Author Crush Friday: Karen Bao

Glitter girls, you have pressing questions for your favorite authors and we have their answers. Welcome to our  weekly segment, Author Crush Fridays.


We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to Karen Bao, author of  Dove Exiled ( February 23, 2016; Viking Books for Young Readers).  Thank you for talking to us today, Karen! We’re honored!


GLITTER: In Dove Exiled, what was your favorite chapter/scene to write and why?

KAREN: After Phaet gets kicked out of Wes’ home city, St. Oda, the two take a submarine through the ocean. Two hundred years from now, the marine environment will be very different from now – think acidic, full of algae, and few large animals that aren’t too healthy – because of environmental damage humans are causing today. Although the sea circa 2348 makes me sad, I loved writing about it because there’s hope we can still keep it healthy and beautiful.


GLITTER: How did you come up with Phaet and Wes? Were they based on anyone in real life?

KAREN: Phaet was a fusion of the science whiz I’ve always wanted to be, my mother’s childhood in Communist China, and my own shyness (I hide it well, but it’s there). For Wes, I drew from news articles about violence around the world, my teenage fantasies of a dream boyfriend, and a few people I knew in real life. For example, Wes bites things with the side of his mouth just like my best friend from high school.


GLITTER: Where’s your favorite place to write?

KAREN: At my house, I have a standing desk that overlooks a forest. Sometimes I see deer and foxes while working on a story!


GLITTER: What character do you relate most to?

KAREN: Anka, Phaet’s little sister. We’re both feisty idealists with a creative streak.


GLITTER: What is easier to write: The first line or the last line?

KAREN: Oof, they’re both so, so hard. They’ve got to be significant and also sound beautiful. The lines in the middle are the eas(ier) part.


GLITTER: How old were you when you wrote your first novel?

KAREN: Ten? I think it was about time travel and classical music; I was and am a violinist, so I guess it was on my mind. The story was…really bad. Another 7 years would pass before I wrote Dove Arising.


GLITTER: What advice do you have for other teens who want to write?

KAREN: Read a lot and write a lot, but don’t forget to go outside! Obviously, learning what kinds of books you like, and then perfecting your writing techniques, will help you improve. But to get story/character ideas and fill scenes with sensation and emotion, you need to have raw material, a.k.a. experience. I can’t count how many times a person’s nervous tic or exploring New York City has given me book inspiration.


GLITTER: Do you have things you need in order to write ie. coffee, cupcakes, music?

KAREN: Solitude. I could write in a three-foot-by-three-foot closet, as long as I was alone.


GLITTER: What are you working on now?

KAREN: Trying to pass my classes! It’s my last semester of college, and I want to finish strong. Then I’ll have plenty of time to write the fantasy novel in my head. Hint, hint.



ABOUT KAREN BAO: Karen Bao is a writer, musician, and aspiring ecologist. She’s three years older than her brother and sixty years younger than her violin. Born in California and raised in New Jersey, she currently studies environmental biology at college in New York City. Karen began writing Dove Arising at the age of seventeen. Dove Exiled is her second novel. Visit her at