“Cut Flowers” author Karen Blackburn inspired by growing up on the Northside


Above: “Cut Flowers” is available on Amazon.com.

By William Park

When Karen Blackburn sat down to write her novel, she could have written about the 19 countries she had visited in the past few years, but instead decided to base her book where she grew up ¬– the Northside.

“You write what you know,” Karen Blackburn said.

Her murder mystery novel “Cut Flowers” was published on May 1 on Amazon.com under the name K.D. Blackburn

The novel takes place at Allegheny General Hospital and along W. North Avenue, not far from East Street where she grew up and is the first in a series of four.

Besides taking place in the Northside, the novel shares other features with Blackburn’s life. Its title refers to its protagonist Hillary Hauptmann’s return to the Northside, thereby rooting herself in the place she had cut herself from, similar to Blackburn’s own experiences.

After graduating from Oliver High School in 1970, Blackburn married a soldier and moved to Stuttgart in 1972 and returned to Pittsburgh in 1996 after living throughout Europe and the United States.

“Little bits are from my life, the way all novelists draw from their lives and the people around them. Most of it is fiction,” Blackburn said.

A murder mystery, the story takes place in 1992 when Hillary Hauptmann returns to Pittsburgh in hopes that her past stalker and all the problems he represents have disappeared. Only they have not.

“There is a number of murders, a number of rapes, a certain number of people getting beat to a pulp,” she said.

The novel’s graphic nature is not meant to be a reflection of the Northside, said Blackburn. The story, she said, “could take place in any other city…. In no way am I condemning the Northside because I do like it.”

While she admits attending Oliver High School during the racial tensions of the late 1960s was less than ideal, she calls the Northside a “fine place to grow up.” A self-described “city girl”, she remembers riding the streetcar downtown by herself when she was nine years old.

Now 60 and living in Butler, Karen Blackburn still frequents the city. She frequently visits the Cultural District to watch the symphony and ballet.

She worked as a newspaper reporter for several years, and now drives a school bus and is preparing a prequel to be released August 1.

Her book can be purchased at www.amazon.com/Flowers-Hillary-Hauptmann-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00CM1UZPU.


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