Since Kellie Coates Gilbert began her publishing journey three years ago, she has grown her career by leaps and bounds. Her first novel, Mother of Pearl, released from Abingdon Press the same day as my debut. I’m thankful for that opportunity because it gave me the chance to get to know Kellie — and to enjoy her books!
She writes hard-hitting stories dealing with life’s real and often difficult circumstances — women’s fiction from a Christian worldview. Her latest, A Reason to Stay, will release from Revell next month.
I’m thrilled to have Kellie with me today to talk about her writing journey and how it has changed her life, as well as the lives of her readers.
Taking a moment to reflect on the past three years, what has been the most surprising/amazing/rewarding experience in your writing career?
The answer would be two-fold, Kathy. The most surprising thing is how extensively the publishing industry has changed since you and I both had our first books debut on the market in the fall of 2012. There are so many more challenges …. and options now. The most amazing thing is my readers. I didn’t expect to have a little party going with women who love books. They write to me after reading my stories, invite me to their book clubs, show up at my events and just generally add such a rich dimension to this work.
As you know, Kathy, writing can be very isolating. Often we craft our stories never knowing if the characters and events will resonate with others as much as in our own hearts. I can’t tell you the joy I feel when I learn Barrie Graeber, Claire Massey, Dr. Juliet Ryan have come alive and exist inside readers’ heads. And I simply can’t wait to introduce Faith Marin to everyone out there!
What advice would you give to those just starting out as writers?
Don’t be an Eeyore! Always be a Tigger!
Yes, this business is hard! Anything worth doing is often difficult and publishing is a lot of hard work. Don’t grouse when decisions are made that you feel are contrary to your personal career goals. It’s business …. don’t forget that.
With that in mind, build YOUR BUSINESS the best you know how. Ultimately, YOU ALONE are responsible for your career.
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If you could go back three years, what advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t eat so many red twizzler licorice sticks while writing …. especially when you spend so many hours sitting! *smiles*
You write fiction, but even fiction has autobiographical leanings. How much of your writing is autobiographical in nature?
Every character reflects some part of the author’s nature or experience, I think. My characters certainly do. For example, Barrie Graeber in Mother of Pearl is extremely justice-minded and tenacious …. I can be like a dog with a bone sometimes. Claire Massey in A Woman of Fortune wore blinders for much of her marriage …. there has been times I miss the underside of a situation because I’m often looking at everything “cup half full.”
Let’s talk about A Reason to Stay (Revell, October 2015). Please tell us about it.
Anyone who has read my earlier books knows my stories often pull ideas from courtroom cases I’ve worked on or stories in the news. A Reason to Stay is no different.
In early 2011, I watched with the rest of the country as news media reported on the terrible shooting that left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords fighting for her life. Like so many, I followed her painful journey to healing and prayed for her recovery.
Ms. Giffords’ story hit very close to home. While I was not a victim of a shooting, years back I suffered a stroke, the result of a brain bleed that required multiple cranial surgeries and a protracted hospital recovery. I personally knew some of what Gabby faced and my heart was broken for her.
A Reason to Stay is a very personal story. Not only does Faith Marin face a brain injury and the subsequent struggles to recover, but her real fight is in keeping her marriage intact. This summer, my husband and I will celebrate thirty-five years of marriage, a landmark in a journey marked with opposition. Looking back, I know that we only made it by the grace of God. Over the course of our years together, both of us had to make a decision …. I’m grateful we chose to stay.
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What’s next for you as a writer?
I am in the middle of edits for the fourth book in the TEXAS GOLD SERIES (a collection of stand alone contemporary women’s fiction novels all set in the metropolitan areas of Texas). We’ve just titled the book What Matters Most. I think readers will find another poignant and highly emotional story featuring a woman in the middle of life-changing circumstances. This one will be set in Austin, Texas and the expected release date is next June.
Thank you, Kellie! It’s been fun “celebrating” with you!
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For more information about Kellie, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
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