by C.J. Darlington
Karen Kingsbury Interview
stories that are the most real to me and most emotional are
bound to come quickly because they’re part of what I’m living."
New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America’s favorite inspirational novelist, with over 15 million books in print. Her Life-Changing Fiction™ has produced multiple bestsellers, including Take One, Between Sundays, Even Now, One Tuesday Morning, Beyond Tuesday Morning, and Ever After, which was named the 2007 Christian Book of the Year. An award-winning author and newly published songwriter, Karen has several movies optioned for production, and her novel Like Dandelion Dust was made into a major motion picture and is now available on DVD. Karen is also a nationally known speaker with several women’s groups. She lives in Washington with her husband, Don, and their six children, three of whom were adopted from Haiti.
How did you connect with the Downes Brothers to make Like Dandelion Dust the movie?
Year after year we tended to see each other at the Christian Bookseller’s Association annual convention, and I would have my various things I was doing for publishers, and they would come and find me. They would talk about the books and how their dream was to see one of them made into a movie. Finally, after a few years of that I had a great conversation with them, and we decided that the best thing would be to use my novel Like Dandelion Dust. We both had a passion for why we wanted that project to be made into a movie.
Was the theme of adoption what you both connected on?
It really was. Both Bobby and Kevin Downes have adopted internationally, as has my family. It’s been a great connecting point and caused us to take a really hard look at the issues of adoption.
What surprised you most about the process of turning this book into a film?
I was amazed at what it takes to pull off such a beautiful project as the Downes Brothers have done with Like Dandelion Dust. Just the quality and the care . . . I was on set, so watching my story come to life through the talent of these incredible actors, the whole cast . . . I’d just stand there on the set watching through the monitor and get tears, amazed at how they were able to bring such powerful emotion to these scenes. I was taken by surprise at how powerful that emotion would be.
What was the most surreal moment for you during the movie making process?
Even after the movie began to hit the theaters, hearing people’s reactions, to me the most amazing thing was seeing how life changing it was. Especially from men who were watching it. It was causing them to truly want to love their family more than they ever had. I didn’t expect that. I expected it to be a story that would cause people to really face their fears, and their emotions in dealing with adoption, but I didn’t see it as creating an even deeper love within families where adoption hadn’t been a part of it.
Is that feedback you’ve gotten from the book as well, or has that come mostly from the movie?
It’s the movie part because I have a majority of women reading my books, though I certainly have men who are readers as well, but men will go to the movies. This opens up a whole new door for the Life Changing fiction realm that I deal with on a daily basis. When men actually see the movie they get a chance to experience Barry Pepper, and his incredible emotion that he brought to the screen, and just watching the men play out these roles of family and love for children . . . that seems to have been a connecting point. I really think it’s something special in regards to the movie.
What’s your favorite moment in the movie?
One of my favorite, favorite moments would be where Mira Sorvino is having a moment with Joey, and she’s having a chance to see this child she hasn’t seen since he was born and she held him in her arms for the first time. She just touches his head and leans close, smells his skin, just that hug she gets to give him when he first shows up in her life again was special. Even as the audience is all kind of watching horrified that he would be pulled away from his adoptive family, there’s still a sense that Mira is not the bad guy here. This love for a child is understandable and very relatable. I think from that point on we start to empathize with Mira’s character as the birth mom, that she really loves this child and ultimately will be acting on that love.
What’s unique about this story is that she’s not portrayed as the bad guy.
Exactly. It’s complex, and people can see both sides of the story. That will always create a compelling storyline, and that’s what you see with the movie specifically because it’s condensed. It’s not going to have every scene that I have in the book. Even more so you’re just gripped with how in the world is this going to end?
I’ve heard you say that your most emotional titles come to you quickly, and I’m curious why you say that.
A lot of times it’ll be something I’m dealing with. We adopted three little boys from Haiti, and I felt like in the process there were a lot of fears we had to face. The fear that they wouldn’t like us, the fear that they wouldn’t get along with our biological kids, the fear that we wouldn’t be able to raise them in the way someone in their culture would be able to raise them. Just a host of fears. And then kind of overriding all of those fears was the fear that, what if something happens and someone comes and takes them away? That there’s been a mistake, or you get that horrifying call from a lawyer saying it isn’t real, they really aren’t your kids. The way that we dealt with all those fears was Scripturally the fact that the Bible tells us perfect love drives out fear. Okay, we thought, let’s just love them perfectly. We never have a guarantee for tomorrow for anyone we love, so living in that place instead of in fear gave us a way to handle our adoption and the novel really created very quickly . . . this whole storyline came to me in less than fifteen minutes. I realized I had to write a story showing that perfect love drives out fear in the situation of adoption. The stories that are the most real to me and most emotional that way are bound to be quick because they’re part of what I’m living.
I didn’t realize that you became a Christian a little later in life, in your twenties. Could you share how God wooed you to Himself?
I was raised with a denominational faith where we kind of took that for granted. I didn’t have a relationship with the Lord until I met my husband. He was this great guy, and I thought he was very cute, and he was searching for the right church to attend. How he was doing that was taking the advice from his sister who said, read the Bible first and then go find a Bible believing church. He was in the middle of that process when I met him. Before our first date he was like, do you think it would be okay if we spent a few minutes reading Phillippians? And it was completely out of left field for me. I’d never opened a Bible. It was very weird, but I thought he was cute, so I didn’t want to lose him right away. I had a very obstinate heart and was not discerning to God’s Word at all, but I sat through those moments.
About three months into our dating days I got very tired of hearing him talk about Scripture. He wasn’t being pushy, it was just my conviction. I took his precious Bible that was underlined, and threw it on the ground and broke the binding in half. God literally used that moment to change my life. Don picked up the pieces, gave me a sad look and drove off. But I took my first trip to a Christian bookstore and bought a Bible, a concordance, and tried to prove him wrong on some of my traditional views. Instead, the Lord’s voice spoke very clearly to me and said to me that it was time to let go of some of my man-made beliefs, my traditions, and grab onto His Word and never let go. It was a life changing moment, and I’ve never wavered from that since.
I heard also that God used Francine Rivers’s writing to impact you.
Francine is a good friend of mine now, but back in the day I hadn’t really heard of her. I loved reading and I loved writing, and I wanted to be a novelist, but I never saw myself as being a Christian novelist or writing stories with any kind of a redemptive theme. In my mind, although I hadn’t read a lot of Christian fiction, I felt like that probably it would be watered down and not very real, not dealing with issues that people deal with, the people sitting next to me in the pews. At this point I’d been a Christian for eight or nine years, and I felt there were so many real things people were dealing with, and I didn’t want to have to water it down.
A friend of mine said, well you have to read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I got a hold of it, and I read it. When I finished that book I literally hit my knees. I just asked the Lord to forgive me for having an attitude that writing for him would be second best. I knew from that day on I would be writing stories that have the potential for changing lives.
Do you have an update on some of the other movies in production based on your books?
The Downes Brothers are working hard on A Thousand Tomorrows. We’re in the beginning stages of development on that one. The stories Even Now and Ever After are going to be combined into a single movie called Even Now, and we’re at the early stages of script development for that one too. It’s exciting to see these things happen. Today was a day I never imagined would come, the day that my first theatrical release, Like Dandelion Dust, would be released to DVD. It’s a day to celebrate.
Watch the trailer for Like Dandelion Dust:
C.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.