Karen Hanson Stuyck, Mystery Writer
From a very young age Karen Hanson Stuyck knew that she wanted to become a writer. She was a voracious reader (she read Little Women six times!), but knew, from her extensive reading of writer biographies, that she would also need a job that provided regular paychecks. Toward that end, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin. She worked as a general assignments reporter for a daily newspaper and as a news editor/reporter/photographer of a weekly newspaper in her native Wisconsin.
She moved to Texas to earn a master’s degree in mental health communications from the University of Texas. She stayed in the state after marrying a Texan she met at a reception for journalism graduate students. (“See, I told you we wouldn’t meet any new people,” she famously told the friend who’d talked her into going to the event. Over-hearing her, her professor grabbed her arm to introduce her to the man who would become her husband. Karen later admitted she was rather glad she went to the reception.)
She and her husband Steve settled in Houston where she worked as a public relations writer for several hospitals and a mental health organization in the Texas Medical Center. All the while she also wrote fiction. Her short stories were published in Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s World and a variety of regional magazines.
It wasn’t until her son was born that Karen attempted to write longer fiction. While her baby slept, she wrote a novel. She also learned the valuable lesson that one did not wait for inspiration to strike when one’s writing time was an infant’s morning nap.
Karen wrote three unpublished novels before her fourth book sold to Berkley Prime Crime. Cry For Help became her first published novel, followed by two more books in the series: Held Accountable and Lethal Lessons. Using the old adage, “write what you know,” Karen made her heroine, Liz James, a writer at a mental health center in Houston’s Texas Medical Center. (Unlike Liz, Karen did not encounter any crimes in her job.)
Her next four books were also contemporary mysteries, also all set in Houston: Fit To Die, A Novel Way To Die, Do You Remember Me Now? and Death By Dumpster,all published by Five Star Mysteries.
Her eighth novel, A Deadly Courtship, was a big departure. Set in 1818 England, the book required a lot of reading about the mores and social customs of the Regency period. But as a longtime fan of the novels of Jane Austen (who lived and wrote in that period) and Georgette Heyer (who wrote dozens of novels set in that time), she enjoyed the research.
Karen lives in Houston with her husband. They have one adult son. When not writing, she still reads too much, enjoys knitting, rug hooking and having lunch with her friends, and is very inventive about finding excuses to avoid housework.