About Karen

Long before she became a bestselling novelist, Karen was helping writers hone their craft and navigate the business side of traditional publishing.

Read about her publishing journey below.

My 20-Year Journey to Bestselling Author

I’d been writing seriously with a view to publication for 5 years when in 2004, I co-founded Backspace, an online community of writers dedicated to helping one another reach our publishing goals. In a few short years, Backspace grew to over 1,000 members in a dozen countries.

For the next 12 years, I organized the Backspace Writers conferences in New York City and the Salt Cay Writers retreats in The Bahamas, and served as managing editor of the International Thriller Writers’ monthly e-zine, The Big Thrill, and on their board of directors as Vice-president, Technology.

During this time, I published two thrillers with a major publisher and wrote a tie-in novel for a television show. While these books saw modest success, my writing career didn’t take off as I had hoped. 

Then in 2015, I wrote my first psychological suspense. The response was phenomenal. The Marsh King’s Daughter sold to G.P. Putnam’s Sons in a 12-way auction and has since been published in 27 languages. The Marsh King’s Daughter became a #1 bestseller in Sweden and was a bestseller in several other countries, and was released in 2023 as a major motion picture starring Daisy Ridley and Ben Mendelsohn.

My second psychological suspense, The Wicked Sister, was also an international bestseller and was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the best thrillers of the year. Clearly, I should have been writing psychological suspense all along!

I love sharing what I learned from my publishing journey at writers conferences, high schools, and universities. If you are interested in having me speak at your event, click the Contact page for details.

Karen enjoys nature photography and lives with her husband on a small lake surrounded by forest in the middle of Michigan, where she spends far too much time exploring the natural world when she should be writing. Below are a few of her favorites. All photos © Karen Dionne

Karen also co-hosts a twice-monthly online authors series, The Back Room, which uses a unique format that allows attendees and four author guests to chat online face-to-face. Click on the photo to see the upcoming schedule!

History & Inspiration

In 1974, Karen and her husband moved from Detroit to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wilderness with their 6-week-old daughter. Karen’s homesteading experiences inspire her novels featuring strong female characters facing overwhelming odds in wilderness locations.

Book Clubs

Is your club reading one of Karen’s novels? Write to her at [email protected] to make arrangements for an online visit! You can also download discussion questions below.

“Thank you so very much for joining us! We were in absolute book group heaven this morning! It was such a pleasure to meet you and an incredible experience to hear you talk about your wonderful book.”

— Bloomfield Hills Book Club
Bloomfield Hills Michigan Book Club

Karen's Book Recommendations

What do these books set in the forest, the swamp, the jungle, and the ocean have in common? They all take place in the wilderness!


Click through to see more of the books that Karen read and loved!