Fiction writer Karen Thompson Walker explores the connection between fear and the imagination.

Why you should listen

In Karen Thompson Walker's 2012 book The Age of Miracles, a young girl and her family awake one morning to discover that the rotation of the Earth has suddenly begun to slow, stretching the length of the 24-hour day and throwing the natural world into disarray. It's a big, speculative book, but at heart, it's a simple human drama, told through the eyes of an observant adolescent girl.

A former book editor at Simon & Schuster, Walker worked on the novel for three years, an hour each morning before work. Fun fact: The Age of Miracles was published on June 21, 2012 -- the longest day of the year. Since then, the bestselling, much-awarded book has been translated into 29 languages.

What others say

“The book requires a suspension of disbelief – yet at the same time you look out of the window right now and you think, 'This could happen.'” — Suzanne Baboneau, Simon & Schuster

Karen Thompson Walker’s TED talk

Karen Thompson Walker on the TED Blog

Culture

The top 10 classic fears in literature

January 2, 2013

By Marianna Torgovnick It’s the story that inspired Moby Dick. In 1819, the crewmembers of the whaleship Essex watched in horror as their boat was struck by a sperm whale and began to flood. Forced into small boats with little food or water, they had three options: they could head to the nearest land, the […]

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Culture

How to read our fears: Karen Thompson Walker at TEDGlobal 2012

June 26, 2012

A story of fear In 1819, off the coast of Chile, 20 American sailors watch their whaleship, the Essex, fill with seawater. It had been struck by a sperm whale. They took to their small boats, with limited equipment and little food and water. This story, from Stove by a Whale, the narrative of Owen […]

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Quotes from Karen Thompson Walker

Fear is … a kind of unintentional storytelling that we are all born knowing how to do.
Karen Thompson Walker
TEDGlobal 2012 • 1.5M views Jan 2013
Inspiring, Fascinating
Our fears are an amazing gift of the imagination … a way of glimpsing what might be the future when there's still time to influence how that future will play out.
Karen Thompson Walker
TEDGlobal 2012 • 1.5M views Jan 2013
Inspiring, Fascinating
Just like all great stories, our fears focus our attention on a question that is as important in life as it is in literature: What will happen next?
Karen Thompson Walker
TEDGlobal 2012 • 1.5M views Jan 2013
Inspiring, Fascinating