What Every Writer Can Learn About Creating True-to-Life Characters from Karen Campbell Prough

 In Author, Books, Let's Chat, Writing

Karen Campbell Prough has written three novels in her series about her main character, Ella Dessa. I have been touched by her first two books, The Girl Called Ella Dessa and Within the Candle’s Glow. Her descriptions of life in the mountains is beautiful, drawing the reader deeply into the setting.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know Karen through an online acquaintance through our mutual agent, Linda S. Glaz, and also we are fellow authors at LPC Books, though under different imprints. Her novels have been published under the Firefly Southern Fiction imprint.

Let’s welcome Karen Campbell Prough to Let’s Chat this week and learn about her inspiration for writing such realistic stories.

Karen, please tell us about your writing journey. How did it start?

When I was young, there were great storytellers in our family. Many evening meals ended with us lingering at the table, while my Grandpa Reynolds or other adults told stories about bear hunts and funny things that happened down through the years. I have cherished those moments. And as I learned to read, I loved the authors from the past. James Oliver Curwood was my favorite. So, if you combine the times I listened to stories about my families’ past and the times spent reading about the northern wilderness, you would have the reason my imagination was demanding to be set free. I believe it is why I wanted to be a writer . . . a storyteller. 

What made you decide to write inspirational fiction? And more specifically historical romance?

I don’t think I sat down and just decided to write inspirational fiction or historical romance. I wanted to write decent stories, but also books that would tug at someone’s emotions and deep feelings. We are not perfect people and being able to accept the fact and realize there is always hope . . . we can grow stronger. Perhaps, a person can find some slight healing, when they read of a character’s struggles and triumphs over the bad in our human world. Historical romance ties in with many time periods from our past and is written by huge numbers of good authors. I wanted to show how love and acceptance can heal and bring people through adversities. Inspirational fiction can bring back hope and comfort to a reader who has experienced sadness they cannot talk about. We all need to accept the fact that God does care.

TWEET TO SHARE: @KCampbellPrough interview-“Scars marked Ella Dessa but not her spirit.”#giveaway of all 3 Ella Dessa books! 

How has God guided you through this process?

I do believe God has helped me gently write about touches of sadness and hopelessness in my books. You can’t experience the feeling of hope, unless you have an inkling that it exists. Characters need to be “real” people—not just have wonderful things happen to them. I do understand there are some people who do not like my style of writing, which sometimes lets bad things happen to good characters. That’s perfectly fine. Each writer approaches the presentation of life in different ways.

God has helped me connect with the right people at writer’s conferences. He knew the timing. He also connected me with the right agency, Hartline Literary Agency, years before their agent, Linda Glaz, agreed to represent me. God knew I still had a bunch of learning to do.

The fact that you understand the deep feelings of your characters comes through clearly in your writing, Karen.

Do you have any scriptures you’d like to share that have inspired you?

A scripture in Hebrews helped me keep writing, even when publication seemed like a dream and not a reality. The words told me not to throw away my confidence:

“Cast not away, therefore, your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.” Hebrews 10:35 KJV

Thank you for sharing this verse. It challenges me where I lack–in self-confidence–as we trust that will come from God as we trust in Him.

What would you like to tell us about your latest release, With This Peace?

You can buy With This Peace HERE.

 With This Peace is book three in a series about the life of a young woman named Ella Dessa. The story will take the reader into the wilderness of Florida and into the path of a hurricane. Ella Dessa and her young family face the awful storm as it cuts a path across Florida during 1848. There are struggles and sadness in this book, but peace remains the theme throughout the pages. And the peaceful river, which Ella Dessa finds and bathes in, is now called the Peace River in our modern times.

I look forward to reading it!

Karen has generously offered to giveaway three (3!) books to three individual randomly chosen commenters. She is giving away one Kindle e-book copy of each of her three books, A Girl Called Ella Dessa, Within the Candle’s Glow, and With This Peace. 

More about Karen Campbell Prough:

Karen Campbell Prough writes Southern Historical Fiction and a broad range of short stories. Her stories quite often have romance or mysteries with a special twist. Seven of her short stories have been published in a variety of magazines, and she has won awards for them and two books. She knows her life-long desire to write comes from God. The heartfelt urge to be a storyteller has been with her since childhood, and she loves to tell stories that will linger with a reader … long after the last page is turned.

Find her on the web at:










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Showing 10 comments
  • Jodie Wolfe

    I enjoyed hearing about your writing journey, Karen.

    • kerouser@gmail.com

      I’ve enjoyed learning more about Karen’s journey as well. So glad you
      stopped by and left a comment, Jodie. It’s nice to see you here!

  • Karen Campbell Prough

    Thank you, Jodie, for stopping by and reading the post! A writer’s journey isn’t always easy, because “real” life gets in the way of our stories waiting to be written down! But we sure get in a lot of practice along the way! 🙂

    There are so many wonderful authors, and they each have their own reports about creative journeys. Some writers walk a path that is straight and easy, but others must travel a wandering mountain trail . Some authors are young. Some are older. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that our stories are eventually finished and read, And perhaps, they will touch the heart of a reader.

  • Janet Grunst

    Great interview, Kathy and I’ve enjoyed learning more about you, Karen.
    Your stories deal with life which isn’t always easy.
    It’s often through the trials that our characters, as well as the rest of us, grow in strength, wisdom, and faith.
    I wish you continued success in your future writing endeavors.

  • kerouser@gmail.com

    Hi, Janet! It’s a pleasure to have you stop by. I agree that characters need to face
    some real-life trials. And real life isn’t filled with sunshine and roses. Hopefully
    God will use our trials to reach others with hope in Him. I so appreciate your
    heartfelt comment!

  • Karen Campbell Prough

    Janet! Thanks for stopping by! I hope that someone reading my books will get some help or feel like they can go on when bad things happen. I like to write “true to life”. Life isn’t always perfect, but there is always that “hope”. Right? But maybe, I need to throw in more roses, Kathy! 🙂 My husband is on his way home from work, but stopping in at Lowes’ garden shop. Nope, not for roses … milkweed plants. I have over twenty caterpillars that have eaten every leaf off my plants. (And about 20 more ready to hatch out into butterflies. I have them in containers in the house.) My mother was supplying leaves from her plants, but hopefully my husband can bring home more plants and all will be good. 🙂 They are Monarch butterflies. And the population out grew the food source! A couple months ago, I heard a report where the Monarch was in trouble, because of our lack of rain here and not enough plants to eat. Now, we are getting lots of rain. Oops, I’m off on a “rabbit trail”. Ha.

  • Janet Grunst

    Wow, Karen. I used to live in California and remember a town an hour or so away, where every Year in October thousands of Monarchs would come. Pacific Grove was nicknamed “Butterfly Town, U.S.A.” They would cover the cypress, pine, and eucalyptus trees. Enjoy!!

  • Kathleen Rouser

    In Ontario, there is Point Pelee, a couple of hours away, where the monarch butterflies
    return every year. It’s only a few hours away, but I must sadly admit that I’ve never
    made it there, but I would like to see it. Karen, you’re a better woman than I! If it
    involved taking care of caterpillars, you wouldn’t find me anywhere near it. Blech! 😉
    On your other point, I do think your novels have some lovely hopeful parts (roses) and I’ve found some humor in them too, which I appreciate. Good to show there’s always hope! 🙂

  • Karen Campbell Prough

    Janet, I would love to see something like that. Thanks, Kathy, for the remark about “roses”. In real life there are “roses” also. My brother, Brian, and a friend of ours, came over yesterday to work on our garage. It was hot, but we were putting in a new header over the garage door area, so we can get a new door for the garage. We worked non-stop, nearly all day in the heat. Took a neighbor, joining in, to life the header into place. 🙂 But it got done. Then my husband came home from work, and he and I worked to clean up all the mess. People helping people is a “rose” in life. 🙂 Friends and family members who work for others. The friend that came over told my brother he wanted to come help “Karen”, 🙂 We all use to work together in construction, building houses, etc.

  • kerouser@gmail.com

    Congrats to Jodie Wolfe and Janet Grunst who have each won a copy of the e-book of their
    choice from Karen! Happy reading everyone!

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