I find funny books to be a breath of fresh air in an incredibly difficult world. Also, I tried and cannot seem to write serious books, ha! I suppose each of us has our gifts and mine do not include creating literary epics to boggle the mind. But the Lord did make me capable of causing you to spray coffee out your nose and that is nothing to sniff at … unless of course you actually did spray coffee out your nose in which case sniffing is both acceptable and expected. Why don’t you grab a tissue while you’re at it. But as far as Spider Gap goes, I wrote this book because of a phone call and an answered prayer. My editor-in-chief, Nicola Martinez, called me up hoping that I would write something for the Pure Amore imprint. It sounded really difficult and I had no story ideas. So, I told her that I would pray about it. I hung up the phone and prayed. “Dear Lord, if You want me to write a book for this line, You’ve got to give me a story idea because I have nothing.” That same day, I had this fabulous story idea out of nowhere! The Lord is so amazing. He is there for life-shattering events and simple worries like coming up with a story idea. That was a life-shifting moment for me, as I realized the depth of His concern for the in and outs of my day.
I had that happen with my book, The 12 Gifts of Christmas. A call from my agent, my prayer, within two days, God dropped the book idea into my head. Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
I don’t know if I can pick … but there was this amazing moment last Christmas. The house was a crazy mess, deep in torn wrapping paper with partially-eaten scones and half-full coffee cups on every flat surface. Our thirteen-year-old was playing his new Skillet CD on the radio. The turkey was in the oven, filling the room with savory goodness and our three sons had just settled down to put together their new Legos. The rock music quieted for a moment as the band sang a love song. I grabbed my husband’s hand and we stood in the piles of wrapping paper and danced together and cried and laughed because that single slice of life was just so crazy and so achingly perfect all at once.
How has being published changed your life?
Hmmm … it has given me more things to do, like fill out blog interviews, ha! But as a mom, my life is pretty much wrangling kids and keeping life going. I write early in the morning so that I can do both more easily. But most of my time is spent with my family and taking photos for the Bible camp where we live and work. I am so grateful to have the chance for a creative outlet in the midst of all the craziness. There is something about creating that brings us close to God, I think, and writing provides that for me.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished up The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson and The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner which were both hilarious Christian RomComs! I also enjoyed The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson and am beginning The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah which was given to me by my sister-in-law. My sons have a stack of books that they want me to read, from fanciful middle grade adventures to terrifying Sci-fi war books set on Mars that I intend to get to soon as well.
I really loved and The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, too. What is your current work in progress?
I am working on the 15th revision of a middle grade novel about prehistoric creatures rampaging through summer camp and am starting the 2nd revision of a RomCom about a young woman who is asked to drive a trailer full of beloved pet chickens over a mountain pass to their new home. Of course, she swerves to miss a bear, crashes, and chickens go everywhere. She must locate each special hen in the wilds of the forest before their young owner realizes her terrible mistake. I was told that I need to write a story as a giveaway on my website and so I am hoping to get this crazy tale whipped into shape to give something fun to my readers for signing up for my newsletter!
What would be your dream vacation?
Well, one of them was camping at
which our family did in 2016 and while there I of course got a book idea and
that story just released this year! The second dream vacation would be to
actually take my family on the hiking trip that I described in Spider
Gap! It is such an amazing journey and I long to share the toil and
victory of traversing the glacier and seeing the fabulous scenery with my husband,
three boys, and our dog. I especially want them to get to ride on The Lady of The
Lake on Yellowstone National Park Lake Chelan … but our dog needs to
lose 10 pounds to do this … so we will see if we can make it work, ha! I know
that the vet casually mentioned she could be a bit lighter, but resisting the
puppy eyes is easier said than done. I will include a photo so that you
understand our dilemma!
How do you choose your settings for each book?
In the case of Spider Gap, I knew that I wanted my heroine to be mercilessly teased by Jr. High students and so I needed to trap her with a bunch of Jr. High students. What better way to stretch a person to the breaking point, form lasting relationships, and build her beleaguered confidence than a 21-mile backpacking trip! I went on this very hike when I was about fifteen and it was a remarkable experience. I took a few incidents from various backpacking trips for inspiration and then threw every possible thing that could go wrong at poor Lily!
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Well, I already got to meet Francine Rivers at a writer’s conference, which was a dream come true! Since I can’t use that … my sons got me hooked on ginormous books by secular author Brandon Sanderson. Seriously, they are 1,000 pages long and my youngest blazed through one in about three days. I would love to sit down and chat with him about how he develops characters.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
There are hobbies besides writing and reading??? Well, I do chase campers around all summer, taking photos for the camp page so that parents can get a glimpse of what their kids are up to during their week of camp. I love capturing smiles and action and fun. Our dog features in many of these photos as she is always visiting the kids and getting pats. I also volunteer at local schools and a nursing home with our 110lb
, Princess Leia Freyja. She does
reading therapy and general therapy dog work and brings a lot of joy into
people’s lives. Newfoundland
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Besides rushing from scene to scene at too fast a pace, which I talked about with you earlier, I would say that digging down to get to the heart of a character has been difficult. I have to make myself pause the action so that my characters can think and struggle internally and learn. Once I force that character to take a good long look at themselves, the growth comes, but it is not my natural tendency to write these quiet moments. I keep wanting to have them chased by bears instead!
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Write every single day! Don’t just dream about writing, talk about writing, learn about writing, or argue about writing … actually write! You will get better the more time you spend doing the job! It can be terrifying to face that blank page, but do the work, the skill will come with time!
Tell us about the featured book.
I promised my sons that I would include a kiss, a concussion, and a crazed animal in every book. Now, they do not care about the kiss, but they make certain that I include the other two. For Spider Gap, I needed a crazed animal. I modeled my heroine’s pup, Strudel, after my mother’s spunky little Havanese named Maggie. She weighed all of six pounds but was a force to be reckoned with in every way! I also included a game our pastor always brought on hiking trips. Pass the Pigs! You roll a pair of rubber pigs instead of dice. It’s hilarious! Add a 21-mile hike, a blushing first-year school teacher who thought backpacking was a walk around the park with her dog, a handsome ski instructor/river raft guide/smoke jumper and I was ready for some fun!
Lilly, a first-year school teacher is roped into chaperoning a backpacking trip over the Spider Gap glacier. Unfortunately, she cannot find a sitter for her purse-dog and must smuggle him along on the trip. All her friskiest 6th grade students are participating as well as a handsome ski instructor who resists her efforts to organize their trip in a mathematically pleasing manner. Can Lilly evoke a thirst for learning within her skeptical students, when she herself can barely survive the rigors of the trail?
Please give us the first page of the book.
Sixth Grade Psychosis
Lilly completed another head count. Twenty-five, still one shy. Had she directed anyone to the bathroom? She checked the yellow basket on the corner of her desk. Five hall passes on bright yellow lariats stared back at her, their laminated edges crisp and perfect. If only the rest of life were just as faultless.
, I’m finished!” Miss
Lilly glanced up and started. She smoothed her expression and addressed a girl in a purple hoodie who had draped herself across her desk so that she hung upside down with her long blonde hair pooled across the carpet.
“Thank you, Emily. Would you please place your page in my turn-in basket and use the remaining time to read, while upright?”
Emily rolled her eyes and unhooked her toes from the back of her chair. Without something to brace against, the girl slithered to a heap on the floor.
Slowly, oh so slowly, Emily righted herself and proceeded to the turn-in basket. How the twenty-six students of class C could all universally despise mathematics after only a single week of instruction, Lilly couldn’t fathom. But despise they did, and this often took the form of agonizingly slow obedience whenever she was blessed enough to get student compliance in the first place.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website: http://www.kristenjoywilks.com/
Thank you, Kristen, for sharing this book with us. I look forward to reading it.
Readers, here’s a link to the book.Spider Gap
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside
North America. (Comments containing links may be subject
to removal by blog owner.)
Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.
The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.
If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link: