Author Interview with Kelly Irvin

Kelly Irvin
Kelly Irvin
Today I am welcoming author Kelly Irvin to tammycookblogsbooks. Kelly is the author of The Saddle Maker’s Son, the third novel in the Amish of Bee County series from Zondervan/HarperCollins. It follows The Beekeeper’s Son, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, calling it “a delicately woven masterpiece.” She is also the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest House. She has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.

A former newspaper reporter and public relations professional, Kelly is married to photographer Tim Irvin. They have two childrentwo grandchildrenand two cats. In her spare time, she likes to read books by her favorite authors.*

Visit Kelly Irvin at:
Instagram: Kelly_Irvin

I asked Kelly a few questions so old and new fans can learn more about her and her books. Here they are:

tcbb: Your first book, a romantic suspense, was published in 2009, with a sequel to follow. In 2012, you switched gears and started writing Amish Fiction. What brought about this change?
Kelly: My agent challenged me to try it. I wasn’t having any luck in breaking into the Christian market with romantic suspense. She suggested writing Amish romances. At first, I wasn’t sure if I could. It required a great deal of research. But then I read about the school shooting in Nickel Mines and how the Amish forgave the shooter who killed those little girls. I wondered if I could be so forgiving. Which led to examining the call to forgive that we all have as Christians. That thought process led to my first Amish romance, To Love and to Cherish. My agent pitched it before I finished writing it. Harvest House’s acquisition editor made an offer on it based on a partial manuscript, which is unusual for a virtually unknown author.

tcbb: You have four pictures with the following captions on your website: An Amish Schoolhouse, A Simpler Life, An Author Appearance, and Feeding The Horses. Can you explain to us the importance of each to you? 
Kelly: An Amish Schoolhouse and A Simple Life are photos taken by my husband on our research trip to Jamesport, Mo., several years ago. This was my first visit to an Amish community and I learned so much (and had a good time despite 100-plus degree temperatures over July 4th weekend). My husband is a photographer by trade so not taking photos of Amish folks was hard for him. He was taking photos of the buggies parked across the road from an auction fund-raiser when these children got out of the buggy and began to pet the horse as if they knew they were being photographed. It was interesting. I created a fictional town in Missouri for my Bliss Creek series based on Jamesport. Now I’m writing a new four-book series for Zondervan/HarperCollins that is set in Jamesport so the things I saw and learned while on this trip are still being used today.

An Author Appearance is from my first book signing—for A Deadly Wilderness, a romantic suspense novel I published before starting to write Amish fiction. My friends and family turned out for a barbecue dinner. We had a lovely time.

Feeding the Horses shows my brother-in-law and me feeding hedgeballs to his horses. He and my sister are farmers in Kansas. He was explaining cutting horses to me and how they herd cattle. I get a lot of my information on all aspects of farming from Kenny and Debby.

tcbb: "Fiction Punctuated by Faith" is how you describe your writing. Please give us more detail of that.
Kelly: I love writing and I want my stories to be, first and foremost, entertaining. People read because they enjoy a good story. They don’t want to receive a sermon. However, I also consider writing my calling. God has given me a gift to be used to glorify Him. So I try to “punctuate” my stories with an underlying message. When the readers close their books, I hope they are still thinking about the story, what it means, and how it might resonate with something going on in their lives.

tcbb: I read that you like to read books by your favorite authors in your spare time. Who are you favorite authors? 
Kelly: I’m a big mystery/romantic suspense reader. I like Earlene Fowler, who writes the Benni Harper quilt mysteries, and several other secular mystery/suspense writers. I also read Craig Johnson’s Longmire western series. I got hooked on it after starting to watch the Longmire series on TV. I was surprised at how faithful they were in recreating Johnson’s characters.

tcbb: Your book list includes full length novels and more recently novellas. Is it easier or more difficult to develop characters and a storyline for novellas compared to a novel?
Kelly: Novellas present a different kind of challenge, like writing a short story. I tend to be very wordy. Novellas force a writer to tell the story succinctly. That is a challenge for me. I never have trouble coming up with characters and storylines. Making them fit in 20,000-25,000 words as opposed to 85,000-95,000 is hard for me. But I enjoy it.

tcbb: Your latest novel, The Saddle Maker's Son, book #3 in your Amish of Bee County series, is set in Bee County, Texas. Why did you base your latest series there?
Kelly: Bee County is home to the only Amish community in Texas. It’s only about two hours from my home in San Antonio, which in Texas is considered a stone’s throw. The Bee County district is different from the northern Amish districts. Very rustic. They don’t believe in fixing up their homes or yards. It’s incredibly hot and humid in south Texas and not a lot grows there. They have bee hives, and sell honey, produce and baked goods in their store. The opportunity presented itself to tell stories different from those already being told in this genre because the setting is so different. That’s particularly true of The Saddle Maker’s Son, which examines how they might respond if they found two young Salvadoran children on their property. Thousands of unaccompanied minor children have flooded the Texas-Mexico border through south Texas in recent years. The setting was critical to the story and it gave me a chance to meld three cultural influences into one story. Between the English, the Pennsylvania Duetsch and the Spanish, I had quite the time just with the languages. It was a fun story to write and readers will find some Salvadoran recipes at the end of the book.

The Saddle Maker's Son by Kelly Irvin

About The Saddle Maker's Son:
Rebekah Lantz feels betrayed and abandoned. Tobias Byler is bound by regret. Can two young runaways from a world away teach them the healing power of true family?

Rebekah isn’t like her sister Leila, but no one seems to believe that. Ever since Leila made a decision that has haunted her family and their small Amish community, Rebekah has been held to a higher standard under her mother’s watchful eye. Boys avoid her. She simply longs for the chance to be a wife and mother like the other girls.

Tobias Byler only wants to escape feelings for a woman he knows he should never have allowed to get close to him. Moving with his family to isolated Bee County, Texas, seemed the best way to leave his mistakes behind. But even a move across the country can’t stop the past from accompanying his every thought. 

A surprise encounter with two half-starved runaway children forces both Rebekah and Tobias to turn their focus on others far more desperate

In doing so, they discover the key to forgetting the past may open the door to the love  and the future they both seek.

The Saddle Maker’s Son is available at your favorite retailer: amazon, cbd, barnesandnoble, and booksamillion

*bio courtesy of Kelly Irvin

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