Born in Copenhagen in 1960, Lene Kaaberbøl began a career as a published writer at an age when most young people are more concerned with choosing their A-levels. She was only fifteen when the first two books of the Tina-series were published. Twenty-five years later, the four books about Tina, her horses and her friends are still popular, having sold more than 100,000 copies altogether in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Their continued popularity may be due to the fact that they are marked by a greater degree of realism than most girl-meets-horse books. After all, the author knew exactly what it felt like to be a horse-crazed teenage girl...
At the more mature age of 28, Lene Kaaberbøl published her first novel for an adult audience, a complex fantasy called The Morning Land. Its protagonist is found adrift in a small boat, a naked stranger without language or memory, little better than an animal in the eyes of the gentle people who take him in, yet with disturbing powers that end up shattering their peaceful but fragile community. Exile and identity, change and the fear of change are among the prominent themes of the novel.Fantasy has also been Lene Kaaberbøl's genre of choice in her more recent children's books. Silverhorse, Ermine and Kingfisher tell the story of the hot-headed Katriona, who is sent away from her mountain village home at the age of twelve, following a series of violent and acrimonious conflicts with her stepfather. Kat runs away from the dyer to whom she has been apprenticed, her heart set on becoming a bredinari, a Rider of one of the beautiful but feral hellhorses of Breda. Life at the Bredinari Academy, however, proves every bit as difficult as her former existence, and a great deal more dangerous.
The Shamer's Daughter is not only a fantasy, but also a murder mystery. Eleven-year-old Dina has unwillingly inherited her mother's Gift: the ability to elicit shamed confessions from even the most hardened wrong-doers, simply by looking them in the eyes. To Dina, however, these powers are not a gift, but a curse. Surrounded by fear, hostility and averted glances, she longs for simple friendship. Yet when her mother is called to Dunark Castle to deal with a bloody triple murder, Dina must come to terms with her Shamer's Eyes - or let her mother fall prey to the uncommonly vicious and revolting dragons of Dunark. Not all of which are of the quadruped variety...The Shamer's Daughter has received honorary mention by the Danish Ministry of Culture as one of the best children's books published in 2000 and appeared as Book of the Month in 2001 in Gyldendal's Children's Book Club, the most prestigious of its kind in Denmark. It has already been sold for publication in England, Sweden, Turkey, Japan, Holland, France and Germany.The story of the Shamer's children continues in The Shamer's Signet. When the Shamer is lured into an ambush and terribly wounded, 16-year-old Davin sets out to revenge his mother's injury. But his seemingly straightforward quest soon runs into a quagmire of mundane misadventures and near-fatal misunderstandings. It is not so easy to kill a man; and for the Shamer's son it is harder still to return to his mother with the message that Dina is missing and may be dead. Both Davin and Dina have battles to fight in this book - Davin with the sword and Dina with the dangerous gift she has inherited from her mother. In the third book of the series, The Serpent Gift, Dina's father Sezuan, a chillingly ambiguous figure with the gift of lie and illusion, comes to claim the daughter he has never seen. To protect Dina, the Shamer sends her family into reckless flight and danger, and in the end, Dina is forced to make a fearful bargain with Sezuan in order to save her brother from almost certain death. The Shamer's War, the final, still-unpublished book of the series, takes the Shamer's children back to Dunark where it all began. Drakan, the self-styled Dragon Lord of Dunark, once meant to feed The Shamer to one of his revolting dragons. Now, as his grasp on the lands he rules tightens, he is burning Shamers at the stake. He is the only completely shameless human being Dina has ever met, and he seems able to spread his shamelessness around him like a disease, so that in his name, people can commit acts they would not otherwise have countenanced. If simple human decency is to survive, Drakan must be opposed. But rebellions want leaders, and what better choice but the legitimate heir to the lordship of Dunark, Dina's friend Nico? Never mind that he hates swords and is reluctant to kill even a rabbit. Everyone wants him to be a hero. A pity that heroes have such a nasty habit of ending up dead.
In an article in the anthology On the Wings of Fantasy, Lene Kaaberbøl gives her views on writing fantasy, and particularly on the struggle for the essential happy ending. Also fantastic in nature is her work for Egmont and Disney, five books based on characters from the magazine series W.I.T.C.H., which earned her a Mickey award from Disney for "Best Novel Writer 2001" for her "innovative and passionate writing within an existing setting". The five W.I.T.C.H. books, The Salamander's Heart, Brimstone Music, Merefire, Green Magic and The Cruel Empress are published or due to be published in a long range of countries. Lene Kaaberbøl's works also include a number of picture books for a younger audience.
Lene Kaaberbøl is a graduate of Aarhus University and is now a full-time writer. She has made her living variously as a secondary school teacher, a copy writer with an advertising agency, as a literary translator, and as a literary editor. An anthology of texts from the First World War, Soldiers Don't Go Mad, is an off-shot of her teaching carreer.