Hi, I’m Karen Palmer, a writer and editor who believes a gentle approach brings out the best stories.
I grew up in a small farming community in southwestern Ontario. After graduating from university, I spent six years working as a reporter with the Toronto Star before skipping off to West Africa. I spent a lot of time living out of a backpack and wearing down my right hip riding buses and motorbikes and camels and pirogues as I traveled from west to east and back again. I called myself a freelancer and wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald, South China Morning Post and Washington Times.
I researched a book on witchcraft while I was there, spending a few months living in a tiny, tiny village in northern Ghana where they send women who’ve been accused of killing their co-wives or chopping up their town chief. The result was Spellbound, a book about the women, their families and communities and the persistent belief that banished them from their homes. Researching it was probably still the most fun and most heartbreak I’ve experienced, professionally or otherwise.
From there, a little lost, I wandered off to East Timor and spent six months “writing the book,” by which I mean snorkelling and learning to scuba dive, and occasionally training new journalists at Dili’s first bilingual newspaper.
I took the long way home via southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand and ended up in Ottawa working for Oxfam for a couple years. After a humbling six months being a boomerang child living in my parents’ basement, I moved to the Philippines to work at an international development bank. On weekends, I hopscotched all over the region, infuriating friends and family with Facebook postings of white sands and turquoise waters while I stalked lionfish under the sea.
Now I’m back in Toronto, writing scripts and stories and plotting a novel while working with HealthyDebate.ca, a website devoted to taking a closer look at healthcare issues. It helps me pay for the most expensive brand of kibble my wiener dog, Chloe, will deign to eat.