Quinn, Karen 1955–

views updated

Quinn, Karen 1955–


Born December 11, 1955; married; husband's name Mark; children: Schuyler, Sam. Education: University of Colorado, B.S, 1982; University of Denver, J.D., 1985.


Home— New York, NY. E-mail— [email protected]; [email protected]


Writer, novelist, advertising executive, entrepreneur, and attorney. Cofounded Smart City Kids, a consulting company that helped New York City residents gain admission for their children in upper-echelon kindergartens, grade schools, nursery schools, and other private educational institutions. Worked as an advertising executive for American Express for fifteen years, becoming vice president.



The Ivy Chronicles, Viking (New York, NY), 2005.

Wife in the Fast Lane, Touchstone (New York, NY), 2007.

Holly Would Dream, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2008.

Author of blog.


The Ivy Chronicles is under option for film by Warner Brothers.


Author and novelist Karen Quinn began her professional career as an attorney, but soon found herself representing clients in many tedious and uninteresting cases. "My legal career lasted until my firm sent me to the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] to represent a guy whose financial futures fund was under attack. I didn't know what a financial futures fund was. I still don't. But I represented him anyway, falling asleep during the proceedings," she reported in an autobiography on her home page. "I took this experience as a sign that I should find a different path." Her second career, as an advertising executive for American Express, lasted fifteen years. She worked her way up to vice president, but fell victim to corporate downsizing and lost her job.

Next, Quinn cofounded a consulting business called Smart City Kids, an organization designed to help harried and worried New York City parents navigate the difficult and confusing process of school admissions for their children. Quinn and her business partner helped parents place their kids in the best possible classroom among many prestigious, upscale nursery schools, preschools, kindergartens, and other private institutions. She experienced the best and worst behavior from stressed, concerned parents and their sometimes precocious children. Although the business was successful, ultimately it could support only one person, and Quinn decided to quit and leave the business to her partner.

Family stress mounted, with her husband and children encouraging her to go back to a traditional job. Instead, she decided to write a novel based on her experiences with Smart City Kids. Quinn promised her husband that writing the novel would take three months, and after that, she'd start looking for a regular job. Working furiously, she completed the book in the allotted time. Only after her first rejection did she realize the odds were against her selling her book. However, fate seemed to have other plans as a series of fortunate coincidences unfolded. The family's babysitter once knew a woman who was a literary agent, and helped Quinn contact her. Later, a traveling companion turned out to be the editor of the seminal chick lit novel The Devil Wears Prada. Soon, Quinn had both an agent and a publisher. "There was a lot of luck involved in my getting this book published. It was as if the universe conspired for me for once, instead of against me," she said in a Gothamist Web site interview.

Quinn's first novel,The Ivy Chronicles, is based strongly on her experiences as an educational consultant for Manhattan parents. "Every incident in the book, as outrageous as it may seem, is based on something real that happened when I was working with families," she stated in the Gothamist Web site interview. Thirty-nine-year-old corporate executive Ivy Ames has bad luck when she loses her job after being sabotaged by a coworker, but it gets worse when she goes home and finds her husband in a clinch with another woman. Suddenly bereft of job, husband, and high-income lifestyle, her fortunes sink and she and her two daughters are forced to live under diminished but still agreeable circumstances. Worried about making a living and coming up with her daughters' private school tuition, Ivy starts a business helping rich Manhattan parents get their children into exclusive private kindergartens and preschools. Many of the parents prove excruciatingly difficult to deal with, their children sometimes even more so, but Ivy perseveres to make her business a success even as she struggles with family, romance, and the desire to make it on her own. "Quinn's writing is crisp and conversational, and the reader is immediately drawn to Ivy and her story," commented reviewer Colleen Long on the Flor-Ala Magazine Web site. "By turns heartwarming and schmaltzy," the book "begs to be filmed instead of printed," remarked Booklist contributor Kate Mediatore, who concluded Quinn's novel is a "guilty pleasure worth indulging."

Wife in the Fast Lane, Quinn's second novel, centers on protagonist Christy Hayes, a former Olympic gold-medal winner turned CEO of her own successful athletic shoe company. Her marriage to media tycoon Michael Drummond is happy and secure, and all seems well in her life. However, when her housekeeper and good friend dies, she leaves behind an eleven-year-old daughter, Renata Ruiz, and hopes that Christy will take care of the child. Renata's presence causes trouble between Christy and Michael, who wants no more children in his life since his own daughter hates him. Then, a scheming coworker manages to get Christy ousted as the head of the shoe company. She has conflicts with the odious head of the PTA at the private school that Renata attends. Perhaps worst of all, a rival seems determined to steal Michael away from her. Struggling but determined, Christy sets out to save her career, her marriage, her young ward, and her reputation. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that Quinn's "sharp portrayal of shady corporate dealings and shadier private school shenanigans is good fun up to its happy ending."



Booklist, January 1, 2005, Kaite Mediatore, review of The Ivy Chronicles, p. 822.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2004, review of The Ivy Chronicles, p. 1111.

Publishers Weekly, December 6, 2004, review of The Ivy Chronicles, p. 43; November 20, 2006, review of Wife in the Fast Lane, p. 33.


Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (December 5, 2007), Judy Gigstad, review of The Ivy Chronicles.

Divine Caroline,http://www.divinecaroline.com/ (December 5, 2007), "From Corporate Downsize to Rock Star Novelist," interview with Karen Quinn.

Fantastic Fiction,http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (December 5, 2007), Gisele Toueg, review of The Ivy Chronicles, and Wife in the Fast Lane.

Flor-Ala Magazine,http://www.florala.net/ (January 27, 2005), Colleen Long, " The Ivy Chronicles Causes Sugar Shock."

Gothamist,http://gothamist.com/ (May 20, 2005), interview with Karen Quinn.

Huffington Post,http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ (December 5, 2007), biography of Karen Quinn.

Ivy Chronicles Web site, http://www.theivychronicles.com (December 5, 2007).

January Magazine,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (December 5, 2007), Mary Ward Menke, "Getting up to Fall Down," review of Wife in the Fast Lane.

Karen Quinn Home Page, http://karenquinn.net (December 5, 2007).

Karen Quinn MySpace Profile,http://www.myspace.com/authorkarenquinn (December 5, 2007).

Reader's Club,http://www.readersclub.org/ (December 5, 2007), review of The Ivy Chronicles.

Romantic Times,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (December 5, 2007), Sheri Melnick, review of The Ivy Chronicles.

Trashionista,http://www.trashionista.com/ (December 5, 2007), review of Wife in the Fast Lane.

Wife in the Fast Lane Web site, http://wifeinthefastlane.com (December 5, 2007).

About this article

Quinn, Karen 1955–

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article