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Interview with Gail Kittleson

Dare To Bloom became the title of Gail Kittleson's website for a reason. A self-proclaimed late bloomer, she says she's so grateful to be blooming now. Gail is a blessed wife, mom, and Grandma, and loves visiting historical sites with her husband, Lance. She joins us today to celebrate the release of her novel, In Times Like These.

Welcome, Gail. What inspired you to start writing?
Reading was my best friend during childhood. We lived on a farm, and the concept of girlfriends to play with didn’t occur to me until later. I had a brother, and then younger brothers and sisters came along, but my favorite companion was a book. I was the little girl behind the thick glasses who appeared every Saturday at the library in search of MORE.

My junior high English teacher inspired me, too. Her strict take on grammar horrified many of my classmates, but I loved diagramming sentences, and working with words seemed natural and ideal.

What does your writing routine look like, if you have one? What challenges do you face in making time to write?
Maybe because of my age, my challenges center on controlling how much I write rather than finding time for writing. Once a character captures me, I’m a goner. The story takes hold and it’s all I can do to act like a normal human being (as in eating and taking care of household chores) until I write The End.

I’m a morning person, so that’s my best time to write, and the period of the day when I accomplish the most. Because I write historical fiction, researching takes up a good portion of my time. As a story develops, hunches come to me about what might have happened to my character in the historical context, and finding evidence for them brings me special satisfaction.

How has God changed you during your writing journey?
Seeing my positive points has always been a challenge, and writing has helped me realize them. I knew from adolescence that I should write, but like many would-be authors, I once thought “who would want to read what I have to say?”

It took a long time to build my courage, but after having several books published, that debilitating voice in my head no longer held sway. Readers told me how my writing helped or encouraged them in a struggle they faced. One even explained that she normally avoided “Christian” fiction, but because I give my characters no easy way out of their troubles and no pat answers, she’d changed her mind.

So little by little, I began to think of myself as an author worthy of people’s consideration. That’s a long way of saying God has renovated my self-concept through my writing. It’s also the channel through which I can reach out to others.

As you look back on your journey to publication, how did God open those doors for you? What event or connection that may have seemed insignificant at the time ended up being enormously important?
Nothing about my journey to publication seemed easy. The rejections were so difficult to absorb without feeling hopeless. Sometimes, editors made promises they couldn’t keep, and there’s no use pretending that wasn’t difficult and hurtful.

But through it all, there were also shining moments. One was when an editor of a large publishing house took time in her rejection letter to point out one sentence in a chapter that I must NOT delete when I edited again. That may sound insignificant, but knowing that she valued something in the manuscript fueled me to continue.

Authors often point to a certain talk they had with an agent or editor at a conference as highlights on their journey…but honestly, I had some pretty painful experiences. I think it was because my expectations were ridiculously high, and I don’t interview well at all. So those times I thought would be wonderful became very discouraging. It was no one’s fault, but I kept at it. The thing was, I couldn’t not write, and I’ve heard it said that tells you you’re truly a writer.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I like to garden, hang out with our grandchildren, take walks, study languages, and visit historical sites. My husband and I visited England on our fortieth anniversary and I want to go back again and again! We also like to watch British historical dramas.

If you could have coffee/tea/gratuitous amounts of carbs with any author(s), living or dead, who would you choose? What would you talk about?
Emily Dickinson and C.S. Lewis, if I can choose two, but I’d also love to spend time with Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens. These writers know how to touch the heart, and use various methods to do so.
I’d like to fathom Emily’s skill at saying so very much in so few words, and imitate the deep understanding of the human psyche that C.S. Lewis exhibits. With Hugo and Dickens, I’d want to discuss how they learned to use fiction to stir the people of their eras to desire change. What courage they manifested in revealing the shadow side of their worlds!

How can we pray for you?
Thank you for offering. I would like to have a more consistently grateful heart. During this trying time, I’d also ask for wisdom for our elected officials and citizens.


Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of contemporary inspirational romance. Her contest wins include first place in the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, the 2017 Great Expectations Contest, and the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest. Also a professional cellist, Amanda has been spotted onstage with the worship team at the ACFW Conference. A lifelong lover of the flatlands, she lives in Kansas with her husband and their three adorable Wenlets. Amanda is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

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