Novelist offers encouragement
Karen Kingsbury credits her success first to the Lord then to her studies in journalism
Best-selling author Karen Kingsbury returned to Liberty University Wednesday, Feb. 26 to address students in Convocation and participate in a special book-signing event at the Liberty Bookstore.
Kingsbury, who has written more than 50 books with dozens of her titles debuting at the top of the New York Times Best Seller’s list, inspired students in her Convocation message to write their own life stories by loving well, laughing often and always looking for the miraculous.
With more than 25 million copies of her award-winning books currently in print, Kingsbury attributes all of her creativity to God.
“It may sound cliché, but I really do find my inspiration from the Lord,” Kingsbury said. “He puts a movie on my heart, and it comes to life. I can see the colors and smell the smells and feel like I literally know the characters even though they’re not real. He places this movie on my heart, and I just have the privilege of putting it on the page.”
Kingsbury also credits her studies as a journalism major for where she is today.
“When people want to be a novelist, I always say you ought to be a journalism major because you learn to write,” Kingsbury said. “All the time, I’ll meet people who are English majors, and I’m thinking that’s a better major if you want to edit. But if you want to write, journalism will teach you to write.”
After serving as both a sports and feature writer for the LA Times, Kingsbury authored her first four books on real crime stories that had happened in Los Angeles.
“I wrote four of those, and I couldn’t do another one,” Kingsbury said. “That’s when I wrote my first Christian novel ‘Where Yesterday Lives.’ There is no question that the training and the doors that were opened through my journalism degree led directly to where I am and God just used that.”
Kingsbury described balancing her work as an author, a wife and a mother as “a constant prayer,” but insists that her family always receives precedent.
“I have a great husband who prays for me and loves me,” Kingsbury said. “He is totally, 100 percent ready to help, and he will do anything to keep things on track. And several of my kids now help out with the ministry, so it’s a family affair for sure.”
Kingsbury’s daughter, Kelsey Kupecky, was the inspiration for the main character in the four-book Bailey Flanigan series and is pictured on the cover of all four books in the series.
According to Kingsbury, who is a self-professed Christian, 70 percent of her readership is non-Christian.
“I know it’s hard to imagine, but that’s what the demographic shows,” Kingsbury said, commenting on the percentage. “I get a lot of letters from people who have given their lives to the Lord. I put in the back of my books that if you don’t have a Bible or you can’t get one, I’ll send you one. So we keep boxes of Bibles, and every week we are sending them out to people.”
Kingsbury stated that her goal is to write with the unsaved audience in mind.
“I think my books are right at the top of the list of most Scripture and the most salvation message in my stories, and yet people cry, and they love it,” Kingsbury said. “100 percent, I’m an evangelist first, and my tool is fiction.”
According to Kingsbury, God is always in the essence of every story.
“In my mind, a story is physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual,” Kingsbury said. “I think that the secular authors take God out. They’re not comfortable with God, so they just take him out, but he is in the story. For me, I don’t patch God on, I just tell the whole story.”
As a word of encouragement, Kingsbury urged students to unashamedly follow God’s direction in their lives, regardless of vocation.
“I always say, do what God is calling you to do,” Kingsbury said. “When I started writing, I didn’t know if anyone would read it, because I wasn’t going to take God out. So whatever element — if you’re a doctor, a teacher, a psychologist, artist, filmmaker, writer — whatever it is, do what God is calling you to do with excellence and in a way that glorifies him, and he will take it as far as he wants it to go.”