Karen Joy Fowler was born in February 1950 in Bloomington, Indiana where her
father was a professor of psychology. She says "Bloomington lives in my
mind as a sort of Oz-like place where I caught fireflies and watched lightning
and ran around. None of the yards were fenced, so we could play games that
covered massive amounts of territory." When she was 11 her family moved to
Palo Alto, California.
She majored in political science at the University of California at Berkeley and had her first baby at twenty-three during the last year of her master's program (at the University of Davis). After completing her master degree she entered what she refers to as her 'child-rearing years' - until the age of 30 when she started to feel restless and took a dance class to reclaim some space for herself - as she says 'it was only after I realized that I wasn't going to make it as a dancer that I took a creative writing class in Davis."
She started to publish science fiction stories and made herself a name in the sci-fi community with the publication of Artificial Things (short stories). This was followed by the novels Sarah Canary and The Sweetheart Season.
In 1991, with sci-fi writer Pat Murphy, she created the James Tiptree Jr Memorial Award which, to quote Fowler, 'is presented annually to a short story or novel that explores or expands our understanding of gender...both to honor Alice Sheldon [the science fiction author who used the pen name James Tiptree] and to remind the field of its own importance in the continual struggle to re-imagine more livable sexual roles for ourselves.'
Fowler and her husband, who have two grown children, live in Davis and Santa Cruz, California.
Bibliography of Novels
Peripheral Vision (1986)
The War of the Roses (1991)
Sarah Canary (1991)
The Sweetheart Season (1996)
Sister Noon (2001)
The Jane Austen Book Club (2004)
Wit's End (2008)
This biography was last updated on 08/12/2011.
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Karen Joy Fowler talks about her bestselling novel The Jane Austen Book Club.
what is the question you are most frequently asked?
Whose point of view is the novel written from.
What's the answer?
You need to think of the book club as a kind of seventh character. It's a very flexible voice because sometimes all the other characters are in the collective, but at other times someone is disapproved of and therefore not in it.
Which of the characters in your novel are you most like?
Sylvia, because she is the one character whose children are present and children are omnipresent in my life. I also share her sense of impending doom!
Sony have bought the film rights to your book. Who would you cast, and why?
I have such a strong image of the characters that I can't begin to imagine who would play them. No one actor matches. If business considerations could be put aside ...
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