Karen E. Quinones Miller is an African-American journalist, historian, and nationally best-selling author, and community activist. She is best known for her success in self-publishing, and her knowledge of Harlem.
Miller dropped out of junior high school at the age of 13, and says she spent most of her youth running the streets of Harlem. Although she was not officially home-schooled, her parents both insisted that she continue her education on her own, and gave her an extensive reading list. It was then that her interest in Harlem history was born, as she read novels and poetry by the likes of Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, Nella Larsen, Claude McKay.
Tired of the fast life, she joined the U. S. Navy in 1980. After her enlistment was over in 1985 she married Kenneth W. Miller, whom she’d met while still in the service. Their daughter, Camille R. Quinones Miller, was born in April 1987, and they divorced in May of that same year.
In 1988 she moved to Philadelphia, and worked as a secretary for The Philadelphia Daily News. While there she wrote letters to the City Editor complaining about what she considered the biased coverage of people of color. Finally fed up, Miller gave her two-week notice, and enrolled at Temple University to major in journalism. She graduated with a 3.88 GPA, causing her to often joke, “Just goes to prove, the only thing I missed by not going to high school was the prom.”
Miller worked for a year for the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, VA, then moved back to Philadelphia in 1994 to become a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In 1999 Miller wrote her first novel, Satin Doll, at the instigation of her then 12-year-old daughter. After receiving numerous rejection letters from agents and publishers, she self-published the novel. She sold 3,000 copies in six weeks – and ultimately 28,000 copies in eight months – before signing with an agent in June 2000. So many publishing houses were interested at that point, that a literary auction was held; Simon & Schuster won the publishing rights to Satin Doll, and a second book, with a six-figure bid.
Miller subsequently published eight books (all of which were based in Harlem) through major publishing houses, but she also maintained her own publishing company – Oshun Publishing Company, Inc. – which she used to publish Satin Doll. Oshun Publishing went on to publish the novel Yo Yo Love, which became an Essence best seller and launched the literary career of Essence best-selling author Daaimah S. Poole Essence best selling author, Miasha calls Miller her literary mentor and says Miller was instrumental in her landing her first publishing deal with Simon & Schuster. Miller is included in the bookLiterary Divas: The Top 100+ Most Admired African-American Women in Literature.
An acknowledged Harlem historian, Miller and has been featured in programs on The History Channel, BET, and TV-1 discussing various historical Harlem personalities.
In 2005 Miller underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor from her left frontal lobe. 9 In 2008 she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Though she has continued her writing career, Miller now seldom does book tours.
In 2013, Miller was one of fifty writers picked by the city of Philadelphia to be recognized in the Philadelphia Literary Legacy project. Other writers represented in the Literary Legacy include: Louisa May Alcott, Noam Chomsky, W.E.B. Du Bois, Charles Fuller, David Goodis, Ken Kalfus, Beth Kephart, Judith Schachner, and Lisa Scottoline.
The Authors’ Networking Event – Saturday, April 11, 2005 at Treasures Banquet Hall 5549 Germantown Avenue Phila., PA 19144