(If you missed it, check out winner Theresa Santy’s interview here)
The 2013 Fiction Page Turner winners and runners up were announced earlier this month, and I’m planning to take December to get to know each of the three. Check out the link above for our winner – and read on to learn more about runner up Kevin Ingram, his manuscript The Grimmest, and more!
Joanne Sher: First of all, congratulations on your honorable mention! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?
Kevin Ingram: I was actually watching the clock closely, anxious to see the results. I kept checking my email around midnight just in case they announced early, which they did, and was surprised and elated to see my entry in the top three. This was my third year entering the Page Turner Contest, and I was hoping to do better than before, so this was a big moment for me! I immediately showed my wife and kids the news, and we celebrated together.
Joanne: Defiitely a reason to celebrate! When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing?
Kevin: Oh my, this goes way back. As a nerdy kid I became a daydreamer, mostly to endure the boring hours of grade school, which led to my penchant for storytelling. In high school and as a young adult, I enjoyed creating silly or pointful short stories to share with classmates or co-workers for a laugh. Later, after I became a Christian, I wrote little poems and short stories to help teach Bible lessons or to add to the church bulletin, and I began to consider writing a novel. I formulated the title and storyline for my first manuscript back in about 1983, and started a second one around 1987 or so, but didn’t work on them very much. I actually have not yet finished either of those, although I still intend to.
Things changed in 2007, though, when my wife and I felt the call to leave the work we were doing to focus on full time ministry. It was during this time of seeking the will of God that I felt a leading to seriously pursue writing, so I started praying about it and began to be inspired with ideas for stories. As a result I have over 50 fiction manuscripts started, including 18 full-sized novels like The Grimmest, plus several non-fiction projects.
Since then I have devoted my time to learning, writing, tweaking and studying the market. Writing is a complicated process in a demanding industry, and cannot be taken lightly if you want to succeed. One thing I’ve learned is that you never stop learning. There is always room for improvement, and becoming a good writer is only part of the equation – you must also learn the business and prepare yourself as an author if you intend to seek a publisher. It’s a delicate balance, creating all the necessary pieces for marketplace acceptance while continuing to write with inspiration and passion. For myself, I have to keep my focus on Jesus to hold it all together. Time will tell how well it all works out.
Joanne: Wow – God certainly gifted you with the ideas you needed! Is writing a hobby or potential career for you?
Kevin: Definitely not a hobby. As a pastor and evangelist, I see writing as another very effective method of sharing the truth of God with others. I hope it will also continue to grow into a career… that’s been the plan for the last five years or so anyway. I would love it if one day my reading audience was the largest congregation I was serving.
The Bible is filled with amazing tales that inspire a deeper understanding of the message. I believe a compelling story can, in many cases, reach further into the hearts of people than can a direct sermon. I am hoping to become effective at achieving that, as the Lord leads.
Joanne: Share a bit about The Grimmest. Where did you get the idea for it? What’s it about? How far along in it are you?
Kevin: The Grimmest centers around an attorney, his secretary and a handful of other characters, and touches on the sensitive subjects of suicide, greed, manipulation and murder. The attorney handles wills, estate planning, financial investments and a few court cases, but suspicion begins to arise about the circumstances of some of his client deaths. He is eventually accused of helping them devise suicides that would create wrongful death lawsuits, benefiting their families as well as the attorney himself. A lot of conflict and emotion as the characters wrestle with these accusations and morals, while reaching to discover the truth about their loved ones and the influences in those lives. The reader is carried through all these interactions and experiences, hopefully to better understand various sides of the controversies from a Biblical point of view.
The title is based on the concept of referencing death as the Grim Reaper. Thus the statement: “Of all the ways the Reaper reaps, suicide is the grimmest.” This is a statement against our enemy who desires to steal, kill and destroy, and that suicide is his worst device.
Joanne: Sounds fascinating, Kevin! How did you find FaithWriters and what made you stick around?
Kevin: When I made the decision in 2007 to seriously pursue writing, I began looking for websites where I could learn, grow and share my heart… some place in tune with my faith and with what I believed was God’s vision for me as a writer. I checked out several Christian sites, some were good and some were surprisingly poor, but FaithWriters was one that stood out, primarily because they were Christian writers who also were writing Christian material. I rarely ever pay to use a website, but I felt this one was well worth the small monthly investment, so I joined. So many things have blessed me there! The weekly challenge was a huge boost to me. The forums, articles, lessons, contests… this site has encouraged me in so many ways. There is no way I could be where I am on my journey today without FaithWriters.
Joanne: I couldn’t have said it better myself! What kinds of books or genres to you prefer to read and/or write?
Kevin: That’s a tough question. I have a lot of works in progress, but they are all wildly different in content, genre and style. Some, like The Grimmest, are very serious and intense. Others are humorous or lighthearted. A couple are just sarcasm. A few are easy to read and enjoy, in others the story spans many years with multiple characters and requires more attention to follow. One is a series of successive short stories that collectively create a big picture and overall message. One is a western. Some are targeted towards teens and young adults, others are designed more for a ‘seasoned’ audience. Another one, called Backslider, utilizes deep drama to subtly address some doctrinal differences among believers today. A very mixed bag.
If there is a common thread to my writing, it would probably be emotion. I am a very emotional person. I laugh, cry, anger and rejoice easily, and I try to take my readers into the spectrum of life emotions that people feel and encounter every day. Since we feel life, it is helpful if we can also feel the gospel and the powerful presence of God. Stories with emotion help to achieve that.
Joanne: Wow – sounds like something for everyone – and that thread, I’m sure, will take you far. Tell us about your family.
Kevin: I love my family! I have an amazing, supportive ninja wife who tolerates all my eccentricities and oddities and still manages to love me intensely. I have ten children, ranging in age from thirty-five down to eight, plus six grandkids ages one to fourteen. My oldest daughter and her husband are youth pastors at a church two hours away, another daughter lives just a little father yet. One son in heaven. The seven kids who still live at home are all involved in ministry with us.
I have been preaching for a little over 30 years, having served as pastor, youth pastor and evangelist in various churches along the way. My wife is also wonderful in ministry, and the kids are a complete worship team and a Christian rock band. Our goal is to be servants for Jesus, in whatever capacity he might lead us.
Joanne: Sounds like a wonderful family! What are your other passions besides writing? (and family?)
Kevin: I am a techie – I enjoy new technology and toys. I love computers, tablets, programming and networking, and although I left that world behind for ministry I still play with it for our home and church use. I write all my manuscripts on a password protected website I created, so I can log in from any device anywhere in the world and type. The documents are never lost and I always have the latest version of my work at my fingertips. Pretty cool.
I also love music. If there was an easy way to make a career out of music, that would have been my first choice. I like all styles of music, as long as it glorifies Jesus, but my personal preference is hard rock and heavy metal. Yeah, I’m a freak. Crank up the guitars and I’m happy.
But my first passion will always be serving Jesus. I was an adult when I became a Christian, and I still remember what life was like before, how desperate and hurting it was. Jesus changed all that, and I will ever love and serve him for giving his life for us.
Joanne: I also came to Christ as an adult, so I know JUST what you mean. Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? If so, what do you hope to accomplish in 2014?
Kevin: Good question. We don’t really do resolutions, but in our ministry each year, we develop a ‘theme’ for the year to build upon. For this year it was “Things unseen, in 2013” based on 1 Cor 2:9-10, referencing all the miracles and life that God has prepared for those who love him. We have seen many wonderful things happen this year, and I expect 2014 to be even greater. God is awesome!
Joanne: That He is! How can folks connect with you and see your writing?
Joanne: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Kevin: Just this: Finishing in the top three in this contest is an honor and a privilege, especially among so many others who have been doing this much longer and are far better writers. I am sincerely thankful for the support and encouragement, and am inspired to push even further. We are all part of the body, and when one succeeds, we all succeed. We just need to encourage one another.
One of my personal verses is: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Col 3:23-24. My prayer for my writing is that it be led by his Spirit, anointed with his power, and directed by his will. It is the Lord Christ I am serving.
I’ve never been interviewed before…. did I pass?
Joanne: I suppose I can give you a passing grade Seriously, it was a joy to get to know more about you, your story, and your life and dedication to Christ! I’m sure you will do well. Thanks again!
Watch for an interview with the second Page Turner Runner-Up, Jim McWhinnie, on the blog soon!