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kelly irvin Kelly Irvin is a Kansas native and has been writing professionally for 25 years. She and her husband, Tim, make their home in Texas. They have two children, three cats, and a tankful of fish.  A public relations professional, Kelly is also the author of two romantic suspense novels, the Bliss Creek Series and writes short stories in her spare time.

Favorite Bible Verse : Micah 7:18-19 (NIV): Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgressions 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.


 

 Our Interview with Kelly Irvin


 
Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I always wanted to be a writer of fiction. But growing up in a family where money was very tight taught me at an early age that it was important to be able to earn a living and support oneself. So I looked for a career where I could write for a living. When I was in the first or second grade, I had a “newspaper” that I wrote and “printed” myself. In high school I served as the editor of both the school newspaper and the yearbook. I always figured being a reporter meant I could write and get paid for it, something fiction didn’t guarantee. After receiving a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Kansas I worked for newspapers in Kansas, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas. After ten years as a print journalist, I made the switch to public relations, thinking the hours would be more family friendly (turns out that was far from true!) I’ve been doing that for 18 years now. When I turned 45 I realized it was now or never. Time to write that novel. So I did. And several more after that. Some of my early efforts reside in a desk drawer, but two romantic suspense novels set in Texas, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine, were published in 2010 and 2011. To Love and To Cherish is my first Amish romance. My husband and I have been married 24 years. We have two semi-grown children, three cats, and a tank full of fish.

What is your favorite Bible verse? 

 Micah 7:18-19 (NIV): Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgressions 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.

How did you come up with the concept for To Love and to Cherish?
 
I came across a newspaper article about a rash of buggy accidents and how law enforcement officials were puzzling over how to keep the roads safe for the buggies and the cars. It got me to thinking about that clash between two ways of life. Then I started thinking about how hard it must be to forgive someone who has—however accidentally—killed your loved ones. I asked myself if I could do it. Even though it’s a basic tenant of the Amish faith, I imagine there are times when a great internal battle wages over the desire to be obedient to your faith and the human feelings of loss, grief, and anger. That is true in any faith because we are only human.

 

How did you choose the setting?

Bliss Creek is a fictional town in Kansas. I choose Kansas because I’m originally from that state. I’m familiar with the landscape, the geography and the seasons. It’s a rural state with many farming communities. My sister and her husband farm there and can tell me what crops are in the field during what times of the year, when they’re harvested, etc., which helps me get the details right. While there are Mennonite communities in Kansas, I don’t believe there are currently any Amish districts. Having a fictional community allows me to set it up anyway I like. It gives me a lot of freedom.

How involved are you in the Amish community?

I’ve done a lot of research. I hope to be able to travel to Amish country soon.

Do you have a favorite character To Love and to Cherish? Why?

My favorite character is Josiah. He’s a lot like me. He has a good heart and he wants to do the right thing, but he’s stubborn, rebellious, and stiff-necked. He questions everything and often does things the hard way, but ultimately, he really wants to be loved and accepted for who he is.

How much research did To Love and to Cherish take?
 
This is my first Amish romance, so it required a tremendous amount of research. It’s important to me to get it right. It’s made even more difficult by the fact that each Amish district has its own Ordnung, or set of unwritten rules. What may be permitted in one community is prohibited in another. Some are more conservative than others. It was fascinating and I’m still learning.

Is the story based on fact?

No, it’s completely fictional.

How many books will be in this series?

Book #2, entitled A Heart Made New (where readers will learn more about Josiah’s journey, as well as Annie’s) is scheduled for release in September 2012. I’m currently working on a third Bliss Creek novel that I hope to pitch to Harvest House very soon, so we’ll have to wait and see how that turns out.

 

What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing To Love and to Cherish?

All aspects of the Amish way of life are interesting to me. I tried to picture myself without  an air conditioner, dishwasher, washing machine, a car, and other conveniences. I deeply respect their work ethic and willingness to live out their faith no matter how much the world tugs them in another direction.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
The biggest challenge is finding time to write. I work full-time as a public relations professional and I also do proofreading for court reporters as a sideline. Being a mother and a wife are also important parts of my everyday life. So I rise early each day and go to my office so I can get in at least an hour of writing in the morning, then I squeeze in another hour at lunch, if I can, and finish up in the evenings if I still have enough steam to keep going. It’s a challenge, but it’s also a joy. Writing is my favorite part of every day.

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

When  a story takes over and becomes a living thing. The scenes come alive in my head and I can’t type fast enough to get them down. With my first romantic suspense novel, which came out in 2010, I would be driving and scenes would be writing themselves so I’d have to pull over and write some of it down so I wouldn’t forget it. That creative process is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever experienced. I love it when something occurs on the page and I think, "where did that come from?" I didn’t see that coming. A character will appear out of nowhere, fully formed, and ready to step into my story. I’m astounded and asking, who are you and where did you come from? That is by far the coolest thing about being a fiction writer.

What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?

I’m a member of  American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and try to attend their national conference each year in order to attend sessions that allow me to hone my craft. It’s also an opportunity to pitch to editors and network with other writers. I also belong to the local chapter of ACFW, which is the Alamo City Christians Writers organization. We meet monthly to discuss the writing craft and have fellowship. Writing can be a solitary and lonely occupation not well understood by family members so having other people who understand about getting up at three a.m. to write down a conversation between two fictional characters is really important. I’m also a member of Sisters in Crime and have attended the Writers Police Academy.

What message would you like your readers to take from reading To Love and to Cherish?

We’re all sinners who fall short. We want to be forgiven so it is important for us to be ready to forgive as well. I know God has forgiven me over and over again. He is the God of second chances and third chances. How can we not do the same for others?

What was your favorite book as a child?

It’s hard to pick one. I loved to read and spent all my free time during the summer at the public library. I loved A Wrinkle in Time, Harriet the Spy, The Oregon Trail, and the Nancy Drew mysteries, to name a few.

What is your greatest achievement?

My life has been pretty humble. I’m happy to have a regular, “average” “normal” life where my family and I barbecue in the backyard and watch movies together on Friday night and celebrate birthdays with angel food cake and ice cream and chocolate syrup. It takes a concerted effort to make a marriage and family work. I consider my happy marriage and family life a great achievement. Not one that I’m in anyway solely responsible for, of course.

What do you do to get away from it all?

Although I love to travel, the older I get, the more I’ve become a homebody. I’m perfectly content to escape by curling up on the couch with a good book and a bowl of popcorn.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I hope readers enjoy reading To Love and Cherish as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

 


 

 
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