Karen Foxlee, author of Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy
Tell us about your latest creation:
“Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy”. It’s the story of a lonely young girl who finds a three-hundred and three year old boy locked away in a museum room. It’s a fast paced adventure story with lots of twists and turns.
Where are you from / where do you call home?:
I call a little miners cottage in Gympie, Queensland, home. I share it with too many animals to mention and my adorable daughter.
Yes, I knew it in grade two. I was going to be an author! I wrote it down in class when we were asked. I wrote, I WANT TO BE AN ARTHUR. The teacher was a little confused
What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:
I’m proud of all my works in different ways but “Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy” saved me as a writer I think. It made me want to write again. It made me remember why I write. It was an incredibly joyful story to write.
Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:
I have an office but I can’t use it. It’s too crowded and cluttered. Sometimes I perform a great ceremonial cleaning of the office and I spend a day writing there but….mostly I write in my bed, in the kitchen, or on the sofa. I keep a cat for company. There is always coffee involved. And usually cake.
When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:
I read anything that takes my fancy but lately only books I read to my six year old daughter. Lots of Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, and just recently A.A. Milne.
What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:
So many. “The Nargun and the Stars”, “Seven Little Australians”, “The Wizard of Oz series”, all the Enid Blyton books, especially “The Magic Wishing Chair”. Probably the book I read the most though was The Readers Digest “Strange Stories, Amazing facts”. We loved that book in our house. It fell apart with reading. Ghosts, crimes, mysteries, freakish facts…loved it.
If you were a literary character, who would you be?:
I would definitely be Gerda from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”. She is so brave and determined and smart and loyal. She never ever gives up.
Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:
Grow my little girl
Tend to chooks.
Bake (cakes, scones, biscuits – infinitely calming)
swim in the sea whenever I can
oh dear, nothing exciting or surprising in there
What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:
The first mango of the summer. The first coffee of the morning.
Who is your hero? Why?:
Anyone who stands up for what they believe in. At the moment Malala Yousafzai.
Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:
I recently spent a week talking to hundreds of school kids (8 – 12 year olds) across the Moreton Bay Council region (outer Brisbane). I was blown away by their passion for books and stories, reading and writing. Keeping them reading is maybe the challenge. Do they fall off somewhere between 12 and adulthood??? Where does that passion go? How can we grow life long readers today?
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