Karma Kitaj (pronounced “Key-Tie”) thought for years she had a novel brewing in her. The unlikely muse for Beguiled was her own mother, Jeanne Brooks Kitaj, daughter of Russian-Jewish parents who came to the US in the 1880s. After her mother’s death, she heard stories from Jeanne’s old friends of her feistiness, her intellectual curiosity, her love of culture. She was dedicated to humanitarian causes. She made an unusual decision (for her day) to leave her first marriage with her young son.

So, Karma began writing Beguiled in winter of 2015. She was flabbergasted that the story just wrote itself, as if she were channeling it.

Although there are a few biographical markers of Jeanne’s life, Beguiled is a work of fiction. It became a story of the life a woman like her could have lived, had she had the gumption.

Curious about the topic of resiliency against odds, Karma had published two non-fiction books, Women Who Could… and Did (2002), based on interviews of high-achieving women over age 65 in the arts and sciences and Women Riders Who Could… and Did (2010), based on equestriennes of note. Each of the women survived and flourished, despite cultural and family roadblocks.

Karma authored a blog (www.RetirementAsYouWantIt.com) and articles for online publications, such as the Huffington Post. She contributed a chapter on creativity to Live Smart After 50! The Experts Guide to Life Planning for Uncertain Times. She has hosted a TV show she created, (archived on YouTube and Vimeo), called “New Adventures As We Age” where she interviewed 100+ people over age 50.

Having been a “listening” expert all her adult life , as a psychotherapist and life coach (www.LifeSpringCoaching.com), she was fascinated by hearing and helping people make sense of their stories. Writing fiction was a natural evolution of that. Her experience as a trauma psychotherapist has allowed her to know intimately the motivations of the characters in Beguiled. A Boston resident all her adult life, the setting of the vibrant multi-ethnic West End, razed by redevelopment in the 1950s, felt like an intriguing setting for this immigrant family.

A “woman who could… and did” herself, Karma went back to graduate school in her 40’s after her 102 year old Viennese grandmother asked her: “When will you finish your studies” (having had two PhD sons herself). Seven years later, Karma had her PhD, although Grandma was long gone.

At age fifty, Karma started riding horses in earnest, although she had never been athletic as a child. This became a passion that she and her husband share together. She also found the art of encaustic painting, which led to a new career as an artist (see www.KitajArt.com). Her most recent love is the dance of Argentinian tango, a sublimely sensuous and challenging one to master.

Karma and her husband Jeff Cooper live and work in the Boston area and in their country retreat in Western Massachusetts.

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On the Blog

Where’s the anti-Semitism in Beguiled?

Because journalist Tinky Weisblat questioned in her August review of BEGUILED in the Greenfield Recorder, why I hadn't included any instances of anti-Semitism which was rampant in the early 1900s, I began to question myself. Why not? I grew up in small cities where...

Researching Federal Theater Project (WPA) for Sequel

When I was writing BEGUILED and found a wonderful repository of information at a library in Austin, TX, I was delighted to learn so much about the history of 1920s Jazz Age and the intelligentsia who peopled it. Now I've discovered another library that holds oral...

Event featured BEGUILED at social workers’ book club

Yes, I'm a social worker, but I haven't practiced as such for many decades. Instead, early on I went into private practice as a psychotherapist, then a life and career coach. But, in preparing to meet with a group of social workers in Central Massachusetts last week,...