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Interview with Kariss Lynch

Kariss Lynch began her writing career in third grade with a story about a magical world for a class assignment and then chased her dream into college, graduating with a degree in English from Texas Tech University. She loves writing characters the Lord hasn’t decided to make real people yet. She likes to show God-sized dreams, romance, and let's be real, a little sarcasm too. SheI writes about world changers for readers who want to change the world.

Welcome to the ACFW Featured Author spotlight! I enjoyed perusing your website and learning a bit about you, especially discovering that you are another Texas gal!
Thank you for taking the time to do this! I always love meeting a fellow Texan. And let’s be real, Texas is the best state! :-)

Your upcoming release, Shadowed, is the second book in your Heart of a Warrior Series. Do readers need the first book (Shaken) to understand the second or do they stand alone?
I think the reader will appreciate Shadowed more if they read Shaken first, but it is not necessary to read Shaken in order to understand Shadowed.

What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
I hope readers understand that our past doesn’t define us. Fear isn’t definitive and courage is a choice. Both men and women can develop the heart of a warrior, but it is something you choose to fight for and become every day.

Your bio says you began your writing career in third grade with a story about a magical world. Do you (or your mom) still have that story? What has your journey to publication looked like and what event or decision do you see as being pivotal in reaching your goal of becoming published?
I actually do still have that story. I even had to ask my teacher for more paper to make it longer than what we’d been asked to write. I remember making the trees look pink like cotton candy. I think my next story involved fairies named after all my friends. My mom says she knew then that I would be a writer. I don’t think I really believed it until college.

My journey to publication has looked a lot like putting one step in front of the other and watching God be faithful. You know that scene in Indiana Jones where he needs to get across a chasm? He takes a step and realizes there is an invisible bridge. He still can’t see the bridge, but he has to trust that it is there and keep taking one step at a time until he is across. That is my journey.

When I was 21, a mentor at Focus on the Family Leadership Institute challenged me to just start writing and not wait. So, I did. After the Haiti earthquake, I picked up a pen and wrote a few paragraphs of a story that turned into Shaken, which turned into a series of three. DiAnn Mills walked me through writing a novel and helped me get connected to the Christian Writer’s Guild. I started going to conferences and met an editor from Charisma and my agent. I eventually signed contracts with both, and my journey continues today!

What led you to choose the genre in which you write?
I don’t think I ever planned to write romance. I love all different genres but tend to prefer a little action with my romance. That’s one reason why I chose a SEAL to by my hero. As I’ve continued in this series, I began to love writing romance. The books I read as a teen shaped what I thought of relationships. I get to help paint that picture now.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
As an author, my writing is a direct overflow of who I am, what I love, and what I want to paint. When I am not abiding with Christ, my writing is weak, and the message is of me and not of Him. I have great support from family and friends who constantly remind me to pray about my stories, spend time with the Lord, and then let Him speak through me. I don’t think my stories are divine inspiration. I do think the messages buried in the undertones of the story reflect what the Lord is teaching me. For this series, he has taught me a lot about His love for me, what it looks like to have courage, and the faith it takes to fight for something bigger than myself.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I have a great support system. Story and character ideas came from everything around me. For this series, I didn’t know where to start with character names, so I picked names from people I knew and then looked at the name meanings. The names I chose for the main characters reflect a trait I wanted that character to embody.

What is your writing routine? Any quirky habits or must-have snacks?
I usually write at night, usually late after my day has come to a standstill. I work out right before I sit down to give me a burst of energy. My space has to be clean so I don’t feel like I have a ‘to do’ list waiting for me when I am finished writing, and I like a candle going and the blinds opens so I can see outside.

What literary character is most like you?
I had to consult my best friend on this one. Without hesitating, she informed me that I am most like Elizabeth Bennet. Elizabeth loves her family, loves reading and art and music, but is unafraid to explore or speak her mind. That is very much me.

If you could have coffee with an author, dead or alive, whose work you admire, who would that be? What would you ask him or her?
Hands down, I would want to have coffee with C.S. Lewis. I have read all the Narnia books and read a lot of his other works in college. I would love to ask what spurred his creativity, how he created Narnia, and how he crafted the stories so subtly. They are timeless.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
I love my down time almost as much as I love my writing time. I am a young adult living in Dallas and have a very large extended family, so there is always something to do or someone to spend time with. When I’m not with people, I’m usually taking a run as the sun is setting after work or watching a TV show or Netflix.

What books are on your nightstand right now?
Raptor 6 by Ronie Kendig, Unspoken by Dee Henderson, and Restless by Jennie Allen. I have a whole lot more in my bookshelf just waiting on me.

Finish this statement: The thing that surprised me most about being a published author was ....
...that it doesn’t just involve writing. You are an editor and a marketer and a publicist and a writer. It’s more extensive than I ever imagined.

Any parting words?
I think God is a big dreamer and He loves to see His children trust Him and not let fear hold them back as they pursue the calling He has placed on their lives. Success as the world defines it isn’t always success as God defines it, so whatever He has called you to do, take a step and start today.

Thanks for sharing with us, Kariss!

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