Have you ever heard the phrase “Don’t meet your heroes?”
We’re a generation led by the faces we see on TV, so that advice makes sense. Actors put on a show without having to reveal their true selves. So, if you met your hero, you might be disappointed to find that the character they portray on TV is different from the actual person.
Authors can often seem like these elusive, unreachable people who are never truly seen like actors on TV. The mystery behind the pages of a book is more than the story we read. Who wrote this? What imaginative mind crafted these characters and made me feel as if I am there with them?
Let me tell you a secret. Authors are regular people.
Shocking. I know!
But really. Your favorite author probably has a typical life. They feed their pets. They take their kids to the park. They chat with friends online. They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you.
Yes. The author of your favorite book would like to hear what you thought about their latest book. I’m painting with a broad brush here, but I can almost guarantee that hearing those kind words from you will put a smile on their face.
I have an interview below with my favorite contemporary Christian romance author, Evangeline Kelly, but first, I have a story for you.
About two years ago, I was contemplating writing my first book. I had read thousands of books. I loved reading! Oddly enough, it hadn’t crossed my mind to actually write my own book.
Until one day, it did.
So I started searching for any piece of information about how I could write a book, publish it, and do it well.
Enter Evangeline Kelly. She saw a post I made in a writer’s group on Facebook and reached out to me. I don’t remember the content of that first conversation, but I felt like I had made a new friend.
We continued to talk. She kept answering my questions. She went above and beyond to guide me through this complicated process I knew nothing about.
When I finished writing my first book, she gave me a piece of advice: Give your book away. For free.
Um, I beg your pardon?
Yes, I heard her correctly. She wanted me to give my book away.
I thought about it for a few days. I threw the idea at my husband who thought it sounded crazy.
One day I was talking with someone I knew online and I told them what I was thinking about doing. This person didn’t gasp and tell me to run the other way. They asked who told me to do this.
I told them, and this friend recognized the name.
The response was something along the lines of, “Yeah, she’s a super awesome, successful author, and I would trust her.”
Then, I did. I decided I trusted Evangeline too. She’d done nothing but help me since we “met” online.
Long story short, it was a great decision. I was an unknown, baby author, and I gave away a LOT of copies of that first book before I even published it.
Two years later, Evangeline is still a trusted friend. I value her advice, I love reading her stories, and I appreciate everything she did to help me get my feet off the ground when I started writing.
So, I wanted you to see a glimpse of the sweet author behind these books. She writes fantastic stories, and I wait impatiently for each new release.
Would you please introduce yourself?
Hi all, I go by the pen name Evangeline Kelly, and I write contemporary Christian romance. To share a little about myself, I worked as a social worker for twenty years at a foster care agency. I loved working with children and families, as it had been a dream of mine since I was in junior high. But I was thankful to have the opportunity to pursue writing fiction, another dream of mine. I feel very blessed to have this as my full-time job now. My husband and I live in Southern California, close to both of our families, which we enjoy.
How long have you been writing Christian romance?
I published my short story in 2016, but I didn’t really get started until I published my first two novellas, “Shaken” and “Matchmaker.” I used those books to gain subscribers while I finished editing my first full-length book, “The Unwanted Assistant.” I published that book in March 2018, three years ago, and I was pleased when Tantor Media purchased the rights for the audiobook.
How many books have you published?
I have twenty-eight books published. Out of that twenty-eight, one is a short story, and twelve are novellas.
Wow. That’s a lot of books!
When did you know you wanted to write Christian romance?
About a year and a half before I published my first book, “The Unwanted Assistant,” I started researching the writing industry. I initially wanted to pursue YA fiction, but I got stuck on the book I was writing and abandoned it for a shiny new romance idea. Christian romance seemed like a great way to incorporate my faith into my books, so I decided to pursue that genre. Thankfully, I completed that novel (The Unwanted Assistant) but I wasn’t ready to publish it right away. I joined Critique Circle and submitted a chapter at a time for critique. While I was doing that, I wrote two novellas (Shaken and Matchmaker) and used them to gain newsletter subscribers.
What is your favorite part of storytelling?
Digging deep into the character’s psyche and figuring out what makes them tick. It’s also inspiring to think about how a particular character can grow and change throughout the book.
I love that your books always seem to have unique premises. What inspires your stories?
Thank you! The process of creating new stories is one of my favorite parts of writing. I keep an idea journal and write down new premises as they come to me. Sometimes it’s an article or something said on the news that sparks my interest. Other times, I start with the troupe and think of potential ideas that way. I like to write character-driven stories, so I often start with the characters and come up with plot ideas based on the realities I’ve created for the hero and heroine.
How much of your real life do you write into your stories?
I haven’t written actual events from my life or from the lives of anyone else I know, but I have used my experience to draw upon. For example, I worked as a social worker for twenty years, so I’ve used my general experience there to create storylines. My sister is a science teacher and helped me with the science aspect in Blind Date with a Billionaire Professor, and my husband is an electrician and helped me with some of the concepts for Blind Date with a Blue-collar Billionaire.
Can you tell us a little about your most recent book, Blind Date with a Billionaire Reality Star? I just finished reading it and loved it.
I thought it would be fun to write a reality TV storyline, and it made sense to incorporate a dating show since the series is about blind dates. I always try to put myself in the character’s shoes and imagine how I would feel in a given situation, so that part was fun. It’s a challenge to come up with new billionaire stories that incorporate a blind date, so I had to think outside of the box. My only concern with writing a bachelor-type story was that I hated the idea of a hero who kissed a bunch of women besides the heroine. So, I made it more family-friendly and had everyone compete for a date rather than a relationship.
I’m currently working on the second book in my Wedding Planner Series and will most likely alternate books from that series and my Blind Date Series. I would like to do another book in my Alaska Series this year, and I’ve been thinking a lot about doing a cowboy series, but that would happen much later if I’m able to get to it.
Yes! I can’t wait. I love all of your books, and I’m excited to hear you’re considering a cowboy series.
Are you a pantster (write by the seat of your pants) or a plotter (everything planned out ahead of time)?
I’ve always been more of a plotter because I like to come up with a detailed outline ahead of time. But I have “pantsed” several books, including the first book in my wedding planner series. That can be a lot of fun if the ideas flow easily. Otherwise, having an outline helps me with the bigger picture and keeps me on track, but I allow myself room to change direction if it benefits the story.
What are your hobbies?
Writing used to be one of my hobbies, but now that I’m doing it full-time, I guess I can’t claim that one. To be honest, I don’t have much time for hobbies. I like to read a lot, and I prioritize spending time with friends and family.
What is your favorite Christian romance book?
I adored the Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers and read the first book in a day. I devoured the second two pretty quickly. The cliffhanger at the end of book one really got to me, and there were no Kindles back then, so I had to wait to receive the next two books in the mail. I was completely lost in the ancient Roman world Francine Rivers created.
What are your top three favorite Christian romance authors?
Linda Lee Chaikin, Lawana Blackwell, and I loved Angela Elwell Hunt’s Heirs of Cahira O’Connor Series. They’re all historical Christian romance, which is funny because I write contemporary, but I love reading fiction that focuses on the past.
What is your favorite verse from the Bible?
The one that comes to mind a lot is Isaiah 54:10, “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you. And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” says the LORD who has compassion on you.
And I’ve always loved Jude, verse 24. Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy.
Those are wonderful verses. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and share a little about yourself.
If you haven’t read any of Evangeline Kelly’s books, I would recommend them ALL. She has a wonderful gift for telling stories of faith and love.
You can find all of her books on Amazon.
She also has a special free book you can receive if you sign up for her newsletter. You can find the signup link here.