Karen Essex is an award-winning novelist and journalist and a screenwriter. She is the author of the national and international best-selling novel, *Leonardos Swans* (Doubleday 2006), about the rivalries among the powerful women painted by the great master when he was employed by the Duke of Milan. Continuing in the theme of womens influence upon culture and art, her latest novel, *Stealing Athena*, chronicles the story of the controversial Elgin Marbles from the points of view of two fascinating women, Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin, and Aspasia, mistress to Pericles. Essex was born and raised in New Orleans. She was graduated from Tulane University, attended graduate school at Vanderbilt University, and received an MFA in writing from Goddard College in Vermont. Shes appeared on *The Today Show* and *A Word on Words* hosted by John Seigenthaler, as well as other PBS and NPR programs. Shes lectured at the Chicago Museum of Art, and extensively at universities. Her books are taught in many college courses from creative writing to history to womens studies.