By Don Lowe
Karen Daugherty is ecstatic her first-ever book, Sugar Creek, is officially available for anyone who wants to read it.
Daugherty, a native of Neosho, Missouri, says, “I think I’m most proud of the fact that I finished. To be a published author has always been a dream of mine, but I never thought I could actually do it.”
As for what originally sparked Daugherty’s idea for writing a novel, she says it was from thinking about “the complexities of life – specifically how relationships exist and how they push us into uncomfortable places sometimes.”
In developing the general synopsis of Sugar Creek, Daugherty says, “I think all writers tell stories based on experience. So, besides reading in my genre, I think my own life experience shaped the basic ideas and themes of my novel. The evolution was definitely chapter by chapter versus page by page.”
Over the last decade or so is when things really started to come together for this important work. “The initial characters (Leah, Nash and Ethan) began my freshman year of college (20 years ago).
“But, I began writing more seriously within the last 10 years. And, I’d say the past three years I actually had the final pieces to finish.”
While there was much momentum over the past several years, that’s not to say it was all smooth sailing. Daugherty says the most difficult part was “rewriting. I attended a writing conference about five years ago, and I remember one of the presenters saying that every author will rewrite their novel numerous times.
“I remember thinking how silly that was until I was sitting with drafts upon drafts a few years later. Rewriting was the most challenging, yet necessary, aspect to writing this novel for me.”
Despite that challenge, Daugherty confidently says what came most easily was “the characters. I knew these characters in my bones, and before other elements of the story, they were formed and ready to go.
“That’s not to say they didn’t go through their own transformations, but they seemed to come most naturally to me.”
In further describing how this project evolved, Daugherty says, “It was much easier to start the novel rather than finishing it.
“The last six chapters were rewritten more than any of the others because there were so many different directions for the story to move, but ultimately, it ended the way I always wanted. I had a beginning and middle in mind all along, but the ending was always up in the air until about a year ago.”
Remarkably, perhaps, Daugherty juggled the time spent on her novel with regular employment. “Luckily, I’m a night owl, so my writing hours usually occur between midnight and 4 am, which isn’t great when you have a full-time job.
“But, I managed. Thankfully, being a teacher gave me summer hours to write, but it was very difficult to carve out time during the school year.”
Through it all, this gave Daugherty a great deal of joy. “I loved the entire process. Pushing these characters into situations that were complicated and funny and balancing those two things was fun.
“Also, including things I grew up with: Sugar Creek, The Donut House, Neosho and Roadside Park. Those notable things were so special to me.”
Daugherty has every reason to be thrilled, and she says, “To actually finish and publish has been a proud moment. Also, the feedback I’ve received from readers. The way Sugar Creek has resonated with them – it’s something I never expected and has meant so much to me.”
Author Karen Daugherty/Sugar Creek Book Fast Facts
Parents: Sabra and Jack Coyle, and Richard Daugherty
Profession: 10th & 11th grade English teacher/Springdale High School (Springdale, Arkansas)
Education: Neosho, Missouri, High School (Class of 2000)/Indiana University/Missouri State University
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Literature (IU)/Master of Arts in Teaching (MSU)
Brief Description of Book: Daugherty describes it as “a story about a woman’s journey through life – the dark, the funny, the scary, the messy, the broken and the redemption – and what happens when we finally overcome those things. It was inspired by a collection of things: my own experiences, my friends’ experiences, my family, growing up in a small town (Neosho) and the unexpected paths life takes us all on.”
Next Book: Daugherty reveals, “I just got back from a girls’ weekend with a couple of friends, and some interesting things happened that spawned the idea for my next novel. I wrote the opening lines last night, and I can’t wait to see what happens.”
Favorite Subject in School: English
Favorite Writers: Emily Griffin/Colleen Hoover
Favorite Book: Love The One You’re With