Karen Maitland

About Karen Maitland

Karen Maitland is fascinated by the myth, magic and murder of the Middle Ages. She has written eight dark historical thrillers – Company of Liars, The Owl Killers, The Gallows Curse, Falcons of Fire & Ice, The Vanishing Witch, The Raven’s Head, and The Plague Charmer, which set at the foot of Exmoor, in Porlock Weir, Somerset. Her latest full-length novel is A Gathering of Ghosts, set among the menacing tors and sucking mires of medieval Dartmoor. She has written a fiction novella, Liars & Thieves, using the characters from Company of Liars, and two non-fiction shorts – The Dangerous Art of Alchemy and Wicked Children. She is published by Penguin and Headline.


Karen is also one of six historical crime writers – Philip Gooden, Susannah Gregory, Michael Jecks, Bernard Knight and Ian Morson – who together are known as the Medieval Murderers. She has written five historical crime novels with the Medieval Murderers, which include The Sacred Stone, Hill of Bones, The First Murder, The False Virgin and The Deadliest Sin, all published by Simon & Schuster.


Karen’s first novel, a futuristic thriller, The White Room, was published back in 1996, and bizarrely as a result, instead of writing more fiction, she was comissioned to work as a writer and editor on a dozen non-fiction books, including a number of cross-culture books. But in 2002, the National Rural Touring Company asked her to travel for three months in the middle of winter with multicultural show to 21 remote rural locations from Cumbria to Devon to write about the performances, audiences and locations. It was this tour that sparked the idea for her first medieval thriller Company of Liars, as she began to appreciate what life was like for people who had to earn their living on muddy roads of England never knowing what their reception would be in the next village. Fortunately, she didn’t also have the Black Death to contend with.


Karen won the Prix du Balai d’or in Paris 2015 for her novel La Malédiction du Norfolk (The Gallows Curse). French translation published by Sonatine. The White Room was shortlisted for The Authors' Club Best First Novel Award 1997. Company of Liars was shortlisted for the Macavity Award, for Best Historical Mystery in 2008. The Owl Killers was shortlisted for the Shirley Jackson Award, 2009, and also selected by the ALA (American Library Association) as one of the best Historical Novels of 2010.


Karen now lives in the bliss of rural Devon. She is a member of the Crime Writers Association, International Thriller Writers, Historical Novelist Association, Historical Novel Society and the Society of Authors. She is also one of The History Girls bloggers and her history blog appears on their website on the 8th of each month.


Books by Karen Maitland