Conversation: Karen Kingsbury
Don and Karen Kingsbury had three children when they decided to adopt a son from Haiti in 2001. They ended up adopting three boys who have filled their home with joy. Karen spoke with Scott Harrup, associate editor, about the challenges and fulfillment of writing best-selling fiction while being a full-time mom to six children.
TPE: Six kids. ThatÕs amazing. WhatÕs your approach to remaining a committed and involved mother of six and a full-time writer?
KINGSBURY: I believe it was Elizabeth Elliot who said it best: ÒYou just do what comes next.Ó We have a schedule of whatÕs important and we keep to that and just do what comes next.
For example, devotions every morning are very important to us. Our other morning activities have to work around devotions. Reading at night or playing the guitar and singing praise songs as a family is something we do every single night.
You need to be there physically for your kids — the pat on the back, the hug, the handhold — making time to connect with your kids throughout the day. So even with a busy pace, thereÕs enough physical contact and words of affirmation and speaking the love languages throughout the day.
These things set the framework, and then everything else fills in around it.
TPE: During your hours of writing, how do you remain accessible to your family?
KINGSBURY: IÕve done a lot of writing just sitting in my bedroom. My office becomes wherever IÕm sitting with headphones on. If IÕm editing and itÕs a project that doesnÕt require too much concentration, I can be on the couch cuddling between a couple of kids watching a video and still editing.
TPE: Much of your fiction involves romance. In what ways does your marriage contribute to your writing?
KINGSBURY: My husband, Don, is just everything to me in the world. He is the picture of a spiritual leader of a family. He has to be at work at 7, so he gets up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. to spend time with the Lord every day. HeÕll be at the table reading the Bible, or outside walking around the house praying for our family and our home. Prayer is literally breathed in and out of our home, and itÕs because he takes the responsibility as a spiritual leader so seriously.
And romance, we have that too. We laugh. We take walks together. We have a great relationship on every level. When we were dating, he insisted that we would not have sex until we were married. He was adamant that we remain pure or God would not bless our relationship.
Don is a guy who really took God at His Word and trusted Him and made hard decisions based on his faith and trust in Christ, and the blessings just seem to be raining down. Everything I have been able to accomplish through my writing all goes back to this one man and his commitment to Jesus Christ.
TPE: Where do you see yourself centered as a writer?
KINGSBURY: The Lord has called me to write life-changing fiction. I took the example from Francine Rivers, who wrote Redeeming Love. When I read that it just dropped me to my knees. ThatÕs the power of fiction. As believers, we can write fiction in four parts. The world only does three-part fiction: physical, emotional and intellectual. But we can add the spiritual, and thatÕs why it changes lives. My center is life-changing fiction that affects people by coming in through the back door of the heart, where the walls are down, and using a story to bring a message thatÕs crucial to people today.
TPE: Besides possessing the skill and mechanics of writing, what needs to be in place in a writerÕs life?
KINGSBURY: In a Christian writerÕs life you first have to have a relationship with the Lord. You need open dialogue with God — because what He is working on with me in my life is going to be a huge well for me to draw from when I write.
And you have to have passion for your readers. When I sit down to write, I pray, ÒLord, help me. Give me the story thatÕs going to make a difference in somebodyÕs life.Ó When I meet with my readers, itÕs just like meeting with friends.
You certainly have to have skill and mechanics, and I always pray that my ability to tell a story would improve. But if the passion for the purpose of the story isnÕt there, youÕre just going through the motions.
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