Saturday, June 7, 2014

Featured Debut Novelist: Kellie Coates Gilbert

Kellie Coates Gilbert is a former legal investigator and trial paralegal who writes with a sympathetic, intimate knowledge of how people react under pressure. Kellie's books tell emotionally poignant stories about women in life-changing circumstances. She writes about messy lives . . . and eternal hope.

Kellie grew up on a sheep ranch in southern Idaho, a business her family had been in for generations, never dreaming she’d ever see her own name on a novel. She left home to attend Boise State University and spent most of her adult years pursuing a sensible legal career, raising two boys, and learning to be happily married.

But God heard the quiet prayers of a woman who dared to dream big and ask her Lord for the outrageous. In early 2011, Kellie signed her first book contract. Today, she is living her fantasy. Kellie lives in Dallas with her husband, working from home, writing novels. Often by the pool.

The following is a June 2014 interview with Kellie.


Be in to win a copy of 
A Woman of Fortune
by Kellie Coates Gilbert

One copy to be won
Contest open to entrants with USA addresses only.
Contest runs from 6-20 June NZDT

Tell us a little about yourself. 

I’m a former legal investigator and trial paralegal, who has worked on many high profile cases including the Jack-in-the-Box e-coli litigation in the mid-nineties and the largest cattle fraud in the United States. People are often at their most vulnerable in these tense situations where much is at stake, which has allowed me a unique perspective on the human psyche. I write with a sympathetic, intimate knowledge of how people react under pressure.

I’m also a wife of over thirty years, have raised two boys and enjoy the most adorable little grandchildren on the planet.

What inspired you to become a novelist, and did you always want to write?  

Like many authors, I am an avid reader. Strangely, I never considered a career as a novelist. Instead, I pursued a sensible legal career with predictable income (especially while my boys were in college). But in 2004, I attended my first writing conference and left with an overwhelming feeling that I was always meant to write novels. The experience is hard to describe, but I knew in the deepest part of me I would publish a novel.

So, I lifted an outrageous prayer and asked for the impossible.

But first, I had to learn to write well. So, I spent seven years going to writing conferences and workshops, taking courses, reading every craft book I could find. And a published novelist mentored me.  She started off our first session by saying she was like a dentist who only works on the bad teeth.  She meant to encourage by reminding me I had a lot of good teeth. But frankly, fixing a broken novel is sometimes as painful as a root canal. But, with her help, I learned the tools of how to create a good story.

What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?

The more I read the Bible and study the life of Jesus, the more I’m convinced Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination. When people encounter biblical truth expressed in a story with characters they relate to, that can be very powerful. A novel doesn’t have to be preachy, or even mention God, to do that.

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

People have many layers, and never more than in family dynamics and hard times. I’m intrigued with the coping mechanisms we employ to fill our empty places, the chasm only God can fill. When readers find themselves in the deep places in life, I hope they will think of the characters in my stories and remember that life-changing circumstances can be conduits to His majesty.

What has been the most surprising aspect to becoming a published novelist? 

Oh, this one is easy to answer . . . ISOLATION!  I was so used to working in a collaborative environment and writing is such a solo act. Luckily, I’m blessed with a great writing partner and we talk every weekday morning from six to six-thirty or so. We plan out what we’re writing that day, work through problem areas with characters, motivation, etc. On rare occasions, we read passages to each other to see if they are working.

How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ? 

I am profoundly aware He’s given me a wide sphere of influence. I sat in a workshop once and heard an inspirational novelist express that even if your book only sells five thousand copies, that is more people than some pastors teach in a year.  I do not take that notion lightly.

Other than being a novelist, what other goals do you have for your life? 

My heart is wrapped around my little three year old grandson I call “Peanut”. A few weeks ago, his little sister “Gumdrop” was born. This “dammy” plans to enjoy these little ones over the next months and years, and read to them every chance I get. That is what happiness is all about, isn’t it?  My own Gram instilled in me the love of books, and the knowledge I was her “Precious Puddin’ Gift of God.”

I fully plan to pass those sentiments on . . .

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

We’ve owned seven motorhomes (I used to write for Motorhome Magazine as a contributing editor) and we’ve done a lot of travelling around the United States. There’s nothing too much better than exploring America’s small towns and backroads, stopping at places like the Gilroy Garlic Festival on a whim.  As soon as my hubby retires, that’s likely where you’ll find us again.

What can you tell us about your sophomore novel? 

 [Mother of Pearl was Kellie's debut novel, but her sophomore novel, A Woman of Fortune, has just released] 

In late 2008, many of us watched as master financier Bernie Madoff’s story unfolded. I couldn’t seem to pull my eyes from the television as the man accused of swindling thousands of innocent victims—including family and friends—out of billions of dollars in the world’s largest Ponzi scheme, was taken from his posh Manhattan apartment in handcuffs and his family became vilified in the media. The events held particular interest for me. In my former role as a legal professional, I helped unravel, what was then, the largest cattle fraud in the United States. I interviewed dozens who were caught in the betrayal and who found themselves and their businesses floundering as a result. These stories fascinate me on many levels, but in particular, I’m intrigued with the families behind the scenes. What is it like for a wife to learn her husband is a criminal? What happens to children when they face that kind of shame? We know, at least in part, what transpired in the Madoff family in the aftermath—fractured relationships, family devastation and suicide. As a novelist, I yearned to explore what might happen if the converse were true. What would the story look like if a strong woman protagonist bucked the odds and used her faith to land on solid ground?

A WOMAN OF FORTUNE is about a Texas socialite, Claire Massey, who is living the dream—designer clothes, luxury cars, stunning homes. But her Neiman Marcus lifestyle comes crashing down when her charming cattle broker husband is arrested for fraud. Suddenly she finds herself facing attorneys, a media frenzy, and a trail of broken hearts. Betrayed and humiliated, Claire must start over against incredible odds to save her family—and discover a life worth living.

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

A WOMAN OF FORTUNE is the first in a collection of stories I’m writing for Baker Publishing/Revell. The Texas Gold books are stand alone contemporary stories, each set in a metropolitan area of Texas—Dallas, San Antonio, Houston and then Austin. I’ve really enjoyed the research trips and I think readers will close the pages of these novels feeling like they’ve spent time in these cities.

What would you like to say to your upcoming fans in New Zealand and around the world?

My heart jumped for joy when I opened this very first reader email which is now printed, framed and hanging in my office so I am reminded WHY I am writing:

5:39pm Sep 11

Hi Kellie, I was in Barnes and Noble last Friday evening around 6:00 pm on the 7th. You signed your book for me, I just wanted to say your book was touching, gut wrenching and truly amazing at the same time and made me cry a lot. This book made me feel like I knew this family just by reading your story. You’re an amazing writer! It's very hard for me to find the "right" book to where once I start to read I can't put it down. I finished it and just wanted to let you know I can't wait to read the next one!

Ellie – it doesn’t get any better than that! Readers everywhere simply do not know what your Amazon and Goodreads reviews, and emails mean to writers!  Thank you!

Do you have any parting words?

I hope your followers will take a minute and pop over to my website at and register for my READERS CLUB, so they will be sent news about future releases and promotions. They will also find social media links to my Pinterest boards and Facebook.  I love interacting with readers, so I hope to see everybody there!

Mother of Pearl
by Kellie Coates Gilbert
  • Abingdon Press
  • Contemporary
  • September 2012
  • ISBN: 9781426733437


[Kindle Amazon The Book Depository]

Barrie Graeber has two great kids, a loving husband, and a respected job as the high school counselor in her close-knit community. Without warning, everything unravels when her teenage daughter, Pearl, is betrayed by friends and lashes out.

Nothing prepares this mother for the helplessness that follows when her attempts to steer her daughter back on course fail and Pearl shuts her out . . . or when she discovers the unthinkable about her nemesis, the football coach.

Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Mother of Pearl brings us into the heart of a mother bound by an incredible burden, who ultimately finds she must recognize her own vulnerability and learn to trust in something much bigger.

A Woman of Fortune
(Texas Gold #1) 
by Kellie Coates Gilbert
  • Revell Books
  • Contemporary
  • June 2014
  • ISBN: 9780800722722


[Kindle | Amazon | The Book Depository]

You never know what you're really made of until you lose everything.
Texas socialite Claire Massey is living the dream—designer clothes, luxury cars, stunning homes. But everything comes crashing down when her charming cattle broker husband is arrested for fraud. Suddenly she finds herself facing attorneys, a media frenzy, and a trail of broken hearts. Betrayed and humiliated, Claire must face incredible odds to save her family—and discover a life worth living.

Poignant and emotionally gripping, A Woman of Fortune reveals the many ways we deceive ourselves and how resilience of the heart is essential to authentic living. Readers will love Claire’s unbending determination as she strives to keep her family from falling apart and learns to embrace the kind of fortune that lasts.

Buy Kellie's Books at The Book Depository

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository


Be in to win a copy of 
A Woman of Fortune
by Kellie Coates Gilbert

One copy to be won
Contest open to entrants 
with USA addresses only.
Contest runs from 6-20 June NZDT

Please comment about the interview, or leave a message for Kellie Coates Gilbert. 
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. 
Winning entries drawn will have their entry options validated before being accepted - if incomplete another entry will be drawn.

Previous Featured Author Interviews

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