Karleen Koen

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Karleen Koen
Born Karleen Smith
New York City, New York
Occupation Author, Historian
Language English
Nationality American
Education Bachelor of Arts[1]
Alma mater North Texas State University
Period Seventeenth and eighteenth century England and France
Genre Historical fiction
Notable works Through a Glass Darkly
Children 2

Karleen Koen (née Smith) is an American novelist perhaps best known for her 1986 debut historical fiction novel, Through a Glass Darkly.

Personal life[edit]

Karleen Smith grew up in Houston, Texas. In 1970, she majored in English and graduated from North Texas State University.[1][3] Koen became the first managing editor of Houston Home & Garden, working in that capacity for five years. She decided to leave in order to focus on her husband Edward Koen and her two children.[3] In 2011 she attended the annual conference of the Historical Novel Society alongside Diana Gabaldon and Margaret George, among others.[4]

Literary career[edit]

To help pass the dull hours at home, Koen began writing a historical fiction novel on her favorite time period, the eighteenth-century. The book centered on teenage noblewoman Barbara Alderely and her trials and travails as she navigates English and French society. To gain a publisher for her work, now called Through a Glass Darkly, Koen sent the manuscript to Jean Naggar, whose name she found in Writer's Digest. Naggar encouraged Koen to continue finishing the book; believing it to be "the launching of a major author," Naggar mailed the manuscript to five major publishing companies;[3][5] Random House purchased it for a "whopping" $350,000 in August 1985, which was at the time a record for a new novelist.[3][6] Koen and her husband used some of this money to purchase a three-bedroom house in Houston.[3]

Koen began work on her second novel soon after Through a Glass Darkly was purchased for print. She titled it Now Face to Face, and described it as ""a continuation and completion of Barbara's story and it involves [her cousin] Tony and the themes of bonding, family and love – and I don't mean sex."[6]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Koen, Karleen". Contemporary Authors. January 1, 2007. Retrieved September 7, 2012 – via HighBeam Research. 
  2. ^ "Q&A with Karleen Koen, author of Before Versailles". Madameguillotine.org. June 28, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Shapiro, Harriet (February 23, 1987). "Through a Glass Darkly Emerges the Portrait of Karleen Koen, a Successful First-Time Novelist". People. Retrieved September 7, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Brain trust of historical fiction convenes". Union-Tribune. June 11, 2011. Retrieved September 7, 2012. 
  5. ^ Mitgang, Herbert (August 28, 1985). "Texan Hits the Jackpot: $350,000 for First Novel". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Vogel, Christine (September 28, 1986). "Fame delivers a plot twist // `Glass Darkly' author now comes face to face with star's reputation". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 7, 2012 – via HighBeam Research.