Meet Karys McEwen
23 Jan 2023
“My Year 7 teacher Mrs. Chennell really made me feel like I could do anything I wanted to do. I know people say that to kids all the time but she truly made me believe it. She encouraged me as a young storyteller and she pushed me to aim high with my creativity.”
Karys is a school librarian, passionate about the role libraries and literature play in the wellbeing of young people. The immediate past president of the Victorian branch of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, Karys is also one of our stellar creators in Story Tools Series 1. We interviewed Karys on the inspiration behind her work, her favourite part of creating Story Tools, and how she connects with and inspires young creators’ imaginations.
What inspires you as a creator?
My biggest inspiration is my day job as a high school librarian. The students I work with give me endless ideas, laughs and insight... many of which end up in my books! Being surrounded by children's literature all day every day is also motivating, both in being immersed in wonderful stories by impressive writers, and spotting gaps in what is available (and hoping to fill them with my own writing!)
What do you hope for the future of storytelling?
My hope is that people never put an age limit on storytelling. At work, I see teenagers who still love being read aloud to, and sharing stories verbally. Picture books and storytelling are not just for little kids!
What was your favourite part about being a part of Story Tools?
The team at Story Box Library are such pros at this, and I loved being on set to film the scenes for my episodes. Story Tools has a really important message and an educational purpose, but it is also just so engaging to watch. I'm not usually a fan of dress-ups, but even I have to admit it was fun to be a bit silly!
Have you ever based a character on a real-life person?
In my debut middle grade novel, All the Little Tricky Things, the librarian is not only based on my childhood librarian, she really is her! Ruth was such an important part of my journey to becoming a reader and writer that I wanted to acknowledge her in my book. All kids need someone to encourage their lifelong love of stories, and Ruth was that person for me.
Why is it important to support the Australian children’s book industry?
Young readers need to see themselves on the pages of the books they read, and what better way to achieve that than through a local story with a relatable setting, characters that they can identify with, Christmas at summertime, and vegemite sandwiches in lunchboxes! We are so lucky in Australia to have some incredible creators, publishers and booksellers, but we need to support them so that the industry can survive and thrive.
Find Karys in Lessons 8: All About Genre and 12: Reading Stories of Story Tools Series 1, launching 21 February 2023. Find out more about Story Tools.