Hello, everyone. My name is Karen Anna DeMers Dowdall and as an author, K. D. Dowdall. I am delighted to have been asked to be a part of Chris Graham’s, Author Hall of Fame!
My journey to become a writer and author begins early in my life, in a roundabout way.
I was born in Hartford, Connecticut. I was disappointed though, because I always wanted to be born Chinese. So, I pretended I was Chinese until I was nine. I demanded to eat with Chinese chopsticks at every meal (Try eating oatmeal porridge with chopsticks).
At nine-years-old, my hero author was Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth, although a close second was Hans Christian Andersen’s Classic Fairy Tales. My mother, always an avid reader, introduced us to books at an early age. I still envision her sitting in her English wingback upholstered chair, with a book, reading. She would look up time to time, her Elizabeth Taylor violet eyes sparkling with the joy of reading.
During my ninth year of life, we moved into a split-level home, that my father built, adjacent to Mclean’s Forest Preserve, in a farming community developed in 1680, the Salmon Brook Settlement, then in the wilds of north western Connecticut. It so happened, that this neck of the woods, was rich in Native American history. I was sure there were Indian Braves and Indian Maiden ghosts that inhabited our home and the forest too.
By the time I was ten-years-old, I decided I was an American Indian. I convinced myself, I was. After all, my grandparents, were from Quebec, Canada and I could be a mix of French and Indian, probably, mostly, French, as I have hazel green eyes, fair skin, and light brown hair.
I began reading books like, Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, by Mary Rowlandson. A married woman who was kidnapped by the Nashaway Native Indians in 1676 during a raid in the town of Lancaster, Massachusetts and The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper.
My many cousins, siblings, and I would spend most of our time wandering through the forest; a dream for most kids. We found lots of arrowheads and colonial objects too. Although, the forest could be scary and spooky. I loved imagining spooky things, it fit my personality.
Our forest was inhabited with lots of wild animals, like bears, but they never bothered us kids. I suppose they thought we were animals too. I guess we were. I also spent a good deal of time sitting in my apple tree, in my front yard. It had the perfect nook for me to sit upon and daydream, making up stories was a favorite pastime.
I spent all my very young years dreaming of being something other than a little girl with five brothers and sisters, and fifteen cousins. Until I was fourteen, I never played with anyone whose name didn’t end in DeMers. It was a large family. It is easy to get lost in a family that large. At age twelve, I discovered Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and for several years, I was Jane Eyre, in my imagination. It wasn’t far from the true. My family had fallen on hard times. Experiencing poverty is something one never forgets. It would not be my life story.
As time went on, like a butterfly, I emerged differently each year, until I found a dream I could be for real, a ballerina. Not very novel (forgive the unintended pun), but I had talent, I was told. My love of dance fit right in with my love for creativity in many forms, like writing poetry, short stories, drawing, singing, and of course my dance lessons.
Jumping forward in time, I went to college in Florida, later married and I had two beautiful daughters.
In the time between, I traveled to the Republic of China with my Air Force Officer husband. It was a dream come true, being with the Chinese people, and it was an extraordinary experience. I learned to speak Mandarin enough to get by and I managed to open a dance studio for other American expatriates. I also volunteered at a Children’s Orphanage, and a Leprosarium run by French Nuns. I learned to cook Chinese cuisine and learned some of the Chinese folklore dances and songs. Once, my best friend and I were kidnapped by a Chinese taxi driver, but we managed to escape. Instead of taxis, our husbands bought us a car. No more taxis.
Several years passed and then we were off to Saudi Arabia for five years.
Once again, I opened a dance studio (the first dance studio in Arabia, I believe) and because of that, I was often asked to direct fashion shows for expatriates from around the world. Living in Dhahran was a unique and entirely different experience, but it was wonderful. I travelled almost everywhere in Saudi Arabia. The people were kind, gracious, and more than willing to talk about their country.
I wore an abaya, a cloak that covers one from head-to-toe, and sometimes a veil when traveling outside of Dhahran. Again, oddly enough, I was almost kidnaped by a sheik, akin to the royal family. Apparently, he had attended one of my fashion shows. I had to hide for several weeks. I never did another fashion show in Saudi Arabia.
Next, it was off to London, England, and I fell in love with England, Scotland, and Wales. I felt very much at home there. We lived on Frognal Lane in the Hampstead Heath area of London. While living there, our neighbors were Lady Helen and Sir Anthony Rawlinson. And once again, I was asked by Anthony, to help him with fashion shows, a dream come true. We became good friends. Anthony visited us in the states a few years later and Helen visited my sister in Tampa, FL.
I was always looking for my ancestral roots. I knew my mother’s family came from Northumberland, England. I also began to study the history of the British Isles. Northumberland, I learned, was at one time, a stronghold of the Viking raiders.
My father’s French origins were from northern France, near the Netherlands border. So, now I understand my genetics, my DNA. I believe that the world has always been a diverse and global family since antediluvian times.
While in England, we travelled extensively, until we were involved in an airplane incident on a trip from Italy back to England. The plane caught on fire and we ended up in a field in Spain. I developed a fear of flying.
One of my favorite places in Europe was Portugal with its beautiful coastline. We would drive all around Europe and even fly to Morocco, Singapore, China, Japan, and Hawaii and back again—before the plane incident.
Back in the states, I eventually ended up in Florida again, finished my bachelor’s degree as an RN and went on to receive a master’s degree, as well as PhD.
Seven years flew by. It was difficult, being single again, Yet, the wonderful career I embarked on filled my life so completely. I fell in love with nursing. Then, my two daughters went off to college. It wasn’t long before my twin sister and her husband moved to Atlanta, Georgia. I soon followed and ended up working at Emory, Winship Cancer Institute in Clinical Research.
My twin sister, always the writer in the family, was writing a book and I thought, well, I would love to do that too, so I did. I fell in love with writing, again. I never forgot the joy of writing little short stories and poems when I was a child. I am sure you have heard of the saying, “turning over a new leaf.” I would have to say, I have done that—in spades.
Through the years, our family experienced trials and tribulations, like most families.
My mother died relatively young of cancer. Both sets of grandparents died a few years later. My father was disabled and never recuperated. Yet, life goes on and the memories are forever, in my heart.
I married a wonderful man, a Canadian, whose is now an American citizen (and still Canadian too).
I have travelled far in this life, but it is always good to come back home.
Yes, I am home, at last. I have found my place in the world, the writing world. Through writing, I can travel anywhere, live many adventures and still have a home to come back to.
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