Karen’s Story in Six Parts
A Short History of Nearly Everything….
A Snapshot of Karen:
Called everything from a ‘six two transvestite Sheila’ by former football great Sam Newman on national TV, ‘the grunge queen’, by former QLD Premier Wayne Goss, a ‘witch’ by a Sunshine Coast pastor (Karen is convinced the consonant was misheard) and a ‘left-wing loopy academic with no testosterone’ by an irate radio listener in Tasmania, and a crusading, sycophantic, pedantic and myopic academic dwelling in an ivory tower, by a Courier Mail reader, Dr Karen Brooks is, to say the least, polemical. However, the hundreds of emails and letters she receives each week from readers of her books, columns and articles, as well as TV viewers and radio listeners attest to the fact that what she has to say about society, culture and young people today is striking a very loud chord.
Karen’s Background in Brief:
Born in Sydney to an Israeli immigrant, Karen was always a dreamer, even when her life became a nightmare. Schooled in Sydney and Tweed Heads, Karen completed high school at Hornsby Girls High, where she was also Head Prefect – and was not a suck, despite what her sister, Jenny, thinks.
Starting at Sydney University, Karen soon dropped out and tried a number of different careers. She was an actress for over 18 years, a children’s playwright and an Army Officer in the Royal Australian Army Survey Corp (five years) 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, she finally finished her Humanities degree with Honours and then was awarded a scholarship to complete a Ph.D. at Wollongong University which she gained in 1997.
Dr Karen: The Academic
Karen is currently an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Queensland. During her full-time academic career, she lectured in the areas of literature, media, youth, sexuality and popular culture using a social-psychoanalytical model. She has established a national and international reputation for her work on popular culture and was constantly called upon to address seminars and conferences and provide in-service training and advice for educators, parents and other professionals within Australia – from Melbourne to Townsville – and prepare papers/book chapters for publication overseas.
In 2002, Karen was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s medal for outstanding teacher and in 2007, was awarded a national Carrick Citation for her contributions to student learning. In 2008, Karen 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, she was made an Honorary Senior Fellow of Sunshine Coast University in recognition of her contribution to the university and region.
In November 2004 she travelled to Beijing, China as the first Australian writer-in-residence at the Western Academy and in 2005 and 2007 she spent over a month at Teiko University in The Netherlands where she taught international students from diverse cultural backgrounds about culture and the media.
Ongoing issues with cancer forced Karen to retire from her full-time academic career, her last position being at Southern Cross University as Deputy Head of the School of Arts and Social Sciences. She is now a full-time writer and part-time brewer… but that’s another story.
Dr Karen: The Social Commentator
Apart from the attention she has received for her ground-breaking courses and innovative research, Karen is also a columnist for The Courier Mail and 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, politics feminism, and the internet. She also appeared on ABC’s The Einstein Factor as part of the “Brains’ Trust” for four years and has appeared on 60 Minutes. Karen also wrote for Copeland publishing, which produce the “Child” series of magazines offering advice on parenting and education from tots to teens, throughout every capital city in Australia and which attract over one million readers. She is also a regular contributor on national, state and local radio – ABC and commercial as well as having her opinion quoted in newspapers and magazines in Australia, the USA and UK.
Karen: The Writer
Karen’s first novel, a young adult fantasy, It’s Time, Cassandra Klein, was published by Lothian in July 2001. Her 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.” Karen’s fifth 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.
Karen’s 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.
In 2009, the first book in Karen’s 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 rest of the trilogy was published to rave reviews in 2011 and 2012.
In 2014, Karen’s first historical fiction, The Brewer’s Tale, was published by the wonderful Harlequin, under their MIRA imprint to outstanding reviews. Set in medieval England, it tells the story of Anneke Sheldrake, a female brewer and the tragedies and triumphs she faces in order to succeed in a world pitted against her.
Contracted to write more books for MIRA, Harlequin, in 2016, Karen’s next book, The Locksmith’s Daughter, a Renaissance spy story was published to positive critical and popular acclaim. It is due to be released in the USA in 2018 by William Morrow publishing. In 2018, her next book, The Chocolate Maker’s Wife, which is set during the Restoration of Charles II, will be published in Australia and New Zealand, coming out in the US and UK in 2019.
She is currently writing a book set in Scotland during the early 1700s.
In recognition of the public debates she’s stimulated and her academic and creative contributions to Australian and global society, she’s listed in Who’s Who in Queensland as well as being included in the Who’s Who of Australian Women since 2007.
Karen also features in the 2010 edition of Marquis’ Who’s Who in the World.
Karen: Family Life
Karen lives in Hobart, in a beautiful, convict built sandstone Georgian house that whispers and chatters to her all the time. She lives there with her beloved partner, Stephen, two bichons, Tallow and Dante, Labradoodle, the irrepressible, Bounty (the brew dog) and her four cats, Baroque, Claude, Jack and Cromwell. She’s often visited by her wonderful children – son, Adam, and daughter, Caragh – both of whom she is very proud, as well as her fabulous friends. Mostly, however, she writes, reads, reviews books, watches too much TV, travels and dreams.