About the Author


Official Bio

Katia Lief is the author of several internationally bestselling crime novels, including The Money Kill, the fourth installment of her Karin Schaeffer series published in 2013 by HarperCollins and nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. In 2018 her newest novel A Map of the Dark will be published by Mulholland Booksunder the pseudonym Karen Ellis.  She teaches fiction writing at The New School in Manhattan and lives with her family in Brooklyn.


Unofficial Bio

The first thing I ever wrote that received any notice was a one page story for my third grade English teacher. I don't recall what the assignment was, but I somehow found myself writing about a woman at a dinner party who suddenly realizes her teeth are invisible. She sits there, wedged between two chattering guests, wondering how she will eat, how she will talk, and generally how she will get out of the situation without having to open her mouth and reveal her dilemma. My teacher showed the story to my parents with a note to this effect: Katia could be a writer.

What if her note had instead encouraged me to be a dentist?

But it didn't. And so here I am.

I've been at it for a while and until recently had published under several names, in this order: Katia Spiegelman, Kate Pepper, Katia Lief. At this point the best explanation I have for this triumvirate of identities can be found in my essay "What's in a Name?" which was mostly an attempt to explain it to myself. Back when I wrote that essay, it might have surprised me to learn that I would one day embark on a brand new pseudonym: Karen Ellis, a name inspired by my children's names, Karenna and Eli. Stay tuned for more on why anyone would want a pseudonym in the first place...

Now, here, for you, in four nutshells:

Katia Spiegelman is the girl who was born in France to American parents, a musician and a teacher; who grew up along the East Coast with an older sister and younger brother; fled a boarding school by enrolling at Simon's Rock Early College at the age of fifteen; graduated from Sarah Lawrence College at the age of nineteen...and then ran off to Paris for lack of a better idea. Half a year later she returned to New York, got a job in publishing, followed by many other jobs in all kinds of businesses, earned a master's degree in literature and creative writing, and published two novels.

Kate Pepper is the front-woman who brought forth thrillers, when Katia Spiegelman had added Lief to her last name and decided the best way to stay home with her kids was to turn her love of writing into a paying job. Kate got the hang of it over four books, and then Katia decided it was time to take over...or as she told her husband, Oliver, "I need to integrate."

Karen Ellis is another name I call myself when my work starts to appear in beautiful hardcovers published by Mulholland Books/Little Brown.

Katia Lief is me: mother, novelist, teacher, reader, traveler, wise-cracker, former insomniac, current great sleeper.

I have loved writing every one of my novels, and hope you will enjoy reading them.