Karen Tyrrell writes empowering books to help kids and adults live STRONG through humour and self-belief. She’s a motivational speaker and an experienced Brisbane school teacher for gifted and talented kids. Karen speaks at writing festivals, conferences, Queensland Writers Centre, libraries, schools and corporate workplaces. Karen is a passionate writing workshop presenter and interactive story teller utilising props and fun costumes.
Karen has published 11 books, won 3 awards, 4 literary grants, 3 sponsorships and a mentorship through the Society of Editors.
What inspired you to start writing?
Parents of my school student bullied and stalked me until breaking point. I became severely stressed, mentally ill and had to be hospitalized. After recovery, I wrote my candid memoir, Me and Her: A Memoir of Madness. I narrate my story from two perspectives Me: wife, teacher, victim and Her: manic, psychic and psychotic.
What has been your journey up to this point?
In 2010, I set up a writing collective in Logan and presented a week-long writer’s festival. In 2012, I created my publishing imprint, Digital Future Press. I published Me and Her: A Memoir of Madness followed by Me and Him: A Guide to Recovery, which completes my memoir and concludes as a self-help guide for health and wellness. I proudly developed a creative writing program for mental health patients in Queensland hospitals.
From 2013 onwards, I focussed on writing books to empower kids to live strong. I published Bailey Beats the Blah and STOP the Bully both endorsed by Kids Helpline. I published my Super Space Kids series, picture book Harry Helps Grandpa Remember endorsed by Alzheimer’s Australia. In 2017, I won an Arts Queensland grant for picture book Ready Set Discover Logan. My current focus is writing the Song Bird Superhero series.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the 4th book in the Song Bird superhero series. To be launched 2019.
In Song Bird Superhero, bullied girl, Rosella Ava Bird becomes empowered through singing, science and self-belief. In The Battle of Bug World, Song Bird battles nemesis Destructo to save the bees and the environment. In Rainforest Rescue Song Bird travels back in time to aboriginal Gondwana to solve an ancient mystery to save the rainforest.
Have you always been surrounded by books?
We had no books in my blue-collar home as a child. I didn’t learn to read until I was seven. The school library became my star gate into other worlds and my inspiration to achieve high grades at school.
I began receiving books as prizes for academic achievement. My love of books drove me to win a teaching scholarship and become a teacher.
What is the most important thing about what you do?
I’m passionate about what I write and connect with children through humour and self-belief. My books share positive messages for bully prevention, empowering kids with self-care and caring for the environment.
How do you find a balance between the challenges of indie-publishing and being creative?
Indie-publishing takes energy, willpower and positivity to write, publish and distribute your books. I revitalize myself by hiking through the rainforest on Sundays. It’s my inspiration behind writing Rainforest Rescue (Song Bird).
What advice can you offer to aspiring authors?
Write what you’re passionate about, it will shine through your writing. Be a fearless leader and not a passive follower.
Have faith and belief in yourself, these qualities helped me to talk and write about my own mental health issues.
What is your definition of success?
For me, success is touching children’s lives and having a positive impact.
I love it when children read my books and wear Song Bird Superhero costumes at book week. I feel validated when schools invite me to present empowering author talks, writing workshops or costumed pantomimes.
What is your ultimate goal?
To always be happy. Spread kindness and have my books listed on the Australian Curriculum.
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