Karen McMillan is a writer of both non-fiction and fiction. Her non-fiction books include: Feast or Famine: Eating Difficulties in New Zealand, which is written from the perspective of a survivor of anorexia; Unbreakable Spirit: Facing the Challenge of Cancer in New Zealand, 25 personal accounts of taking on cancer (which has also been published in Polish); Love in Aotearoa (shortlisted for the 2005 Ashton Wylie Book Award, and published in the United Kingdom as Love Bytes); Unleash You Inner Seductress; and Dying: A New Zealand Guide for the Journey, an adaptation of a South African guide to the terminally ill and their loved ones. She was also involved with Retire Right, a guide to planning for financial security in retirement. Fiction works include the story collection Shaggy Dog and Fishy Cat Tales and the novel Watching Over Me. Karen has a Diploma in Professional Writing and an Advanced Diploma of Applied Arts (Writing). Previously an award-winning fashion designer, she has also worked in book publishing, written articles for a variety of different publications, and undertaken ghost-writing projects. She is a great supporter and promoter of the hospice movement. For more, and to read Karen’s blog, see www.karenm.co.nz.
Reviewing Feast or Famine for the Herald on Sunday, Margie Thomson called it‘an excellent guide for anyone either battling a disorder of their own, or needing to understand and help a family member or friend [which] also puts into perspective our culture's obsession with thinness, and dieting.’ She went on: ‘Herself a former anorexic, she speaks to fellow sufferers as well as professionals, and the second half of the book is a very practical guide to “getting help”.’
Dying: A New Zealand Guide for the Journey was endorsed by the chief executive of Hospice New Zealand, Mary Schumacher thus: ‘This is an amazing resource for anyone who is dying and for those caring for them, and is also essential reading for all health professionals. The approach is holistic, the writing sensitive, and the advice practical and easy to follow. It is a book to come back to again and again.’
Judy Bailey, Patron of North Shore Hospice, commended Unbreakable Spirit as a ‘wonderful work’ which would provide ‘great strength’. In Sharing Magazine, Kay Morris concluded that Karen ‘describes with clarity and compassion the hopes and fears of so many people, and the very real effects, both positive and tragic, that this disease can have on family and friends of those with cancer.’ Xtra MSN Health’s Rosie Andricksen praised how the stories are recounted with ‘vitality and … clear empathy and admiration for each of the storytellers that is touching without being saccharine.’