It my pleasure to introduce Karen Ingalls, an award-winning author. I became interested in her as an author when her book, Davida, won the the 2017 New Apple Summer E-Book Awards: HISTORICAL FICTION. I was particularly intrigued with the image of Davida on the book cover and wanted to find out who she was. I further became acquainted with Karen when I was invited to join RWISA: Rave Writers – International Society of Authors, of which she is a distinguished member.
Below is Karen Ingalls’ biography, author interview, and contact information. Be sure to check out her website and learn more about her as an author and her passion for health issues.
Karen Ingalls is an award-winning author of three published books, author of numerous articles on health, cancer, and wellness, and a public speaker. She is a retired RN, human behavior, and cancer survivor who writes about social issues, health topics, and historical topics. Her philosophy is to outshine any challenge; to grow and learn from it.
Would you provide an overview of books you have published?
My first published book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir is about my journey with ovarian cancer. It emphasizes how anyone can adopt healthy ways to deal with any serious health challenge with such things as good nutrition, relaxation/imagery, and meditation/deep prayer, positive thinking, humor to name just a few.
Novy’s Son: The Selfish Genius is a novel about my father who was very intelligent, but lacked the ability to socialize except with women he was attracted to. He challenged social mores, all religious beliefs, and most educational rules and regulations. He did not know how to be a good and faithful husband, nor father, or grandfather.
My second novel is titled Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. He was America’s premier sculptor in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s and though married, he fell in love with his model, Davida. This is the story of their 25-year love affair, birth of one child, their unconditional love, and his art.
What inspired you to write the biography, Davida, of your great-grandmother, Albertina Hultgren, who was the mistress of the American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
I was inspired to write Davida for the following reasons: one, they are my great-grandparents; two, no one ever talked about my grandfather’s heritage because of his shame of being a bastard; and three, after my grandfather died, I wanted to erase the bastard label and bring dignity and honor to his parent’s love affair.
How much research was involved in writing Davida? How did you go ABOUT researching the background for Davida?
There are many published books about Augustus Saint-Gaudens so it was relatively easy to do research about his art and who he was as a person. I have been to the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Historical Site two times in Cornish, New Hampshire. At one visit my father, sister, and I met with then the curator, John Dryfought. I have kept in correspondence with the current curator, Dr. Henry Duffy. We were also interviewed by Kathryn Greenthal, who was the curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Unfortunately, there is very little known about my great-grandmother, who changed her name to Davida Johnson Clark. She was born in Sweden and came to the U.S. as a young girl with her mother. Her birth name was either Albertina Hultgren or Hallgren. A cousin by marriage who lives in Sweden researched churches and official government sites in hopes of substantiating her birth name, date, and place. However, nothing definitive was found. Therefore, I created Davida’s childhood, her parents, beliefs, personality, and how she lived and died. I know she talked to me at times while I was asleep or deep in thought while writing. It was a spiritual experience.
Is there any sub-character in Davida that is your favorite? Explain why.
The sub-character is Uncle Louis Saint-Gaudens, who was an artist in his own right but struggled with depression and alcoholism. He was grateful for the financial, career, and health-wise help Augustus gave him. He loved my grandfather, who was named for him and he was more of a father to him than Augustus was. He had a sense of humor and a favorite story is him sitting on the top of the water tower causing quite a scandal.
How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?
I was surprised, embarrassed, or shocked by some behaviors of the main character in Novy’s Son. I loved and knew my father about as well as anyone, but he said and did some outlandish things. He was a unique person I never understood until I read Robert Bly’s book Iron John. That is when I decided to write Novy’s Son knowing that there are many men who did not learn how to be fathers from their fathers, so the cycle continued. Perhaps all of these men have searched for happiness and self-worth through unhealthy and immoral actions.
Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?
I have received wonderful reviews on all three books, and I have been honored with several awards. Those people who have received support, reassurance, information, and hope from Outshine is the most meaningful award or recognition I could ever wish for.
Many women didn’t like the main character in Novy’s Son which is a normal reaction and means I accomplished what I intended. I was surprised by one review by an author who stated in a private message that he refused to finish this same book because the Kindle version was completely messed up. I offered to send a paperback copy, which he refused so his 3-star review remains though he wrote in his review: “Since my preferred genre is usually thrillers or suspense, the nature of this character portrait didn’t really grab me. However, the book is well written, and if this style of book is your cup of tea, you may find it to be a satisfying read.”
I have read many books that are not my preferred genre, but I gave a review based on how well it was written, edited, flowed, and the strength of the characters and plot.
What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?
I consider someone a friend who is honest, has a sense of humor, and is a good listener. I am blessed to have many friends who are always there for me.
What simple pleasure makes you smile?
One of my simple pleasures is playing games. I sometimes joke that I was born with a deck of cards in my hands. I find board and card games are great ways to socialize, keep your mind alert, and just have good old-fashioned fun.
What makes you laugh?
I love to laugh! When I am recovering from cancer surgeries or treatments, I surround myself with positive people and funny shows or movies. My favorite comedians are Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, Laurel & Hardy, Ray Romano, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase. Laughter lifts the most sorrowful mood, erases or eases fear, builds the immune system, and lowers blood pressure. Laughter is the best medicine. When I was a kid and went to the circus, the clowns were my favorite. My husband and sister make me laugh with their jokes or funny sayings.
You can contact Karen Ingalls and learn more about her books at: