By Paige Atwell
Karen Kingsbury was five-years-old when she wrote her first book. While it may not have been a bestseller, it certainly ignited a path that would spark a lifelong passion for story-telling. But if you had told this young girl that she would one day become the author of not one, not two, but over seventy novels, she would have probably called your bluff. In fact, as a freshman at Pierce College, she would have told you she was going to be a prosecutor.
That is, until she took Journalism 100. After three weeks in the class, Professor Bob Scheibel, an experienced journalist and advisor for the school newspaper, uttered two sentences that she would never forget.
“Two things. First, you will never, ever stop writing. And second, you’re on staff.”
And just like that, her future was set.
In 1988, Karen married her husband Donald. The two lived in a rented, $100-a-month garage apartment with no air conditioning or heat while Donald finished up his teaching credentials and Karen worked at a newspaper.
After moving to the Los Angeles Daily News, Karen and Donald celebrated their six-month anniversary and found out that they were expecting their first child.
“I figured I’d never know this baby- too busy working long days at the newspaper,” said Karen. “Donald simply rejoiced and said, ‘We need to pray. God will show you a way to write at home.’”
Shortly after, Karen sold a true murder story she’d covered for the newspaper to People Magazine. After it ran, a literary agent in New York contracted her, thinking it would make an interesting book. As it turns out, so did a lot of other publishing houses.
Three days before she was due to return to work from maternity leave, the agent called to tell her that there was a bidding war for her proposal. Her first check alone was $12.49 more than she made in an entire year.
“Over the next few years, I wrote four true crime books – not my favorite topic,” explained Karen. “After that, I couldn’t write about another murder. I begged God to show me what was next, how I might find my way back to that long-ago Plan A – being a novelist.”
In 1995, Karen wrote her first novel: Where Yesterday Lives. After thirty rejection letters from publishers, Multnomah Publishers wanted her book and two more (at least).
Since then, she hasn’t stopped. She’s written more than seventy novels, with the last dozen having topped national bestseller lists. Currently, there are more than twenty-five million copies of her books in print.
“God puts stories on my heart like movies,” said Karen. “They are vivid and real, and the characters feel like people I know. I love writing the story. But I also deeply love hearing from readers whose lives have been changed by reading the books.”
Along with being a mom, wife and #1 New York Times Bestselling Author, in 2011, Karen added another title to her arsenal: Williamson County Resident.
“We moved here in 2011 from the Pacific Northwest, and I remember having a very specific feeling that first year: I had come home,” said Karen. “When I’m home, I drive through the streets of Franklin and Brentwood and I can’t stop smiling. I love the people and the parks, the manicured grasses and vast blue skies… I thank God daily that Williamson County is my forever home!”
While she’s had quite the successful career to say the least, it is far from being finished. Karen just released her newest novel, Two Weeks, and several of her books are currently being adapted into major Hallmark films. Meanwhile, her Baxter Family series is also being developed into a TV series, and she’s also working as an adjunct professor of writing at Liberty University. And if you were to ask Karen, she would easily confirm with you that she will, indeed, never, ever stop writing.