Karen Kingsbury explains why her
latest novel isn’t just a love story
about people—it’s a love letter to
booksellers, too.

Even after penning 50 novels,
Karen Kingsbury still has to
remind herself she’s an author.
“Every single time someone writes
me and says, ‘Wow, your book
saved my life,’ or ‘it changed me,’
or ‘it brought me back to God’, or ‘it
healed my marriage,’ I am amazed.
I probably explain at least once a
day that God put the story on my
heart, but He had her heart, or
those hearts, in mind. Only God
can do that. I can’t. The bigger it
gets, the smaller I feel. I’m not
really doing anything differently
from when I wrote my first novel.
The only difference is that more
and more people are finding out.”

And they’re doing just that in amazing numbers.
Karen has shot up to become the nation’s No. 1
best-selling inspirational novelist, with more than
20 million books in print, and she shows no signs
of stopping.

If anything, her audience grows with every novel
she writes—especially now that she’s selling more
eBooks than paper. “Reading eBooks is so easy and
impulsive,” Kingsbury says. “You get to the end and
just click and buy the next book. At the same time, I
am a big proponent for keeping bookstores open, too.”
Karen makes her case for traditional book reading
in her newest offering, The Bridge. The first of a 10
book deal with Howard Books/Simon & Schuster, it’s
the first of Karen’s novels to be offered in hardcover.
The Bridge is a tale about a struggling Franklin, Tenn.,
bookstore hit by hard times.

“There are a lot of people in America who are
discouraged,” Karen says. “People are not feeling
that the dreams they set out to find have actually
happened. The Bridge was a chance for me to write
an encouraging, hopeful, love story that shows the
beauty of second chances.”

She calls the novel, which takes place around
Christmas, a “desperate love story,” not only
between a young man and woman who connected at
The Bridge bookstore, but also in some ways a story
of love for bookstores themselves. “They are closing
everywhere,” Karen laments. “With each bookstore
that closes, a piece of Americana goes away. A guy
like Charlie Barton, my bookstore owner in The
, finds his inspiration and passion in handing
copies of Little Women, Jane Eyre and Treasure Island
to people and seeing the stories inspire and change
lives. Now he doesn’t know what to do next.”

There’s another reason Karen’s so adamant about
keeping independent bookstores open. She bought
her first NIV Bible at a local Christian bookstore
to disprove her future husband’s beliefs. But after
spending a weekend poring over Scripture, she realized
she was the one whose beliefs needed to change.

“That experience in a bookstore profoundly
impacted my life,” Karen remembers. “To me,
whether it’s a Christian store, an independent store
or a Barnes & Noble, these bookstores are where we
meet and discover. You don’t stroll down the aisles
of Amazon. I feel that the bookstore in my novel is a
character in this story.

“Our attention spans have shortened; we think
in terms of 140 characters. There’s some good that
comes from that, of course, but we mustn’t lose the
ability to get lost in a story, to find the parallels and
the symbolism that will relate to and shape our lives.
We need the deeper walk and the deeper places.
Stories that are life-changing cannot be condensed to
a tweet or a Facebook post. We need more than that,
and I feel like readers would agree.”

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2012 issue of FamilyFiction digital magazine. Subscribe for free today!


New from Karen Kingsbury

The Bridge:
A Novel

Karen Kingsbury

(Howard Books)

The New York Times bestselling
author of Learning and Leaving
shares a heartwarming
Christmas story about a
devastating flood, lost love
and the beauty of enduring

A Kingsbury Collection:
Three Novels in One

Karen Kingsbury

(Multnomah Books)

This 3-in-1 collection includes
the classic novels Where
Yesterday Lives, When Joy
Came to Stay
and On Every Side.

Check out more great articles

About The Author

The author of more than 50 novels, #1 New York Times Bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America’s favorite inspirational storyteller. Many of her novels have topped national bestseller lists, and there are more than 25 million copies of her books in print. Her novels have also been adapted to the screen, including Like Dandelion Dust, The Bridge, and A Time to Dance. Her popular series starring the Baxter family is being developed as a television series.