Drive-by: Karen Brooks

Yes! Next in my series of interviews with women called Karen: the multi-talented, multi-tasking Dr Karen Brooks.

Not only does she write, she is a social commentator and columnist. She happily and ably speaks in public when the rest of us want to toss our cookies with nerves. Oh, and she’s an academic, too. And she appeared on that awesomely engaging nerdi di nerdi program The Einstein Factor.

Anyone else feel like a bright under-achiever yet? Yes? Excellent. Allons-y.

Her books include The Quentaris Chronicles and Tallow as well as the non-fiction Consuming Innocence: Popular Culture and Our Children. She’s not afraid to air her opinions and she annoys conservative types. I like that.

1. What makes a character irresistible?
Their human flaws and frailties. They must demonstrate weaknesses as well as strengths, compassion and empathy, even when they have to make the hard decisions and in the midst of their internal and physical pain. That way, readers (and writers!) emotionally invest in them and want to travel with them, even to the darkest of places and spaces. We can’t resist …

2. How many rejection slips did you acquire before ‘success’?
Wow. Do I have ‘success’? Seriously, I don’t think of myself that way. I see myself as striving towards it. I look at others and think they’re so much more ‘successful’, in that they earn a living from writing alone. I juggle my writing between other jobs to stay solvent! But, if ‘success’ means being published, I have probably received about half a dozen rejections all up. And while I would love to tell you they didn’t hurt, they damn well did! Especially those I received after I’d already been published. They taught me not to assume that because you have been published you always will be and that quantity does not mean quality. They taught me to always strive for the latter and, funnily enough, the number of rejection slips has reduced as a consequence J.  I also believe it’s a privilege to be published and I never take it for granted. Not for a long time now.

3. If I didn’t write, I would …
… go insane … is that an answer? I can’t imagine not writing, really. I think I would become hopelessly addicted to really bad TV and set up a uni course as an excuse to watch it … oh, wait … I did that … J. ONLY KIDDING!!!!! It was a very good uni course that covered really bad TV and Shakespeare (among other thingsJ).

4. I know a book’s done when …
When the characters call in the Department of Community Services and take an AVO out on me. Enough already!

5. Donuts (or doughnuts) or danishes?
Danishes … always … with custard and apple. Except for the occasional Krispy Kreme … plain.


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