Talkshow Thursday: Meet Multi-genre author Kelly Irvin
Linda: Thanks for joining me today. You’ve written more than a dozen Amish books, and last month released the second in your Every Amish Season series, Beneath the Summer Sun, available on Amazon. Here’s the book blurb:
Jennie Troyer knows it’s time to remarry. Can she overcome a painful secret and open her heart to love?
It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to marry again for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is that grief isn’t holding her back from a new relationship. Fear is. A terrible secret in her past keeps her from moving forward.
Mennonite book salesman Nathan Walker stops by Jennie’s farm whenever he’s in the area. Despite years of conversation and dinners together, she never seems to relax around him. He knows he should move on, but something about her keeps drawing him back.
Meanwhile, Leo Graber nurtures a decades-long love for Jennie, but guilt plagues him—guilt for letting Jennie marry someone else and guilt for his father’s death on a hunting trip many years ago. How could anyone love him again—and how could he ever take a chance to love in return?
In this second book in the Every Amish Season series, three hearts try to discern God’s plan for the future—and find peace beneath the summer sun.
Where did you find your inspiration for this story?
Kelly: Beneath the Summer Sun is part of a four-book series that examines the role widows play in Upon a Spring Breeze, is about a young, pregnant Amish woman who suffers a terrible tragedy. Beneath the Summer Sun focuses on Jennie Troyer, a thirty-something widow with seven children. The third book features a grandmother and the fourth book, a great-grandmother. The different seasons of life. It’s been a pleasure to write this series. Each heroine is so different, and I love writing older men. So much fun.
LM: The age-old question for writers – are you a planner or a “panster,” and what is your favorite part of the writing process?
Kelly: I’m totally a panster. I’ve gotten a little better about thinking ahead but mostly I know who the main characters are and what the central conflict is. After that, I let my imagination go wild. I love having a new character pop up or learning something about my heroine that I didn’t know until it appears on the page. That’s my absolute favorite part of writing. I have to do a lot of editing and some rewriting, but it’s working it to have that creative process unleashed.
LM: You write Amish fiction which requires an extra layer of research to ensure accuracy about their culture and beliefs. How did you go about researching Beneath the Summer Sun and did you discover any extra special tidbits of information?
Kelly: Regardless of the genre, a lot of research is necessary to get the details right. We’re so fortunate to have tons of information at our fingertips through the Internet. With all my Amish stories, I go to Donald B. Kraybill’s The Amish to better understand issues of faith, how they’ve been affected by changes in the mainstream world, and many details of day-to-day life. I read The Budget newspaper for glimpses into daily life as well. The Amish scribes are wonderful about sharing about family and community life. It’s a fantastic peek into their world. I enjoy reading Amishamerica.com’s blog which also includes great photographs to get a good visual of how things look in different communities. My husband and I went to Jamesport, Missouri, where this series is set, a few years ago and attended their school fund-raiser auction over Fourth of July weekend. I observed their buggy styles, clothes/colors, whether they had phone shacks, took a look at the schools, and learned about setting. It’s an on-going process of learning.
LM: How did you get started as a writer, and how did you decide to seek publication?
Kelly: I always wanted to be a writer. I decided in high school to become a newspaper reporter so I could write and make a living. I did that for about 10 years, before I jumped into public relations, but I always wanted to write novels. When I turned 45, I realized it was now or never. I spent a few years writing, learning the craft, going to conferences, and finally got an agent. It took another three years to get my first book published, a romantic suspense novel called A Deadly Wilderness. My agent suggested I try writing an Amish romance. She ended up selling my first one, To Love and to Cherish, before I finished writing it. I’ve loved every minute of writing these stories and have been blessed to get them published by Harvest House and Zondervan publishing houses.
LM: You live in a beautiful area of the world, a place many people visit. If money were no object, what is your idea of the ultimate vacation?
Kelly: I’d love to do an extended tour of Europe, with stops in France, Spain, and England. I have a physical disability that makes traveling a challenge, but I’ve always wanted to visit Paris, Madrid, and London.
LM: What is your next project?
Kelly: I’m finishing editing the fourth book in this series, With Winter’s First Frost so that I can jump into a new project. I recently signed a contract with Thomas Nelson Publishing to write two romantic suspense novels. The first one, Tell Her No Lies, will debut in January 2019. It’s already written, but I need to get started in January on the second one, which is due in August. I’m thrilled and excited to get back to my first love, romantic suspense. I’ll continue to write Amish romances too. It’s the best of both worlds and writing in different genres helps keep me fresh.
LM: Where can folks find you on the web?