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Christine Kelly: The Romantic by Grace Olson

Christine Kelly is the author of Thrown by Love, a western romance novel about a young woman named Carrie who applies to be on a reality television show. Carrie will learn how to work on a ranch and help pay for medical treatments for her ailing sister on the show. Joel, the main love interest for the heroine, reluctantly agrees to allow the reality show to film on his family’s ranch so he can get his family out of debt. And, of course, they fall in love. Ms. Kelly has always been obsessed with romance, much like yours truly. We had a ton to talk about during the interview. Ms. Kelly said that her favorite part of the romance genre is when the characters realize they’re in love and confess their love. As a romantic at heart, I do not doubt that Ms. Kelly finds much of herself in her book. “It's a sweet, clean, wholesome romance," Ms. Kelly said about her novel.

Ms. Kelly went to St. Benedict's University, and she met her husband, who went to St. John's University. Going with the romance trend, Ms. Kelly has been married to her husband for twenty-nine years. They have two kids together, and one of them is also married. Ms. Kelly and her husband love to travel and do so a lot. Before moving onto an employment law firm, Ms. Kelly also went to law school, then worked for a judge in Hennepin County for a few years. She spent time out of the workforce while pregnant with her daughter due to health issues. After her daughter was born, a friend called Ms. Kelly up, asking her to do some temporary work for her. Using her background in accounting, Ms. Kelly ended up working for the company for a few years. She mainly did accounting work and very little law. In 2004, Ms. Kelly went to work for Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Savage, Minnesota, doing bookkeeping and payroll.

The idea for her book came from another book Ms. Kelly read about a reality show. "My brain was really struggling with what was happening in the book," Ms. Kelly said. "I kept thinking to myself, 'I just can't see that happening.' Then came the switch where I thought, 'If I was the author, what would the story be?'” After more thought about it, the idea for Thrown by Love was born. One of her biggest influences in the writing of the Thrown by Love is an author named Susan Stoker. “I related to her female characters so much,” Ms. Kelly said of her experience reading Ms. Stoker’s books. “The characters said and did things that I would’ve done had I been in their shoes. It was the first time that I thought ‘I could write a book with characters like this.’” Susan Stoker’s novels helped Ms. Kelly find the confidence to write characters like herself.

Ms. Kelly has always loved to read as well. “I was one of those kids growing up where I would read before I went to bed at night,” Ms. Kelly said. “I would pass away the hours of driving on road trips, reading books. The only question I always struggled with was ‘how many books to bring?’”

As for Ms. Kelly’s favorite moment in the writing process, she said that it was when she found the time to sit down and write. “I have a full-time job and all of that, and I don't always have the time to write,” Ms. Kelly elaborated. “I’ve tried blocking out time in my schedule to write and other tips, but I love those moments where I can sit down and start typing the ideas I’ve had running through my head for a particular story. It’s the best!” I would agree with this. I rarely have time to write non-school-related content, and when I do find the time to, it’s the best feeling. Good call, Ms. Kelly!

All of Ms. Kelly’s favorite lines come from the character named Bull. Ms. Kelly describes him as a curmudgeonly character. Bull says something about Carrie getting onto a bull for the first time. Carrie makes a funny comment, and Bull's response is one of Ms. Kelly’s favorite lines in the book: he says, “Well, see if you’re still laughing with sixteen hundred pounds of bull beneath you.” Another favorite line of Ms. Kelly’s comes from the part where the entire ranch assumes the new reality show star will be a man and stay in the bunkhouse with all the other men. But then, Carrie comes in. She sleeps in the bunkhouse with the other men, and on her first morning there, she oversleeps. One of the ranch hands calls her “Sleeping Beauty.” There are many others, Ms. Kelly said, but those are a few of her favorites.

As for the message that Ms. Kelly wants her readers to take away from her books, it’s one of true love. “I want them to start a conversation about what true love looks like,” Ms. Kelly said. As a hopeless romantic, I can see that. Everybody should experience true love at least once in their lives. We should all know what true love is, what it feels like.

Since Ms. Kelly and I write such similar genres, her answer to my favorite and final question was particularly interesting and educational for me. I asked her what advice she would give to someone just starting. She answered with, “Keep writing. Writing is one of those things that the longer you do it, the better you get. And if you enjoy it, do it. Spend the time writing. Make it a priority.” I do that, as all writers should! Ms. Kelly had a second answer to the question, which was, “Be brave. It’s difficult to share what you’ve written with people, especially strangers, but you need to do it. You have to share these stories in your heart and head with people. You need that courage.” This rings so true. As a writer, I have many people in my life who I think will love my work, but I also believe some would hate it purely based on what I know of their taste in books. After hearing what Ms. Kelly had to say about having the courage to show people my work, I should show it to the people I don't think will like it.

After talking to Ms. Kelly for a long time, I learned so much from her. She and I are similar people writing in similar genres, so this interview felt especially good. She has a passion for the genre, which showed when I spoke to her. I hope you all learned something today, too.

Happy reading!

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