Author Karen Kingsbury’s career started with a string of true-crime books, but by the fourth one, she said she found herself needing to move “to the light.”
The crime stories didn’t reflect her, as a wife and mother of two young children, Kingsbury said recently during a phone interview from her home in Nashville. Kingsbury said she and her husband weren’t wealthy, but unlike the stories she was writing, they were happy.
She decided to try fiction. With a baby sitter on tap for 10 days, Kingsbury said, she wrote the draft of her first novel, Where Yesterday Lives.
Written in 1997, Where Yesterday Lives marked the beginning of Kingsbury’s move to the religion or inspirational-fiction genre. Last year, sales of titles in the religion category grew 6 percent, according to Publishers Weekly. The gains came at a time when genres such as romance, mystery and fantasy saw declines.
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Kingsbury has sold more than 25 million books. On Tuesday, Brush of Wings, the third book in her “Angels Walking” series, is set for release. Kingsbury said the books reflect her belief that “there are angels among us.”
She said her writing gives people a “level of hope. They want to believe that God is there.”
Kingsbury said she tries to encourage people “to be more aware, look a little harder at the things that are happening, don’t get caught up with the despair and the drudgery.”
Brush of Wings follows the series structure with readers knowing who the angels are and what their mission is. The angels — Orlon, Ember, Beck, Jag and Aspyn — aren’t revealed to the characters as such. In Brush of Wings, the team of angels knows characters Mary Catherine, Marcus Dillinger, Tyler Ames and Sami Dawson, so it’s imperative that the angels complete their mission without detection.
Mary Catherine needs a heart transplant, but she tires of waiting for a donor and decides to go on a six-month mission trip to Uganda despite her doctor’s dire warnings. Her relationship with Marcus, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is on hold because she doesn’t think he’s ready to commit. The angels nudge and intervene along the way as they try to accomplish their mission.
She said the angel stories are a part of life, but people don’t always realize it. Kingsbury said that after she learned that her book sales had exceeded the 25 million mark, she thought of her late father and how happy he would have been.
Later that day, she met singer Rod Stewart, and the encounter was reported on Today’s “GodWink Moment,” as Kingsbury told him of her father’s love for Have I Told You Lately.
Kingsbury was once a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. She and her husband, Don, are the parents of five adult children, three of whom were adopted from Haiti. Her writing career began when she was pregnant with their first child.
They were praying for a way for her to stay home once the baby was born when a crime story she had written caught the attention of a literary agent. Her proposal resulted in a contract that was three times her salary at the Times.
Kingsbury said she began her spiritual journey while dating Don. “He thought there had to be more in life than what he was seeing,” she said.
Kingsbury said Don was reading the Bible for guidance, and initially there was conflict as she tried to rely on her “moral code.”
“I just wanted to prove he was wrong and I was right,” she said. “Instead, God spoke to me through the words.”
Brush of Wings
- By Karen Kingsbury
- Simon & Schuster, $22.99
- Audio: Simon & Schuster Audio, $29.99; narrated by actors Kirby Heyborne and January LaVoy.