Kelly will give away a print copy of Beneath the Summer Sun (U.S. residents only). To enter to win join the Rafflecopter giveaway below.
Hi Kelly, first tell us a little about yourself.
A native of Kansas, I’m a former newspaper reporter and public relations professional. I retired two years ago to write full-time. My husband and I have two children, two grandchildren, and two cats. For the last two years I’ve been dealing with ovarian cancer and a motor neuron disease called primary lateral sclerosis (PLS). I love Mexican food, mystery novels, Kevin Costner’s baseball movies, and Garth Brooks’ music.
I’m sorry about the illness and hope you’ll be better soon. Lots of writers were avid readers as children. How about you? If so, what did you read?
I’ve loved to read since first grade. My parents had to tear books from my hands to get me to go outdoors. I read Nancy Drew mysteries, A Wrinkle in Time, Harriet the Spy, Little Women, and Mary Stewart’s Merlin the Magician books, among many others.
Let’s talk about your writing. Why do you do it?
Because it gives me so much joy. I love losing myself in the story. I love it when a character does something totally unexpected. Or a new character shows up out of nowhere. It’s so much fun. I also believe God gave me the gift of writing and He expects me to use it for his glory. I’d hate to waste such a precious gift.
Beneath the Summer Sun is a book about faith, trust, and second chances. Here’s the back-cover 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.
What do you love about this book? And what do you hope readers will tell others about it?
I love that two equally worthy men fall in love with Jennie Troyer. Each man would make a good husband and father. Jennie deserves that after what she’s been through. I hope readers will tell others how involved they felt in the lives of the characters, how they felt as if they were part of the family and how they hated for the story to end.
How do you get to know your characters?
By writing their stories. I don’t do “character interviews” or write profiles before starting the novel. Partly because I am a seat-of-the-pants writer, and also because I used to work full time when my children were young and I had very little time to write. I didn’t want to use that time for planning. I had to sit down, put my fingers on the laptop keys, and go. I did this before I started work in the morning, over my lunch hour, and on the weekends. Fortunately, my characters showed up and introduced themselves.
What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
I try to be at my desk in my office writing every morning by 8:30 a.m. I do my morning devotional and prayers. Then I write until noon, when I stop to eat lunch and watch the noon newscast to see what’s happening in the word. Around 1:15 p.m., I go back to work. This may include writing blogs, answering emails, and social media, as well as promotional work for new releases. At about 4 p.m., I exercise for an hour to an hour and a half. Then I eat supper. Then I relax, unless I have pressing deadlines, in which case I go back to work. I often write on Saturdays to make up for doctors’ appointments that took up time during the week.
Does your faith affect your writing? How?
Faith does affect my writing. My writing is a gift from God and I want to glorify him with everything I write. I want every word to be pleasing to him.
Do you put yourself in your books?
Not specifically, but my life experiences seep into every book. They’re woven into the fabric of the stories from small details to big life events like the death of my brother in a boating accident or my cancer diagnosis, my marriage, and the birth of my children.
What are you working on right now?
I’m editing the last book in this 4-book series, Every Amish Season. I’m also pondering the plot for the second book in the romantic suspense series I’m writing. It’s due in August, so I need to get cracking on it! I’m also doing the marketing/promotions for Beneath the Summer Sun, so it’s a busy time for me.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Read everything you can get your hands on. Hone your craft. Join a writing organization like American Christian Fiction Writers. Join a critique group. Polish your writing until it is the very best you can do before submitting it to an agent or editor. Not everyone agrees, but for me, the best path was getting an agent first. Agents can get your work in front of editors throughout the year. Writers really only have the opportunity at writing conferences when they have pitch appointments. It’s a tough business and good agents know it inside out.
Now a little more about you. What is the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done?
When I was in college, I was an exchange student for three semesters in San Jose, Costa Rica, at the University of Costa Rica. When it was time to return, my friend and I decided to travel back to the United States via bus through Central America. We traveled through Nicaragua without incident, but in Guatemala City, gunfire erupted in the square where the bus stopped so we stayed on the bus and went on to Antigua. In Mexico City, we arrived after dark and had to find a hotel room for the night. They were so packed we had to share a room with a woman we’d never met. It was quite an interesting experience. We both had huge red backpacks that made us stand out like sore thumbs. Crazy gringa women!
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Two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist Kelly Irvin is the author of the critically acclaimed Amish of Bee County, Bliss Creek Amish, and New Hope Amish series. Her newest release is Beneath the Summer Sun, the second novel in the four-book series Every Amish Season from Zondervan Publishing. Her work has also appeared in four Amish anthologies, An Amish Market, An Amish Summer, An Amish Christmas Love, and An Amish Christmas. Kelly is a retired newspaper reporter and public relations professional who lives with her husband in Texas. They have two children, two grandchildren, and two ornery cats.
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