by C.J. Darlington
Kimberley Woodhouse Interview
"Through every trial, tough time, or mud puddle I’ve found myself in, God’s joy has been there in the midst." -- Kimberley Woodhouse
Kimberly Woodhouse is a wife, mother, author, and musician with a quick wit and positive outlook despite difficult circumstances. A popular speaker, she’s shared at more than 600 venues across the country. Kimberley and her family's story have garnered national media attention for many years, but most recently her family was chosen for ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Montel Williams Show, and Discovery Health channel’s Mystery ER which premiered in 2008. Her story, Welcome Home: Our Family’s Journey to Extreme Joy, releases in September 2009 from Focus on the Family. Kimberley lives, writes, and homeschools in Colorado with her husband and two children in their truly “extreme” home. www.kimberleywoodhouse.com
Kim, you’ve had the desire to write for quite some time, haven’t you? Could you share with us when you first realized you wanted to be a writer?
Yes, I have. But I don’t think I really understood my desire to write for a long time. I’ve always had a love of stories and an insatiable appetite for books, but it wasn’t until my son was a baby that I allowed my own stories to flow. Staying up one night with him when he was sick, I sat at the computer and typed my heart out while he rested. Once I opened the door and let that story out, I realized I wanted to write.
But those writing dreams were put on hold for many years. What kept the
desire burning in your heart?
I think God kept that flame burning for me. It was easy for me to ignore it and set it aside when medical emergencies and craziness blurred the edges of time and months would go by without me writing a word. (Life has a way of doing that—passing without our permission. :) But, in His great love and mercy and through incredible friends, He always fanned the flame and nudged me along.
How did the
publication of your family’s story in Welcome Home!
Woodhouse Family come about?
The only non-fiction I’d ever written was articles and blogs. I thought I was a “novel writer.” Until thousands of people started asking for our story, and then after our episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition aired nationally the first time, every big secular publisher contacted me within the first week. I was thrilled! Woohoo – they wanted our story, they all said I was an amazing writer, and I was on cloud nine. For about five minutes. Because every one of them said, “we’d like you to take God out of the story.”
Well, I turned them all down. First, because God IS the story. Second, because after coming down off the dreamy cloud and wondering, “how do they know I’m an amazing writer?” I realized they probably saw an opportunity to ride on the coattails of the fame we had at the time. And that’s okay. It just wasn’t the right time for me. A few months later, we had offers from Christian publishing houses, and I knew the story of God’s amazing work in our lives needed to be told. So I wrote Welcome Home in two and half weeks, and Tyndale House published it as a Focus on the Family Resource in September of 2009. God is so cool.
Your life Scripture
clearly comes from James: “consider it pure
joy”. You share so much about this in the book, but could you share
with TitleTrakk.com readers any tips you have for what to do when life
hits you hard and the last thing you want to be is joyful?
This question made me smile and laugh. Thank you for asking it.
You see, I’m stubborn. And I have quite a temper—even though it takes a lot to bring it out. :) When I find myself face-first in the mud puddle, sucking up all the filth and grime, my first reaction is to cry. And whine. And complain. Because that’s easy, and comforting (in a wallowing sort of way). But then those verses in James come to mind—sometimes I have to say them over and over with gritted teeth, or while I’m stomping my feet—and I remind myself that all this is temporary, and the battle isn’t mine, it’s the Lord’s. Through every trial, tough time, or mud puddle I’ve found myself in, God’s joy has been there in the midst. I remind myself to grab onto it, and to keep in mind the ONLY true need I have on this earth—and that is my relationship with the Lord. Even though stinky times are not fun—they hurt, sometimes a lot—I can always look back and see how He pruned me, helped me grow, and made His undeniable joy available to me through it all.
Everyone wants to know, what was it like to be on Extreme Home Makeover, but I’m more curious to learn how you’ve dealt with all the fame that’s come your way. How do you balance the famous parts of your life with the every day homeschool mom aspects?
Now that’s a whopper of a question! It’s not easy. In fact, the “fame” aspect has caused many of those face-first-in-the-mud-puddle experiences. :) So I pray. A LOT. And we take it one day at a time. There are days we get swarmed everywhere we go, and other times I finally feel like a “normal” person again. (Which if you read Welcome Home, you’ll get my new definition of “normal.” LOL)
In all seriousness, it’s really, really hard. For the longest time, I tried to say I was the same person as before (because everyone started treating us differently), but an incredibly wise and very dear friend hashed this out with me as I struggled with who I was. I’m not the same person I was before EMHE. This experience totally changed our lives, and thrust our family into the spotlight like never before. So, I’m different. Just like having kids forever changed me, and I’m more than okay with admitting that. Finally. :)
As to balance? Well, quite honestly, I feel like I’m constantly juggling. I still homeschool my kids (yes, I actually teach them myself, grade papers, etc. – you wouldn’t believe how many people ask that!), I drive them to swim team every day where I set up my chair and computer and write while they workout, I have an amazing friend who is a full-time assistant (I think we could use another four of her!), and we try to keep up with all the media, PR, email, and contact. On top of just regular every day meals, laundry, cleaning, etc.
On a funny note, I wear glasses now for the first time in my life. People don’t recognize me as quickly and just this weekend at a swim meet I had a “fan” find me and ask me if I changed my appearance so I would feel “normal” – I laughed. :)
of homeschooling, I’m excited to hear you homeschool
your kids. What are your favorite subjects to teach?
Oh goodness, I love them all – but I think History is my favorite to teach.
Okay, I do have one
question about the Extreme Home makeover show. Were you really completely
surprised when they showed up on your doorstep with
their bus and megaphone or did you have a clue they were there? :)
Yes, we were completely surprised. We knew we were finalists, but I was convinced they would choose another family.
As a musician and a writer, do you find the two mediums compliment each
other or do you have to switch gears when writing music?
They definitely go hand in hand. For the longest time, I didn’t know that because I hadn’t allowed myself the opportunity to write stories. I grew up studying music, had confidence in music and performing, but didn’t think I knew ANYTHING about writing. God used that time to show me I needed to be a willing vessel, not have confidence in my own abilities. I’m so thankful that He is in control and not me!
What has been the most satisfying moment for you as a teacher to your
kids or as a music teacher (or both!)?
To see the little light bulbs of knowledge flicker to life and their faces light up with understanding and excitement. I LOVE that.
What is your
favorite room in your Extreme home? How about Kayla and Josh’s?
My favorite is probably the kitchen. :) I love to cook.
Josh and Kayla both say the theater room and their bedrooms. We don’t watch TV at all, but we do love to watch movies on the weekends. Having the theater room has been incredible.
And now that I mentioned Kayla . . . tell us about the awesome book deal
you guys just got for a mother/daughter fiction series!!
Kayla and I have the awesome privilege of writing together for B&H Publishers. Our first three-book suspense series is set in Alaska, the first book, No Safe Haven, releases March 15, 2011. She is now the youngest published full-length novelist from a royalty paying publisher. We wrote the first book when she was twelve years old, and it releases when she is thirteen!
I can’t wait for you all to read them!
Even though you lived in Alaska, have you found you still need to do a
lot of research? Anything surprise you about the state?
Yes! A lot of research, but we love it because we love Alaska so much. And I don’t think anything can surprise me anymore because Alaska is so incredibly fascinating and different, I expect to be surprised. Does that make sense?
What does your co-writing process look like? Do you trade off chapters
or write together? And what would you say are your individual strengths?
We plot it out together, then during our writing time we’ll plot several scenes with details. Then we write.
The incredible thing about our writing process is that I write certain characters’ POVs and Kayla writes certain characters’ POVS. So after we plot out those scenes, we really don’t know what the other person’s characters are going to do—so we have fun reading each other’s scenes to find out what’s going to happen next.
In No Safe Haven, the main character Kayla writes is a 12-yr-old girl with the same nerve disorder that Kayla has. It’s fascinating to read this character knowing that a “real” 12-yr-old girl wrote her – talk about authentic! And I have to brag on her, Kayla is a brilliant writer. :)
Who are some authors you enjoy reading and why do you enjoy them?
Terri Blackstock, Colleen Coble, Tracie Peterson, Donita K. Paul, Kathy Herman, Hannah Alexander, Ronie Kendig. Those are my favorites. The reason? I love their writing and their amazing stories, and they’re all wonderful people.
Do you listen to music
when you write? If so, what are some of your favorite bands/artists?
Okay, I know the first one---David Phelps!!! :)
Here’s a funny factoid about me – I can’t write and listen to music. I think it’s because I’m a musician, I get distracted by the harmonies, chord progressions, style, etc. and lose my focus on the story. :) But yes, I listen to music all the time, other than when I write. And David Phelps is my favorite, but I also love Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, classical, jazz, I could go on and on…
What do you
know now that you wish you’d known when you first started
How many times I’d edit the same manuscript :)
like to share with TitleTrakk.com readers?
I would love to hear from you – I have a contact page at http://kimberleywoodhouse.com
Who is Kim Woodhouse?
She’s a dark-haired, blue-eyed, crazy lady who happens to write books.
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
1 - I’m horrible at bowling. Horrible. Even with a bowling alley in the house, I still stink at it.
2 – I was bit by a cobra when I was teenager.
not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Spending time with my family, reading, taking pictures, scrapbooking, cooking, quilting…
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Three things always found in your refrigerator:
Milk. Butter. Cheese.
next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
I never get the names right, so this is what I say, “I want the big one with lots of chocolate, caramel, extra sweet, with an inch for cream.” Who knows if it makes sense, but they always come up with something yummy.
What’s left unchecked in your “goals for life” list?
To be the best, wife/mom/Kim I can be. To sum it up, I want to use Erma Bombeck’s quote for myself:
"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'"
When was the last time you cried?
Three words that best describe you:
Energetic, loving, goofy
currently in your CD player/iPod?
Casting Crowns LifeSong was the last one I listened to…
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.