Today, we're going to talk to Kristen Collier. She's written a children's book, and her husband Kevin has illustrated it.
I started by writing a picture book about the Second Coming as told through a child’s eyes. I want to help children and teach them about their Lord.
What is the quirkiest think you have ever done?
Nothing. I’m the most sane, rational person you’ll ever meet ;-)
Actually, no writer is completely sane. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I don’t think of myself as a writer. I’m really a horse person. But five years ago God gave me a story, and I’ve been working ever since to get it out. That led to the other books, the children’s books. And best of all, it led me to my wonderful hubby.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Not to be a sycophant, but my favorite books are my husband’s (http://www.kevinscottcollier.com/ ). He’s a literary genius and he’s as sweet as can be (except when he’s being naughty). But Kevy’s an incredible poet. Just blows me away. And he’s so emotional that his books just rip your heart out. It’s crazy to think of when he’s being a rascal, that I’m married to this amazing author, but he’s an exciting person to live with. Never boring. He teases those he loves, just like a little boy who dips the girl’s pigtails in the ink.
From a purely entertainment point of view I love Christian sci-fi. Can’t get enough of it and am always looking for more. That’s a growing field, which I’m really happy about, because there’s very little of it. I love Shane Johnson’s The Guardian. Reminds me a bit of Alduous Huxley’s Brave New World. Also, Bill Myers and Alton Gansky are great Christian sci-fi writers.
But the best book I’ve ever read besides the Bible was Blessed Child, by the late Bill Bright (founder of Campus Crusade for Christ) and Ted Dekker. It was the most inspired book besides the Bible I’ve ever read. Just incredible.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
My favorite book I’ve written is Heaven Quest, a YA book I wrote with Kevin. It’s not published yet. Heaven Quest is about an alien that comes to earth in search of heaven. What I like about it is that it’s really funny. There are a lot of quirky ;-) things in that book, like, for example, when Izzy first eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and thinks it’s this gourmet delicacy.
I have an e-book, also written with Kevin, called Dreamchaser (Guardian Angel Publishing, fall ’07). It’s about an urban teen, destined to become the next LeBron James, who learns that the greatest life is one that serves others. But the book closest to my heart is King of Glory, a novel in which Jesus walks invisibly with the characters. That’s the book God gave me to write one morning. I have some other YA books and picture books as well, none published. And I’m a feature writer for The Chronicle of the Horse. That I enjoy because I used to do dressage and eventing.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I was a single mom for nine years, so I’m used to life working nonstop. Now that I’m married, I don’t run myself into the ground anymore. I still work hard on the writing when it demands my time, but my focus is on finding a job and taking care of my family. Kevin and Jarod come first.
How do you work together as a team?
Well. We both work incredibly fast, we’re used to working hard, so we work great together. And from a literary standpoint, our strengths are complimentary: Kevy’s strength is dialogue, and mine is narrative, so what more do you have than that? It’s a beautiful compilation.
I started writing with Kevin two years ago, after we’d met in a Christian e-authors group online. We wrote two books together before we’d even met! What a crazy world this is, that you can write a book with someone you’ve never even met!!
Kevy would email me the chapters and I’d add to them. One day I was working on Natalie’s Ark, a story about a girl who gets caught in a deluge and God sends a magical rowboat and talking animals to help her find her way home. I added something and was stunned to find that Kevin had written the same thing just a few lines later! I remember calling him and telling him how freaky that was! It was like ESP or something, it was way weird! Now that happens and I just laugh. But that tells me we’re on the same wavelength, so the stories only have more symmetry. And he’s always said we write better together than we do apart, so in the long run it only helps the readers, because they get a more enjoyable story.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of, besides family?
King of Glory. It’s gotten some good comments and has moved people to go back to church.
That's wonderful. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A beautiful, winged golden unicorn. Because I love horses, and a winged unicorn is so beautiful. I actually have a beautiful golden winged unicorn in a YA chap book I’m writing called The Fairy Princess. It’s a deliberately transparent allegory for prayer, but I like it because it’s for girls, young and old, who find themselves in a scary world but still say, “Here am I. Send me, send me.”
What is your favorite food?
Is it hard to break into the children’s market?
Not if you’re married to Kevin Collier, ha ha! No, but seriously, he’s gotten about 60 books published by now, either as author or illustrator, so he’s helped me a lot. But it is phenomenally hard to break into any writing market. I know that God brought Kevin to me to help me get the stories that He’s given me to the world. And Kevy’s the best husband and father that any woman or child could ever ask for. He’s a wonderful man. The most generous, selfless person I’ve ever met.
What advice would you give to an author wanting to break into the choldren's market?
I have a lot of periodicals under my belt, which looks great on a resume and gives me credibility. So I would start by writing for as many different periodicals as you can. Don’t just stick with one. If you have just one article for a periodical you can put them on your resume. And that looks great. And it doesn’t have to be for pay—Kevin’s gotten as far as he has by doing a lot for free. What impresses a publisher is a resume. It doesn’t matter if it’s for e-books, online magazines, or your local paper. That looks great when they see it and then they pay more attention to you.
Also, get online. Do a blog. There are so many ways to market your writing for free now, with blogs, online groups, etc. It’s a great way to promote your writing and it really has worked for us. Also, join some writing groups and Yahoo groups to promote your writing. From a writing standpoint, learn the craft well so that you can give the world something of quality to read.
Copyright 2007 - Kristen and Kevin CollierHere's an illustration of Joy the jellyfish with seahorses. Isn't it beautiful?
How can readers find you on the internet?
I’m on Shout Life (http://www.shoutlife.com/), Kevy’s website (http://www.kevinscottcollier.com/), and the Joy page(http://www.joythejellyfish.blogspot.com/). All of these are free pages, so we’ve been able to market a lot for free.
You can also do free merchandise at Café Press (http://www.cafepress.com/), so in conjunction with our publisher, we’ve been able to sell Joy merchandise before the book’s even out, at no cost to us or the publisher! And they’re making the book available for pre-order, so there is a lot you can do if you just take charge, be aggressive, and get online!
Kristen, thank you for spending this time with us.
Readers, you can leave a comment on the interview for a chance to win a free copy of Joy the Jellyfish.