In 2014, Karen's work was awarded with the PEN AWARD by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.
Write up in the Wyoming Library Roundup
Writing her historical novel The Ticket was an unintended journey for author Karen Schutte who initially wanted to write down her family’s saga for her grandchildren. “I did not want the stories to die,” Schutte said, explaining that true tales make up the skeleton of the novel.
Schedule a Presentation!
I enjoy giving presentations to groups such as historical societies, museums, libraries and more. I also love to sit down and talk to book clubs aboout my novels and their take on a particular book. That is one of my favorite things to do!!
My first novel, THE TICKET is the life saga of Karl and Katja Kessel. The reader is introduced to the peace and prosperity of their lives in a German colony in Austria/Hungary at the turn-of-the century. Why then did they decide to leave and immigrate to America? The reader soon discovers why they left their home and why Karl went first to America and Katja followed a year later with their three small sons. Karl was determined to own his own land and to be a success as a farmer and he was. Unfortunately, he was totally unaware of the terrible toll his ambitious goals were taking on his relationship with his family and in particular with his wife, Katja. They lived through WWI, the Great Depression, then WWII. It was particularily difficult knowing their third son was a POW in the Philippines. The end of life for Karl and Katja was not what they had worked or hoped for, but it was what happened.
My second novel, SEED of the VOLGA begins at a castle in the Black Forest of Germany and for grave reasons, takes the reader to the Volga River in Russia where scores of Germans settled upon invitation from Catherine the Great of Russia in 1765. Here, David Steiner grew up in a strong German home and community. Bit by bit, all of the promises Catherine had made to them were taken away and the Russian government had them by the throat. David and wife Sofie decided to immigrate to America with their three small daughters. David was overwhelmed with the way of life and the endless opportunities in the new country and so they pulled up roots and moved time and time again, always searching for the kind of community and life they were used to in the 'old' country. This fast-moving story takes the reader with the Steiners as they struggle through the world wars, economic depression, and the news that their oldest son is listed as MIA in the Philippines. This is a page-turner, another life saga of love, sorrow, and disappointment; the thing that sustains them is their faith in God. The Volga Germans came to this country with a sugar beet hoe in one hand and the Bible in the other!
FLESH ON THE BONE is the title of the third portion of the trilogy. Being introduced to Jake Kessel and Raisa Steiner in the first two books, we find them married and struggling to make ends meet. With their two children, they decided to try their luck in the big city---Port Huron, Michigan. They do well for a couple of years and and then run headlong into the Great Depression. Jake is working two and three jobs, Raisa cleans houses, and the kids pick through garbage cans for rags and metal pieces. Finally they make it back to Wyoming and the farm where they have fresh food but not much else. Like everyone else during the Great Depression, they owe a mountain of debt all over town and there seems to be no end until the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Jake and his son Arnie sign on to help build the Heart Mountain relocation camp and from then on, they gradually get out of debt, move into Lovell, and Jake gets a good job with Marathon Oil. The rest of the story follows Jake and Raisa as their son fights in WWII and their daughter marries and leaves home. After the war, they settle into their new normal until their age and declining health begins to catch up to them. I suggest you move the tissues nearby while you read the end of the book.
The Tank Commander is the title for my fourth novel which is the finale of the trilogy. As soon as he has his high school diploma in his hand, Arnie Kessel and his buddies sign up to defend America in WWII. Arnie already knows how to shoot guns and work hard--he is a perfect fit for a Sherman Tank. I expect this novel to be completed in 2016.