Karen Rose: How I Started Writing

Karen Rose: How I Started Writing

Hi, my name is Karen Rose and I’m an author. I’m asked often, how I got started and did I always want to be an author. Well I didn’t. I was an engineer and a school teacher before I was an author. As a kid growing up I loved to read. I would actually write some short stories but never in my wildest dreams did I even consider being an author as a career. I didn’t know any authors. And after reading Little Women – the fact that Jo lived in a garret and just had a single candle, I thought authors were poor and probably ate rats or something. I didn’t know what they did, I didn’t know how books ended up in the library, I knew they were just there.

But I started writing when I was about 29, so I wasn’t an author all the time, through my whole life like many of my friends were. I started writing for two reasons. First of all, I started seeing scenes in my head that I had never seen before and they were making me insane. They would wake me up at night and I would see them when I was at work, and I thought ‘I’m going to get fired if I don’t get these scenes out of my head’. Because I’d start going off into la-la land thinking about the scenes and people would be snapping their fingers in front of me to get my attention. So I thought ‘I better get these scenes out of my head’. So I sat down one day on vacation and I thought if I could just write it, it’ll go away. And three hours later I had finished that scene and I was onto the next. And it became my guilty pleasure. I would write at night once I’d put my children to bed and it was my hour of quiet time – that’s how I would spend it, because all of a sudden I had gotten sucked into this world of my characters. I couldn’t wait to see what they would do next. And it was an enjoyable hobby.

But I started writing more intensely when I started travelling, because I’m afraid to fly. And I would read a lot of books to take my mind off the fact that I was in an aeroplane. But those days they didn’t have eReaders and there were only so many books I could put in my carry-on luggage, or even my luggage I took with me. And I quickly ran out of things to read and then went back to writing my own stories. And it got to the point where all I really wanted to do was write my own stories. It was a hobby. I didn’t even think about writing as a profession until probably about 5 years later. We did it in secret; nobody knew I was writing except my husband. And he came home one day and said ‘you know, you’ve been doing this for a long time, you need to do something with your books.’ And he brought me a book that was called ‘How to Market Your Novel’ and it was ten easy steps so we did them all, submitted a lot of chapters and letters to agents and editors, and I was soundly rejected by all of them. But a few of the rejections were positive enough to keep me going. So I kept writing and did the process again a couple of years later, and was signed by an agent. Sold my first book about a year and a half after that, it came out in July 2003, and here I am 12 years later and I have written 17 books. So what started out as a hobby has become a career that I really love.