Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Warm Welcome to Kelly Irvin

Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series, which includes To Love and To Cherish,  A Heart Made New, which is slated to release in October 2012, and Love’s Journey Home, which will debut in January 2013. She recently signed with Harvest House Publishing for a three-book spin-off series entitled the New Hope Amish.

Kelly has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine, published by Five Star Gale in 2010 and 2011.

The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter. For more than eighteen years, she has worked in public relations for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-four years, and they have two young adult children. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors.

Kelly, it's so nice to have you visit today! What started you on your writing journey?

I’ve always wanted to be a fiction writer. Throughout my life I’ve written poems and short stories. I have a degree in journalism and worked as a reporter for 10 years before getting into public relations. I kept thinking I would get back to my first love, fiction, but my career and then having children got in the way. Then I turned 45 and realized if I didn’t do it soon, it would be too late. With the support of a loving husband and two great kids, I gave it my best shot. It took seven years of learning the craft, going to workshops and conferences, and a whole slew of rejections, but I finally made my first sale, a romantic suspense novel called A Deadly Wilderness, in 2010. After my second novel, No Child of Mine, sold, my agent challenged me to try writing an Amish romance. I love a challenge, so I wrote 50 pages and a synopsis. Mary Sue Seymour, sold it to Harvest House before I finished writing the complete manuscript. After that I was hooked. While writing the first series, the Bliss Creek Amish, I signed contracts for a three-book spin-off series called New Hope Amish, which I’m currently writing.

You sound very determined and dedicated. Is there anything that easily distracts you from writing?

My kids, who are 21 and 22, still live at home. They have the usual crazy lives young adults have and I frequently get sidetracked by their stuff. When they were younger it was volleyball and basketball practices and games and chauffering. Now it mostly consists of worrying (usually needlessly!)

When you have time, what kind of books do you enjoy reading? 

I love mysteries and romantic suspense. One of my favorite authors is Earlene Fowler, who writes the Benni Harper quilt mysteries. Her character development is so beautiful and as she’s aged, she’s shown more and more of her faith, even though she publishes with a mainstream publisher. I’ve followed her characters for years now and Benni and Gabe are among my favorite fictional couples because their relationship isn’t perfect and they’re such different people, but they love each other so much, they would die for each other and almost have on more than one occasion. And the mysteries are good too!

Speaking of characters, which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?

In A Heart Made New, Annie and Josiah are brother and sister, but they’re like night and day. Annie is sweet and caring and she wants so badly to do the right thing. She breaks the rules to help people even if it means there are consequences for her. Josiah is unruly and stubborn and still trying to find his way to his faith. I’m so much more like Josiah, but would love to be like Annie so as I wrote it I enjoyed how they grew through their struggles. Sometimes when you’re writing a story, you’re working through your own baggage and don’t even realize it until later. I think broken characters are so much more interesting than the ones who have it all together. Annie brings a homeless woman and her baby into her house and helps her get back on her feet. I wonder if I would do such a daring thing. She also loves a man who has a life threatening disease, but she learns to have faith that God will see her through.

Just for fun, if you were a style of music, what style would you be?

I’d be a joyful noise, since I can’t carry a note myself. I only sing in church because I know God loves the sound, even if it’s painful to everyone else. I love to listen to country, blues, and classic rock.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I don’t know if these will seem quirky to anyone else, but to my poor parents in Kansas in the mid 1970s, it seemed terribly quirky. They couldn’t fathom my behavior. I became a vegetarian (It lasted for seven years. My sister and her husband raises cattle for beef, so you see the problem . . . ) and I backpacked from Costa Rica through Central America and Mexico by bus with a friend. No wonder my parents had gray hair by the time I returned.

Certainly you were adventurous! What is your strangest habit? 

I’m addicted to ChapStick and Peppermint Altoids. My husband actually bought me a supply of each as stocking stuffers at Christmas last year. I get quite concerned if I can’t apply ChapStick several times a day and well, who wants bad breath, anyway?

What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?

The comic strip, Baby Blues. I’m sure the illustrator peeked in my window during the years that my children, born 17 months apart, were toddlers and in elementary school.

As a busy writer, are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

I’m not sure if it’s dread or laziness, but it’s a tie for these three things: taking out the trash; cleaning the litter box used by our three cats; and shaving my legs. Is there anyone in the world who likes doing these things? I think not.

Ha! Ha! I thought I was the only one who wore long pants because I don't have time to shave. Where is your favorite place to travel or vacation?

My husband and I love to get a condo on the beach in Port Aransas on the Gulf of Mexico.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  

It seems that forgiveness and persevering through difficult times (especially the death of a loved one) are reoccurring themes in my writing. Like many folks, I took quite a detour off the path in my spiritual journey for the decade of my twenties. It took me a long time to realize I only had to ask to be forgiven for my escapades and God would not only forgive, he would throw them away and forget about them. I struggle to forgive some of the things that happened to me when I was younger, which is one of the reasons I enjoy writing about the Amish. It’s so fundamental to their way of life. I want to emulate that aspect of their faith. Staying angry and bitter only hurts me. Letting go helps me.

When I was eight months pregnant with my son, one of my younger brothers died in a boating accident. Because I was so pregnant, I wasn’t able to fly home for his funeral. It’s been 21 years and I still regret not having spent more time with him or stayed more in touch with him. There’s a song that plays on the Christian radio station here that reminds us to “love like you’re living on borrowed time.”  In A Heart Made New, I explore the question of whether being afraid to die shows a lack of faith. David, the man Annie loves, won’t court her because he doesn’t think it’s fair to her. He might die. He has to learn to take whatever time he has on faith. We all do.

The death of a loved one is life changing for sure. Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. 
Micah 7:18-19
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance. You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
These are the verses that give me the most comfort in knowing that God’s grace covers me up. He has forgiven me and he will show me mercy.  When I ask to be forgiven, he takes those sins and throws them into the sea, he treads on them with his feet. I love that image!
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

A Heart Made New debuts October 1. Here’s the blurb:
In the second novel of Kelly Irvin’s Bliss Creek Amish series, readers will be delighted to return to a town and a family they’ve already come to love.

Annie Shirack is trying to fight her feelings for David Plank, a young Amish man who’s struggling with an aggressive case of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. David loves Annie too much to let her into his life, only, he fears, to leave her.

When a homeless young woman named Charisma and her two-year-old daughter, Gracie, show up in Bliss Creek, Annie welcomes them into the Shirack household and tries to help them establish a new life. But all the good deeds in the world can’t change the ache in Annie’s heart…or help her forget the man she loves.

A Heart Made New will be available at:

Kelly Irvin is giving away a copy of A Heart Made NewThe giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Remember to read wherever you wander, 
The Wandering Writer,


Judy said...

I loved this interview with Kelly. Some of her life experiences are pretty close to mine. We struggle with regrets, forgiving ourselves and perhaps even at times loving ourselves. I hate taking out the trash and shaving my legs also! I don't have a cat so I don't need to change the kitty liter. I would love to win a copy of "A Heart Made New."

Thanks for this interview and giveaway!


cjajsmommy said...

I always have a question in my mind for writers of Amish fiction. Have you known any Amish people? Have you lived among them? My experience, having met some ex-Amish, is that the portrayals in Amish fiction are far different from reality. That said, I would still like the opportunity to read your book. djragno (at) hotmail (dot) com

Jo said...

I have really gotten into reading Amish fiction lately and would love to read this book. Thank you for the opportunity~


Patsy said...

Would love to read "A Heart Made New".


Teela said...

Kelly, I enjoyed your interview. Thank you. I would LOVE to read your SUSPENSE books, but also would love to read the one you've generously provided for this giveaway...A Heart Made New.

Linda Kish said...

I would love to win/read this book. It sounds terrific.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Nancee said...

Looking forward to reading Kelly's new book. I've read some very nice reviews of her work, and look forward to adding her to my list of favorite authors. Thank you for offering this giveaway!

apple blossom said...

Thanks for chance to win this book
ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Wendy Newcomb said...

I love this cover! Kelly writes great books, thank you for giving me a chance to win her new book.


ann said...

Nice interview. I have always been fond of reading Amish fiction and Im interested in the Amish . Thanks for the chance to win.

Anonymous said...

This was an interesting interview with Kelly. Can't imaging going on a backpack trip like she did. And her book sounds good.. I would love to get lucky and win it. Thanks. Maxie ( )

Anonymous said...

We have this series in the church library.
I can't wait to read the new one and hope to win it too.
Janet Estridge

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this story

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Joy Hannabass said...

Thank you ladies for the interview...would love to read this one!

Amy Campbell said...

What a nice interview. Thank you for sharing.
Campbellamyd at Gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the giveaway! I would really, really love getting this in my mailbox!

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