About Karin

Karin Finell

Anaïs Nin and Karin in Anaïs’s home (built by Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandson Eric), 1971


“Stories are the only enchantment possible, for when we begin to see our suffering as a story, we are saved.”

– The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume III

Karin Finell remembered Anaïs’s words while writing her memoir of WW II. She dove back into the depth of war and bombs to write what she remembered, resulting in, Good-bye to the Mermaids: A Childhood Lost in Hitler’s Berlin.

Karin as a little girl

Karin, pastel, 1945

Finell has written for as long as
she can remember. As a child in
Germany, she entertained herself by writing
and illustrating fairy stories. Karin’s skies
were inhabited by angels and the seas by
mermaids. Her created world shielded her
from the reality of bombs and death.

Mutti, Karin's artist mother, 1946

Mutti, Karin’s artist mother, 1946

After the war ended, Karin and her grandmother hoped to emigrate to America. In 1952, this dream came true for Karin, but alone, because her grandmother had passed away. Karin arrived in Santa Monica at age eighteen to live with strict Mormon relatives whom she had never met. After her mother arrived in the United States, they moved to Los Angeles where Karin attended evening classes at City College. Finell married Marvin Finell, and entered UCLA as a junior. That year she adopted a baby son and became pregnant with her daughter. She considers that period the most fulfilling of her life. At UCLA, Finell earned her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English Literature (summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa) in 1967 and her Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in 1970.

Karin’s grandmother “Oma,” as painted in pastel in the month after the capitulation of Germany, May 1945

Finell’s latest memoir, Broken Butterfly: My Daughter’s Struggle With Brain Injury, published by the University of Missouri Press, September 2012, will be followed by a memoir still in progress, continuing Karin’s story after arriving in America.

Her stories have appeared in Mexico, a Love Story (Seal Press) and in The Way, a magazine of St. Francis, and in five volumes of the Community of Voices anthology. Articles have been published in four volumes of the German literary magazine MERIAN, and several in Pferd und Reiter. Travel articles were published in the Miami Herald and the San Diego News. Her poetry has been published in the Poetry Therapy Journal and in Cafe in Space, a literary journal dedicated to the circle of Anaïs Nin. The Santa Barbara Independent has published several of Karin’s memoir pieces and poems.

Karin taught five years of Writing your Pain: Grief and Transformation, at Adult Education at Santa Barbara City College. Finell arranged for a celebration for Anaïs Nin, A Writer- A Life, at the time of Anaïs’ centenary (2003) at Santa Barbara City College Schott Center, with Janet Fitch, Paul Herron and others in attendance.

Karin Finell lives in Santa Barbara, in a home she shares with her husband of fourteen years.

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