An interview with 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.

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

Our Karen Brooks reviews

Tallow by Karen Brooks

"Sometimes our intentions, as good as they are, can go horribly wrong when translated into action"No matter how hard he tried, Tallow was unable to distil his own feelings, his urge to help, for every purpose there is always a price to pay.Karen Brook’s novel is one that will leave you wanting more but at the same time have you questioning the depths human beings are willing to go to in order to achieve the hidden desire.The tale of Tallow, a candle maker’s apprentice, and his hidden talents stretches far and beyond the borders of [...]


Read our full review

Illumination by Karen Brooks

“When darkness threatens to consume you, do you listen to the light?”The final instalment of The Curse of the Bond Rider’s Series, Illumination has arrived.Darkness threatens to consume all it inhabits and those who stand in its way are torn apart and thrown back into where they began. As the series ends, Tallow must decide, once again, if she can trust herself and those around her. Emotions run high, pasts are discovered and as they unravel, the answers it gives may not always be what were expected.As the Cardinal closes in on his obsession with findi [...]


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Votive by Karen Brooks

La Serenissima - a beautiful but deadly city where corrupt aristocrats rule and everything, including love, has a price. Tallow is anything but a simple candlemaker and when she has everything taken away from her - friends, family, hope - all she can do to survive is rely on the Maleovellis. Casting aside the safety of her disguise, she becomes cold-hearted Tarlo, female courtesan and the toast of those who, if they knew her secret, would destroy her. But the intrigues of the Serenissian nobility are nothing against the larger forces moving within the world. And Tallow's enemies hav [...]


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