This post is about me, actually, as much as it’s about Karen Olson. In fact, she was my first actual friend when I first moved to Connecticut, which was 21 years ago this week.
Karen was wire editor at the Bristol Press, a small daily in central Connecticut which plucked me from my reporting and cartooning job at a small weekly in Ocean City, N.J. The move was bewildering. It’s fair to say she was the first person in this new, strange state who befriended me, integrated me with her circle or friends, and kept me out of trouble those first few months. She was even the first person in the world I fully came out to. You don’t forget that.
In under a year, she moved on to the New Haven Register and I took her job — an advance that introduced me to more layout and design work, which I eventually decided was more suited to my strengths. When she left, it was a loss for me socially, but was an opportunity for me professionally.
So back to Karen. She always said she wanted to be a romance writer. But don’t we all say we want to write a novel some day. I used to say I wanted to have my own comic strip. Ain’t happened yet.
We eventually lost touch. Next thing I know Karen Olson became Karen E. Olson, novelist. Not of romance, however; something more fun — murder mysteries. “Sacred Cows” was her first Annie Seymour novel, set in New Haven and with a protagonist who works at a local newspaper.
Three more Annie Seymour novels followed, and then two “Tattoo Shop” mysteries, set in Vegas and centered around a woman who inks the body parts of who I’m sure are very interesting people. Here’s where I flash back to faking a book report back in high school. I have to admit I haven’t read the “Tattoo” mysteries. (I’ve been behind in my reading since 1978.)
The last time I saw Karen was at a reading at the Fairfield library. We stopped promising each other lunch dates years ago — it’s just too difficult. But the second-to-last time I saw Karen was at R.J. Julia five or six years ago for one of her book readings and it packed ’em in. I remember standing in the corner with Frank Keegan, who was our boss in Bristol, because her fans crowded the room. So go early.
Hey Karen, lunch sometime?