My guest today is Karen Ingalls, the author of two novels and an award winning non-fiction book. Her journey as a writer began as a child, writing poems and short stories which were Karen’s way of dealing with various life changing events. She is a member of Rave Reviews Book Club and supports other authors in the club in posts on her blogs.
Karen’s non-fiction book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, won first place at the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards in the the category of women’s health. It was a top three finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award of 2012 in the two categories of health and self-help.
The purpose of the book is to provide information about this too often deadly disease, and offer hope and inspiration to women and their families. Karen is a retired RN and has a master’s degree in human development. She faced the challenge of ovarian cancer with the same tools when she dealt with abuse, alcoholic parents, divorce, and untimely deaths. All proceeds from the book go to ovarian cancer research
Her first novel, Novy’s Son, The Selfish Genius, is about Murray Clark, who sought love and acceptance from his father, who had been raised as the bastard child of the famous sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. After reading Iron John by Robert Bly, Karen recognized what was missing in her father’s life.
Davida is Karen’s second novel. It is about the love affair between her great-grandfather Augustus Saint-Gaudens and her great-grandmother Davida Johnson Clark. Very little is known about Davida except her role as a model for many of the sculptor’s famous works.
Karen Ingalls is a Californian by birth, a Minnesotan in her heart, and a contented Florida retiree. She loves gardening, golfing, and reading, but her real passion is writing.
Let’s take a more detailed look at Karen’s books and reviews.
About Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir
When Karen Ingalls was diagnosed with Stage II Ovarian Cancer, she realized how little she knew about what was once called ”the silent killer.” As Ingalls began to educate herself she felt overwhelmed by the prevalent negativity of cancer. Lost in the information about drugs, side effects, and statistics, Ingalls redirected her energy to focus on the equally overwhelming blessings of life, learning to rejoice in each day and find peace in spirituality.
In this memoir, Karen is a calming presence and positive companion, offering a refreshing perspective of hope with the knowledge that ”the beauty of the soul, the real me and the real you, outshines the effects of cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation.”
Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir is a story of survival, and reminds readers that disease is not an absolute, but a challenge to recover.
From the very beginning, it is clear that Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir will do more than tell a story. It will take us on a journey.
We seem to shy away from talking about Ovarian Cancer. As a two-time Ovarian Cancer survivor myself, I know just how true that can be. It’s called the silent killer, but it’s as if somewhere along the line that came to mean we should stay silent. Thankfully, Karen Ingalls did not stay silent. In this beautiful, touching memoir, she shares with us her reality. And as she does, we realize that we stay silent because silence is easy. What the author has done is not easy, but it makes a difference, and I for one am extremely grateful that she shared her journey with us.
Very positive story. I like the author’s frame of mind and her very useful tips for avoiding, confronting, and surviving cancer, whatever form it might take.
She also writes in an easy-to-follow, conversational style that never makes for dull reading. The inclusion of uplifting quotes and the frequent, but not overwhelming, mentions of her spiritual faith are touching.
Thank you for your service to the millions of us who do not have cancer, and for those of us who may get cancer someday.
The novels by Karen Ingalls.
Novy’s Son, The Selfish Genius – a biographical novel
From his early childhood, Murray Clark sought love and acceptance from his father, who was raised as the bastard child of a famous artist. Murray struggled with jealousy toward his younger brothers, and he questioned the morals and values of people around him.
As an adult, Murray lived life his way, with years of lying, womanizing, and heavy drinking. Though married four times, did he ever find unconditional love?
Would Murray’s high intelligence, his love for his two daughters, and his unique philosophy of life help him rise above his demons?
The thing that struck me the most about this biographical novel was the way the author, Karen Ingalls, was able to reflect social changes surrounding the main character, Murray.
Ingalls does a great job of putting us into the life of a boy growing up in 1920s California. And from the morals and parenting styles of that era, she adds a new light to universal coming-of-age dramas. Puberty, the opposite sex, and sibling rivalry. This first part of the book reminded me of the brothers’ story in East of Eden, right down to one brother going off to war and even some shockers involving paternity.
As Murray reaches adulthood, we see that he is a very capricious (and somewhat frustrating) protagonist. He can’t seem to stay focused on anything for very long, and that includes wives, mistresses, jobs, entrepreneurial ventures—even his own children are neglected. He’s always envisioning slights or plots against him, and his default reaction to these perceived injustices is to storm away from the problem and ignore it. Still, if you like flawed characters who represent the tumultuous and indulgent decades of the 60s and 70s, you may be very intrigued by Murray. Think Mad Men’s Don Draper.
And it’s interesting to see Murray’s lifestyle come full circle as he reaches his nineties and find himself more and more dependent on healthcare workers and his semi-estranged family.
About Davida: Model and Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Augustus Saint-Gaudens was the premier American sculptor from 1880-1920. Though married he fell in love with his model, Davida Johnson Clark and their love affair lasted more than twenty-five years. This fictionalized account will introduce the reader to some of the great art, historical facts, and the moral values of that era.
The author is the great-granddaughter from this union and her purpose in writing the book is to bring recognition to Davida and remove any negative stigma to her. Her grandfather suffered his whole life from being labeled a bastard while growing up and this story is intended to remove that label.
How can a love affair last for such a long period of time? What affect did it have on his career? How did his wife and son cope with their being a second family?
This is a compelling and beautiful love story that has needed to be told.
Davida: Model and Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens is a fictional memoir (not my usual genre) based on conjecture of true history. The characters are believable and well-defined, making poor decisions that result in both joy and grief, as is the case too often in real life. The main character maintains a good attitude, but her lot in life saddened me.
The history is well-researched making it easy to feel the way life moved and changed from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. I had to go look up Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ actual works which are amazing. The writing is well-edited; the pace is relaxed, and it is written in third person (which I prefer). It is geared for adult readers due to a couple of explicit scenes.
Now I have great pleasure in welcoming Karen this morning and handing over to her to answer the questions she has chosen about her family history, favourite leisure pastimes, choice of actor to play her lead character and which guests she would like to entertain for dinner.
Where were you born and can you tell us something about the history of your place of birth or any interesting historical fact?
I was born in San Diego, California in the hospital that my great aunt Helen started. She was a nurse who had a vision for good and fair nursing care in a hospital. She started her dream in a boarding house on Park Blvd; then expanded to another building on Date Street; and finally completed her dream with her own hospital named Quintard Hospital.
It was a 50 bed hospital with an emergency room, small surgical suite, and a penthouse on the top floor where she and her husband lived. My dad, grandfather and uncle with the aid of some other workers built the hospital brick by brick. My sister and I were both born there, which is a wonderful thing to claim in our heritage. Unfortunately the hospital was torn down around 1962 unable to compete with the new health care programs and hospitals being built in surrounding areas.
Which is your favorite leisure pastime?
I love to play golf. I wish I were better but I love the challenge to my athleticism, sense of reading greens, and understanding the mechanics of the swing and stance. I would love to get a hole-in-one which I know is just plain lucky, but it would be a great accomplishment for someone like me who has been playing golf for 40 years. One of the best things about playing golf is being with friends and nature. Whether it is cold, windy, and cloudy I would rather be outside with nature. On courses I have seen deer in Minnesota, hawks in Arizona, and eagles, hawks, and many alligators in Florida. One time my ball landed about ten feet from a very large alligator who was enjoying the warm afternoon sun. I left my ball where it was and dropped another one further away. I was not interested in being his lunch!
If you are an author and one of your books was selected to be made into a film; who would you like to play your main character and why?
My most recent book titled Davida is based on the true story of the love affair between Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his model, Davida. He was America’s premier sculptor from 1880 to 1925.
I am not as familiar with today’s young actresses. I think Emily Blunt might be a possibility with her simple beauty. If Ingrid Bergman were alive, she would be the perfect actress. Davida was considered by Saint-Gaudens as the epitome of beauty…the ethereal woman. It was not just her physical beauty, but her mental and spiritual beauty. She was kind, gentle, sweet, and naturally beautiful. It would take a very gifted actress to capture her essence.
Which four famous guests would you ask to a dinner party and why?
The first person who came to mind was Mahatma Gandhi. I admire his strength of faith, his ability to lead, and his the principals by which he lived. What a better place each of our lives would be in if we adopted at least one of his gifts.
Mother Teresa would also be at my dinner party for the same reasons as Gandhi.
James Michener’s gift of retelling history in a biographically fictionalized way was most interesting and I read every one of his books. I do not know but I do believe he was a spiritual man which Gandhi and Mother Teresa were.
My final guest would be Augustus Saint-Gaudens who had the beautiful gift to express his spirituality through sculpture. In his personal life I believe he sought that peace and contentment which I believe the other guests had.
The round table sitting would be in clock-wise: Gandhi, Saint-Gaudens, Mother Teresa, James Michener, and then me. The round table would be simply set with delicious vegetarian dishes. I would start the conversation by asking them each to describe their vision of God and how He did or did not influence their lives. They each made incredible contributions to the world and I believe we all have some great lessons to learn from them just as they do from each other.
My projects for this year:
My number one project is to promote my newest novel, Davida which was just published in March 2016.
I just started a new blog site (www.kareningalls.blogspot.com) for writers and avid readers. My purpose is to help other authors and to bring awareness about old and new books to the reading audience. I like doing interviews because a personality comes forth. He or she is not “just an author,” but a human being with hopes, dreams, and frailties like all of us. My goal is to get a minimum of 100 followers for the new blog site. I also want to increase the followers of my first blog site (www.outshineovariancancer.blogspot.com). At this site I blog about health/wellness, relationships, and spirituality. Here again I invite guest bloggers including authors and writers.
And I would like to do at least one presentation each month about one or all of my books and to do a gynecologic cancer presentation at least once a month and write monthly articles for blogs, websites, and journals.