Krossing, Karen 1965-

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KROSSING, Karen 1965-

PERSONAL:

Born November 28, 1965, in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada; daughter of James Malcolm (a school administrator) and Rilla Jane (a teacher) Ross; married Kevin Krossing (an Internet marketing specialist); children: Paige, Tess. Education: University of Guelph, B.A., 1987; York University, certificate, 1996.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER:

Houghton Mifflin Canada Ltd., Markham, Ontario, Canada, editor of educational books, 1987-89; Oxford University Press, Toronto, Ontario, editor of educational books, 1989-90; McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., Whitby, Ontario, editor of educational books, 1991-96; freelance technical and business writer, Toronto, 1996—; Learning Annex, writing instructor, 2001-2006; Canadian Children's Book Camp, affiliate, 2003; Centennial College, Toronto, writing instructor, 2006—.

MEMBER:

Writers' Union of Canada, Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers, Canadian Children's Book Centre.

WRITINGS:

The Castle Key (juvenile novel), Napoleon Publishing (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.

Take the Stairs (young adult novel), Second Story Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

Pure (young adult novel), Second Story Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.

Work represented in anthologies, including Opening Tricks, edited by Peter Carver, Thistledown Press (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1998.

SIDELIGHTS:

Karen Krossing told CA: "I grew up in Thornhill, Ontario, among books, stories, and storytelling. My older sister would often be too busy reading when I wanted to play, and my mother was an avid teller of family tales. One of my mother's stories is that, as a young child, I would play contentedly with anything, even a set of spoons. The spoons would become my characters, and I would talk or sing their parts, creating dramatic moments as I played. Because story was important to me, I eventually began to write stories, too.

"At the age of eight, I was busy writing short stories and comic books. My mother says I wanted to be a writer then, although I don't remember voicing that desire. I first remember wanting to be a writer during high school, when I wrote emotional poetry and essays about the meaning and purpose of life. It was an intense and serious time of life for me, and I would write about this period later, in my novel Take the Stairs.

"I left Thornhill to study English at the University of Guelph. My plan was to study the subject I most enjoyed then later take a program that would get me a job. At university, I published some of my high-school poetry in a small magazine called Spilt Milk. I enjoyed Guelph so much that I planned to live there after graduation, although there were no suitable jobs at the time, and I eventually returned to the Toronto area.

"My first job after graduating with a B.A. in 1986 was at a typesetting company, where I proofread magazines like Camera Canada and the Holstein Journal. I'd never read an advertisement for cattle sperm before; it was an eye-opener. I also proofread hundreds of addresses and bank account numbers on personal cheques daily. It was a monotonous task.

"With my second job, I began a decade-long career as a book editor in educational publishing. I got a job at an educational publishing company called Houghton Mifflin Canada, working for over two years on math and language arts textbooks. Later, I worked at Oxford University Press then McGraw-Hill Ryerson on social studies, language, business, and law textbooks. During this time, I learned how to be a writing coach—to help authors write the best books they can. It was a satisfying, productive period, and I enjoyed being involved in the planning of a book and then nurturing it along the way to publication.

"At the same time, I was enrolled in an evening technical and business writing program through York University in Toronto. I emerged from the program with a certificate in technical writing, ready to begin a career as a freelance writer—at the same time as starting a family.

"I met my husband, Kevin, just after I finished university. We had a mutual vision about how to balance career with family, and we worked continually to achieve success in both areas. With flexible freelance jobs, Kevin and I managed to maintain a rich family life with our two daughters, Paige and Tess.

"After my children were born, I first began writing fiction for children and teens. Although I had never forgotten my dream of becoming a writer, I sometimes wondered if I would only find time to write after I retired. However, the flexibility of the freelancer lifestyle eventually allowed me to begin to pursue my dream. I told Kevin that I would try to write fiction for five years, and if I was unsuccessful after that time I would stop. I now wonder how I could ever stop writing, because it has become a natural part of who I am.

"My first published piece was a short story called [Dragon's Breath,] which I had entered in the Thistledown Press Short Story contest. [Dragon's Breath] is a story for anyone who can envision the power of words and where they can take us. In it, three teens are playing a gross-out game with words that goes further than they expected. I was thrilled when the story was accepted for publication in the anthology of winning entries, Opening Tricks (edited by Peter Carver, 1998). I then joined a writing workshop lead by Peter Carver, who was also the children's book editor of Red Deer Press in Alberta. By workshopping stories over the next few years, I learned how to critique a work-in-progress and how to polish a story for publication.

"I think that all fiction is a blend of reality and imagination, and any book reflects the writer and the writer's world. In my first novel for children, titled The Castle Key, Moon and her friend Duncan try to use magic to find Moon's mother, who has mysteriously vanished. They discover a magic key that shows Moon visions of medieval times, the life of a girl named Nora, and the origins of an ancient family curse. I say that the character of Moon relates to me because both Moon and I wished desperately for our dreams to become a reality. Moon wished for her mother to return and I wished to become a writer. Like Moon, I believe that a little magic helped me along the way.

"I use writing to understand the world around me. In Take the Stairs, I write about turning adversity into opportunity through the troubled lives of thirteen inner city teens. This novel in thirteen voices reveals the private thoughts and secret hopes of the teens who live in a rundown inner-city building as they struggle to turn obstacles into opportunities and make their way in the world.

"In Pure, my latest novel, I explore sticky ethical questions about genetic engineering that today's teens will have to face in their lifetimes. In a future wheregenetic engineering of humans is forbidden, Lenni is a misfit artist who discovers she has a surprising gift for healing. When her powers become obvious to the predatory Genetic Purity Council, Lenni must prove she has pure, unaltered DNA or be labeled skidge—an illegal genetic experiment gone wrong. As Lenni searches out a way to belong in a world that demands perfection, the relentless Purity is determined to uncover secrets that even Lenni can't imagine. The idea for Pure came when I heard a radio interview with author Maureen McTeer, who had published a new book about the ethical and legal implications of genetic technologies. The interviewer asked something like, 'How would a teen feel to have been genetically "arranged" by his or my parents?' With that one question, I knew this was an ideal topic for a teen novel. This is because teens are breaking away from their parents to define themselves, and to find out that their parents had decided their genetic makeup would be so invasive. Pure is about how we create ourselves and how we will treat our genetic underclass.

"Today, I live in Toronto with my husband and two daughters, where I continue to write and conduct writing workshops."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Canadian Children's Literature, spring-summer, 2002, review of The Castle Key, p. 177.

Kliatt, January, 2005, review of Take the Stairs, p. 26.

Midwest Book Review, October, 2000, review of The Castle Key.

Quill & Quire, February, 2004, review of Take the Stairs, p. 40.

Resource Links, December, 2000, review of The Castle Key, p. 12; February, 2006, review of Pure, p. 46.

School Library Journal, April, 2006, review of Pure.

ONLINE

Canadian Materials Web site,http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/ (February 28, 2004), Dave Jenkinson, "CM Magazine Profile: Karen Krossing."

Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers Web site,http://www.canscaip.org/ (April 17, 2006), biography of Karen Krossing.