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Interview with Kristen Terrette

As a versatile writer of both fiction and non-fiction, Kristen Terrette has now jumped into the world of young adult fiction with her novel See You Monday, releasing this April through Elk Lake Publishing. We catch up with Kristen on switching from adult contemporary romance to a young adult split-time novel, how Pinterest spurs her creative flow and what her novel’s tag line “One choice can change everything”, means in her own life.

Welcome Kristen! I am so excited for your first young adult novel, See You Monday.
Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to start writing fictional stories?
I was always the kid lost in her head with characters, either ones I made up or ones from the gazillion books I read, but my adult life landed me in children’s ministry. Honestly, there were certain parts about running a kid’s ministry I was terrible at, but I thrived in others like bringing a Bible story or character to life.

During this time, I told a friend a story about an experience, and her response was something like, “You should write that down.” It was like God planted a seed then. I began handwriting stories in a journal, and my desire to write grew and grew.

One day during prayer time, as I wrestled with quitting my children’s ministry job to write full time, God whispered, “You are a storyteller.” Now, I felt I was a good storyteller on Sunday mornings with the kids, but I knew He also meant my writing. My husband and my pastor (who was also my boss) fully supported me, so took a leap into the unknown and began the writing journey.

What inspired you to make the switch from writing contemporary romance such as your Moanna Island Series to this time-slip YA story?
My husband jokes I watch “teeny-bopper” shows. And it’s true some of my favorites are teen-focused. But even still, I always saw my career in the romance world, and many writers and readers advised me not to switch genres.

But God downloaded teen stories in my head. The plot and characters in my current projects are also young adults. I figure God wouldn’t give me these if He didn’t want them told. And He doesn’t waste our time, so I feel like I’m simply following His lead. So far, so good!

Where did the inspiration for See You Monday come from?
See You Monday was inspired by my mother’s childhood. I’d heard the stories about the year she realized God existed and worked in her life for many years. It also happened to be a tumultuous time in history—the early sixties. And since her story involved many of my family members, I easily imagined these rich characters and sought out to bring them to life for others to enjoy like I had.

And I added high school senior, Grace, into the mix. I have a teen daughter, so she inspired parts of Grace’s personality. Like all teens, Grace is faced with choices each day—to conform to the fallen world or choose to make a difference for good. Her story (told in the present day) is one of growth, and her family’s history impacts her future, which I believe is true for everyone.

How did you go about learning more about the 60’s, and in particular the key events like desegregation and the civil rights movement that you discuss in your novel?
I love history and often fall asleep watching the History Channel, so it certainly wasn’t a hardship to research this time period. I watched hours and hours of video documentaries and YouTube clips, read court and school board documents (luckily you can find lots of these online now), and clicked on hundreds of internet links. My mom and I even took a special trip to her old neighborhood and where her elementary school was located so I could visualize these real places. Every element in the time-slip portions were inspired by some piece of research—Chattanooga, TN, sit-ins, desegregation, Dr. King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and even the movies and actresses who lit up the screens and magazine covers. And I loved every minute of learning about all of it.

Has your teen daughter read See You Monday? What do your children think of Mom, the author?
Sadly, both my kids are not readers. They definitely follow after their dad—stellar athletes who don’t want to sit still and read for fun. However, they know all about the book’s storyline, and I do believe my daughter, who mirrors Grace’s character in many ways, will read it once she has a print copy in hand.

They don’t know any other authors, so maybe that makes me somewhat unique in their eyes. But mostly, I think they consider me a stay-at-home mom, mostly at their beck-and-call, who spends a ton of time on her computer. One day I hope they consider it a cool career!

What message do you hope readers take away from See You Monday?
One choice can change everything.

We make thousands of choices every day, both big and small. And all these choices cause ripple effects. One choice, one we may think isn’t a big one, might make a huge impact and cause a giant ripple in someone else’s life. I fully believe when we’re listening to God, striving to follow Jesus and His ways, He uses us to do His good and perfect will by guiding our choices. See You Monday demonstrates this. We read about choices from the past influencing the future and changing the course of someone’s life. God uses Grace in a miracle, and hopefully readers will begin to think about what and how God can use them in one. I’m giddy waiting for everyone to read how it plays out.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
It feels as natural as breathing to add God into my stories since He’s the answer to all life’s hardships. Ironically, it’s a struggle to write in the young adult genre without sounding “preachy.” My agent, Steve Hutson, and I have discussed this quite a few times.

He once asked how my teen daughter’s friends related to me. I strive to love and forgive easily, and for our home to be a welcoming one. And I believe my daughter’s friends see me as an (imperfect) Christian. So, Steve challenged me to write adult characters who spread Christ’s love like I try to every day. Hopefully, this has helped me find the balance needed for the young adult audience.

I know you have a special fondness for Pinterest. Can you help readers and other authors like myself understand how you utilize the power of Pinterest in your writing life?
The visual power of Pinterest is incredible! Anyone can bookmark a website or scroll through images on a search engine about a topic, but Pinterest lets you store these things under one “file” (board) which is easy to go back to, or add to, time and time again. I can “pin” an image and link its website directly. But I can also search something like “dresses in the 60s,” and thousands of image pins will pull up. I can easily find what catches my eye to use in a description or study what pulls up as research. Plus, unlike the folders stored on my computer, this is essentially a file I can make public. Anyone can view my inspiration!

Once you have your Pinterest board developed, do you dive right in by the seat of your pants or continue with some heavy outlining and plotting before starting chapter one?
I chew on a story a while, first outlining the main points and characters in my head, then on my computer. See You Monday and my current project also mean researching historical events and places.

By the time I sit down to write to first page, I typically have a general guide as to the story flow. I may know points A, B, C, and D, but how my characters get to them is pretty open. So, in that way, I fly by the seat of my pants and just start writing. My latest project also takes the reader back in time, and though I know the whats/whos/ and wheres of these scenes, I haven’t exactly figured out how to insert them into the story yet. Hopefully, God will help me pull it together as I keep chugging along with the novel.

What do you find is the most challenging step in writing a novel?
Honestly, the steps after writing it! I don’t mind the editing process and have developed some thick skin, but it feels long and tedious. I’m also terrible at writing a synopsis and a proposal. I keep hoping these will get easier. Shrug.

With a few novels behind you now, what advice would you love to go back in time to tell yourself?
So often I’ve felt inadequate and incapable. Though every time I considered quitting, God would instill a new fire within me, a fresh story, or put someone unexpected in my life to push me along. Ten years ago, I never saw myself writing fiction (or non-fiction), and if you told me I would be one day, I would’ve thought you were crazy. But when God places a passion in you, it’s hard to deny it. So even when I thought about giving up, I couldn’t.

So, the advice I’d give myself is not to doubt the desire God placed in me. If He’s given me (or you) the dream of writing, then He will help accomplish it.

What can we look forward to reading from you in the future?
I’m excitedly working on another time slip Young Adult novel called Fences Left Broken. I’m hoping to complete it by the fall if this year.


As a teen, Tara Ross first discovered how hope-filled prose can change the entire trajectory of a person's life. Case in point: her life. She now has the joy of sharing this truth with youth every day - as a Speech-Language Pathologist, youth ministry worker and YA author.

Her soon to be released debut novel and blog, were created to ignite sparks of faith for Generation Z. You can follow Tara on instagram (tara.k.ross) or twitter (tara_k_ross) for more book reviews, tattoo worthy quotes and updates on her publishing journey.

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