Kristy Cambron’s been fascinated with the WWII Era since hearing her grandfather’s stories of his experiences as a B-17 co-pilot in the war. She writes WWII and Regency Era historical Christian fiction titles. THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN, Book One in the Hidden Masterpiece series on the prisoner camp art of the Holocaust releases from Thomas Nelson Publishers (Harper Collins Christian Publishing) July 15, 2014. A SPARROW IN TEREZIN (Hidden Masterpiece #2) will release in April, 2015.
She’s a proud Hoosier, living in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read. The last and most important thing? Jesus is awesome. Let her tell you about Him sometime. 🙂
Savanna: Welcome to The Engrafted Word, Kristy! I’m so excited to welcome you to my home online. 😉 And CONGRATULATIONS on TODAY’S RELEASE of The Butterfly and The Violin !
Kristy: Hi Savanna! Thanks for allowing me to stop by and visit with your readers today. I’m delighted to be here.
Savanna: You mentioned on your website about the opportunity you had interviewing a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau. How incredible that must have been! Can you share with us one of the questions you asked her?
Kristy: I’d already written the majority of The Butterfly and the Violin by the time a friend connected me with Ms. Eva Mozes Kor, Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor and founder of the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, IN. Having already completed the research on facts, timelines, even maps of Auschwitz – I was able to be really intentional about the questions I wanted to ask, in hopes I could learn. They all centered around sensory perception – even normal things. I wanted to know what the experience was like from her view of it.
Did the inmates know what day it was? What month or year? Did she remember the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz? Was there anything normal in the camp, such as flowers, sunshine, birds or animals?
She told me her story of survival and with such forgiveness in her words, helped pull me in to the real world of Auschwitz. I left the interview shaken and completely moved that God had orchestrated the crossing of our paths, more than 70 years after the actual events occurred. I remember my hands shaking the entire time – I was hardly able to type my notes. The experience added such a note of realism to Adele’s story that I almost felt as if she was real, that she’d actually been there and fought to survive alongside the rest of the souls in that horrible place.
Kristy: I actually started writing in the contemporary genre, though I noticed early on that all of my story ideas centered around vintage themes – the writings of Jane Austen and Regency England. I’d written four contemporary novels before I realized I might want to try my hand at a historical storyline. It was in writing the first few chapters of my first historical novel that I was hooked – and finally felt like I’d come “home” as an author.
Using the research from my undergraduate work in Art History/Research Writing years before, I was able to really dig in and focus on Adele’s story instead of continually stopping to research new topics. I think writing historical storylines does come easier, just because I love looking back. It’s the reason I studied art history in the first place; the fact that a piece of human expression – a painting, sculpture, piece of architecture – that it can tell the socio-economic, religious, political and cultural story of a people from centuries before is just fascinating!
Savanna: I read on your website that you actually wrote the majority of your novel on your phone while on the go. (Can I just say… that’s amazing, by the way?!) You also mentioned traveling a lot. What is one of your favorite places to visit and why?
Kristy: I’m candid about the fact that I don’t travel as much as I’d like to. With three children, a husband, home and full-time job, it doesn’t leave much time on the calendar for spur-of-the-moment trips to Paris, that’s for sure. 🙂 Thank goodness we live in the age of YouTube, so I can visit places through research until I can get there myself. I have traveled extensively stateside though, as a corporate facilitator and learning consultant in my day career, so I’ve spent tons of time in airports and on the go.
And as for how the whole “I write on my iPhone” thing happened, that’s about as quirky as a story can get. I had a newborn son and finding myself up at all hours of the night to feed him his bottles, I wanted to use the found time for writing. (You have to get creative sometimes!) So, I cradled him with one arm and began typing chapters on my phone with my free hand. Eight weeks of that added up to my first WWII Era novel – The Butterfly and the Violin.
Kristy: I try not to read novels of my historical genre while I’m writing a story. There’s always the fear that something of their voice, their research or their world will shape the story you’re crafting, and I think you have to protect the characters’ journeys that you’re called to write. After the novel is written though? That’s a whole new ballgame. 🙂 A couple of books I’m really looking forward to reading, as soon as my next book is turned in: For Such a Time by Kate Breslin (I’ve heard such amazing things about this new author), and Lizzie and Jane by Katherine Reay. Both books have completely piqued my interest with their strong author’s voice and vintage themes. I’m looking for stories that tug at my heart a little (or a lot!) and I’m constantly challenged by the perspectives of new authors – to improve my craft and spark my own writing passion in new things.
As for the book that first influenced me in the WWII era, it was and always will be Elie Wiesel’s Night. It’s haunting in a way I can’t explain. I read it once a year and surprisingly, I always find something new is stirred within me when I once again reach the last page. As a woman, a mother, a wife, sister and friend– just simply as a member of the human race– I’m shaken with the heart-wrenching account in its pages. And yes, it would be a life’s dream to meet Mr. Wiesel one day. His ability to forgive, to articulate the human condition with such grace and dignity is stunning. I’m sure I am just one in an endless line of readers whose lives have been forever changed by it.
Savanna: With the ACFW conference only a few short months away, what is one of the things you’re most looking forward to this year?
Kristy: The ACFW conference is really the highlight of my professional writing calendar! I can’t tell you what bliss it is to spend several days with friends, all talking about the two things we have engraved on our hearts: writing, and a love for Jesus Christ. I attended my first conference in 2011. I knew almost no one and was so inexperienced in the industry. I was about as green and star-struck as one could be! But out of the growth of learning, polishing my work, meeting friends and finding renewed passion for the writing journey God’s called me, I found one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I highly recommend an ACFW membership to any aspiring writer in this industry; it changed the course of my writing career.
Savanna: Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
Kristy: I’d like to send out a major THANKS to our readers. Never have I met such open, loving, excited-about-Christian-fiction folks in my life as I did at my first author event with Harper Collins last month. We authors pray for the readers who will pick up our books, and it’s a sincere hope that the words we’re called to write will somehow bring the love of Christ alive in the pages they read. But I was completely humbled by readers who said they pray for their favorite authors! That was an eye-opening revelation to me. As I’m alone in my office, praying and hoping that the words I write will uplift someone – even then I’m being covered in prayer. I am just so grateful for our readers.
I’d also love to encourage aspiring Christian fiction authors: The road to publication is likely going to be different for each of you. There may be rejections and there may not. You may find the road is short or that it takes years to find the right publishing home. Regardless of where your path leads, the most solid piece of advice I can pass on is to stay close to Christ throughout the journey. And if this call to write has been laid on your heart, you’ve got to think uncommonly about it. Think, act, even speak words that define you as an author. It doesn’t matter if you’re not published yet; you’re still an author if you believe it. The rest will follow.
I have a blog roll on my website, where I share some of the resources that helped me get started in the industry. You might find some helpful information there. And to learn more about Christ’s provision during our family’s publication journey, check out the Our Story section of my website.
May you find joy in Him!
Savanna: Thank you so much for joining us today, Kristy! Where can readers go to keep in touch with you?
Kristy has graciously offered one signed copy of THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN to one lucky winner!
-Kristy mentioned Elie Wiesel’s Night as a book that had a profound impact on her writing. What book changed you most, and in what way?
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If you missed my review of The Butterfly and The Violin, you can read it here.