Her love of reading, writing short stories and her childhood imaginary world led quite naturally to writing novels. Encouraged to read by her bookworm father and grandmother and by winning a writing competition in just her first year of secondary school, she was spurred on, and she has been writing stories ever since. Her love of mystery and plot twists that she put into that first story continues today.
She has travelled to and lived in many countries, not just in her imagination, and has gained an insight into people's characters that shines through her work. Today, with her feet firmly back in England, she travels the world, the universe and in time through her imagination and her novels.
I asked Karen to tell us a little bit more about how she got started in writing:
Karen: I've always written stories and, like many authors, started novels that I never finished. But one day, after a long chat with my sister-in-law, my first novel - Charlotte - was born. However, like many aspiring authors I had absolutely no idea how to go about getting a book published. I bought the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook and I made a list of publishers to sumbit my book to, but in the end I didn't do that at all. It just so happened that Amazon had just started their Kindle Direct Publishing site, and an author friend I contacted on Facebook announced she was going to self-publish. I didn't have a clue what that was, so I emailed her and asked. She sent me the link and while I finished writing the book I thought long and hard about it. Of course, I self-published and I am very glad I did.
When Charlotte Lucas married Mr Collins, she did not love him but had at least secured her future.
However, what price must she pay for that future? She once said she was not romantic, but how true is that now after almost one year of marriage?
Mr Collins is submissive in the extreme to his patroness, and his constant simpering, fawning and deference to the overbearing and manipulative Lady Catherine de Bourgh is sure to try the patience of a saint, or at least of Catherine.
As Charlotte becomes part of Hunsford society, she discovers she is not the only one who had been forced to submit to the controlling and often hurtful hand of Lady Catherine ...
Charlotte - Pride and Prejudices Continues at Amazon.com
I asked Karen how it had felt to get her first book published.
Karen: Extremely excited! I was bouncing all over the place. I jumped up and down and squealed a lot! haha! I called a lot of people and probably sounded very silly indeed.
And was writing the second book easier or harder than the first?
Karen: Writing the second was harder because after the first, I was so excited. I also had a lot of marketing and publicity to do for the first one at the same time. Finding time to concentrate on writing was difficult, but I managed to get my feet back on the ground and knuckle down.
Trapped and cloistered in her own home.
Anne de Bourgh, wealthy heiress daughter of the inimitable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, yearns to be set free from her luxurious prison, Rosings Park.
Her life stretches out before her, ordered and planned, but it is a life she does not want. She wants more. She wants to be free. She wants to do everything that has been forbidden her, and she wants more than anything to fall in love with whom she chooses.
Lady Catherine de Bourgh has other plans for Anne ...
Rosings - Pride and Prejudice Continues (Book Two) at Amazon.com
So who - or what - would Karen say were her main influences?
Karen: My Granny was a major influence for me. She always had a book in her hands. I loved to watch her read. I still find it fascinating today - watching someone become lost within the pages of a book. I would also claim Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, and, of course, Agatha Christie to be my influences, but everyone says that, don't they? Throughout my life I have adored, and still adore certain books and I would be remiss if I didn't admit their influence. Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl were a huge part of my childhood reading and I am sure they influenced me too. My favourite when I was a child, and it's still a favourite, is The Amazing Mr Blunden by Antonia Barber. It fascinated me. I read it again last year, it's still a great tale. I guess everything we read has some kind of influence - either good or bad.
What about specific influences for each book?
Karen: Of course for my Pride and Prejudice Continues series, the influence is obvious - Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. However, for Relative Deceit I believe Agatha Christie was my inspiration.
Sir George, Baronet of Bancroft Hall, has run his family and their fortunes into the ground. All seems hopeless, until they are visited by their cousin, Gregory Rogers. He promises to return the family to their former glory, but is he all he seems?
Driven by jealousy, greed and desire, nothing will stop Gregory Rogers from taking that which he believes is his. He'll do anything to gain money, Bancroft Hall, and the power that comes with the title of Baronet.
Until his eyes fall on the beautiful Jane ...
Relative Deceit at Amazon.com
I asked Karen, "If you could be compared with any writer or artist, living or dead, who would you most want it to be?"
Karen: As a writer, I would most love to be compared to someone who withstands the test of time. I would love my books to be read by generations to come. However, I have always been amazed and impressed by Enid Blyton. She wrote 762 books in her lifetime. Now she is definitely someone to be inspired by!
And does she feel that her writing, or her attitude towards her writing, has changed as she has published her books?
Karen: Yes, it has. I don't think anyone who takes on writing as a career can fail to learn and change. It's a steep learning curve to begin with. I've made mistakes and I've had great successes, but I've learnt from it all. I hope that it has made me a better writer and person.
Can she see a process of development, or a sort of "writer's journey", as she looks back over the books she's written and published?
Karen: My editor says she has seen a clear development. I know I am improving, or perhaps I should say, developing my own style more and more as I write. The writer's journey has only just begun, I know it's onwards and upwards.
If she had to, which of her books would she say was her favourite - and why?
Karen: That's hard. I love them all. Relative Deceit was the first novel I began in earnest, Charlotte was the first published, and The Uncanny Life of Polly was the most fun to write - I don't think I can pick one. Can a mother choose her favourite child?
Polly writes chick lit and her debut novel is a worldwide bestseller. However, something strange starts to happen when she gets back from an international book tour. Polly finds that instead of art imitating life, her life starts to imitate art - or rather, her novel.
She arrives home to find her husband in the arms of the maid. Wasn't that in Chapter Three of her book, Happily Ever After?
Her best friend is having an affair with her husband, too, and is pregnant! Isn't that in Chapter Four?
Then she meets a bronzed Greek and embarks on a passionate love affair. Wasn't that in Chapter Seven?
Will anyone believe her life is mirroring her novel? Can she prevent the ultimate tragedy or must the book play out, precisely as she wrote it, to the bitter end? ...
The Uncanny Life of Polly at Amazon.com
I asked Karen what has been her favourite bit of feedback/criticism so far?
Karen: Recently, I discovered a review from an author I know of. She said how much she loves my work and would like to see me expand and grow. That's nice to hear from a fellow author. I also love being told that a reader couldn't put the book down - that makes all the hard work worthwhile!
Does she have a favourite quote - from a review, or something that somebody said about her books or her writing?
Karen: One of my favourites came from a lady who told me never to stop writing, not even to sleep, because she needed more - that made me laugh!
And is there something that someone said about her books that made her laugh/fume/puzzled?
Karen: One reviewer - supposedly a professional reviewer, ranted and raved about how I put 19th century sensibilities on a 19th century girl ... yes, it left me scratching my head, so I read on. It turned out that the reviewer wanted the heroine to be a 21st century woman and kick butt. Of course, I didn't do that in the book and she was annoyed about it. That made me a little mad - the book is historical. People in the past didn't act like we do. I am sure we'd shock them. But, ho hum ... we live and learn.
Is she working on anything at the moment? What comes next?
Karen: I am working on two projects at the moment, as insane as that sounds. I am writing book 3 in my Pride and Prejudice Continues series and I am writing the first novel under a pen name. I also have a spin-off of Relative Deceit that is finished and ready to publish.
Is there a dream - an ultimate ambition - that she is working towards?
Karen: I want to write, what I call, more serious hist-fic. I have a series planned set in the Scottish War of Independence. It's a lot darker and bloodier, of course, but it's also more exciting. I feel it marks a new maturity in my writing which I hope will continue. Eventually, I would like to write more series like that. My main goal, is to keep on writing!
Karen has kindly offered to giveaway one or more .mobi (Kindle) editions of her novels. To be in with a chance to win just leave a comment on this blog or on our Facebook page. You can also keep up with Karen and her writing at Karen's blog.
Many thanks to Karen, and all best wishes for her writing career!