Writing for the Love of It: Karen Meyer Eisenbrey ’85

With four novels, a shelf full of anthology contributions, and a handful of original songs to her credit in the past few years, Karen Meyer Eisenbrey ’85 has enjoyed a personal and creative peak. And she appreciates that success all the more for coming when it has. “If I had written a decent book in my 20s,” she says, “I’m not sure I would’ve had as much fun.” 

Her most recent, the young adult/sci-fi novel Barbara and the Rage Brigade (Not A Pipe Publishing), came out in November 2019, when Eisenbrey was 56—just three years after she published her first. The modest creative burst was a long time coming. Eisenbrey loved to read and write stories as a kid, and she majored in English at Puget Sound, so it made sense that not long after finishing college, she took a shot at writing a novel—two, in fact. She remembers them as “really good practice, but not very good books.” Then, convinced she lacked a compelling story to tell, she decided that was that. “I just thought it meant I was not going to be a writer.”

It took a few more years—through day jobs, getting married, and starting a family—before she proved herself wrong. She had a first grader and a toddler at home when she got the itch again, in no small part because “I needed it for my mental health. I think it’s a pretty common feeling at that point in your life—to want something that’s just yours, that you don’t have to share.” Eventually, she narrowed her focus to the fantasy genre, churning out a half-dozen attempts and linking up with an online community of hopeful writers who offered each other feedback and support. Her debut novel, The Gospel According to St. Rage, came out in 2016. 

She’s still got a part-time day job (she works as a secretary at a Seattle-area church), leaving her ample time to work up more stories, write music—she plays drums in a band with her brother, and has written songs inspired by the characters in her books—and blog about a favorite topic: interesting band names. And she stays active in online writing communities, sometimes offering help to writers who are just starting their own journeys. “I’m a very small fish, but I do have this experience of having put a few books out,” she says. “It’s very satisfying knowing that, maybe, I have something to share with other writers.” Her next novel, Death’s Midwife, is due in 2021.

 

By Ryan Jones
Photo courtesy of Karen Meyer Eisenbrey ’85
Published Oct. 12, 2020