Thursday, October 17, 2013

Featured Author Interview: Kelly Irvin

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Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series, published by Harvest House, and the spin-off series New Hope Amish.

A graduate of the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for 35 years. She studied for three semesters at the University of Costa Rica, learning the Spanish language. As a journalist, she worked six years in the border towns of Laredo and El Paso, where she was exposed to culture and language that serves as fodder for her fiction writing.

The following is an October 2013 interview with Kelly.

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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY 
AT THE END OF THE INTERVIEW


Be in to win a copy of 
Love Still Stands
by Kelly Irvin


Two print copies to be won

Contest open to entrants in the USA, Canada, Australia and NZ only.

Contest runs from 11-24 October NZDT


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Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Kansas, USA and received my college degree from the University of Kansas School of Journalism. In college, I spent three semesters in a study abroad program in San Jose, Costa Rica, where I learned Spanish. I spent five years working as a reporter in towns along the U.S.- Mexico border after college. That’s when I met my husband, photographer Tim Irvin, in El Paso, Texas. We’ve been married 25 years and have two young adult children. We live in South Texas with our two cats and a tank full of fish. I work full-time in public relations for the City’s Parks and Recreation Department so I have a very busy and blessed life. I’m active in American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). I published my first novel in 2010 and since then have published five more, with five more contracted yet to be published.


How did you become a novelist and did you always write?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer from the time I was very small. My sister and I had our own little newspaper when I was in elementary school. By middle school (then known as junior high) I wrote plays, short stories, and poems. Coming from a very working class family, I knew the importance of being able to support myself so I chose to pursue a degree in journalism instead of creative writing. I figured as a newspaper reporter I would get to write everyday and get paid for it. I was the first person in my immediate family to get a college degree. After that I spent ten years working as a reporter, but my first love was always fiction. I got married and had two children and one day woke up and it was my 45th birthday. I realized it was now or never. I started writing and writing and writing. It took seven years to publish my first book, a romantic suspense novel called A Deadly Wilderness. It was followed by another romantic suspense novel and after that four Amish romances, with several more on the way. It’s been a great ride so far and I’m blessed to have found a way to combine a job that helps pay the bills with a passion for writing fiction that allows me to encourage others in their Christian walks.

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What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?

It gives Christians and non-Christians alike stories that allow them to see the world from a Christian worldview instead of the way we see the stories when they’re told by mainstream media or Hollywood or mainstream publishing. We start to think the ways of the world are okay because that’s all we see and all we know. Everyone’s doing it so it must be okay. Christian fiction gives us hope that there is a better way. It models the one true way. It shows us how to work through our problems the way our Christian characters do. It shows us it’s okay to fail and it’s okay to pick ourselves up and try again because none of us is perfect. We learn that God is here now and He hasn’t forsaken us, no matter what’s going on in the world. The stories entertain, but they also edify.


How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write?

First I hope they are entertained. I hope they get lost in the stories and forget to close the book and go to bed. I hope they become friends with the characters the way I have. After they do reach the end and close the book, I hope they have something to think about and remember.


What responses to your novels have affected you the most and why?

Readers have told me they enjoy my novels because the characters seem like real people with real problems. They can relate to their problems. They’re not perfect and they don’t always do the right thing, but they keep trying. Probably the most humbling response came from a reader who wrote to tell me a friend of hers had died and they placed a set of Bliss Creek Amish in her casket because she so loved those books. That struck awe into my heart and gave me an even greater sense of duty and responsibility in writing stories that touch people’s hearts and do justice to the message.

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How has being an novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?
The act of writing stories with Christian themes forces me to think about those themes myself. I often don’t know what the inspirational message will be when I start to write and it is revealed to me as the story develops. I’m so convicted when I realize that God is speaking to me about my own life as much as that of my readers. I spend more time in scripture as I try to understand what I’m writing. I pray more because I need God’s assurance that I’m telling the story I am expected to tell. I feel closer to God when I’m writing.


Other than writing great novels, what other goals do you have for your life?
To come closer to Christ in my daily walk, to be a good wife and a good mother. To leave a positive mark on this world. Working for the Parks and Recreation Department for the past 20 years has given me a sense of accomplishment in the small part I play in helping to create beautiful green spaces where people can be close to God’s creation so they can be physically and spiritually healthy. My goal is to continue to do that as well.


What do you do in your spare time?

Honestly, I don’t have much of that. I work full-time and try to write every day without fail. I’m married. My kids are grown but still very close. I try to read when I get a chance and my husband loves to cook so I try to get in the kitchen with him when I can.


What can you tell us about your latest novel?

Love Still Stands is the first novel in a new series, New Hope Amish, which is a spin-off from the Bliss Creek Amish series. It released on September 1.


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Love Still Stands

Readers of Kelly Irvin's Bliss Creek Amish novels will be overjoyed to discover her new series for lovers of Amish fiction: The New Hope Amish.

In the first installment, Love Still Stands, a group of dedicated families leaves Bliss Creek to establish a new community in Missouri. Among them is Bethel Graber, a beautiful young woman with a passion for teaching. But after being disabled in a terrible accident, overseeing a classroom is out of the question...and romance seems a long-lost dream.

Bethel begins physical therapy, determined to make a fresh start. But that won't be easy in the town of New Hope, where the locals seem anything but eager to welcome their new Amish neighbors. Amid growing intimidation from the community, Bethel must find the strength to face her many challenges and the faith to believe that God still has a plan--and a love--for her life.


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Love Redeemed

In the second book of the New Hope Amish series, acclaimed author Kelly Irvin spins a tale of romance, grief, and redemption deep in Amish country.

Phoebe Christner is thrilled when the families of her close-knit Amish community decide to spend a week at the lake. She feels she's earned a break...and it doesn't hurt that Michael Daugherty will be coming along. They'll find ways to spend time together--she's certain of it--and their romance will have time to blossom.

But when tragedy strikes, Phoebe and Michael are torn apart by their pain and the knowledge of their guilt. As they both cope with the loss of a loved one, they will come to discover that they are worthy not only of each other's love, but God's love.

A tender novel of faith and family set in the heart of Amish country.


To Love and to Cherish (The Bliss Creek Amish #1)
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle | The Book Depository]

A Heart Made New (The Bliss Creek Amish #2)
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle | The Book Depository]

Love's Journey Home (The Bliss Creek Amish #3)
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle | The Book Depository]

Love Still Stands (The New Hope Amish #1)
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle | The Book Depository]

Love Redeemed (The New Hope Amish #2)
[Pre-Order:  Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle | The Book Depository]


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What stories can your fans expect from you in the days ahead?

I love this New Hope Amish series. The second book, Love Redeemed, will be out in February 2014. It explores how two young people learn to reclaim their love after they make a mistake that results in a terrible tragedy. The third book, A Plain Love Song, was truly a treat to write. It takes place, in part, in Branson, MO, where music is king. For one young Amish girl, it represents making a choice. She can choose her faith, her family, and her first love, or she can fulfill her dream of becoming a famous singer and songwriter and leave behind everything she’s ever known for the promise of love from a man different from any she’s ever known. I love this story!


What would you say to your fans in New Zealand and others worldwide.
First of all, thank you. I feel so blessed to know folks in other places are reading these books. I hope they are as blessed by reading them as I am by writing them.


Do you have any parting words?

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my story with you. I understand that people have great demands on their time and their resources so I feel particularly humbled when I find that someone has chosen to buy my books and read them. I hope to remain worthy of them. God bless!


Buy Kelly's Books at The Book Depository

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

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Be in to win a copy of 
Love Still Stands
by Kelly Irvin


Two print copies to be won

Contest open to entrants in the 
USA, Canada, Australia and NZ only.

Contest runs from 11-24 October NZDT


Please comment about the interview or leave a message for Kelly when making a blog post comment - simply commenting about entering the draw or wanting to win the books does not qualify for valid entry into the draw. All entries must be made using the Rafflecopter contest to be eligible for drawing.


Read Previous Featured Author Interviews


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