Meet Katya Balen, author of ‘Foxlight’

Article | Aug 2023

KATYA BALEN’S new book Foxlight is a moving story about sisterhood, found family and accepting love in unusual places.

To celebrate the book’s release, Good Reading for Kids caught up with Katya to talk about her characters, writing and of course, foxes!



Foxlight by Katy BalenFrom the author of October, October, winner of the Yoto Carnegie Medal, comes a heartbreaking and heart-warming story about sisterhood, found family and accepting love in the most unusual and unknown places.

Fen and Rey were found curled up small and tight in the fiery fur of the foxes at the very edge of the wildlands. Fen is loud and fierce and free. She feels a connection to foxes and a calling from the wild that she’s desperate to return to. Rey is quiet and shy and an expert on nature. She reads about the birds, feeds the lands and nurtures the world around her.

They are twin sisters. Different and the same. Separate and connected. They will always have each other, even if they don’t have a mother and don’t know their beginning. But they do want answers. Answers to who their mother is and where she might be. What their story is and how it began. So when a fox appears late one night at the house, Fen and Rey see it as a sign – it’s here to lead them to their truth, find their real family and fill the missing piece they have felt since they were born.

But the wildlands are exactly that: wild. They are wicked and cruel and brutal and this journey will be harder and more life changing than either Fen or Rey ever imagined …

Age Guide 8+


KATYA BALEN is a British author who studied English at university. Her novels include her debut novel, The Space We’re In, October, Otober which won the Yoto Carnegie Medal in 2022, and The Light in Everything which was published in 2022. When she’s not writing she likes to scroll through dog-rescue websites, bake and tries to keep her plants alive.



Katya Balen author 2Why did you want to tell this story?

I love the idea of our own personal stories. Who we are, where we came from, how we are connected to the world and each other. How those threads tangle and cross. I also love exploring that line between truth and fiction, and how they can blend and blur together. When does the truth become a story? Can you tell a story so much that it is part of your truth? Finally, I wanted to write about love and belonging, because I always do.


What can you tell us about Fen and Rey?

Fen and Rey are twins, but Fen has always been the wilder and bolder of the two. She feels like she needs to protect Rey, but she also has this hunger to explore and to know more. Life in The Light House doesn’t feel like enough. Rey is smaller and quieter but so thoughtful. She knows much more than Fen thinks, and she’s much stronger than either of them knows.


Are the wildlands based on a real place?

Not particularly – I liked the idea of the wildlands existing only in this mirror-universe where Fen and Rey live. Although I did pull together a few places for certain scenes. I drove through the Cotswolds on a very misty day and it felt like another world, and I walked round the South Downs and got that same sense of being removed from the world I know. I used some of those feelings and descriptions of the space when I was writing.


What kind of challenges will the sisters face in your book?

Mental and physical ones, and often one leads to the other. How do you keep putting one foot in front of the other when you feel hopeless and lost? How can you walk through a storm when you are furious? Fen and Rey also have to try to find the truth, and understanding what that is, is a challenge in itself.


The sisters have a connection to foxes. Do you have a personal connection to the animal?

Haha! Well I’m currently waging a small war with a pair of fox cubs who have moved in under my shed. By war, I mean they have utterly taken over the entire garden and I sometimes bang on the window to try to stop them digging up my lawn. They couldn’t care less. But I did actually start writing this book after moving to this house and watching all the foxes skulking through the grass at twilight.


Which characters did you enjoy writing the most and why?

Fen, I think. She’s wild and cross and brave and bold and all the things I love to make my girl characters. But there was also a joy in writing Rey’s subtle humour and quiet wisdom.


The Light in Everything by Maya BalenOctober, October by Katya Balen







Visit the publisher’s website

Author: Katya Balen

Category: Children's

Book Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books

ISBN: 9781526640437

RRP: $16.99

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