I can’t remember a time when I didnít write stories. Before I could write, I drew the ponies, princesses and
castles that were the stuff of stories. As an only child, I was never happier than when I had a drawing book or a
story for company. Books, pencils, scissors, were constant companions. Some things don’t change.
I was born near Swansea, where my grandfather was a police inspector.
He was a talented calligrapher who painted beautiful illuminated texts.
My grandmother was simply wonderful: kind, loving, and a great cook. Her parents, my Great Grandparents, were equally big-hearted. Reuben Vyse was originally from Stoke-on-Trent, where the family
were pottery painters, and distantly related to Chelsea potter Charles Vyse.
We moved to Shropshire, my father's home county, when I was five, and here I stayed until University. I studied English, French and German
in London, then
worked as a secretary in South Kensington, writing in my spare time, as well as making patchwork quilts, sewing and crocheting.
Soon after my son was born, we moved back to Shropshire where my husband worked as a land surveyor. A year later,
my daughter was born, and I began writing children’s stories whenever I had time. Some were broadcast by the BBC. Having discovered there was
no children's book on Shropshire folk stories, I decided to write one.
Witches & Warriors, Legends from the Shropshire Marches
was published a few years later
by Shropshire Books, teamed with Robin Lawrie's wonderful illustrations.
Shropshire's landscape and folklore provided inspiration for historical romances, and my stories from that time
have a distinct flavour of Thomas Hardy and Mary Webb, who remain two of my favourite writers.
When my husband set up his own land surveying practice, I went back to work and spent ten happy years with
Shropshire Libraries. Having abandoned my attempts at writing historic romance, I began to write Death in the Physic Garden
my first crime novel, featuring garden designer and astrologer, Fern Green. I left my library job to study garden design which inspired me to
redesign most of our garden, and to completely rewrite Physic Garden
Ten years after its conception, Death in the Physic Garden
was finally finished.
Publishers' readers loved the Shropshire setting and the horticulture, although one commented that the heroine "was obviously Charlie
Dimmock". I didn't have the heart to tell her that redheaded heroine Fern Green had arrived in 1996, two years before Ms Dimmock graced our TV screens.
But though my agent and the publisher loved the story, it was a difficult time for fiction… So in Autumn 2005 I self published.
It took me ten years to complete my first novel. Taureans don't do things
in a hurry. The sequel, Death in the Winter Garden
was published in
the Autumn of 2010. It had taken a mere seven years to write.
In April 2007, I came across the Craft Robo eletronic cutter. It was love at first sight. I began to create hand-made cards
again, and design
die-cuts. It was a short step from there to scrapbooking. With a new Silhouette Cameo machine to play with, I love creating titles and images for my pages as I try to
establish some kind of order on years of family photographs and family history. And the need to create covers for the scrapbooks has led me
back into textiles and patchwork. Writing and crafts do seem to inspire one another, sparking new ideas. For me,
it is a happy combination. With my renewed interest in patchwork, quilting and textile art,
I launched a new series in 2012, The Quilt Detective
, with the first novel, A Patchwork of Poison
, introducing textile artist Bronwen Jones.
The second book in the series, Motif for
was published in Spring 2014. Both books are on sale as ebooks and paperbacks from Amazon. I am still working on the third in the series,
although progress is slow, particularly now I have two grandchildren to keep me occupied, and, of course, another City & Guilds course, this time on
patchwork and quilting.
For an update on my writing and crafts, please visit my
craft blog, at KarenLowe.co.uk
where I will be adding photos and free templates to download, as well as progress on my patchwork course and my paintings.
Somerset Maugham said there were three rules for writing the novel.
Unfortunately no one knows what they are.
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