Kristen Hogrefe Parnell is a fantastic person and writer and was kind enough to answer all my interview questions with joy. I met Kristen in an online writer's group and fell in love with her writing.
Q: How old were you when you started writing?
I discovered my love for writing when I was nine or ten. My older brother had a creative writing project in school, and he shared it with us and our best friends. We all got excited about his short story and expanded it, each one of us taking turns writing a chapter. Although my brothers and friends eventually lost interest in our pet project, I didn't and kept writing. I kept those early stories and laugh when I read them because they are so poorly written. But everyone has to start somewhere!
Q: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer, and what kind of writing do you do?
By the end of high school, I had finished my first novel and knew I wanted to be a writer. Thankfully, that novel didn’t see the light of day until after many more revisions, but it later became the first book in my Wings of the Dawn young adult trilogy. In college, I majored in English to grow as a writer and resumed my quest for publication after graduating.
Since then, I’ve published two young adult suspense trilogies (one contemporary suspense and the other speculative/dystopian). I also have an adult Christian romantic suspense novel completed as well as a young adult spiritual growth in the works. Books aside, I blog regularly on my website KristenHogrefeParnell.com where I challenge readers to find faith in everyday adventures.
Q: What is your favorite kind of writing to read and your favorites from what you’ve written?
My favorite fiction books to read are young adult fiction (contemporary or speculative) and Christian romantic suspense. I guess it’s no surprise that both are genres I write! In addition to my published young adult trilogies, I have a new romantic suspense project I am so excited about. I’ve read authors like Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, DiAnn Mills, and more for so long that it only seems natural to write in this genre that I love so much. Stephanie Alton with the Blythe Daniel Agency is representing me on this project, and I look forward to the day we find the right publishing home for it.
Choosing a favorite book that I’ve written seems like choosing a favorite child, which a parent should never do! I will say that my latest release, The Reactionary, holds a special place in my heart, because I was able to travel to Italy to do research for it. What an adventure that trip was! My friend Maria and I had several misadventures along the way (including getting lost in a rainstorm on a steep mountain road), but the whirlwind experience is one I will always treasure.
Q: Has anyone inspired you?
We would be here all day if I tried to list all the people who have inspired and impacted my writing career. One person who immediately comes to mind is Bruce Brady. He was a godly mentor through Word Weavers International, and I met him at the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference what feels like a lifetime ago. Though I was new to the conference and a seeming “nobody,” he was so excited to meet me and said he couldn’t wait to read my books. The interest he took in me and the enthusiastic way he believed in my writing was incredibly touching. God took Bruce home after a long fight with cancer, but I will always be grateful to him for believing in me.
Q: In your opinion, what have you found is the hardest part of the writing process, and what do you enjoy the most?
The hardest part of the writing process is honestly all the interruptions of life. Most are wonderful responsibilities, such as teaching my online students and spending time with my husband but finding uninterrupted time can be a challenge. Also, there are so many expectations for writers to be constantly active on social media, which can steal time quickly.
The part I most enjoy is writing the rough draft. Anything is possible in the rough draft, and I don’t worry about editing, plot holes, or really anything but telling the story.
Q: What are some of your favorite works that inspired you?
I find inspiration in many places, but for my first young adult suspense trilogy, I was inspired by the young adult adventure and mystery books I read in my teens. I devoured Nancy Drew books and also loved a lesser-known series called The Daring Adventures, a Christian adventure series for teens. I wanted to write Christian, action-packed books like the ones I enjoyed growing up.
For my dystopian trilogy, my motivation came from reading The Hunger Games. I so much respect Suzanne Collins’ writing gift, but her secular trilogy didn’t offer readers or her characters much hope (even for the lucky ones who survived). I wanted to write a dystopian trilogy from a Christian worldview, and that inspired the concept of my characters rediscovering America’s heritage to find hope for tomorrow.
Q: As a writer, do you journal or take a notebook with you everywhere you go?
I don’t always have a journal with me, but I always have my phone and often use my Notes app. However, nothing can replace a good notebook. My husband and I enjoy road trips, and I’ve found that the car is an ideal, uninterrupted place to explore new project premises and designing principles for story ideas.
Q: Share some of your work that you want me to mention and your social media links
Readers can download a free copy of my novella, A Cord of Three Strands, from my website. This story is the prequel or origin story to my award-winning dystopian novel, The Revisionary.
About A Cord of Three Strands
In her world, the law considers fishing for food a crime and writing rhymes an unauthorized use of intellect, but nothing can stop nine-year-old Portia Abernathy from loving her simple life and the men who mean everything to her—or so she thought.
As her brother’s graduation nears, tensions rise between him and their best friends, the Danforths, because Darius feels he should have a choice what to do with his life, and the Danforths believe that choice belongs to the state. But the younger Danforth boy, her best friend Luther, makes a pact with Darius and Portia that they will always look out for each other, because a three-corded strand is stronger than just one.
When Darius defies his career draft, Portia’s world threatens to unravel. Will she be able to keep her family together, or will she have to learn to fight to reunite the men she loves?
Kristen Hogrefe Parnell is a multi-published author, English teacher, and life-long learner. An educator and mentor at heart, she teaches English online, is an inspirational speaker, and also enjoys presenting at writer’s conferences. Her young adult dystopian novel, The Revisionary, won a Selah for speculative fiction in 2018, and its sequel, The Revolutionary, was a finalist the following year.
Kristen and her husband live in Florida and enjoy sharing their lake home with family and friends. She blogs at KristenHogrefeParnell.com where she challenges readers to find faith in life’s everyday adventures.
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