If you’ve spent any amount of time visiting my blog, especially in recent weeks, you know how much I love debut Author Kristy Cambron. If you haven’t read my review of her book or how we became friends, click on the links to be taken to them.
Today, I have Kristy on the blog with an awesome interview. This is an excerpt from the interview I had with Kristy that I used for writing the Family Fiction article in the July 2014 issue. Please join Kristy and I, as she has so much to share with her readers.
Bookshelves and Windows: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What made you want to write?
Kristy Cambron: Ah… The question I am most asked, to which I have a very unglamorous answer.
At eight years old, I sure wasn’t a remarkable writer. Nor was I a veracious reader. In fact, I had a passion for art and longed more than anything to become a Disney animator. So to look back now and see how God cultivated this writing dream in my young heart still makes me smile.
As a child, I remember my mother taking me and my sister to the library every week. Instead of seeking out the best of classic literature like my older sister– you guessed it – I went straight to the art section and sat down in the floor between the aisles to get lost in stacks of vintage animation books. And while I didn’t know it then, God was gently wooing me with this love for storytelling. It may have started as a visual artist’s dream, but God had other plans. (Thank goodness, because to this day I can only draw exceptionally poor stick figures). By the time I walked into my first college art history class, I was sold. I’d found my story. And since I knew I’d never be a studio artist, I’d try my hand at writing about what I loved. I look back now and am so grateful that while a passion for writing may not have started at an early age, the storytelling piece has always been there.
Why do you write? Would you say your vocation is more a result of God’s prompting or from your own passion to write, or both? Please explain.
KC: I’ve been an instructional designer and facilitator in Corporate America for nearly fifteen years. It’s been a great teaching ground for me personally, having a full-time career that has helped me learn and stay fresh in the craft of writing. Even so, there was just something that was… missing. I couldn’t quite explain it. I’d known for some time that my dream was to become a Christian fiction author, but how I’d get there I hadn’t a clue. So I prayed, telling God that I’d do anything he wanted me to do. If it was writing for him, I asked that he’d develop the talent, make the motivation grow and to open the doors for it to happen. But if there was something else he had planned, I asked that he’d take the drive away and refocus me in the direction he had laid out for my life. Either way, I wanted his will to take over.
It didn’t take long to find my answer. I went back in my Bible and was able to clearly see the urgings to pursue writing. A key verse in my journey was Matthew 21:22 NIV – “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” And next to it I’d written: “I want to be a Christian author” followed by dates in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011. While it may not have been abundantly clear at the time, I can look back now and see his leading along the way. Now, the motivation– the passion and the opportunity I have been given to share stories that underscore Christ’s love for us– it’s grown exponentially since our family embarked on this publishing dream. And while I sometimes feel like I’m still stumbling along in my day-to-day walk, my heart belongs to Jesus. The best way I can describe it now is to say that writing is like breathing to me, and I want to breathe for Him.
What did your road to publication look like? Tell me about that journey.
KC: I share my publication journey on my website (click here to check it out), in hopes that it can encourage other aspiring authors to follow God’s prompting for their own.
In early 2001, I was working a call center job, answering phone calls on second and third shifts while I attended college classes during the day. You can imagine that there would be spans of time in which we didn’t receive calls – sometimes thirty minutes or more – and I wanted to use that time well. I’d focus on Bible studies or do my coursework in-between calls. Until that is, we had a new leader who requested we not read, surf the internet, or talk over our cubicle walls in-between calls. I remember going home to lament over my lost study time, but found myself saying to my husband, “You know – she never said we couldn’t write! I think I’ll try to write a book.” My husband has been my biggest cheerleader over the years. In a classic encourager’s response, he said, “Okay. Let’s do it!” We went right out and bought a refurbished laptop. On that old thing, I wrote my first novel. It’s lost now (on a random floppy disk somewhere), but the memory of that spark for writing (and that I only wanted to do it for Jesus) is something I’ll always treasure.
Fast forward to 2011. My husband and I prayed about it and decided that we weren’t going to wait anymore – we were going to give this publication thing a go! I hopped on a plane to St. Louis and attended my first writing conference for the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). I walked in there, scared out of my socks, knowing maybe one person and possessing very little knowledge of the publishing industry. I pitched to six agents and editors, and had six requests for my work. I was shocked to come home and have an offer for agent representation a month later. Then began the long period of time where I had to grow – to learn, weather rejection, improve and polish my craft, and make friends in the industry – all while writing new books and establishing an author’s platform. I entered unpublished writing contests – one of which I won, and met the editor who would change this small town Indiana girl’s life. My editor at Thomas Nelson requested my WWII novel about a violinist in Auschwitz and the rest of the story is where the dream became reality.
As your book approaches publication, how do you see God moving in your life?
KC: At the start of my publication journey, my sister sent me a beautiful copy of my favorite book– Jane Eyre. Inscribed in the front cover was a message from her, telling me to follow God’s leading to become an author. That started an idea for me I’d keep track of every step on the road to publication by buying a new copy to mark the milestones along the way– good or bad. I numbered and dated each one, marking the triumphs and the barriers overcome with Christ’s guidance along the way. And when my oldest son and I went to the bookstore to buy #17, I couldn’t stop smiling; we had a contract and we knew it was the last one. We kept going. Through rejection, through loss, through uncertainty… Those books are cherished now because they hold a record of the last years of our family and Christ’s provision through it all.
Our family has been through a year of change, that’s true. And as stepping out as an author and living a life without my father in it is so new, I’ve moved on to collect a new book that I could really identify with– Alice in Wonderland. In many ways, life has completely changed for us. It’s a reminder that we cannot rely on our own plans or our strength.
Your debut novel is titled The Butterfly and the Violin. Can you shed some light on the significance of your title and what parts the butterfly and the violin play in your novel?
KC: There is a key scene between Adele and Vladimir early in the book, in which they meet in a garden – the same garden they’d had a chance first meeting in years before. And in this garden was a bench upon which a butterfly landed, again, as if by chance. I loved the visual of a place that was hidden away, where stolen moments meant so much to these characters. They were alike. They felt at home in each other’s presence. They understood a love for music, and the ethereal feel of their relationship wouldn’t have been right without those light little touches of grace that fly in and out of our lives. How else could that picture have come across than on the light-as-air wings of a butterfly – the nickname Vladimir eventually gives his love?
I believe in God’s plan for our lives. And though I never would have guessed a real-life scene would make it to a book one day, I pulled a garden path and a special bench from my own memory. In college, my husband and I had a bench that we used as our meeting place on campus. We weren’t in a situation anything like Adele and Vladimir’s of course, but I do remember that feeling of having come home somehow when I was with him. I wanted that emotion for my characters, leading them into the darkest days of their young lives. I wanted them to experience love, knowing that it wasn’t rooted in perfection, but that it was a choice every day. Each time they met in the garden, it was because they both found their way there. I love that Adele and Vladimir fought for each other in that way; the butterfly and the violin were the touches of grace in those moments. Adele used her violin to try to survive, playing for the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz. (I encourage you to read the book to find out what happens!) And the butterfly, here too, became a memory of something worth fighting for.
Isn’t she incredible? I personally cannot wait for A Sparrow in Terezin to come out next year! Here’s a sneak peek of the cover and synopsis of Kristy Cambron’s second book:
Two women, one in the present day and one in 1942, each hope for a brighter future. But they’ll both have to battle through their darkest days to reach it.
Today. With the grand opening of her new gallery and a fairytale wedding months away, Sera James appears to have a charmed life. But in an instant, the prospect of a devastating legal battle surrounding her fiancé threatens to tear her dreams apart. Sera and William rush to marry and are thrust into a world of doubt and fear as they defend charges that could separate them for life.
June 1942. After surviving the Blitz bombings that left many Londoners with shattered lives, Kája Makovsky prayed for the war to end so she could return home to Prague. But despite the horrors of war, the gifted journalist never expected to see a headline screaming the extermination of Jews in work camps. Half-Jewish with her family in danger, Kája has no choice but to risk everything to get her family out of Prague. But with the clutches of evil all around, her escape plan crumbles into deportation, and Kája finds herself in a new reality as the art teacher to the children of Terezin.
Bound by a story of hope and the survival of one little girl, both Sera and Kája will fight to protect all they hold dear.