10-23-2012 09:34 AM - edited 10-23-2012 09:35 AM
Q&A w/Karen Kingsbury
Please welcome #1 USA Today and NY Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury.
Debbie - Karen, thank you for taking this time to chat with us a little.
Will you please tell us a little about your newest novel, “The Bridge”?
Karen -First, thanks so much for having me join you! I’m forever talking to my readers about my friends at Barnes and Noble – and that’s really how I feel. Ok … The Bridge is being called by some the most-anticipated novel of the season. It is a love story about second chances, set against the demise of the American Bookstore – something we all understand very well. The owner of The Bridge bookstore in downtown Franklin, TN., is facing closure when tragedy strikes. The resulting events bring together a couple who once met up at the store during their college years, but now have gone their separate ways. The Bridge is a story that gives us a reason to believe, and a reason to hope that love can have a second chance.
Your story about becoming an author is inspirational, and very timely, for you and your family. Will you tell us how it happened that you’re a full time author now?
I was a sports writer for the Los Angeles Times and then the Los Angeles Daily News. Eventually I worked my way to covering features for the Front Page Sunday edition. After Kelsey was born, we prayed for a way that I could do my writing at home. I had written a sad story for People Magazine about a girl killed by her best friends. A literary agent was interested so I wrote a proposal and he loved it. A week before my maternity leave was up, he called and said he’d gotten my proposal into a bidding war. The advance brought in almost exactly what I was making a year. I quit my job at the Daily News the next day and began writing books. My first four were true crime stories, and they did well. But my heart’s desire was to write novels that touched hearts and changed lives. Finally, after that fourth true crime book, I wrote Where Yesterday Lives. It took a year to get it published, and I’ve been writing Life-Changing Fiction ™ ever since! During that time we’ve raised six kids and I’ve worked from home – just the way we prayed!
Did you always write inspirational novels?
After my first novel – Where Yesterday Lives – came out, I began receiving letters from people saying that the stories were changing their lives, restoring their hope and helping them heal broken relationships. They appreciated life more. After that I trademarked my fiction Life-Changing Fiction ™. It’s really a genre all on its own. And yes, that’s what I always write – and what I always will write. I want to bring the readers stories they can’t put down, characters and plots that make them laugh and cry. They need to walk away changed and encouraged by the experience – no matter how the story ends.
Do you prefer the term Inspirational or Christian fiction?
Tough question. I believe all stories – real or fiction – involve the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects of life. Most authors cut out the spiritual element of a story. I leave it in. I think the term Inspirational Fiction is broader and more accurate, because my books appeal to a wide-range of people, and not only Christians. Sometimes Christian Fiction makes me feel that something’s been patched onto a story or that there is preaching in it. That wouldn’t be true for my books. I love the Lord and I am a committed Christian. But I’m not religious. So I guess long answer, Inspirational Fiction with a faith element included
You write both series and stand-alone novels.
Do you have a personal favorite?
I love them both for different reasons. Obviously with the series I can get to know the characters. Sometimes – like with the Baxters and Flanigans – I get to know them so well they become part of my family. My husband teases me that one day I won’t be able to tell my kids from my characters, and I’ll be forever saying, “That Ashley Baxter, she never calls, she never writes!” We laugh about it. But I love stand-alones as well, because they give me new topics to write about. For instance, the idea of someone giving everything to a bookstore, only to see it close. I can’t imagine that heartbreak, but I had the chance to explore it and live in it when I wrote The Bridge.
Do you have a favorite of your works?
Books are like kids, in that I pour everything I have into them. I certainly don’t have a favorite child, but I’m cheering loudest for the one on the field or stage. Right now The Bridge is on the stage, and I’m in love with it. I can’t wait for my readers to get lost in it and share it with everyone they know. It’s a very special story, one that stayed with me long after I finished writing it.
You really love, and it seems have a real affinity with, your readers.
Will you tell us why?
My dad always told me, “Karen, there won’t be autograph lines in Heaven. When you’re doing a book signing, you’re just connecting with people. Making friends.” That’s how I feel. And you’re right, I really love my readers. I spend time with them on Facebook every day – answering questions, leaving comments, sharing my heart … and giving them insider information on my upcoming books. I’ve gotten to know many of them by name, and I look for them when I come to events or bookstores in their areas. They make me cry with their comments and letters, telling me what God is doing in their lives because they read one of my novels. I always tell them, He can put a story on my heart, but He has their hearts in mind. Only He could do that. I just really have the greatest readers of all. They’re crazy loyal, and I love them. I’m always coming up with programs for them – like my reader share program, where readers pass on their gently used books to readers in need, who can’t afford the book during release week. I give books to any school librarian who asks – anywhere in the world, and I send signed books to auctions. Details for all those programs are on my website KarenKingsbury.com. But those programs came about because I hear my reader friends, and would do anything to help them.
You are the mother of six boys, three of whom you and your husband, Don, adopted from Haiti, that sounds like a very busy life.
Can you give us a typical day in the life of Karen Kingsbury?
In the twenty-four years I’ve been married to the love of my life, Don, we’ve probably never had a typical day! That was true when we lived in our garage apartment south of Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley in Southern California, and again as our children joined us – Kelsey, Tyler, and Austin. Certainly things got even crazier and more fun when we adopted Sean, Josh, and EJ from Heart of God Ministries Orphanage in Haiti. The boys were best friends, and we couldn’t separate them. A typical day? Up at 6:15 a.m., make protein shakes for the younger four boys and Don, make lunch for Austin, who has a heart condition and has to eat specific foods, read a short Bible story, pray, and at 7 a.m. see them off to school. Walk three miles – pray and listen to music the whole time!! Shower, make breakfast (egg whites and spinach) make coffee and welcome the rest of my staff at 9 a.m. My staff local staff is my sister, Trish, and my mom, along with my daughter Kelsey, and her husband Kyle. Kelsey and Kyle are pursuing acting and Christian music, but they are also passionate about my work. We all have a great time working out of my home office. We start by sharing coffee and catching up on the schedule, marketing, Facebook, Twitter, and donations, deadlines, meetings, travel, etc. Then at 10 a.m. I sneak off to my hideaway and write for 6 hours. I write in the corner of my bedroom near an open window. At 4 p.m. it’s time for sports practices, games, rehab (depending on who has a sports injury), and grocery shopping. We eat a lot of fresh foods, so that’s time consuming. At night we might watch football or Duck Dynasty! The boys can’t get enough of those type shows – Gator Boys, Big Foot, Man Tracker. Sometimes I write with my headphones on sitting beside them during those shows. Other times I’ll sign a thousand books for donation while we watch the shows together. Weekends are bike rides and walks and board games and music in the piano room. Church on Sunday and meals together. It’s truly a wonderful life. I’m savoring every single moment.
On your website you endorse the One Chance Foundation. Will you tell us about that? The One Chance Foundation is my charitable organization that grants money to families seeking to complete an adoption. I am passionate about helping families bring home orphans who desperately need them. I’m thinking up ways to better involve the readers in this process.
Karen, thank you for visiting with us and letting us into your life just a little.
You have many events planned and quite a few at Barnes & Noble locations. I hope some of your fans here will visit you.
I hope so, too! I’ll be the one standing at the front of the line, laughing, crying, and giving hugs with every book signed Thanks again for letting me have this time with you and your amazing readers!
For those Barnes & Noble events, visit the events page at Karen’s website.
My Review of The Bridge
Molly Allen and Ryan Kelly came from very different worlds, but their mutual love of music and literature bridged the gap. They nurtured their dreams in a Franklin TN bookstore, an institution known as The Bridge, and seven years ago they saw those dreams abruptly change. Charlie and Donna Barton, who built it on faith and love, own the bookstore; they named it The Bridge because Charlie felt that books were a bridge between the past, the present and the future. They never put profit over customers or community and often gave from their own pockets to fill the needs of others, one small miracle at a time. In the aftermath of the Nashville flood it’s now Charlie who needs a miracle and it reunites Molly and Ryan to fight for his cause. What they discover about their past will come as a shock to them both, it will also reaffirm their faith in each other, but it’s what they choose to do with that knowledge that may redirect their future, and will give them both a greater awareness that God truly believes in second chances.
This was my debut read of Karen Kingsbury and I can easily see why she has a great following. She combined a story of faith, love, forgiveness and what havoc betrayal can wreck. She gave me characters that were humanized by their faults and who shone because of their hearts. And she gave one very special brick and mortal building a staring role. She told a tale about questioning faith, about miracles and mostly about second chances. She does this with a narrative that’s easily read and enjoyed by all ages and all genders. And to make it even more special it’s a story set during the season of miracles.
Weather you’re seeking an inspirational novel, a love story, a drama, you will get all of these and more inside the pages of this novel.
Thank you Ms. Kingsbury for an enjoyable, refreshingly innocent and faith based novel.
10-23-2012 12:10 PM