Born in London in 1989, Katya Balen completed her studies in English at the renowned Oxford and Cambridge universities. Balen embarked on her career as a writer with her debut novel »The Space We’re In« (2019). The book received critical acclaim, being highly commended for the Branford Boase Award 2020 and longlisted for the Carnegie Medal.
In the same year, she published her second book, »October, October«, which went on to win the Yoto Carnegie Medal 2022. This successful trajectory was followed by her subsequent books, »The Light in Everything« (2022) which won the UKLA (UK Literary Association) and was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, and »Birdsong« (2022), which was nominated for the Carnegie Medal.
Her most recent book »The Thames and Tide Club« (2023) is about friends who go treasure hunting in the mud by the river every weekend. One day, Clem finds something very special, something magical that belongs in the river and needs to be returned to its rightful owner. Before they know it, the friends from the Thames and Tide Club are on a mission to save underwater London and experience all sorts of underwater adventures along the way.
Beyond her writing, Balen co-directs Mainspring Arts, a non-profit-organization that supports neurodivergent artists and celebrates neurodivergent creativity. Her unique blend of an academic background and innate storytelling abilities has garnered a multitude of accolades, marking her as a distinguished figure in contemporary literature. As critic John Smith commended, »Balen’s work is distinguished by its dialogue-rich short prose, abundant with colloquial phrases and neologisms, a truly unique style that continues to captivate her audience.«
The author lives in South London.