Ever After (December
Karen Kingsbury: Life Ever After
By Jennifer E. Jones
Freeport, The Bahamas – I was sitting with a group of women ranging from young adult to grandmother in the lobby of a beautiful Jacksonville hotel recently. We were waiting for our taxi to take us to the port where thousands of women were boarding the Celebration Carnival ship for the second annual Girls Get-A-Way Cruise. Several stars would be joining us, but one in particular had the women buzzing -- Karen Kingsbury.
Where we sat in the lobby, we could see Kingsbury with a group of women eating, talking, laughing and taking pictures like old friends. They all had copies of Kingsbury books in their hands. I hadn't noticed it, but a Kingsbury work of fiction was sitting on our table as well.
In my ignorance, I asked my table-mates just what it was about Karen Kingsbury that made her so popular. They collectively gasped.
"She's such a good writer!"
"Her characters are so real, and they go through real-life situations!"
"She just knows how to get inside people's heads and hearts!"
Soon after, Kingsbury spotted her book on our table and came by to say hello. From just one flash of her warm smile and how encouraging she was with her fans, I knew I had to know more about the famed "Queen of Christian Fiction".
Jennifer E. Jones: When I talk to people about your books, they are very adamant about how honest you write and how real you make your characters. How do you bring that out of your books to get that kind of reaction?
Karen Kingsbury: A lot of it is a gift. You’re gifted to do something. For me, God has gifted me to do this work. Beyond the gift of writing comes the gift of empathy and compassion. I can spend 10 to 15 minutes with someone, and they can tell me what they’re going through. I may never have gone through that, but I get it on a really deep level. I can write about it.
Jones: You ran a contest recently that really showed the impact that your work has on your readers. Tell me more about that.
Kingsbury: It really did. It was called the “Make Karen Cry” Contest. I’ve been making them cry, so I figure it’s time to make me cry. They had one week [to] send me in 200 words or less how God has used one of my books to change your life. My fiction is trademarked: “Life-Changing Fiction.” What is God doing with the power of story? They responded. It was phenomenal. Within hours, I had hundreds that had taken the time to do this. By the end of the week, it was thousands. I would read them as they would come in, and I was crying. They wanted that chance to have a voice to say, “This is what God is doing”, and to give Him the credit. The power of story, that’s His creativity. I have the privilege of being a steward of that gift. [There were] atheists becoming believers. One of the contest winners was someone who was literally repulsed at the fact that she had accidentally purchased a Christian book, went on to read it, now is a very strong member of her church, has her daughter in a Christian school, but even deeper than that, she has a relationship with Christ. [There were] relationships that were restored, marriages that were healed. The letters just came in. We picked three winners, and all the winners are posted on the Web site.
Jones: You have a new book out now.
Kingsbury: It’s called Ever After, and it’s the sequel to Even Now. On the cover is my daughter, Kelsey, so I’m really excited about that. It’s fun for her. It’s the most emotional book I’ve ever written. It’s about sacrifice. You don’t have love without sacrifice; you can’t have sacrifice without love. It’s a military, patriotic type story and a love story.
Jones: Those are two themes that really resonate with people during these times of war. Were you thinking about that?
Kingsbury: Yes, I have a lot of readers who have sons or husbands that are serving. I really wanted to weigh in on that with a story. The first book is the reunion of two people who were in love when they were young. Now one is an instructor at the Navy Top Gun school, and the other is a correspondent for TIME magazine on the other side of the fence. The differences weren’t easy to resolve, so that’s why we needed a book two. Book two was really important so we could find resolution to that.
Jones: We have a lot of aspiring writers out there. What advice do you give them? Perhaps they hear God’s voice, but they’re just not sure.
Kingsbury: You need to have time to really hear God. You can feel a nudging, and if you think that’s God, then follow that. If you write 100 words a day, you can write a book. It may not be everyday, but you need to keep working towards that goal. You’ll submit it to an agent. If they say no, you may get a closed door. Maybe there was something about the process of creativity. God wanted you to do some exploration of your own heart and soul. If you feel that desire, you always need to follow it. Let God do with it what He will.
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