Meet Karen Spiero! Author of 'The Adventures of Marky' children's series...

Karen was born in Liverpool and she now resides in Israel with her Husband Martin and their adorable dog, Marky.

Instead of going to a regular school, Karen attended a stage school during the swinging sixties, with the intention of becoming a great actress! Sadly that didn’t happen, but she likes to think it’s because she got married at the age of 20 and went to live in Manchester...

For a few years Karen had an employment agency finding jobs for people in the North of England. She then sold this successful business and chose to spend a few years at home bringing up her children. It was when her third child was a baby that she decided to begin a new venture by studying photography, a passion of hers from a very early age. Karen then opened a studio in Manchester specialising in children's portraiture, which she loved! This is where her story telling came in, whilst trying to make a child feel comfortable and relaxed in her studio, Karen would ask them questions such as 'who was their favourite character in a book? Or on television?' and would continue to make up a funny story about their hero which always managed to do the trick!

Karen was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to photograph many celebrities, including Princess Diana, Princess Anne, Barry Manilow, Michael Ball to name a few. Whilst living in Manchester she was also the head of an environmental charity where she had the pleasure of hosting dinners with President Bill Clinton and Colin Powell amongst many others! Karen also continued her photography in Tev Aviv where she had a photo studio for pregnant women and children, but she now prefers to write and indulge in her imagination and whacky sense of humour...

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So how did the Marky stories come about?

KS: Whilst on a car journey many years ago I was escorting two of my grandchildren, who were being rather naughty, and I told them if they were quiet I would tell them a story. I told them of how a little boy found a small white dog in the bushes and how the dog had little buds at the back of his neck and if he shouted “SHALABOO” wings should appear from the buds and he was able to fly… the girls loved the story and asked what is name was...

I decided to ask my Granddaughter, Hannah (who had just started nursery) what her teacher was called and she replied “Mrs Marky!” so that was decided…Marky was born! For years when I have put any of my twelve grandchildren to bed they would ask me to tell them a 'Marky' story. Some of my grandchildren are still convinced that he can fly!

What inspired you to start writing?

KS: My Dad enjoyed writing and I wanted to be like him, when I was small he used stories to teach us lessons. He adored Professor Tolkein and would take us into the country and we would re-inact scenes from The Lord of the Rings and me and my sisters would each play a character from the book. I wanted to pass that gift on to other children.

How long have you been writing?

KS: About 17 years, when two of my granddaughters were little.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

KS: Let your imagination lead the way, don’t hold back, believe in yourself and your words and never give up.

What book is currently on your bedside table?

KS: Actually I have a few... 'Theatre' by Somerset Maugham, 'Girl A' by Abigail Dean, a great thriller, 'Mrs De Winter' (the sequal to Rebecca) and the 'Girl with the Louding Voice' by Abi Dare.

Favourite artist and favourite song?

KS: Paul McCartney, too many to name! Probably 'Yesterday'.

Your hero?

KS: My Dad.

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

KS: Paul McCartney, I would just love to talk to him about music... I have so many questions I would like to ask him! The Queen, I would love to hear stories about the royal family and what makes them tick! And finally, Walt Disney, I’ll bet he had a few great stories to tell and I would love to know how he created his empire.

What’s your favourite food?

KS: Truthfully? Eggs, chips, tomato ketchup, and ice cream for dessert (haven’t had that for about 10 years!)

What is the best part of your day?

KS: Every part of the day… I love waking up in the morning and I am grateful for each day. I love walking on the beach with my dog, I love sitting in my office writing, and I love evenings either outside or sitting cuddled up to my dog and my husband watching tv...there is no best part I love it all!

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

KS: That I’m shy in crowded places and I don’t like big parties.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? By whom?

KS: 'Carpe diem: seize the day.'

'Live in day tight compartments,' although those are Dale Carnegies’ words, my Dad taught me them.

Do you have hidden talents?

KS: I used to be able to sing and act, but not so sure I’m good at either these days!

Who is your favourite band?

KS: The Beatles.

What fictional place would you like to visit most?

KS: Neverland.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

KS: When two of my granddaughters were small we used to make a ‘mess cake ‘together. Now when you make a mess cake you're allowed to put ANYTHING in it…so I would make the regular base of the cake and then we would add anything we could find, that could range from slices of carrot, bubblegum, pepper, parsley, sweets, sesame seeds, black peppercorns, tea bags, you name it we put it in the cake and then of course they always used to make me try it and believe me it was pretty weird, but we had lots of fun!

What’s your favourite film?

KS: Bridges of Madison County, Mary Poppins, Sound of Music… yes I’m a sucker for the old movies!

Where you would you love to travel to?

KS: Parts of India that I haven’t seen yet

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