Karen Kingsbury, a popular inspirational novelist, has sold upwards of 5 million books. She wrote eight books last year alone and can sometimes turn out a draft in five days. Two of her recent novels are Like Dandelion Dust (Center Street, 2006) and Ever After (Zondervan, 2007). Stan Guthrie, CT's senior associate editor, sat down with Kingsbury.
When did you convert to Christ?
I came to Christ in my early 20s. I had met the man who I ended up marrying, Don. And he was an amazing guy. I loved everything about him except that he had the tendency to want to bring a Bible to a date, and that was just a little more than I could comprehend. I was so frustrated at [our] constant debate about Christ and the validity and the value of the Word, that I took his precious Biblehighlighted, underlined, notes in the marginsand threw it on the ground and broke it in half, the binding split down the middle. God used that.
That weekend I bought my own Bible. I was going to prove him wrong. And God wouldn't let me sleep[I was] just tormented at why I had to throw the Bible down to defend my watered-down faith. I felt all my traditional beliefs falling away, and God said I could either fall with them or I could grab on to his Word and never let go. It was life-changing, and I gave my entire heart to Christ that weekend.
What do readers like about your books?
I'm receiving 300 to 500 letters every week from people telling me that God used my stories to save their marriage or to introduce them to Christ or to heal a relationship that had been broken. Some people will just write and say, "I never realized that loving Christ was a daily, minute-by-minute event until I read your novels and saw how characters were either ignoring God's voice or following after it." So I think there's a level of realism in my books. You need to get down among the people who are the dirtiest and dustiest, and the depravity, and you need to see Christ's light shining there. I tell that story. My characters are not plastic. So my readers are resonating with what I'm writing and at the same time finding a lasting change.
You deal with real-world issues such as adoption and abuse.
You need a little bit of courage to have a character who will not walk away from a physically abusive relationship, such as the main character in my book Like Dandelion Dust, who will give a baby up because she knows that when her abusive husband comes out of prison, she'll take him back.
What do you think people are hungry for?
The secular world can give you physical, intellectual, and emotional details in depth. But I can give you all of that and the spiritual. And we're all spiritual. You can deny Christ, but you're still made in his image. You can ignore his voice and it may have grown still and quiet, but you still resonate with a story that touches your spirit. They want me to keep telling the truth.
Many people seem to be gravitating to you for spiritual direction.
When you go to church on Sunday, you hear this great sermon. A lot of times what you're going to walk away with is the illustration. I have the incredible blessing to be able to take truth and show you an illustration that will change your heart because it's a story, and the walls of your heart are down. You're not coming into a novel thinking, "I really need to save my marriage, so I'm going to read this novel." You're looking a lot of times for escape. That's I think why Christian fiction initially wasn't viewed as something valid to the Christian walk, because it was more of an escape. But when you can come into a story, the walls of your heart are down. We can use more storytelling, I think, on our journey to understanding faith.
The world needs story. The power of story is an unbelievable force. When Jesus wanted to tell you straight, he just told you straight. But when he wanted to touch your heart, he told a story.
Do you ever get tired of writing?
No, I love writing. But the business of writing takes up ten hours to every one hour of writing.
Copyright © 2007 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Karen Kingsbury keeps an online journal on her website.
Like Dandelion Dust is available ChristianBook.com and other retailers. They also have an author interview and an excerpt.
Kingsbury wrote adopting three of her children in Today's Christian Woman
Today's Christian had a profile of her.
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