Book People: Karen Foxlee

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Book People: Karen Foxlee

I’m so pleased today to be chatting with Karen Foxlee about her lastest book, ‘Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy’.


‘Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy’ is published by Hot Key Books, an imprint of The Five Mile Press. It is a modern but old-worldly feeling retelling of Han’s Christian Andersen’s ‘The Snow Queen’, aimed at middle primary readers who enjoy a page turning fanstasy/fairytale/adventure. The heroine of the story, Ophelia, is 11 years old, has knock knees and bad asthma made worse by cold weather, running and bad scares. She is a member of the Children’s Science Society of Greater London and believes in logic and reason and science.  All these traits and health issues are quite unfortunate really, as poor Ophelia has to do an awful lot of running through cold places away from terrifying wolves, misery birds and snow queens in order to save the world with a 300 year old ‘Marvellous Boy’. Ophelia is a wonderfully human heroine – she is scared, she is grieving her recently deceased mother, and her fact-loving brain just so doesn’t want to have to get caught up in this saving the world caper. But of course friendship, courage and persistence win out for her in the end, and the reader will cheer Ophelia through the final chapters of the story.

As evidenced in her beautiful adult/YA novels ‘The Anatomy of Wings’ and ‘The Midnight Dress’, Karen Foxlee is one fine writer and I’m so pleased to see her turn her talent to writing for a younger audience. If ‘Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy’ is anything to go by, I hope that Foxlee stays a little while longer in the younger readers market!

It is lovely indeed to be featuring Karen here today as part of the ‘Book People’ series – welcome Karen!

The title and cover of each book takes you to the Australian based online bookstore Booktopia. If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here.

kf workspace 2

Ten Things you Need to Know About Karen Foxlee

1.    Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is called Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy. It’s about Ophelia, a little girl who only believes in things that can be proved by science, who discovers a boy locked away in a museum being kept prisoner by an evil Snow Queen. It’s about her journey to rescue him and the world, and it’s all about friendship and courage and the importance of never giving up.

 2.     How did you get started as a writer?

I was in grade two and I had a very large piece of butcher’s paper.  I lay down on the laundry floor and wrote a story about a girl and a horse and a flooded river.  It was very dramatic and I was so excited that I had created it out of nothing that I was hooked for life.  About 30 years later I entered my manuscript for the novel “The Anatomy of Wings” in the then Qld Premiers Literary Awards and won the Emerging Author Award and was published.

3.      What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical writing day starts at around five a.m. with glasses, coffee, and laptop.  I write for two hours until seven.  After school drop off I write again until about one p.m.  I try to be very strict with myself.  I don’t clean or do any household things!  My sofa is my office.  It’s pretty amazing when I think about it.

kf workspace 5

4.     Can you describe your workspace for us?

Yes, it’s my sofa and a laptop.  It is an Ikea sofa, a bit battered, with a footstool.  I’m usually surrounded by a couple of notebooks, a to-do list (I write one every morning detailing what I hope to achieve for the day), an iPad (for checking incredibly crucial Facebook statuses, emails etc!), a diary, my mobile phone, and often one or two cats.  The living room, where the sofa lives, is filled up with books and my little girl’s toys.  I don’t have the TV on, or any music.

KF workspace 1

5.     Any words of advice for young readers and writers?

Read a lot and write a lot.  There is nothing more exciting than loving your characters and stories to life. Don’t worry about punctuation or grammar or anything like that! Just let all your thoughts and ideas tumble out onto the page. That’s how you begin to find your own writing voice.

6.     Do you have a favourite book or character?

I have always had a soft spot for Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte).  When I was young I used to love to read aloud the chapter where Jane is locked in the red room and treated so badly by Mrs Reed and her horrible children.  I loved that her spirit was not broken though, even when she was sent to the horrible Lowood School.  I loved her courage.  Maybe I owe something to her for the strong young female characters I have created in my books.

7.    If you were not a creator of books for young people what would you be?

Well, I’m a nurse by profession, so maybe that.  Although I also love old things and history so maybe I could work in a museum. I would love to put together the exhibits!

8.   What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books?

My favourite food to eat while writing is cake.  Cake of any description but carrot cake is my favourite, (home-made by me).  I find I need a piece of cake around ten to keep going. Cake gives me strength and brain power…that’s my excuse anyway. Coffee, cake and words, what could be better!

9.   How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?

So much!!!  Everything  I write comes from my world around me, life, books, the telly, history, my past, people I know, people I’ve met, memories; it’s all distilled somehow in my brain-machine and comes out into my characters.  I’m there in all my main characters, in some way, either big or small. In Ophelia, for instance, I am her curiosity.

10.    If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?

I’d wish for an extra two wishes on top of the one. The first wish would be that we treat the animals that end up on our dinner table more humanely.  The second would be a wish for more kindness toward people seeking asylum in our country.  And the third wish would be that we teach our kids more kindness and compassion in general.

Thank you so much for joining us here today Karen!

Ophelia Blog Tour Banner

The complete blog tour schedule is below.

Monday 17 February

Children’s Books Daily (

Tuesday 18 February

My Book Corner (

Wednesday 19 February

Kids’ Book Review (

Thursday 20 February

Booktopia (

Friday 21 February

ReadPlus (

Saturday 22 February

Notebook Sisters (

Sunday 23 February

Happy Indulgence ( the-anatomy-of-wings the-midnight-dress

The title and cover of each book takes you to the Australian based online bookstore Booktopia. If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here.

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  1. Cait @ Notebook Sisters on Feb 17, 2014 at 8:11 am

    Woot! What a fabulous interview! I agree that cake is absolutely necessary brain-power food. And I love your workspace, Karen!

    • Anonymous on Feb 17, 2014 at 9:25 am

      I find cake helps in most situtaions!

  2. katepickle on Feb 17, 2014 at 10:46 am

    I am hoping our local library adds this book to their collection soon as I think all three of my big kids would love this. I’m going to see if they have the other two books too…

    Great interview, love to hear that the best writers are fueled by cake!

    • Anonymous on Feb 17, 2014 at 11:08 am

      Kate her YA/adult books are AMAZING. You must read them. I find help cakes most situations don’t you? On Saturday morning I had salted caramel tart for breakfast – breakfast of champions! #dontjudgeme

  3. Karen Foxlee – bplreaders on Feb 1, 2018 at 11:21 am

    […] Children’s Book Daily Interview […]

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