A Very Bookish Thanksgiving, co-written by Kelsey Bryant, was published on October 26, 2020. This limited-edition novella contains a collection of five stories by five authors inspired by five classics – all united by the warmth and nostalgia of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Besides writing fiction, Kelsey is also a blogger, a copy editor, and an avid student of the Bible. We had the pleasure of interviewing Kelsey Bryant for this month’s issue of Homeschooling Teen. Enjoy!
1. When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been writing stories since I could spell, so around the age of five or six. But when I was around eight, the desire to be an author took root when I heard that Danae Dobson, who wrote the Woof series put out by Word, Inc. (one of my favorite series as a kid), was twelve when she penned the first Woof story, which made her the youngest author I’d heard of at that point. I wanted to be like her.
2. How did homeschooling benefit or influence you as an aspiring writer?
My mom, who was my teacher K–12, fostered an environment of creativity by reading aloud and teaching from good books, assigning writing exercises, and allowing time for me to explore my interests in writing stories and reading. One year in high school, I did a fun workbook called Learn to Write the Novel Way, which helped me write a full-length novel. I didn’t actually finish and publish a novel until after high school, but my homeschooling years definitely prepared me.
3. What are your favorite books?
I have a list of favorites that could go on for pages, so I’ll just share a few! Anything by Jane Austen or Elizabeth Goudge; Little Dorrit and Bleak House by Charles Dickens; Wives and Daughters and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell; Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery; Christy by Catherine Marshall; The Zion Chronicles by Bodie Thoene; The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien; and The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.
4. Where do you find inspiration and ideas for your stories?
I get inspiration from things I read, people I know, and places I visit, as well as circumstances in my own life that have helped me grow and love God more. Three of my stories, The Promise of Acorns, Suit and Suitability, and The Road to Bremen, are directly based on three classic stories: Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, and “The Bremen Town Musicians.” Although I haven’t experienced everything I write about in my stories, I always try to connect emotionally with what my characters are going through so that they feel like real people to me.
5. Have any real people, places, or experiences showed up in your stories?
Several people (and one animal!) have directly influenced some of my characters, but real places and experiences are more likely to show up in my stories. For example, I based the canine character in The Road to Bremen on a sweet old stray dog my dad adopted. Two of my novels, England Adventure and Suit and Suitability, feature locations I’ve visited, such as Bath and London in England, and Canton, Ohio. As for experiences, one example is in England Adventure, where six cousins tour England, which I did several years ago with a tour group.
6. Do you have any favorite tools or resources that you find most useful when writing?
I keep it simple when it comes to tools and resources, but the one tool I can’t write well without is a thesaurus. I don’t necessarily use it to find synonyms, but oftentimes when a word I want is just out of reach, the thesaurus brings it to my fingertips by helping me trace it through its synonyms.
7. What other hobbies or activities do you like to pursue besides writing?
I also enjoy reading, martial arts, hiking, dancing, playing piano, making cards and other paper crafts, and traveling.
8. Where is one place in the world that you would really love to visit someday?
Israel! I’d love to see the land where my Savior walked and where so many other Scriptural events took place. The holy land testifies about God, and I want to learn more about Him and His Word by going there.
9. If you could travel back in time, what time period would you go to and why?
I’d go to the Regency era in England (the early 1800s) to see firsthand the society that Jane Austen wrote about. She makes it come alive, but I’d love to have a more rounded picture of it.
10. What is your favorite quote or Bible verse?
Quite a few Bible verses qualify as my favorites, but I’ll pick Philippians 4:4–8. Verses 6–7 say, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
11. Any closing thoughts or writing advice that you’d like to share with our homeschooling teen readers?
There is so much good advice out there, but I’ll just share what has meant the most to me over my years of writing and reading: Write from your heart. Don’t be afraid to draw from your emotions and yearnings, because that creates the most believable and moving stories. When you stir readers’ emotions, that’s when stories become powerful and life-changing.
Thank you so much, Kelsey, for taking the time to do this interview! We enjoyed learning about your interests and experiences, and how they have shaped your writing. 🙂
Kelsey Bryant’s books are available on Amazon.