About Karen G. Berry

me

Where I come from…

I was born in the Midwest in 1960. Despite leaving it behind when I was eleven years old, I stand firm in my belief that staring and pointing at people are among the worst crimes one can commit.

I am the product of a stormy marriage between a woman who sort of practiced Christian Science (she took us to doctors, but she loved magical thinking), and a man who came from a Catholic family (and though he left the church, it would always color his thinking). I consider this spiritual dialectic as key to my intellectual development. It left me with a desire to sing “Onward Christian Soldiers” on car trips, a need to smell incense on holidays and a lack of trust in organized religion.

After they divorced, I went to 14 schools in 12 years. Mom remarried and my stepfather adopted me, becoming my dad. My parents were U-Haul optimists who believed that there was nothing in life that could not be fixed by throwing everything you owned and the cat into a rental truck and taking off for parts unknown. We lived in South Dakota, Minnesota, Arkansas, Montana. I moved out at age 15, after which I lived in Washington, Montana again, and finally Oregon. When you factor in Minnesota and California in my infancy, I’ve covered quite a bit of territory.

Go ahead, ask me where I’m from. I’m as confused about it as you are.

How I became so, well, weird…

My older brother and sister and I developed rich inner lives that allowed us to shut out the horror of always being the “new, weird kids” in whichever school district we found ourselves. We were, without being aware of it, low-level Midwestern Brontes, refashioning the grist of popular culture (The Partridge Family, Star Trek, “Oliver!” and Cat Stevens) into fantastic worlds we entered at will and wrote about obsessively.

Luckily, these writings have not survived.

However, my literary endeavors began much earlier, at age six, when I wrote and illustrated my first book, THE MOUSE FAMILY HAS A PICNIC. The climactic event of this story, a loud belch on the part of Baby Mouse, foreshadowed my extensive use of humor to encapsulate pain in my writing. This manuscript is still available, by the way, should any publishers out there desire a read.

Life today…

I have not moved since I had a say in the matter. I’ve lived in Portland, Oregon since 1980. I married early and often but not well. As a single mother, I supported three daughters by working as a retail clerk, a telemarketer, a freelance writer and editor, inbound CSR, and assistant of communications. Currently I am a social media manager for a local apparel company.

While raising kids and working, I also managed to graduate magna cum laude from Portland State University with a degree in English. While there, I won some awards for my academic writing and fiction. My plans to earn an advanced degree and become a college professor were shelved while I put my daughters through college, and there those plans have remained. The writing continues.

I don’t consider myself a poet, as I lack the necessary wardrobe, but I have poetry published all over the place. After a long and frustrating attempt to enter traditional publishing, I self-published my novel, Love and Mayhem at the Francie June Memorial Trailer Park, in 2014. I love pie, reading, my family and the suburbs—not necessarily in that order.

Also (and I consider this very important)

I always have two dogs.