Saturday, March 28, 2015

Author Interview | Kelsey Bryant

Today, we have Kelsey Bryant, author of the Six Cousins series, visiting With a Joyful Noise (you will notice me mentioning the two current books in her series: Family Reunion and An England Adventure)! I had such a blast interviewing her and reading her answers. Thank you, Kelsey, for taking the time for this interview!
Me: When did you know that you would be an author?
Kelsey: It came as a decision at my high school graduation celebration; at least, that's when I have the clearest memory of feeling the decision settle its weight inside me. I was 17; people, of course, wanted to know what I would do after graduation, and I told them "something to do with books"; I didn't want to commit to being an author just yet, though I was working on a novel (Family Reunion, as a matter of fact!). Writing stories was something I'd done since I could print, and at age 11 one of my biggest dreams was to publish a book, but it took me until age 17 to fully make the decision. It felt like God's leading. Writing a novel became my main academic focus after high school, since I didn't go to college. That was seven years ago this spring. (How time flies!)

Me: When you began writing Family Reunion, did you know that this book would be your first publication? If not, when did you realize that it would be?
Kelsey: I didn't know it would. When I first started, its plot was so indistinct I didn't know if there was a whole story behind the mist or not. Then plenty of ideas emerged, and I realized, maybe in 2010 or 2011, that my dream to publish truly was doable and this would be the easiest story to pursue. (My others were too ambitious to be taken seriously at my age.)

Me: How long did it take you to write Family Reunion? In comparison, how long did it take you to write England Adventure?
Kelsey: It took me five years to complete every little detail in Family Reunion, but I interspersed it with other writing projects and set it aside some, either because I was getting stuck, feeling intimidated, or waiting for beta readers. I hope it doesn't take me that long again to finish another book! The first draft of England Adventure I wrote in 13 months, which I was rather proud of, given my history. (It was 18 months from conception to completion.) But then came more drafts and other projects (including polishing and publishing Family Reunion); and so it has been in the works almost four years from the very, very beginning. 

Me What is one of the biggest lessons you feel God taught you during your writing/editing/publishing process?
Kelsey: It's hard to pick the biggest one, because He taught me so much. Probably the most important was to trust Him with everything: my future, my dreams, my life, my work. There were times I was afraid I was going to lose everything I worked for, like when my computer crashed. Things like that made me question whether I was moving in the right direction. But God never let me lose my work. He saw me through all the setbacks and Family Reunion was published in His timing and blessed beyond my expectations. He also brought other writing opportunities to me, such as magazines and blogs. Hand in hand with trusting in Him, He also taught me not to trust in and take myself too seriously ... that I'm not ultimately responsible for how my career goes; He is. (I'm still learning this lesson of trust!)

Me: What is your goal/vision in writing?
Kelsey: Before beginning a story, I ask myself if it possesses a truth or lesson somewhere in its makeup that will enrich people's lives and/or draw them closer to God. If it does, I know it's worthwhile to write. We absorb thoughts and ideas from everywhere, especially in our "entertainment" (when our minds are relaxing, they seem to get more elastic or something), so my goal is to provide safe, uplifting, thought-provoking literature that will make readers desire God more and feel that they have a mission to glorify Him, be a light, and do His will for their lives. 

Me: Do you find yourself using struggles, victories, and spiritual lessons that you have personally experienced to help teach lessons in your books?
Kelsey: Yes, I think I do ... in fact, it's essential to my books. Even if I haven't experienced what a particular character goes through, I still have to identify their struggle with mine in some way or else I can't really write about it. Spirituality seems to naturally enter my stories, so I feel that struggles, victories, and spiritual lessons are most effective when they're personal. It's the same case as when I write devotionals ... they have to come from my spirit. 

Me: Do you usually plot out your novels, or have random ideas and just write?
Kelsey: So far I plot out all my novels. Sometimes, in the midst of plotting, when I'm stuck on how I want them to go, I just dive in and start writing at the beginning, just to get over that feeling of immobility, and that usually helps me continue the whole process. I could not write a novel without some sort of plan or outline ... I just don't think that way. That's how I am in the rest of my life, too! Very much a planner, unless I can't see where I'm going, and then I take a potentially risky jump forward so I can actually advance. 
Me: What is one thing that you would encourage younger writers in?
Kelsey: Hmm ... it's a little hard to limit it to one thing! I would say give your talent to God, but it seems like a lot of the young writers I know have that down pat. I really admire their heart of faithfulness! On second thought, I will go with that, because it's absolutely the most important thing to do with any talent: use it to glorify God. It involves different things for different people, but make sure you're writing what God wants you to write. What readers need is uplifting literature, not more stuff that is popular with the world now. 

PictureMe: I remember seeing that you recently went to England (for your second Six Cousins novel?). What is one of your favorite England memories?
Kelsey: I smile whenever I think back on my trip to England. I'd always wanted to go; that desire was where the inspiration for England Adventure(Six Cousins, Book 2) came from, and before I published this book, I was blessed to be able to go on a historical costume tour with a dear friend. One of my favorite memories was actually outside the tour ... my friend and I met up with another young author and her mom who live in England and visited Jane Austen's House Museum in Chawton, about an hour from the borders of London. It was like a scene out of my book; I felt just like Marielle, my MC, as I walked the wooden floors, admired the curios from Jane Austen's life, and imagined her living there. The entire village of Chawton was beautiful, and we had such a sweet time together as friends. We even had a cream tea at Cassandra's Cup, the tea room right across the street from the House. It's something I'll savor forever.

Me: Who do you find encourages you most in your writing journey?
Kelsey: My mom. She's usually the first brain I pick when I'm asking advice about my writing, the first ear to hear my ideas, and the first heart I share my struggles with. She's always there to encourage me and spur me on to better writing.

And then some random questions. :) 
- What is one of your favorite Bible verses?
Jeremiah 31:33 "But this shall be the covenant I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." 
- What is your favorite hymn?
"Be Thou My Vision"
- What is something that you love about your family?
We understand one another and therefore can be open with each other.
- What is one dream that you have?
To go to Israel.
- What is your salvation testimony?
I don't clearly remember making the decision to trust in Jesus (it was something I always believed, because I was raised that way), but my parents obviously knew I was sincere and I was baptized when I was 7. What happened later I remember better: My spiritual life really became real to me when I was around 13, and I think that came about as a combination of feeling convicted of certain sins, like pride and selfishness, and delving into the Bible and reading certain books on the Christian life. 
- Anything else you'd like to add?
I am very grateful to you, Amanda, for interviewing me! It was fun and thought-provoking. For the rest, I can't encourage you enough to seek God and His honor and to die to yourself. "In all your way acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Prov. 3:6). Don't get so caught up in life that you miss out on a rich, intense relationship with the King of kings!

A little more about Kelsey:
Kelsey Bryant is a homeschool graduate from Central Texas. Books have been a part of her family for generations. Ever since she can remember, Kelsey has been writing stories and dreaming of the magical moment when her books would join the ranks. She draws inspiration from the Greatest Story Ever Told, which culminates in the Messiah’s salvation offered to every person. Her life would be meaningless without her relationship with Yeshua (Jesus). She’s also inspired by the classics, especially the works of her favorite authors Jane Austen, L. M. Montgomery, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Louisa May Alcott. She loves history and even her contemporary fiction has a historical bent.

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Note: While I interview different authors on here, I have not read all of their material and cannot personally endorse what I have not read. :)


Kelsey Bryant said...

Thank you so much for having me, Amanda!

Amanda T. said...

@ Kelsey,

And you are welcome so much! :)


"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

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