Karen’s Story in Five Parts
A Short History of Nearly Everything:
I was born in Sydney to an Israeli immigrant and, according to my family, was always a dreamer, even when my life became a nightmare. Schooled in Sydney and Tweed Heads, I completed high school at Hornsby Girls, where I was also Head Prefect (I’ve since found out that Julie Godwin of Masterchef fame and the terrific crime writer Katherine Howell were also Head Prefects at Hornsby Girls! Go figure!) – and I was not a suck, despite what my sister, Jenny, thinks.
Starting at Sydney University, I soon dropped out and tried a number of different careers. I was an actress for over 18 years, a children’s playwright and an Army Officer in the Royal Australian Army Survey Corp as well as a checkout-‘chick’, an assessment clerk with the NRMA, a waitress, a dress-boutique manager, a theatre director, a wife (twice) and mother (twice over too!). Enrolling at La Trobe University, Bendigo, I finally finished my Humanities degree with Honours and then was awarded a scholarship to complete a Ph.D. at Wollongong University, which I gained in 1997.
My Academic Life:
Up until recently, I lectured at university – Wollongong, Sunshine Coast, Southern Cross and Teiko in The Netherlands) in the areas of media, youth, sexuality and popular culture using a psychoanalytical model. In the almost twenty years I was an academic, I established a national and international reputation with my work on popular culture, education and society, and addressed numerous seminars and conferences and provided in-service training and advice for educators, parents and other professionals within Australia – from Melbourne to Townsville - and I still prepare papers/book chapters for publication overseas.
In 2002, I was privileged to be awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s medal for outstanding teacher and in 2007, was awarded a national Carrick Citation for my contributions to student learning. In 2008, I was chosen as the Australian College of Educators Scholar on the Road and delivered professional development sessions and addresses to some amazing fellow-educators from Sydney to Darwin. In 2008, I was made an Honorary Senior Fellow of Sunshine Coast University in recognition of my contribution to the university and region.
In November 2004 I travelled to Beijing, China as the first Australian writer-in-residence at the Western Academy and in 2005 and 2007 she spent a month at Teiko University in The Netherlands where I taught international students from diverse cultural backgrounds about culture and the media. That was a simply fantastic experience.
In 2009, I was diagnosed with cancer and, due to continuing post-operative and other complications, I’ve been forced to resign from full-time academia – which was really hard as it’s a job I love. The University of Queensland, however, generously gave me an Honorary position as a Research Consultant at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies in 2010 and I still enjoy doing that and being associated with such a wonderful institution.
My Social Commentating Life:
As I mentioned on the home page, I’m also a columnist for Brisbane’s Courier Mail and, when my health allowed me, was regularly called upon by Channel 7’s Sunrise and Today/Tonight, and other commercial stations to provide ‘expert’ opinion on everything from the impact of the Twilight series to young people and the internet. I was also part of ABC’s The Einstein Factor’s, “Brains’ Trust” for four years and have appeared on 60 Minutes. These days, my social comments are a bit more low key, and mainly on radio - national, state and local – ABC and commercial. I’m also contacted by journalist colleagues for my opinion on various social issues and quoted in newspapers and magazines in Australia, the USA and UK. I feel it’s such a privilege to have your opinions sought and printed and to have your voice heard – but I could also tell you some stories about “putting yourself out there” as a social commentator that would make your ears bleed!
My Writing Life – so far:
In 2009, the first book in my The Curse of the Bond Riders fantasy trilogy, Tallow, set in Renaissance Venice, was published by Woolshed Press, an Imprint of Random House and was described as ‘world class’ and ‘quite breathtaking.’ The second book Votive was published in 2011 and, the final book in the trilogy, Illumination, was published in July 2012. There is more information on these in the “books” section, so please feel free to look!
My very first novel, a young adult fantasy, It’s Time, Cassandra Klein, was published by Lothian in July 2001. The second, The Gaze of the Gorgon was released August 2002, followed by The Book of Night in 2003, and The Kurs of Atlantis in 2004. One reviewer in Melbourne, Ray Sherriff, going so far as to describe Kurs as being “technically superior to any contemporary text I have read in the past few years. The research, experience, planning and prudence throughout its preparation have allowed the progression of the narrative and plot to incorporate its complexities organically. The result is a very entertaining, speedy, atmospherically lucid and enjoyable story.” I didn’t bribe him, honest! J My fifth YA novel, The Rifts of Quentaris, which is part of the highly successful Quentaris shared world series of Michael Pryor and Paul Collins was published in February 2005.
My non-fiction book: Consuming Innocence: Popular Culture and Our Children was published to critical acclaim by UQP in February 2008. This book deals with the sexualisation and corporatisation of childhood and the complex relationship kids, parents and all adults have with the culture they love to loathe.
I’m managed in all things literary by the marvelous Selwa Anthony Author Management www.selwaanthony.com.au
In recognition of the public debates I’ve started – er, I mean, stimulated and my academic and creative contributions to Australian and global society, I was honoured to be listed in the inaugural edition of Who’s Who of Australian Women, and Who’s Who in Queensland, both published in 2007 as well as being included in the Who’s Who of Australian Women 2008, 2009 and 2010, 2011, 2012 and hopefully and so on J.
I also, believe it or not, feature in Marquis’ Who’s Who in the World.
My Family Life:
I have lived up and down the east coast of Australia, living in Sydney, Bendigo, Wollongong, the Sunshine Coast, and on a property in Brooklet near Byron Bay. Currently, I’m living in Hobart, Tasmania. The reasons for this are complicated and are explained in a few of my blogs. I live here with my beloved partner, Stephen and our fur kids. Our wonderful children – son, Adam, and daughter, Caragh – both of whom we’re very proud come to visit as often as they can as well as our fabulous friends – just not often enoughJ. We share our house with two little bichon frise named Tallow and Dante and six cats – yes, six. We inherited five from my darling friend, Sara Warneke (who you might know as Sara Douglass the writer) when she died. They are all cuddly, adorable and very much their own felines. You can see some photos in the gallery. I now spend my days writing, thinking, dreaming, watching far too much television, reading and helping Stephen renovate our house (by “helping” (cough, cough), I mean picking colours and asking him to re-hang pictures and build more bookshelves ). All in all, we have a quiet and lovely life and I am very grateful.