Kingsbury, Karen (Kelsey Tyler)
Born in Fairfax, VA; daughter of Theodore (a computer program analyst) and Anne Kingsbury; married Donald (a teacher and coach), July 23, 1988; children: Kelsey, Tyler, Austin, E. J., Sean, Josh. Education: California State University, Northridge, B.A. (journalism). Politics: Republican. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Family time, tennis, ping pong.
American Christian Romance Writers (board member), Romance Writers of America, ChiLibris.
Best Book of the Year, Logos Retailers, 2003, for Redemption.
Missy's Murder, Dell Publishing (New York, NY), 1992.
Final Vows: Murder, Madness, and Twisted Justice in California, Dell Publishing (New York, NY), 1992.
Deadly Pretender: The Double Life of David Miller, Dell Publishing (New York, NY), 1994.
Snake and the Spider: A Real-Life Case of Abduction and Murder in Daytona Beach, Dell Publishing (New York, NY), 1995.
CHRISTIAN FICTION, EXCEPT AS NOTED
Where Yesterday Lives, Alabaster Books (Sisters, OR), 1998.
(With Toni Vogt) The Prism Weight-Loss Program (nonfiction), Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 1999.
Waiting for Morning, Alabaster Books (Sisters, OR), 1999.
When Joy Came to Stay, Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 2000.
A Moment of Weakness, Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 2000.
On Every Side, Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 2001.
A Treasury of Christmas Miracles: True Stories of God's Presence Today, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2001.
A Time to Dance ("Women of Faith Fiction" series), Word Publishing (Nashville, TN), 2001.
A Time to Embrace: A Story of Hope, Healing, and Abundant Life (sequel to A Time to Dance; "Women of Faith Fiction" series), Word Publishing (Nashville, TN), 2002.
Halfway to Forever, Multnomah Publishers (Sisters, OR), 2002.
A Treasury of Miracles for Women: True Stories of God's Presence Today, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Gideon's Gift: A Novel, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.
One Tuesday Morning, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2003.
Maggie's Miracle, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2003.
A Treasury of Miracles for Teens: True Stories of God's Presence Today, Warner Faith (New York, NY), 2003.
Oceans Apart, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.
Sarah's Song, Warner Faith (New York, NY), 2004.
"REDEMPTION" SERIES; WITH GARY SMALLEY
Redemption, Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, IL), 2002.
Remember, Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, IL) 2003.
Return, Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, IL), 2003.
Rejoice, Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, IL) 2004.
Reunion, Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, IL) 2004.
UNDER PSEUDONYM KELSEY TYLER
There's an Angel on Your Shoulder: Angel Encounters in Everyday Life, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1994.
It Must Have Been a Miracle: Everyday Lives Touched by Miracles, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Heaven Hears Each Whisper: Answered Prayers in Everyday Life, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Heaven's Littlest Angels: Children and Miracles in Everyday Life, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 1997.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
Two spin-off series inspired by the "Redemption" series.
Popular Christian writer Karen Kingsbury's first books were true crime novels that evolved during her reporting days in the Los Angeles area. Her first full-time newspaper job was at Simi Valley Enterprise, where she covered sports, religion, and sometimes news. She was then hired by Los Angeles Daily News to cover sports, and was soon writing stories about professional sports teams, including the Dodgers, Lakers, and Raiders. She considered a career as a sports writer for a pro team, a job that would take her around the country. She was used to interviewing naked players in the locker room but ultimately decided it wasn't exactly what she was looking for.
Kingsbury continued with the paper, writing feature stories that made the front page of the Sunday edition, and her first such story was about the murder of a teen girl killed by her own friends. She later sold the story to People, and it was published in the magazine at about the time Kingsbury's first child was born. Her prayers that she and her husband would find some way for her to stay home with the baby were answered when she was offered a book deal that came with an advance that was three times her newspaper salary.
So began Kingsley's writing career. Her first true-crime book, Missy's Murder, is the story of seventeen-year-old Michele Yvette Avila, who in 1985 was led to a remote area by her friends Karen Severson and Laura Doyle, where they cut off her hair and beat her, then drowned her. Kingsley writes that Severson stayed with Missy's mother after the killing, engaged in conversation with the deceased girl, and kept the investigation open for three years through her questioning of the facts of the crime.
In Final Vows: Murder, Madness, and Twisted Justice in California, Kingsbury documents the 1988 murder of Carol Montecalvo, whose ex-convict husband was initially suspected, due to the fact that he had large debts and large insurance policies on Carol. Kingsbury also writes about a female neighbor who is a drug dealer and occasional mental patient, whose claim that her associates killed Carol were discounted by the police. A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that Kingsbury "owes the reader a greater effort to distinguish whether or not the authorities found the real killer."
After writing two more true crime books, Kingsley wrote four books under her pseudonym Kelsey Tyler that were collections of miracle stories and answered prayers. She then wrote Where Yesterday Lives, based loosely on her own life, but secular publishers wouldn't touch it, even though she got good feedback; the fact that it contained no sex or strong language exempted it from consideration. Kingsbury found a Christian publisher, and her career as an Evangelical Christian writer was born.
The protagonist of Where Yesterday Lives is Ellen Barrett, a Florida reporter whose marriage is strained when her reporter husband says he cannot accompany her to Michigan following the death of her father. Booklist's John Mort wrote that the story is "graced by some excellent newsroom scenes."
Kingsbury's other novels include A Moment of Weakness, in which a woman's son is taken from her when her strong religious convictions are interpreted as fanaticism. On Every Side follows a lawyer whose attempt to have a statue of Jesus removed from a park are being opposed by his old flame, a television news anchor.
Clinical depression is destroying the life of the wife in When Joy Came to Stay. Fearing for the safety of her foster children and the stability of her marriage, Maggie Stovall checks into a Christian psychiatric hospital where she is treated, while her husband, Ben, tries to understand the note she left behind and looks to God for the strength to hold their marriage together. Library Journal's Melanie C. Duncan commented that by providing insight into depression and the general intolerance of mental illness, in When Joy Came to Stay "Kingsbury uncannily hits the mark."
Abby and John Reynolds, the couple in A Time to Dance, are about to divorce because John has fallen in love with a teacher at their son's high school, where he also coaches. A Publishers Weekly critic wrote that the novel "deserves applause" for writing about adultery, a topic not usually touched in Christian fiction, and said that very early in the story, Kingsbury renders her characters in such a way that readers "care, tremendously, about their future."
The sequel, A Time to Embrace: A Story of Hope, Healing, and Abundant Life, finds Abby and John happily reconciled but John facing troubles with three boys at school and the couple worrying that their daughter is losing her faith. Library Journal reviewer Shawna Saavedra Thorup felt that "high school life and the real-world problems faced by the students … are also realistically rendered."
A Treasury of Christmas Miracles: True Stories of God's Presence Today is Kingsbury's collection of inspirational stories that demonstrate divine intervention around the Christmas season. Another collection, A Treasury of Miracles for Women: True Stories of God's Presence Today, similarly contains stories Kingsbury says are true; many are about illness and intervention, often in the form of an angel, resulting in the patient miraculously becoming well.
Kingsbury and Gary Smalley, a speaker on family relationships, coauthored a series of novels that includes Redemption and Reception, both stories of infidelity. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that the latter plugs Smalley's Branson, Missouri Relationship Center.
Gideon's Gift: A Novel is a Christmas story about a faithless, homeless man who rejects the friendship of a child who, unknown to him, is suffering from leukemia. Gideon Mercer, who needs a bone marrow transplant her parents can't afford, hopes for a miracle—not for her, but for the man who has also lost his wife and daughter. The miracle that does occur affects them both in this sentimental seasonal story a Publishers Weekly contributor called "a feel-good winner."
Kingsbury told CA: "I have always had a passion for people. When I write, I want readers to feel every word, and afterwards, even through their tears, to be changed. When I worked as a journalist for the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News in the late 1980s, I told the truth, but I didn't always touch hearts. Now I am telling stories, and the hearts of my readers are forever changed.
"Readers write to me at my e-mail address, and also at my Web site. My favorite part of being an author is reading those letters, learning that a couple changed their mind about divorce, or a family was reunited, or a person came to a better understanding of faith in Christ—because they read one of my stories.
"I write very quickly, sometimes finishing a novel in weeks. But always I know that my story ideas come from God. As I write, I feel as if I'm reading. When I'm finished, I am in awe at the way it all comes together so quickly. I don't believe I've written my best book yet. My plan is to continue with every book, to grow as a writer."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 1998, John Mort, review of Where Yesterday Lives, p. 294.
Library Journal, April 1, 2000, Melanie C. Duncan, review of A Moment of Weakness, p. 82; November 1, 2000, Melanie C. Duncan, review of When Joy Came to Stay, p. 60; June 1, 2002, Melanie C. Duncan, review of Redemption, p. 126; November 1, 2002, Shawna Saavedra Thorup, reviews of A Time to Embrace: A Story of Hope, Healing, and Abundant Life, p. 72, and Gideon's Gift: A Novel, p. 74.
Publishers Weekly, October 25, 1991, review of Missy's Murder, pp. 57-58; August 17, 1992, review of Final Vows: Murder, Madness, and Twisted Justice in California, p. 495; January 29, 2001, review of A Time to Dance, p. 67; March 18, 2002, reviews of Halfway to Forever, p. 76, and A Treasury of Miracles for Women: True Stories of God's Presence Today, p. 98; June 17, 2002, review of Reception, p. 44; September 23, 2002, review of A Time to Embrace, p. 50; September 30, 2002, review of Gideon's Gift, p. 49.
Karen Kingsbury Home Page,http://www.karenkingsbury.com/ (September 24, 2003).