Frocktober, Ovarian Cancer, an Author, and Me

I first read The Axis Trilogy ten years ago. We were living in our townhouse in East Brunswick, located less than fifty metres from CERES nursery. Strange as this might seem, but I particularly remember the time of day when I finished Enchanter. I’d finished work (I was only working mornings at that point) and I usually returned home of an afternoon to read or potter around. On this day I was on our old blue gingham lounge, rushing to finish the book, completely taken with the way she constructed the climatic battle sequence. Unbeknownst to me, the sun had passed over and my eyes were getting tired. Once I shut the book, in an empty, surprisingly dark room, I did something I’d never done before – I got out my stationery set (remember those? I should buy some more) and wrote an author a fan letter.

I didn’t expect anything in return, so imagine my surprise when a handwritten card arrived less than a month later, from Sara herself, thanking me and answering a few of the questions I’d asked in my letter. I joined the online community she was then running at her website. This Bulletin Board (‘BB’) was my touchstone for a long time, a group of people I could interact with in a city I’d only just arrived in and was still alien to me.

Like all communities there were the occasional tensions and spats between members, but the overall feeling I got was friendship.

I even got to meet Sara once, at an organised meetup at a pub in Southbank, almost a year after September 11 occurred, where we chatted in the almost-naturalistic-but-not-quite way people sometimes do when online and offline lives first connect.

The BB even gave Adam and I a wedding present:

BB wedding present

Me, just turned 24 years old, recently married, still with those hideous false nails I stuck on for professional photography's sake.


But paths split, things move on, and eventually Sara closed down the BB because – if memory serves me correctly – it got too difficult to maintain. This is was prior to her move to Tasmania. Later, I heard about her diagnosis of ovarian cancer and had the quiet hope that she would be okay.

Then last month my twitter feed exploded with tributes to her passing which had occurred that morning. I felt a tear prick my eye.

She was only 54. We’ve also seen the recent passing of Steve Jobs, only 56.

Sara used the internet in a meaningful and intelligent way to connect with her fans and was generous with advice and resources (I would recommend to writers her series of posts about writing – I still to this day justify a long soak because she used to take a business-like approach to baths).

Vale Sara Warneke (pen name Sara Douglass)


This was one of the reasons why I joined up for Frocktober. Some pictures below:

I’ve asked a lot from readers this year, especially for my MND fundraiser, and I would never want to ask too much, but if you are interesting donating to ovarian cancer research, my page is here where you can.

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Karen Andrews is the creator of Karen Andrews. This is one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country and is a two-time finalist in the Best Australian Blogs competition. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Is an exercise junkie (when she finds the time).


  1. says

    OMG, Karen! I had no idea she’d died…. I’m a huge fan from way back and right now, am just flabbergasted…. I hadn’t been following her career lately, obviously, but I do love her books. She was such a brilliant writer… What a huge loss to the Australian writing community…

    A very close friend of mine died from ovarian cancer only weeks after my second son was born, more than five years ago now. We all thought she was on the way to recovery, but suddenly she got worse and passed away. I still miss her…
    Dorothy @ Singular Insanity recently posted..How I tamed my kidsMy Profile

  2. D.Paul says

    Personally, I’m not familiar Sara Douglass, but losing anyone is a terrible thing. But true to form, Karen, you managed to create a moving vignette of who this person was, and how she had touched your life. You shared with me a bit of her humanity, and I’m the better for it. Thanks.

    And on a less somber note, A) fun clothes! and 2) how great is the name “Frocktober?”

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