It's in the Details: Karen Harper
September 18, 2012
Creating a fictional world takes more than a good imagination. Just ask Karen Harper, who carefully researches each of her books for setting and time period authenticity. Her novels feature locales as diverse as historic Elizabethan England and present-day Amish country. In fact, the Toledo, Ohio, native and longtime resident of Central Ohio cites the British Isles, Ohio, and South Florida as her three favorite places on the planet.
“Although many writers start with character or plot, I almost always find a setting I love and want to research. Then I create my fictional world of people and plot,” said Harper, who has published more than 50 novels. “I interview experts on subjects in person and online and rely on libraries whenever possible. Public libraries made an impression on me when I was a child. Without them, I wouldn’t be a writer today.”
An Ohio State graduate, Harper credits the university’s stellar English professors with making a strong impact on her life. She taught English as a graduate student, followed by 15 years in Central Ohio high schools as a teacher of English and British literature. “I couldn’t have found any better preparation for my career than teaching writing and literature,” she said.
Harper began writing and publishing historical romances while continuing to teach. Since 1984, however, writing has been her primary professional passion and one in which she describes herself as a “survivor in a challenging business” she is blessed to love.
For the last two decades, Harper and her husband, Don—also an Ohio State grad—have divided their time between Columbus and Naples, Fla. They love to travel for pure enjoyment, for research, and for romance and mystery writers’ conferences. Her books have been published in a variety of foreign languages and have earned ratings as best sellers by the New York Times and USA Today.
The Harpers maintain close ties to Ohio State and are recognized by the President’s Club. They’ve been closely involved with the Thompson Library and provided their private support to the renovation project. “We were so proud to see how the library turned out and how packed it is with students,” Harper said. “It was exciting to be there from conception to chaos to completion.”
Harper is pleased that her number of published novels continues to grow. She recently signed a contract to author another three-book series about the Amish community in Ohio.