.  I know I should stop ordering books about it online.  It gets absolutely no writing done, but damn, it makes me feel so good.

7. I keep my published work/s in boxes in the sleep out and one or two on my shelves.  I’ve given many away.  They collect a lot of dust.

8. On the day my first book was published I felt very nervous because I had to make a speech. Being published was great but I was much more proud of the fact that I’d actually finished something, that I’d believed in myself, and that I refused to give up.

9. At the moment, I’m writing about a homework machine that turns evil, a young girl who sees the future in puddles, a boy who is marvellous and a love story involving a carriage clock.  Not in that order.  I have too many projects going on.  I have to settle down and choose one soon.

The Thinking Chair

10. When I’m stuck for an idea/word/phrase I have to go and sit in the thinking chair and write by hand.  I think things out that way.  The thinking chair is in the sleep out.  I’m not allowed to get out of the chair until I’ve worked out the problem.  Sometimes I look in my thesaurus which is much-loved and worn thin with searching over the years.

Therapeutic photocopying, eh?  I’m going to try and channel these therapeutic properties next time I’m churning out multiple copies of stuff at work!

Thanks for participating, Karen:)  I won’t wait so long to read your next novel when it hits the shelves, I assure you!

The Anatomy of Wings is available at Fishpond.  Click the link.


  1. Oh goodie, you know how much I love this series!
    I’ve just purchased ‘The Anatomy of Wings’ online (thanks Lisa) and look forward to its arrival even more now that I’ve read this interview with the author.
    Karen is yet another writer who thanks a teacher for encouragement. Many of us are so grateful to have had wonderful teachers in our lives.
    Love ‘The Thinking Chair’ and, whilst I’ve never heard of therapeutic photocopying, I ‘get’ it. I rather like the shredder myself.


    • Yes, I must admit that I love to see authors acknowledge the role of teachers!


  2. love the picture of the thinking chair ,all the best stu


  3. My sister and brother were in your class , i m Rodney Nolan.good too see you have done so well and followed your dream,


    • What were their names, Rodney?


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