Welcome back, Kelly. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
I’m now working on a new series for HarperCollins. The Amish of Bee County series is set in
Bee County, Texas, where the only Amish district is located in the
state of Texas.
It’s tiny and conservative and you won’t see any lush landscapes and neatly
kept flower gardens there. I’m enjoying the change of scenery, and it’s close
enough that I can make a day trip for research as needed. I feel blessed each
and every day for the opportunity to write fiction, my lifelong dream. A writer
never knows when the next contract will come or even if it will come, so I try
to stop and smell the roses and appreciate the road I’ve traveled to get here.
Tell us a little about your family.
My favorite topic! I’ve been married twenty-six-plus years to Tim Irvin, a former TV news photographer who now works for the biggest school district in the state of
Tim is my webmaster, he does my business cards, orders my promotional
materials, and takes my photo for book covers. He’s also a fabulous cook who
does all the cooking on the weekends, giving me more time to write. We have two
adult children. My daughter is married to a U.S. Navy sailor, and they have a baby
daughter who is the light of her grandma’s life. I don’t get to see them as
often as I like since my son-in-law is currently stationed in .
We have the pleasure of still having our son at home. He works as a computer
support technician for a large pharmaceutical company. As much as I know
children are meant to grow up, spread their wings, and fly, it’s still hard to
let them go! Norfolk, Virginia
Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
It’s harder for me to read a book without mentally editing it. A novel has to really hook me into the fictional world or I find myself critiquing the craft or admiring the choice of metaphors and similes. That can be a good thing in terms of improving my own writing, but sometimes I simply want to sit back and be transported to another world. It takes a really well-written book to do that for me now.
What are you working on right now?
I’m nearing the end of the first draft of The Bishop’s Son, the second book in The Amish of Bee County series. It needs lots and lots of work so I imagine I’ll be working on it right up until the deadline in September.
What outside interests do you have?
I have a full-time job in public relations so I don’t have much time to do more than work and write. I love to read fiction, and I write poems and short stories when I have time. Entertaining my granddaughter is at the top of my list these days, but unfortunately we don’t get to see each other as often as I would like.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
I set my first series, The Bliss Creek Amish, in a fictional town in
because I wanted to be able to build the town the way I wanted it. With a
fictional Amish district, I could decide on their ordnung or set of written and
unwritten rules as I saw fit. Plus my sister and her husband have a farm in
Kansas so they were able to help me with crops and growing seasons and other
farming-related details in that region. The spin-off series set in Missouri, The New Hope
Amish, allowed some of my families to move to a new location and start a new
district with all the challenges that involves. The setting helps me add
conflict to the stories. With The New Hope Amish, we have the fictional town of
New Hope where the newcomers aren’t feeling
welcome, and also Stockton Lake and . I had a lot of fun with
setting in this series. Branson,
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
That’s a hard choice, but at the moment, I think I’d choose Abraham Lincoln. So much has been written about what he thought, said, and did, I’d love to get the scoop straight from the horse’s mouth. He led this country at a time when change was bloody and heartbreaking and scary, but also inevitable. What was he thinking as he gave the Emancipation Proclamation speech? How did he feel about the toll his service to his country took on his family?
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
I wish I had known that I should wait longer to start submitting my work to editors and publishing houses. I needed to hone my craft to a much greater degree. I wrote a novel and immediately jumped into pitching it to editors at conferences. They loved my pitches, but didn’t buy my work because it wasn’t good enough. Writing fiction well takes practice and work and the willingness to accept criticism and rejection.
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
There are so many. I’ve been in my day job for more than 20 years and suddenly I have a new supervisor with a completely different management style and set of expectations. I’m close to retirement and a new season in my life. Navigating these changes on a daily basis has been a trial at a time when I thought I should be experiencing smooth sailing. Add to that my daughter leaving the nest and moving across the country and I admit to floundering a bit. Did I mention that change is hard? But God is good and He’s teaching me to find joy in new, unexpected places.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
Wait to submit your novel until you know it’s the very best work you can do.
Attend conferences and hone your craft by learning from others.
Take writing seriously. Make it your job. Write everyday as much as humanly possible.
Tell us about the featured book.
I have to say I had more fun writing this book than any other I’ve written so far. It’s about a young Amish woman named Adah who dreams of being a country music song writer, an aspiration her family and her district frown upon. While cleaning houses, she meets a young English man who is a country music singer with big dreams of his own. He teaches her to play the guitar and in the process, falls in love with her. The story takes us to
where Adah has the opportunity to live out her dreams—but only if she’s willing
to give up her Amish faith and family. Branson, Missouri
Please give us the first page of the book.
Not having a pencil and paper handy made writing a song a challenge for Adah Knepp.
But then she liked a challenge.
Adah belted out the lyrics, the bob-bob of the horse’s head along with the clip-clop of his hooves kept time on the asphalt highway. The squeaking of the buggy wheels joined in. Her voice carried on the warm June wind across the wheat fields of
Sparrows preening on the power lines that ran along the road served as her only
audience. They probably thought she’d gone crazy, talking to herself.
She closed her eyes for a second, listening to her own words. They weren’t quite right. They didn’t sound like the songs she heard on the radio while she cleaned the Harts’ house. Not like Miranda Lambert or Taylor Swift. She sounded flat. Of course, she didn’t have the benefit of steel guitars, fiddles, keyboards, and drums. She stomped one black sneaker, and then the other, against the floorboard, picking up the beat. “Love like sun-kissed apples ...” She shook her head. Nee, nee. “Love like a baby’s sweet kisses ...”
No, that wasn’t it either. Still mulling the words, she turned into the open gate adorned with a huge wrought iron H and onto the sunflower-lined dirt road that led to the Hart farm. She would clean the house lickety-split and use the rest of the afternoon to work on her song before she went home. That way she wouldn’t be late and Mudder wouldn’t have cause to complain. Stop mooning around, Adah, and get to work. Those dishes won’t wash themselves.
Which, of course, they wouldn’t. Having six brothers and sisters, Adah surely wished they would. How about that for a fanciful notion?
She could write her song, cook, clean, and still be ready to take a ride after dark if Matthew Troyer should happen to shine his flashlight in her window. Gott was good.
A horse whinnied, an uncertain, unhappy sound that carried on a breeze that kept the day from being stifling hot. A man answered in a soft, coaxing sing-song. The voice reminded Adah of the announcer on the radio the Harts kept tuned to a country music station. It was husky like sandpaper, yet smooth and warm like kaffi made with an extra dollop of milk and three pinches of sugar.
“Come on, sweetie, come on, it won’t hurt you, I promise. It’s fine, it’s okay, it’s fine.” The voice sang in a steady patter of sweet nothings. “Let me just do this one thing and you’re gonna like it, I promise.”
Drawn by the velvety words, she hopped from the buggy and approached the fence. The voice belonged to a tall, lean man with a shock of black hair, ruffled and sweat soaked under the rim of a dirty straw cowboy hat. He held a blanket in one hand while he used his other hand to hold the lead rope attached to a tawny Palomino with a long dark mane and tail. The man wore a T-shirt and tattered jeans faded to a blue-white. The sun glinted on a huge silver buckle on a belt that hugged his narrow hips.
“Sweetie, come on, come on, baby,” he crooned as he crept closer to the horse. “It won’t hurt you, I promise. Remember this blanket. We played with it yesterday. You remember.”
At that moment he looked across the corral and their gazes met. “Hey there, Amish girl.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Twitter: @Kelly_S_IrvinFacebook: http://www.facebook.com/KellyIrvinAuthor
Thank you, Kelly, for sharing this new book with us.
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A Plain Love Song - Christianbook.com
A Plain Love Song (The New Hope Amish) - Amazon
A Plain Love Song (The New Hope Amish) - Kindle
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