Biography - Karen Ingram, writer

A capable, confident and engaging writer, speaker, networker and performer – I build on my skills and experiences when working with others to bring more stories to life. My enduring passion is creating connections between stories and experiences that demonstrate humanity to develop a societal narrative, ultimately growing our collective empathy.

A few years in the writing and a lifetime in the making, Lifting the Lid is my debut book however I’ve been writing in various guises for thirty years as; civil celebrant, scriptwriter (short film The Bin), performer and rant improviser for mid-life ‘punk’ band Cranky Pants, publicist in music and arts industry, copywriter for community radio and commercial property sales, public relations manager for nation-wide not-for-profit women’s health organisation and blogger.


One thing can lead to another, and another… a task set in a creative writing unit at university led me to writing a scenario based on a personal experience. It poured out of me in a flash. Each reading of it brought about laughter and encouragement from my peers. One of them promised me she would help me make a film of it and the ball got rolling. The Bin was made in 2015 thanks to the lotta help from my friends and features a fantastic song, ‘Here he comes’ by Melbourne band The Rebelles. The Bin made it’s cinematic debut at the Setting Sun Short Film Festival in 2016 and became the most watched short film on the platform ‘We Are Moving Stories’.

Kellie Olszewski stars in The Bin - a short film by Karen Ingram

Kellie Olszewski stars in The Bin - a short film by Karen Ingram


Lifting the Lid explores identity through my experience as a much longed for adopted baby girl and growing up in middle Australia in the 1960s and 1970s. Clashes with culture, gender and societal norms informed much of my believed identity, which was challenged by the discovery of my biological truth.

The target audience for this story is anyone who has a connection to adoption, people interested in family history and Australia’s social landscape from the mid-twentieth century to the present.

SYNOPSIS - Lifting the Lid © 2018


Lifting the Lid ~request to quest~ is a memoir exploring identity of family, culture and self. It follows one woman's quest to reconcile many separate stories into one story of which she claims absolute ownership. 

A product of a sexual encounter between a 'good' protestant girl and a migrant Italian catholic musician, the author traverses unchartered territory where truth and secrets live in parrallel. The clash of religion, language and culture proved no test for the passion and excitement experienced by men and women who were coming of age in the 1960s - a unique era of Australia's social landscape. Ages of characters span from four to ninety-six years, they are professionals, artists, musicians, humanists, travellers, free thinkers and those bound by moral conventions - people of the every day and the extra-ordinary. Settings take in the Australian cities of Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne and Launceston.

Lifting the Lid explores the rights of the child and unwed mothers within a political and social context that supported the rights of childless couples above all others and in decades to come the right of a child to know her heritage versus the right of the mother to protect her memories. Familiar themes in many adoption stories of nature and nurture are enlivened by first, second and third-hand accounts as weighty issues surrounding inherited traits - so entrenched in daily exchanges, art, literature and pop culture - are questioned.  As a life begins and one draws to a close, comparisons up and down the familial bloodlines are amplified until the deafening sounds are met with an inert stillness and palpable pain.

Unequal doses of satire and irony deliver a grand imagining of cinematic proportions, taking the reader on a ridiculous holiday within the journey to portray the absurdity of secrets, mistakes and assumptions in a lost era and their impacts on the future. 

Who is 'Condom-man'?  What's this got to do with the stolen generations and princesses in castles? Will the band get back together?  Why does heart-break feel like your heart is breaking? Whose story is this to tell?  Answers to these questions will unravel the memory threads of four inter-connected families and the history of social change in the mid-twentieth century that continues to affect families everywhere.  Uniquely Australian, yet universal in thought this memoir will explore the importance of identity's links to heritage and the fallout from denial of the truth.


Reading of Lifting the Lid excerpts


In October 2018 I was delighted to read from my yet-to-be self-published memoir, Lifting the Lid in two settings where parts of my story unfolds. Firstly in my hometown of Newcastle and secondly in an unlikely place for a reading - a small old-school Italian deli in Yarraville, Melbourne.

Hi Karen, thanks for invite to yesterdays reading, it was fabulous and brought back so many memories about Newcastle during the 80s and 90s, and I remember also attending Anne Fennely classes- was a different era wasn't it. (Ann)

I think your book could be the next Looking for Alibrandi. I thought it was great. I'd love to read more.  (Brooke)

Looooved it. I was there for each story - on the flat; by the phone; with your mum and so on and so on. Love the writing style esp the metaphors. Your delivery just made it better. Everyone was really gripped by the telephone excerpt!! . Can't wait to read the book.

Loved every second of it. Can’t wait for the book!!! (Sally)

This fabulous lady has written a book! Not just any old book; a story, her story, of identity, adoption and the meaning of who we are. I was so thrilled to attend Karen Ingram’s reading of her (as yet) unpublished work Lifting the Lid at Roccos Delicatessen Yarraville today. #liftingthelid #storytelling #emergingauthors @ Roccos Delicatessen Yarraville (Rebecca)

Upcoming projects include;

  • producing a documentary of Newcastle’s punk years 1981 – 1985

  • Planning for next book based on my working life; Rabbits, rock boobs and beyond (working title), featuring a collection of my own stories interspersed with that of others who have a cobbled work-life trajectory, without a plan