About Karen

Born in Chicago, I grew up in Buffalo, NY; White Plains, NY; and San Jose, CA, before attending the University of Chicago and then doing a year of graduate work at the Sorbonne in Paris. After moving to New York, I got an editorial job at a small British-based book publisher, Paddington Press, and then at a book packager/publisher, Delilah Communications, specializing in music and pop culture books.

While still working as a book editor, I progressed from line editing to full-on rewrites, which gradually gave me the confidence and experience to start writing under my own byline, first with short features in downtown publications, and then for more mainstream magazines and newspapers. By the mid-1980s, when I’d moved to London, I worked steadily as a freelance writer and had a biography of the actor Bob Hoskins published by Sidgwick & Jackson.

Once I returned to NYC, I continued to cover the pop culture/entertainment beat and added many more US and Australian publications to my portfolio. As I was interviewing so many famous faces, what often interested me about them was not just the cult of celebrity, but how unbridled fame and power could warp even the gentlest souls (especially those I had interviewed early in their careers, when they were eagerly forthcoming; tracking how they morphed into hardened and implacably vague stars was sometimes more interesting than the actual content of what they said to me during publicist-supervised conversations). I turned an exploration of that concept into my first novel, Lunch.

For my second novel, I wanted to write an old-fashioned Dumas-inspired melodrama, and that becameBelladonna, which was bought for a seven-figure sum by Warner Books.

Once I became a mom in 2001, it was difficult to travel on assignment, so I now work primarily as a coauthor and ghostwriter. I’ve come full circle back to my early days in publishing, where I was happy to collaborate with many different writers on a diverse range of books.

5 thoughts on “About Karen

  1. I was Tom’s Assistant Resident Head at UC. He’s not listed in the Alumni directory (although Barry is) and he’s not on the list on those who died on Everest. Do you happen to recollect year of death?

    • Peter, this is Jack LeVan. I was also under your benevolent oversight at the U of C. How I came to this question more than 2 years after you posed it I cannot fathom. I don’t know if you’ve had your answer or this will reach you. I hope so.

      Tom died in 1981. He was living in Japan and teaching English in immersion courses. Members of a Japanese Alpine Club attended his class and invited him on climbs. He was with them in the Himalayas, sleeping in his tent and visited by an avalanche. Tom Rugo was so greatly appreciated by his fellow climbers that they made a very perilous descent to retrieve his remains.

  2. Dear Karen:

    I came across your blog while looking for information regarding Delilah Communications, which was the the U.S. publisher of a book title “James Dean: A Portrait” by Roy Schatt. The title page also says A Ruggles De Latour Book.

    I’m currently aseembling an anthology of writing about James Dean authored by Dean’s contemporaries, “The Real James Dean: Memories From Those Who Knew Him Best,” for Chicago Review Press.

    I want to include Roy Schatt’s introduction to his book in my anthology and have been trying to track down who controls the rights to his book.

    The book was distributed by G.P. Putnam, so I spoke to someone in the Penguin Group’s permission department. He said that Putnam was only the distributor, and didn’t control the rights. He told me the book was originally published by Sidgwick & Jackson in the UK and they are defunct, their backlist having been absorbed by Macmillan UK.

    Does any of this ring a bell with you? Have any ideas where I might research this further?

    Thanks for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards,
    Peter Winkler

  3. Hello Karen,
    I am the mother of Emily Svennningsen who you wrote about in 2013, I have been intending to write a “something” on this story to honor my daughter Emily, for her bravery, diligence and love. Your comments on this were (maybe a little harsh for my Pollyanna taste) but universally understood. If you would be interested in a conversation it may fulfill my dreams for her, to author the tale of her experiences and how it changed her life and mine, with a co-author like yourself. look forward to hearing from you,
    Maryann Campbell

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