AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Karen Tyrrell
Karen Tyrrell is a lovely, hard-working lady who has had amazing success as a self-published author. Until this interview though, I hadn't quite realised just what kind of obstacles she had to overcome to get to her position as a multi-published, successful, full-time children's author. I was wowed by Karen's responses, and am sure you will be too. Read on for the Q&A with Karen on her latest books, what's up next, creative process, publishing history and more.
Please tell us about your book, and the themes/issues it explores?
The Song Bird series stars Rosella Ava Bird AKA Rosie who discovers she’s half bird, half girl superhero when she sings in the choir. Her super powers unleash when she taps into science, and believes in herself. In Song Bird Superhero, book 1, she battles Frank the evil child genius. In book 2, The Battle of Bug World Rosie combats climate change and the disappearance of the bees. (Kellie's note: I previously reviewed the second book - check out the link here.)
Each book in the series will have its own environmental issue and be set in an unique imaginative fantasy world.
What was the inspiration behind writing this particular story, and did it change much as you were writing it?
My inspiration for my Song Bird series was that I was a bullied girl in primary school. When I joined the school choir and became a science nerd my self-confidence escalated.
I realized the bully theme wouldn’t sustain the book series alone. So, I added an environmental theme where “evil bullies” abuse the environment for their own gain. Rosie and her friends battle these environmental bullies one issue at a time from book 2 onwards.
Can you tell us something not a lot of people know about you?
I came from a disadvantaged family without any books. Neither my Mum or Dad finished primary school. I learnt to read late at the age of seven. Reading opened up my imagination and a whole new world to explore. I quickly learned that if I worked very hard at school, I could win book prizes. And I won many. By year 6, I was top of my class. My childhood dream to become a school teacher, was in motion.
I won a scholarship at the end of year 10 for years 11 and 12 but my parents wouldn’t allow me to accept it. So, I left school to work fulltime at a bank during the day and at night I studied year 11 and 12 at TAFE. I won a scholarship to Goulburn Teachers College to study Early Childhood Education.
What influences do you think shape your writing?
1. I’m a recovered bullied teacher. I write bully prevention for kids.
2. I’m passionate about literacy and empowerment having achieved despite coming from a disadvantaged family.
3. I’m an experienced early childhood teacher who specialized in Gifted & Talented Kids.
How do you hope readers will connect with the book, and/or what do you want them to take away from it?
1. Readers believe in themselves and connect with their inner superhero.
2. Children take action to take care of the environment and the bees.
3. Girls believe in themselves and embrace maths, science, engineering and technology.
4. Kids with disabilities believe in themselves and other kids respect them too.
Do you have some tips for other creatives?
1. Write what you’re passionate about and it will shine through in your writing.
2. Write every day. Take a notebook with you everywhere you go.
3. Ask yourself: What is your WHY? Why do you write? What’s your motivation? Let that inspire you to achieve your dream.
Can you let us in on any sneak peeks into your next book or other project?
I won an Arts Queensland Grant and a sponsorship to write a picture book about the friendship between a refugee girl and an indigenous boy.
I’m working on Book 3 in the Song Bird series with a brand new environmental theme. There’s several connections between Book 3 and my upcoming picture book. Both books will be out in 2018.
You can buy Karen's books at www.karentyrrell.com, Amazon, Booktopia and all good book shops.
Plus, if you're looking for some great activities and resources to go along with the books, head to: http://www.karentyrrell.com/free-teacher-resources-free-kids-activities/