Writer Of The Week: Karen Houseman

Karen’s wonderful series, “The Little Local Library” begins in this week’s issue. We caught up for a chat.


Tell us about your series “The Little Local Library”. Where did the inspiration come from?

I worked in a library and loved everything about it. From sing-along baby groups and toddler story times, craft and boardgame clubs to book groups knit and natter and computer buddy drop-in sessions, libraries offer so much. As you can probably tell, I’m a huge fan and have always wanted to write about a small library that is the hub of the local community. With so many different people passing through the door, I knew there was a story. And along came Max and Lucy. I love “fish out of water” stories, and my ex-firefighting hero Max is certainly that at the library! Whereas Lucy’s life is more sorted, apart from her lack of romance and determination to not fall for the same type of “man in uniform” as her ex-husband—and Max! It was a lot of fun to write.

This is quite different from short stories, did you find it a challenge?

Yes and no! Yes, because it was like writing thirty standalone, very short stories, which also had to move the overarching storyline forward and have a hook at the end of each episode. And no, because I loved writing about my little fictional library and its cast of interesting staff, borrowers, children, and animals. Plus, I have a soft spot for handsome Max trying to navigate his early retirement while coping with library manager Polly’s “help” and his surprising attraction for Lucy. Change can be difficult, and Max is at a big turning point in his life. Volunteering at the library is just what he needs—even if it doesn’t always feel like that!

Do you have a local library?

Yes. There are several libraries within driving distance. It’s so nice to do something for free and see happy faces in a cheery environment. Plus, seeing toddlers and children reading and borrowing books is so heartwarming. A lady in the library once told me that while completing the Summer Reading Challenge (children read books to collect rewards and stickers and get a medal at the end), her eight-year-old son suddenly realised reading was for fun and not just something they made you do at school. The boy had completed the reading challenge and was ordering more books. His mum knew he’d discovered reading as a lifelong pleasure. How good is that!

What are your future writing plans?

I’d love to write more short stories aimed at “The People’s Friend” and maybe a serial or two. I will keep my fingers crossed for some more acceptances. I’d also love to join a writing group. Maybe I’ll check at the library and see if there is one! I’d also like to wish my fellow authors good luck with their writing. And for those still waiting for an acceptance, keep going. There’s loads of helpful advice here on “The People’s Friend” website. It’s worth persevering. I’m so glad I did.

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!