Mother of PearlMother of Pearl
Kellie Coates Gilbert
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Barrie Graeber has two great kids, a loving husband, and a respected job as the high school counselor in her close-knit community. Without warning, everything unravels when her teenage daughter, Pearl, is betrayed by friends and lashes out.

Nothing prepares this mother for the helplessness that follows when her attempts to steer her daughter back on course fail and Pearl shuts her out . . . or when she discovers the unthinkable about her nemesis, the football coach.

Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Mother of Pearl brings us into the heart of a mother bound by an incredible burden, who ultimately finds she must recognize her own vulnerability and learn to trust in something much bigger.

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 Our Interview with Kellie Coates Gilbert

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a former legal investigator and trial paralegal, who has worked on many high profile cases including the Jack-in-the-Box e-coli litigation in the mid-nineties and the largest cattle fraud in the United States. People are often at their most vulnerable in these tense situations where much is at stake, which has allowed me a unique perspective on the human psyche. I write with a sympathetic, intimate knowledge of how people react under pressure. I’m also a wife of over thirty years, have raised two boys and enjoy the most adorable baby grandson on the planet.

What is your favorite Bible Verse: translation too please? Why?

They have seen the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.” Psalm 107:24 NAS

Like many, my life has taken unexpected and sometimes frightening twists and turns. At those times, only God can provide comfort and security. And, it’s in those events where you glimpse His majesty.

What was your inspiration to write Mother of Pearl?

Although this story is not entirely hers, the idea for Mother of Pearl was sparked when a beautiful seventeen-year-old girl promised to pray for my new writing career. The last thing she said to me was “I’ll ask Jesus to get you published.” I didn’t know then she’d ask him face-to-face.

How much of Mother of Pearl comes from your personal experience?

I don’t think a novelist can be an effective storyteller without laying parts of herself all over the pages of her book. People who know me best will see some of my characteristics in Barrie Graeber, particularly in her tenacious spirit. Some of my marriage struggles show up in Barrie and Steve’s relationship. Certainly, the trial reflects my earlier professional life. (I’ve definitely encountered the likes of the opposing counsel, Jake Preston, in more than one courtroom experience)

How much research did Mother of Pearl take?

At the center of this story is the too often recurring issue of inappropriate relationships between educators and underage students. I met with an extraordinary woman, Sherry B. Bithell, Ed.D, author of Educator Sexual Abuse, a Guide for Prevention in the Schools, Tudor House Publishing. Dr. Bithell’s work was cited in a U.S. Government study report on this issue, which I read cover-to-cover. I also met with educators, counselors and coaching staff at a local high school. In addition, I pulled and read numerous court cases, both criminal and civil.

What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Mother of Pearl?

I learned that more than 620,000 convicted sex offenders are either incarcerated, on probation, or residing freely in localities across the nation. Sadly, many of these offenders show up in our education system in roles (like coaches) where they have access to minors.


Although the relationship between Barrie’s daughter and the football coach is primarily “off-stage” in Mother of Pearl, this story definitely explores the consequences of these types of unfortunate incidents, and the effect this unacceptable behavior can have on a mom of someone victimized in this manner.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
There is an evil one who wants to keep stories that inspire readers to move closer to God out of the marketplace. Much prayer is needed for publishers of inspirational fiction, and authors. Especially novelists like me, who write about messy lives….and eternal hope.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I love crafting poignant and emotionally compelling stories about women in life changing situations. Even more, interaction with readers really floats my boat!  I hope CBD readers will take a minute and visit me at Oh, and I hope everyone will sign up for my reader’s club. At my core, I am a girlfriend and I love a good time. So join the party!

What other new writing projects do you have on the horizon?

I’m currently working on a manuscript about three sisters and their broken relationships with men. I hope readers will enjoy reading this one as much as I’m delighting in writing it!

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Mother of Pearl?

I have to refer back to my favorite verse (Psalm 107:24). When women find themselves in the deep places in life, I hope they will think of Barrie Graeber and remember, life-changing circumstances can be conduits to His majesty.

What do you do to get away from it all?

I play. Nothing beats coffee and chatting with girlfriends. I love to golf with my husband. We have a motorhome and we travel, often stopping at places like the Gilroy Garlic Festival or the Woodburn Tulip Farm—surprising out-of-the-way events that are wonderfully interesting if you are a people watcher (and I am. Aren’t all novelists?) Last year, we made our way through seven southern states, and I ate boiled peanuts and fried pork chitlins for the first time.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Only to say how much I appreciate each and every reader. Women are busy people and time is precious. Anyone who spends their hours immersed in the pages of my book is a treasure. I write for you, and I hope you find the time well spent.