TRANSCENDENT JOURNEY: Gympie author Karen Foxlee has written the
TRANSCENDENT JOURNEY: Gympie author Karen Foxlee has written the "most emotional” novel of her career, and her publishers are confident it will take the world by storm. Troy Jegers

Gympie writer's new novel could be as big as The Book Thief

INTERNATIONALLY acclaimed Gympie author Karen Foxlee has come out with her "most emotional novel yet”, and it is tipped to take the world by storm.

Returning with her upcoming fifth novel, Lenny's Book of Everything, after winning the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book with her debut The Anatomy of Wings and the Readings Children's First Prize last year for A Most Magical Girl, Ms Foxlee said she was "really excited” about bringing her latest venture to readers around the globe.

Lenny's, described as a "big-hearted novel about love and letting go”, went through a "fiercely competitive seven-way auction” to find its publisher before Allen & Unwin secured the rights.

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Backed by the same publishing team behind fellow Australian Markus Zusak's modern classic The Book Thief, early reviews from critics and fellow authors for Ms Foxlee's novel have signalled its globe-trotting potential.

"It has been an incredibly long wait, but it's definitely exciting,” Ms Foxlee said.

"I wrote this book a couple of years ago and it's just been a long wait through the editing process. I'm so glad that it's going to finally be out in the world.

"It's been a long process and the editors have done such an amazing job.

"I've had such a great time working with them but it's kind of a relief knowing it's for readers now and I don't have to worry about it.

"All the early readers who have contacted me and done reviews, and other authors who are my peers, are saying some really lovely things about it, so I'm really excited.”

Karen Foxlee Author in Gympie.
Karen Foxlee Author in Gympie. Troy Jegers

Having written all four of her previous novels since coming to Gympie in 2000, Ms Foxlee returned to somewhat familiar territory when she "randomly” started thinking about Lenny's Book of Everything again.

Now reflecting on the finished product, centred around "small and birdlike” main character Lenny, her "younger brother who won't stop growing” and their "single mother who works numerous jobs and is made almost entirely out of worries”, Ms Foxlee said her personal experiences had greatly informed the harrowing tale.

"It's quite different, my last two books have been fantasy so it's sort of off on another tangent altogether, it's back to what my first two novels were but it's very emotional,” she said.

"I had these ideas for a book about 10 years ago after I'd written my first novel.

"It was a really weird collection of ideas including a single mother who had a child who grew too big and an encyclopaedia - there was something I liked about combining knowledge and love, but I couldn't write it, it was hopeless. I tried it as a short story but I put it away.

"My mother died four years ago and for some reason I was editing my fourth book and all of a sudden that idea just started to call me again, so I had to keep focusing on what I was working on but I knew if I could just get to that story again it would be all right.

"When I started to write again the main character Lenny was there waiting and ready to tell the story.

"I was thinking about love, what it is to love someone who's different, grief and all those things I'd experienced in the last year prior to that.

"It was the most emotional one for me to write.”

Lenny's Book of Everything will be available from October 24 and Ms Foxlee will tour Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney in November.