Karen was born in Paisley, and brought up in Glasgow. On leaving school, she did an MA at Glasgow University, then, as you do, joined Strathclyde Police as a uniformed police constable. After enduring what they gleefully call ‘rigorous’ training at Tulliallan Police College, Karen served in Glasgow’s ‘A’ Division, right in the heart of Scotland’s biggest city – where much of her first novel, The Twilight Time, is set. Two daughters later, she went to work for Glasgow City Council, ending up as a media officer in the Press Office, before going on to edit the Council’s staff magazines and other publications.
During this time, Karen was accepted for the renowned Glasgow University Creative Writing Masters, and began writing in earnest, with several short stories published in various magazines and anthologies. The Twilight Time evolved from some of these early pieces, with Karen completing her first draft of the novel as part of her final portfolio. She was also awarded a Scottish Arts Council New Writer’s Bursary, before graduating with an MLit (Distinction) in 2003.
Since then, she’s published six novels; The Twilight Time, After the Fire, Shadowplay, Proof of Life (all Hodder & Stoughton) focusing on the politics of policing, and the people behind the uniform. In 2009 Karen won Best New Writer at the Scottish Variety Awards, and in 2010, Shadowplay was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger.
Her novel This Is Where I Am is a story of two worlds colliding in one city, as lonely Somali refugee Abdi is mentored through his first year in Glasgow by Debs – a woman coming to term with her own losses. Her latest novel Rise was published by Bloomsbury in 2015.