An interview with Karen Brooks

Image: Karen Brooks A well-established and respected journalist, author and commentator, Karen Brooks has done and seen it all in the Entertainment Industry. Yet she still finds the same thrill in reading and writing books. With a Ph.D. in English (Cultural Studies), she is the Associate Professor of Media Studies and Deputy Head of the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Southern Cross University. We wonder where Karen finds the time to write her novels so we decided to find out what inspires Karen in her personal journey as an author.

“A number of things have inspired me to start writing.  My love of reading was a major influence, and the fact I did like writing very much, and I did it very often. After I had a few short stories published and a play I had written was performed, my friend’s urging to ‘do it’ finally translated into an idea I could work with and, most importantly, action. My husband’s and my kids were a constant support, so I’m grateful to them for being here for me whenever I have needed them.

Most writers would tell you that the ideas behind their books are inspired from a range of sources; Tallow was inspired by the scent of a candle.

One day, I walked into a newly opened candle shop in a plaza near where I lived. The scents, colours and atmosphere were literally breathtaking. I had always burned candles, so I purchased some. On the way home there was a pamphlet from the candle shop, I took out the pamphlet and began reading. It discussed the scenting process among other things – at a very basic level. It was at that moment that the idea for Tallow began to form. I quickly went home and jotted down notes. Over the next few days, I became obsessed. After I had the basic story, all I had to do next was find the right place and time – and I did. Renaissance Venice – a fantasy version.

As the obsession grew with creating Tallow, I knew that his tale would be different from all the others I had created in my previous work.

Image: Tallow book cover Tallow is a part of a trilogy so it’s hard to condense the three books into a brief space, let alone what appears in one. For, when the first book ends, Tallow’s journey is really just beginning. Tallow is a candle-maker’s apprentice – abused, beaten and shunned. He is told he’s not to look at or touch people. Yet, his candles are exquisite. As he comes into puberty, however, the candles he has created, when burned, force people to do strange things. It isn’t long before the terrible secret of Tallow’s birth is revealed and the evil forces that search for him draw closer and closer...

The fate of not just Tallow, but a forgotten people and the world hang in the balance.

I wanted to create a character that appeals to audiences but at the same time, give them something to think about.

Tallow’s message is about having a firm moral compass, loyalty, how even good intentions can produce tragic outcomes. It’s about love, loss and the enduring power of friendship and belief. It’s also about power – political, sexual. It deals with gender, religion, and the idea of souls and what they signify. It’s about economics trade – in flesh, love and lives. It’s about war – within and without.

One of the loveliest things I have discovered, as an author is to know that your words have moved or touched someone. That is very humbling and such a privilege.”

For more information on Karen Brooks and her work, please visit http://www.karenrbrooks.com/