Today, Kelly Irvin tells us something about herself. You and I have the potential for a new friend. If you'd like to ask her a question I forgot, you'll have your turn at the end.
Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest Housing Publishing. Her latest release is A Plain Love Song, set in Amish country in Missouri, which debuted July 1. It is the final installment in the series, which also included Love Redeemed and Love Still Stands.
She is currently working on The Beekeeper’s Son, the first book in the Amish of Bee County series, for Zondervan/HarperCollins. She has also penned two inspirational romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.
Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-six years. They have two young adult children, one gorgeous new granddaughter, two cats, and a tank full of fish. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors.
Kelly, tell us something of your writing journey.
I always wanted to be a novelist, from the time I was a child. But I grew up in a working class family and I knew it was important that I be able to get a job and support myself so I earned a degree in journalism and became a newspaper reporter. Then I got married and had children and the years passed. On my forty-fifth birthday, I woke up and realized I might never reach my dream if I didn’t get a move on. So I squeezed in writing my first novel with a full time job in public relations and two children in middle school and my marriage. It took another seven years, but I finally published my first romantic suspense novel at the age of fifty-two. I almost gave up several times along the way, but God blessed me with a supportive husband and an agent, Mary Sue Seymour, who never gave up so I stayed the course. Mary Sue urged me to try Amish romances after I published two romantic suspense novels. At first, I was hesitant, but she was so sure it was the right move for me, I gave it a shot and she sold the first book, To Love and To Cherish, to Harvest House before I finished writing it. I now have two series with Harvest House and a new series that starts next year with Zondervan/HarperCollins. It’s been an incredible journey.
It seems that I always come back to two things: forgiveness and grace. The Amish are great role models for forgiveness. The tragic shooting at a school house several years ago received a tremendous amount of publicity when the Amish families who lost daughters forgave the man who killed them. That set me to thinking about what could I forgive and did I live out that fundamental Christian tenet. Just because we believe in forgiveness, doesn’t mean it comes easily. That was the basis for my first Amish romance, To Love and to Cherish. God’s grace covers us and he forgives us even though we fall short of his perfection over and over again. We are called to do the same for others, but it can be a tough road to travel.
I mostly read mysteries and romantic suspense, but I never miss books by historical fiction writer Allison Pittman. I love her most recent historical novel All for a Story, which is a Christy Award finalist this year. Allison has such a great style and her characters are always memorable. This novel takes place during the Roaring Twenties, which is fun. Plus this one is about a newspaper gossip columnist and the man who inherits the tabloid for which she works. He tries to change the paper into something more wholesome and she resists. It was a great read for a former journalist.
I love to read, of course, and I enjoy spending time with my children and my nine-month-old granddaughter whenever I can. I have a full-time job in public relations so I don’t have much time to do anything else other than write and spend time with family.
I go to the office early and get some writing done before I’m on the clock at 7:45 a.m. Then, whenever I can, I close my office door at lunch time and write for as long as I can. Whatever time I can squeeze in on evenings and weekends, I do. Because I was a newspaper reporter, I’m used to writing fast and on deadline so I make it work.
“Sweetly Broken” by Jeremy Riddle comes to mind. It really speaks to how far I had to fall before I could come crawling back to the cross and the wonderful affirmation that God would take me back, no matter what I’d done or where I’d been.
As I mentioned earlier, it took seven years to get my first contract. I was so exhausted from working full time and trying to be a wife and a mother as well, I began to wonder if God intended for me to have this fiction writing career. I wondered if I should be writing mainstream novels instead of inspirational novels. It’s a bigger market and more possibilities for the kind of gritty romantic suspense I was writing at the time. Finally, one Sunday I sat in the pew at church and I prayed for God to show me the way, to give me a sign, to tell if I should stop or keep going or do something different. Three days later my agent called with a contract offer. It’s all in God’s hands and it’s all about his timing. I have to keep reminding myself of that even now. People think because an author receives one contract, he or she has it made. But it’s always about the next contract so that an author can build on that momentum and build a following of readers. I try not to get wrapped up in that, but rather to focus on the writing and let God take the helm. It’s the only thing that works.
Micah 7:18-19, the verse I used for the second book in the New Hope Amish series, Love Redeemed. These verses remind us that God’s grace is unending. He will forgive. We need only ask and be repentant. My lack of perfection makes this a very comforting scripture!
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.
I have a new series that I’m very excited about. The Amish of Bee County is set in Bee County, Texas, home of the only Amish district in the state. It’s very small and rustic. The first book, The Beekeeper’s Son, comes out in January and I’m currently writing the second book, which has the working title of The Bishop’s Son. I think Amish fiction readers will enjoy it because it’s very different from what you typically see in Amish fiction. The Beekeeper’s Son examines the difference between what the world says is beautiful and what God sees as beautiful.
Tell us about your most recent release.
She had to find her way to him…but first she had to find her way to God.
Adah Knepp wants nothing more than to make music. It’s all she’s ever desired—to sing and play the guitar and write her own songs. That’s a dream that will never come true in the confines of her strict Amish community. But then she meets Jackson Hart, and suddenly she sees the chance for a different kind of life…a real stage, a real guitar, and a real opportunity to sing her songs to a real audience!
But pursuing her dreams means turning her back on her faith, her family, and her community—and saying goodbye to Matthew, the gentle Amish farmer she can’t get out of her mind. Is it worth giving up the only home she’s ever known to pursue her dreams?
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Thank you, Kelly, for allowing me to get acquainted with you. Now, it's the Writing with God's Hope blog viewers' opportunity to ask questions. Click on post a comment.