Shirley: Hi Karen. It’s such a pleasure to have you on my website. Please tell the readers a little about yourself.
Karen: I am a retired registered nurse, an aspiring writer, and a 4-1/2 year ovarian cancer survivor. My hobbies are writing, gardening, golfing, and reading. As a nurse I worked mainly in epilepsy and hospice. For over twenty years I had my own nursing service called Kare ‘N Touch, where I provided counseling, biofeedback, stress management, and therapeutic massage. I love to laugh, play games, and go into my world writing stories, blogs, and poetry.
Shirley: I love the fact that you are also a registered nurse. Although I no longer nurse, I am still on the nursing register.
Karen, as a South African I’m always interested in knowing where my cyber friends live. Where is home for you? And how long have you lived there?
Karen: I was born in San Diego and grew up in Long Beach and Hollywood, California. We moved to Minnesota when the youngest of my three sons was 18 months old. We raised the boys on a 40-acre hobby farm, which was wonderful. My husband and I are retired and have enjoyed living on a lake in central Florida for the past year. Minnesota will always have a special place in my heart.
Shirley: I loved the little I saw of Florida when I attended the Florida Christian Writers Conference three years ago. So tell me, as a child, what was your favorite book or author? Do you have any special memories attached to your reading when you were young?
Karen: My favorite book was Drinkers of the Wind. My grandmother was a librarian and she gave her grandchildren books for Christmas and birthdays and each time we saw her. She taught me the joy of “going to magical places, meeting fascinating characters, and learning from every story.”
Shirley: What a wonderful heritage to leave with your grandchildren. I’ve never heard of this book. My books as a child all came from the UK. We didn’t get American books then as far as I remember. And now you yourself are a published author. Tell us about your first book. What inspired you to write it?
Karen: I wrote in my journal from the first day there was suspicion that something was very seriously wrong with my health. Later on a friend encouraged me to get it published, saying, “Women need to read this.”
My book Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir is about my personal, medical, and spiritual journey with this too often deadly disease. I share about the subtle or whispering symptoms, risk factors and statistics for this cancer. I also share about my struggles and triumphs; how writing, humor, family and friends, nutrition, exercise, meditation, and my faith in God helped me to face this life-changing challenge.
Shirley: Were these new tools you learned through cancer? Or had you used them before?
Karen: These are the same tools or methods I used to face other challenges in my life such as divorce, sexual abuse, alcoholic parents, and untimely deaths of significant people.
Shirley: So they are well tested and obviously work, although I’m sorry you’ve had so many opportunities to try them out!
I know that many authors have favorite places to write. Where do you enjoy writing?
Karen: My favorite place to write is one of two coffee shops where I can drink chai tea, listen to The Canadian Tenors, Il Volo, or Il Divo with earphones, and enjoy the relaxing ambiance. Unfortunately I do not do that as often as I would like. So, my second place is in my new home office where I enjoy a glass of iced tea, earphones, and looking out at the lake.
Shirley: I always marvel at the number of authors who enjoy writing at a coffee shop. I’m sure I wouldn’t get a word written. I’m too easily distracted. Your second option sounds heavenly.
May I ask what you’re busy with at the moment?
Karen: I have one completed novel that will go to my editor in January. My second novel is a prequel to the first and is one-third of the way done.
Shirley: That sounds exciting. Is there an author who has influenced your writing? If so, to what extent?
Karen: My two novels are historical biographies, so I am influenced by the writings of James Michener. I love his books and have read every one of them. Even though I have not taken any formal writing classes, I know what style of writing I like. I am not as descriptive of scenes as Mr. Michener was, but I do use a lot of conversation and try to have the characters’ emotions described so the reader can “feel” the character.
Shirley: That sounds great. I can’t wait to read them. Karen, if you could sit down with any three living authors for dinner, who would you chose? And why?
Karen: There are so many wonderful authors with whom I would love to have a one-on-one conversation. Shirley, you are someone who I would love to meet in person, because our journeys with cancer and writing are so similar. I am so glad we “met” through cyberspace, but there is nothing like hugging, laughing, hearing the real voice, which allows the conversation to grow to so many areas.
Shirley: Why, thank you! And you’re so right! I’d love to spend time with you as well.
Karen: A second author I have great respect for is Adriana Trigiani. I believe I have read every one of her books. She has the gift to make each character alive and vibrant…I feel like I know them. I also enjoy how the author shares about her Italian heritage, customs, and food.
Jodi Piccoult is another I admire and enjoy reading. My favorite is My Sister’s Keeper. Each of her books have been well researched, makes me think about certain social issues, and challenges me to consider how I might respond to some of the issues that the characters face.
Shirley: And music? What sort of music do you enjoy?
Karen: I love the songs of Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, and any Joplin ragtime music. I also love the classics of Mozart, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff. I do not like jazz, hard rock (Rolling Stones, etc), which make me feel negative or angry. It is like listening to fingernails go down a blackboard.
Shirley: So we have similar choices in music too. And you’re right. I can’t stand hard rock and heavy metal either. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Karen: I love to play golf. I love being outside; the challenge to do better each time; my score is mine alone and not dependent on anyone else; and most golfers are friendly and honest. There are dress codes and rules of behavior that are enforced.
Shirley: I’ve often wished Rob and I played golf, especially since we “retired”, but there was never the opportunity. It’s also very expensive over here. So we’ve done the next best thing, and we play it on PlayStation!
Karen, where can our readers find you on the Web, and what can they expect to read when they get there?
Karen: Here you go–
On my website you will read my biography, the first chapter of the book, and some book endorsements. You will also be linked to purchasing my book.
On my weekly blog I offer stories, information or interviews about health/wellness, spirituality, and relationships. Sometimes I have a guest blogger. The purpose of the blog is to offer hope, inspiration, and insight into a variety of subjects.
My Facebook author’s page will always update you on any events, news, or messages.
Follow me on Twitter for an opportunity to read short messages about ovarian cancer, my book, or other newsworthy items.
At Linked In you have another opportunity to read about my activities, blogs, and interests.
Amazon.com is one of several sites where you can purchase my book and read or post reviews.
Shirley: Great, thank you. In closing, can you share one thing with us that we probably don’t know?
Karen: I am a cautious and careful person. My husband teases me that when crossing a street I do not even put my toe out until I have looked both ways several times. On my 65th birthday, I challenged myself to go zip-lining. I was so scared before I took the first step off the platform, but I did it!
Shirley: Wow! That’s amazing. What fun. I’ve actually asked you 13 questions. So now, I just have to ask one more. Are you superstitious?
Karen: I am not superstitious, but I do believe in “listening to” warning signs, which I believe are from God. In other words, if things do not fall smoothly into place, I stop or change course. That does not mean things will be easy. Praying for guidance, then listening, are the keys for decision making and living my life.
Shirley: Great answer! Karen, thank you so much for spending this time with us. I’m sure the readers have enjoyed getting to know more about you. I certainly have.
And readers, please look out for this book. I have read and reviewed it, and it’s an excellent book. Karen is well-informed, her book is well written, and she shares with us what we, as women, need to look out for. And if any men are reading this, please get it for your wife. Links are up above.
Outshine, An Ovarian Cancer Memoir: About the book.
Excerpt from the book, Outshine: The author shares an excerpt of her book.
Over to you:
What do you find encouraging about this interview? Do you have any points to add? About Karen, her book, or your own story? Please post them below, and if you’d like one of us to respond, leave your email address.