Welcome back to the Book Loft, Kelly! Is there a story behind your new release, A Plain Love Song? What is unique about the setting?
There’s such a contrast between the simple life of an Amish woman, usually living on a farm in a rural area or small town with Branson with its flash and swarms of tourists and bright lights of the shows. That contrast is at the heart of Adah’s internal conflict. She wants to sing and write songs and perform, but in her heart she knows it’s not the life God chose for her. The Amish faith is founded on obedience and humility and not drawing attention to one’s self. Performing and taking pleasure in the adulation that follows runs counter to everything she believes in.
Did you have a specific theme in mind as you wrote A Plain Love Song?
It was always about the idea that we sometimes want something that really isn’t what God wants for us. Do we take our hopes and dreams to God and ask: God, what is your plan for me? Thy will be done. Even if it isn’t the dream we had hoped to achieve? This is a very real theme for me as an author. I spent years in the “pre-published” phase of my career and often prayed for God to help me publish my novels. I was on the verge of giving up and I sat in the pew at church and prayed for a sign. Something to tell me if I should go on or if He had other plans for me. Three days later my agent called with my first contract offer. But what if she hadn’t? Would I have given up my dream, knowing God had other plans for the gift he’d given me?
Can you tell us a bit about your family, and what it is like where you live?
I live deep in the heart of Texas in San Antonio, a town I love for its diversity and friendly people. My husband Tim is a professional photographer who works for one of the local school districts while I work full time in public relations for the municipal park system. I also write full time so it’s an interesting challenge to find balance between jobs and family. We’ve been married more than 26 years so we’ve learned to make it work. Tim is a fabulous chef and cooks on the weekends so I have more time to write. He also does my web site, business cards, professional photos, and handles are finances. I’m so blessed! My two children are grown. My daughter married into the military so I don’t get to see her and my new granddaughter as much as I’d like, but I’m happy she’s able to be with her sailor husband when he’s not deployed. I
Do you travel? Has a place where you have traveled ever sparked a story idea?
I love to travel! Tim and I drove all over Missouri a couple of years ago so I could research my settings for the New Hope Amish series. We attended an Amish school-fund raiser auction on July 4 in Jamesport, MO. It was more than 100 degrees out and the Amish women wore long dresses and aprons and prayer kapps. I was melting in my t-shirt and shorts! We spent a few days in Branson, MO., and went to some great musical shows. Tough gig, doing research, sometimes! Branson is the setting for my latest release, A Plain Love Song, so getting the details firsthand was really helpful in writing Adah’s story.
What’s your favorite genre of writing?
I love to read romantic suspense. That’s what I do for fun and relaxation.
Who is the most fun character you ever created?
I love Jackson Hart in A Plain Love Song. He’s a cowboy, he’s good looking, he’s a singer/songwriter, he’s got a good heart. I’d be his groupie anytime. He’s a little bit crazy and he has lots of attitude, but he goes after his dreams in a really big way. If he falls down, he picks himself up. He has his flaws, as we all do, but he wants to give Adah her dream and in the process of trying to do that, he falls in love with her. I had fun writing the songs for this book, both Jackson’s and Adah’s. I’m no lyricist, but it was fun trying.
Who is the most annoying character you ever created?
I think it has to be Carl from my first Amish romance, To Love and To Cherish. He left my heroine, Emma, and went off to the Englisch world without saying a word or telling her why. Broke her heart. Then he shows up a couple of years later and wants her back. Just like that. He has the audacity to think he can waltz right back into her life and pick up where he left off. He’s such a sweet talker and Emma wants to believe the best in people. She’s just lost her parents and she’s trying to figure out how to be a mother figure to her younger brothers and sisters. Carl takes advantage of her grief. Not one of my favorite guys!
How much research do you have to do for the genre in which you write?
Quite a bit. I want to be accurate in regard to the Amish faith and way of life. It’s tough because each district has its own Ordnung or set of rules. What is permitted varies greatly depending on the district and whether it’s New Order or Old Order. My first two series were set in fictional towns, so that gave me so latitude to create my own districts with their own rules. I’m writing a new series now set in Bee County, Texas, where a tiny little district actually exists. It’s a lot harder.
Do you have a writing system? What works best for you?
Not really. I’m a seat of the pants writer, which means I don’t outline. I generally know what the gist of the story is, but I don’t know how it’s going to develop. I love doing it this way because characters appear and things happen and I’m as surprised as the reader!
Where do you most like to write?
I have an office in my home, but I can write anywhere. I write at my day job before 7:45 a.m. when I’m on the clock, and over my lunch hour. I used to be a newspaper reporter so I’m used to writing on deadline and I’m fast. I don’t have time for writers block or waiting for the muse to appear to me. I put my hands on the keyboard and I go.
Does music help you write?
I never play music because I wouldn’t hear it anyway. Once I start writing, I’m oblivious to the outside world.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I’m looking forward to a new series called The Amish of Bee County, set in my adopted state of Texas. The first book, The Beekeeper’s Son, debuts in January 2015. It explores the difference between how the world defines beauty and what God considers beautiful. It’s a love story between a man with a scarred face and a woman with a scarred heart.
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Kelly Irvin is giving away a copy of A Plain Love Song. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.