Lifting Off

A Life in Freefall

Karen McLeod

Brimming with vertiginous loops and extreme globe-trotting, this is the account of Karen’s experience flying as cabin crew for British Airways over a 12-year period, and the profound impact that experience had on her life. Told with the wit and verve that characterised her debut novel In Search of the Missing Eyelash, Lifting Off is about seeking identity in a heterosexual world, whilst dealing with the fall-out from fractured family relationships.

When a colleague suggests to Karen that she should hide her sexuality to make others feel comfortable, she has no idea what the personal cost will be. Having come out as a lesbian she goes back in. Whilst gay male cabin crew are accepted, gay women are forced to hide their true selves. Against a backdrop of exotic locations, hotel bars and nightclubs, Karen slowly unravels as the inability to truly be herself begins to impact on her spirit. In essence it’s the story of how Karen came into land. How she learned to look after herself and discovered her true strength. Ultimately, it is about love and creativity: unconventional love for her gay best friend, the rarity and transformative release through lesbian love, and the freeing impact of her dad’s death.

‘[An] absorbing and often hilarious account of the author’s 12 years as closeted cabin crew. It’s a story of love, creativity, acceptance, and more.’ The Bookseller, Editor’s Choice

‘Witty, irreverent, deeply felt, and exquisitely written, Lifting Off lifts the lid on one of the strongest performers and authors in queer UK, and in doing so lifts us all. I can’t recommend this extraordinary memoir enough. Stunning.’ JoelleTaylor, T. S. Eliot and Polari Prize winning poet

‘In a deceptively gentle self-evocation, Karen McLeod shares the hard parts and the juicy stuff with warmth and generosity, encouraging us to be part of the discovery of her truths.  A beautiful reminder that we don’t have to carry on a path set in the past, that we are all allowed to reinvent, remake, to flower anew – rarely easy, but always worthwhile’. Stella Duffy


  • Muswell Press world rights (June 2024)

Material: finished copies and PDF (320pp)