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Karen Kingsbury on Bridging Faith with Fiction

The New York Times best-selling author talks partnering with The Hallmark Channel for her new Christmas move and the moment she turned her writing over to God. 

Karen Kingsbury in Hallmarks Christmas movie The Bridge
Credit: © Crown Media United States, LLC

Karen Kingsbury – who’s been called the queen of Christian fiction — remembers the exact moment she dedicated her life’s work to God. It was 1995, her novel Where Yesterday Lives had been rejected by a handful of major publishers and she was scrambling to figure out how to turn her passion into a career.

Kingsbury, who admits proudly to spending her early years with her nose in a book – she had her favorite story, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas memorized by age five – says she always knew her love for reading would lead her somewhere.

“I knew I wanted to write fiction but I didn’t know where that would go,” the author tells Guideposts.org.

A graduate of Cal State University Northridge, Kingsbury studied journalism during her time in school, eventually landing as a sports writer and later a features reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Any story that needed heart and emotional depth, her editors sent to her. Those usually ended up being sad, twisted tales of homicides or violence—not something she ever imagined herself writing.

“It wasn’t the kind of writing I wanted to be doing,” Kingsbury admits.

It may not have been what she wanted to write, but it was something she was good at. A publisher saw one of her stories and offered her a book deal writing more of the same style. Recently married with a baby on the way and worrying about being a mom and a full-time journalist, the opportunity to write from home was something the author couldn’t pass up. 

Four crime books and another child later, Kingsbury had an “Aha!” moment of faith.

Read and Imagine the Bible like never before in Karen Kingsbury’s Exclusive 2 Book Set: The Family of Jesus & the friends of Jesus. CLICK HERE!

Her fifth book, Where Yesterday Lives, was something her heart felt called to write, but it didn’t have the sex or style her publishers were used to in her crime novels. “They didn’t know what to do with it,” Kingsbury says laughing.

It wasn’t until a friend and owner of a local Christian bookstore pointed her to Francine River’s Redeeming Love that Kingsbury, who didn’t grow up in the church and didn’t have a strong relationship with God until she met her husband, realized she had been writing for the wrong genre.

“Inspirational and Christian fiction hadn’t become a genre at that point,” Kingsbury says. “I hadn’t heard of such a thing either so I didn’t even know that was what I was writing.”

She remember finishing Rivers’ novel and falling to her knees.

“I told the Lord, ‘If you will let me write fiction, I will use it to glorify you the rest of my life.’ It was a huge turning point.”

The road wasn’t easy. Kingsbury wrote six books that didn’t sell before her popular Baxter series  – which follows the lives, loves and trials of the Baxter family — was published. She suddenly became an author with the prestigious “New York Times Best-Selling” qualifier attached to her name.

Now, the career Kingsbury describes as a “faith walk” is leading her down another path – one that involves scripts and screenplays.

The writer partnered with Hallmark to bring her beloved holiday novel The Bridge to the network’s annual Countdown to Christmas programming schedule.

In the made-for-TV movie version of The Bridge, two young college students discover romance and their life purpose thanks to a local bookstore and the couple who own it.  The  story spotlights the value of community and the trials we must go through in order to find love and live a meaningful life. 

Kingsbury got in on the action for her first Hallmark film, visiting the set, having dinners with the cast and even making a cameo in the movie.

“It’s so surreal,” the author says of her small part. “I’m sitting in this bookstore that I created in my imagination, and I’m writing in my journal, literally outlining my next book — the one that will be out next Christmas.”

She hopes the film will bring people together this holiday season. The message of the film, she says, is clear:

“Whatever your background or whatever may have been broken in your past, it’s redeemable and there’s something good that can come of it.”

With so much success herself, Kingsbury remains grounded in her own family, one that’s grown recently thanks to the addition of her newborn grandson. Finding the time to write and spend time with God is challenging now that her life has become so full, but the author knows who to thank for the busyness.

Each morning, Kingsbury begins her day by going downstairs, turning on some quiet Christian worship music and having a prayer walk on her treadmill. A lot of her prayer time lately has been spent thanking God.

“It’s beyond anything I could have ever imagined,” Kingsbury says of the lives she’s touched with her writing. “To think that God put this story in my heart but he has other people’s hearts in mind too. That’s so much bigger than anything I could ever do.”

The Bridge airs Dec 6th at 8 p.m. on Hallmark. 

Read and Imagine the Bible like never before in Karen Kingsbury’s Exclusive 2 Book Set: The Family of Jesus & the friends of Jesus. CLICK HERE!

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