Kristin Billerbeck

Rian: First off, how old were you when you discovered you loved writing and wanted to become a writer? How did it all start?

Kristin: I was up all night on prednisone from multiple sclerosis, and looking for something other than late night TV. My writing career started at 2 a.m.

Rian: I loved Ashley in “What a Girl Wants” and “She’s Out of Control”. She is smart, funny, endearing and very down-to-earth. Tell me, how did she come about as a character? Is she based at all on someone you know?

Kristin: Ashley is a mesh of different women in Silicon Valley. Most of my close friends were single, and I just thought, there is such a great cache of entertainment here. Not that I wouldn’t RATHER have my friends dating well, but dating badly was so much more entertaining.

Rian: What do you feel is the most important feature of Christian Chick Lit?

Kristin: That it has a universal truth that appeals to all women, not just Christian women.

Rian: What do you think will become of the Christian chick lit genre, which is growing at a very fast rate?

Kristin: I feel that it will peak, and that those who write good fiction will be left, and the genre as a talking point will die. Leaving those who really love the genre to get back to work.

Rian: Who are your favorite authors and books, and why?

Kristin: I’m a big fan of the classics and I think it’s the omniscent point of view. Knowing everyone’s business, I just love that, which is why “chick” and “first person point of view” is so fun for me to read and write. I want to know the details of a story. Not the CNN version, but the People magazine version. How old are they? What did their parents do? What led them to become this character in life?

In contemporary authors, I love Helen Fielding (obviously), Marian Keyes, Ann Rule and Maeve Binchy. In Christian authors, my favorites are Colleen Coble, Lynn Austin and Robin Lee Hatcher. The Thorn Birds is probably my favorite contemporary novel.

My favorite book overall is Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. I just love Bathsheba Everdene. That’s my type of heroine, a survivor thrown into a situation where she must decide between heart and head — and it takes a while to get to the head, but ultimately the intellect wins. Scarlett O’Hara is another scrappy heroine who lets her heart rule too long.

Rian: When you are writing, do you have a set schedule (like 9-5, for example) that you write or do you just sit and write whenever you are in the mood?

Kristin: I try to write when my daughter’s at preschool, and the boys are in school, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Generally, I write one chapter per day, and edit it the following day. If I don’t finish it by the time I have to pick up my daughter — which is generally everyday as I have a big email fetish — I work until dinner and sometimes beyond. I guess the answer therefore, is no, I don’t have a schedule. LOL

Rian: You have a third Ashley Stockingdale novel coming out in May, which I can’t wait to read. What is it going to be about?

Kristin: Ashley has been wanting to get married her entire adult life, but now she has to decide if that’s truly what she wants any longer. Is the dream a myth? Or something she really desires?

Rian: Do you have any other books in the works for Ashley, or is her story ending in the third book? If not, what other books do you have planned?

Kristin: Ashley is going to rest for a while. She takes a lot of energy, and I want to write a heroine who’s a tad more mature. Not much, but a bit. My next series is called the Spa Girls. It’s about three college friends who meet at a California spa to chill when life is going badly. The first book is called “She’s All That” and follows San Francisco fashion designer, Lilly Jacobs. Lilly has bad hair, a Lysol fetish and a complete lack of eligible, straight men in her life.

Rian: What do you think of the chick lit genre in general, and about the people who bash it?

Kristin: I love chick lit, it’s such a celebration of womanhood. I love being able to read about Jewish heroines, African-American heroines, and just women from other walks of life. It’s such a treat to walk in their footsteps, and see how much we all really have in common. And the people who bash it? I feel sorry for them. They need to get a life. I don’t like Westerns, yet I don’t feel the need to call them crap and predict their demise at every turn. Don’t you wonder why people are so anxious to see the chick lit trend die? Can’t these writers devote their life to world peace, or something that matters?

Rian: What do you find to be the hardest thing about writing fiction?

Kristin: Depicting a character people care about. It uses all my creative juices, and therefore, I find I’m not a good cook. I don’t have the mental energy to think about what goes on the table because my mind lives in my book until it’s done. That’s very annoying, especially when writing a spoiled character like Ashley. I’m afraid I take a bit too much of her on. And I shop too much. Now my heroine is poor, and I find it’s much easier on my pocketbook. I think, “I can’t shop because Lilly can’t afford that!”

Rian: In closing, if someone walked up to you and said “I just wrote a Christian Chick lit novel and want to get it published. What should I do?”, what would be your reply?

Kristin: Find out who’s publishing it, and get it out there! So many authors are afraid of rejection, but rejection polishes you, it helps you learn. When you hear, “Oh we already have a chick lit author, thank you.” I just don’t buy that. If you have a solid piece of fiction, no matter what the genre, publishers are clamoring for it.

So write your book, study the craft and sell that baby! Attending a writer’s conference is another fabulous way to get feedback. I suggest MountHermon.org which is near Santa Cruz, CA and gorgeous! It’s held the weekend before Easter every year. The price of your admission, includes two critiques with the houses or agents of your choice. Another is ACRW.net (American Christian Fiction Writers — just changed their name from Romance Writers) which is the third week in September, and gives you access to most all the fiction editors in Christian Publishing.


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