My name is Karen, and I live in pretty, rural North Essex. I grew up in the suburbs of South London in an unremarkable town. As a child, I was a daydreamer. My mind was always off adventuring when my teachers were trying to instruct me. I've always written stories and poetry from a young age but never dared dream until now about becoming a writer.
My English teacher at school was a hard woman to like, but I was inspired by the first homework she set us. We had to write a story called 'A Nasty Sticky Mess'. My creative mind concocted a story about adding strange ingredients to a cooking pot. The mess I'd created came to life, and very soon was covering the whole kitchen. As the heroine of the story, I found a way to save the day. Sadly that was the last time we were given creative homework. After that, it mostly consisted of reading other writer's work. She had a particular penchant for gruesome tales, however, and that theme definitely stuck with me. I remember watching a production of Frankenstein at the Bromley Little Theatre with her sitting next to me.
I started writing my first novel at nineteen. It was a fantasy/horror story called The Beyond, about astral projection, werewolves, vampires and the afterlife. It only got to thirty thousand words and definitely had a Company of Wolves vibe. I wish I'd had guidance then that a career in writing was possible, but careers advice in the nineties was poor and lacked imagination. I was told to become a librarian or database administrator. As it happened, for a while I was a database administrator, undertaking various temp jobs. Then I found my first full-time job, working for The Mothers' Union on their Home & Family magazine. I stayed there for a few years, but I needed to stretch myself and was eventually hired to work for the Royal Society. The UK's foremost science academy. I was a PA and administrator for the science policy section. I have often felt that this was my degree equivalent. They were demanding employers with high standards.
The month that I started work at the Royal Society, I was looking for some escapism and found medieval re-enactment as a hobby. I spent a magical bank holiday, drinking beer and watching the sunset over Herstmonceux Castle. I was hooked and a few years later I met my husband in the hobby. We wanted to work together and we set up a company running hands-on history workshops for schools and historic sites in 2005.
Next, I wrote a novel based on a vivid dream I had. It's called The Invisible King. It's only a couple of thousand words off completion. It's about a city under siege by invisible attackers and tells the story of a young nurse Elfreda, who lives in the city. We follow Elfreda on her journey as she finds out who she is and what her relationship is to the invisible attackers. It's also an erotic romance. I wrote it purely with myself in mind.
In 2016 I started writing Christmas stories for my Godsons. My husband and I turned them into a script and every year since we record a new story. I also write them just for fun. I've also written a few adult Christmas ghost stories.
Then when lockdown hit in the spring of 2020, my work running history workshops in schools wasn't possible. An idea came to my mind about a psychic who lives with ghosts and solves crimes. Very quickly ideas formed for a novel and over a 4 month period I wrote The Curious Life of Ada Baker. The novel has now been edited, and is being sent to various literary agents, in the hope that they will find it interesting enough to take me on. It's probably best described as a supernatural cosy crime novel. It's a bit like BBC Ghosts but with a more sinister undertone.
If in a year, if I've not found an agent, I hope to self publish.