Tyler Russell is no stranger on TBAP (read his 2018 exclusive interview here) and he and his mom, bestselling author of Christian Fiction, Karen Kingsbury, are no strangers to the Christian literary/entertainment audience either. They recently co-authored a book, Finding Home, a new addition to the dearly loved Baxter Family series, coming out this February 25th. Karen and Tyler graciously talked with TBAP and granted us a peek into the writing journey of this latest addition. Take a look!
Miranda ~ Hello! Delighted to have you both visit TBAP today. Please tell us a bit about this latest book.
Karen & Tyler: Thanks for having us! Our collection for 8-12 year olds, The Baxter Family Children follows the adventures, trials, and triumphs of the five young Baxter Siblings, Brooke, Kari, Ashley, Erin, and Luke. Finding Home is a companion to our book Best Family Ever, which finds the family relocating from Michigan to Bloomington. But a new move means new struggles. And through it all one question remains, will a new house ever become a home?
Miranda ~ When did you both decide it would be a great idea to add this story to the collection— what led to it?
Karen: We always viewed these stories as more than one book.
Tyler: There are so many lessons to be learned in childhood, and so many stories to tell about growing up.
Karen: With the Baxter family having become so beloved through my other novels, starting with the Redemption series and beyond, I have seen how so many readers have been impacted by those books and that family. So, we wanted to be able to reach a new generation of readers and inspire them, challenge them, entertain them, and hopefully teach them some life lessons along the way.
Tyler: Hopefully the collection can continue as long as people resonate with the characters and themes in the book. And there’s always young people eager to read! So it’s a blessing for sure.
Miranda ~ What inspired the idea that Tyler should be a part of the writing (which is fun and intriguing, by the way!)?
Karen: Tyler has read so much of my work and throughout his adult life has helped me with my company and we have had the chance to collaborate on various projects over the years. So, when the opportunity came to work on a series for middle-grade readers, I knew that working with Tyler made the most sense. And we work well together!
Tyler: It’s so fun to have grown up watching Mom write and work, and I learned a lot in that sense. But now, to work alongside her and see how things are really done, it is like immersing myself in the best masterclass. And I really enjoy working with her. It’s fun to write a book about family as family members.
Karen: It’s been reminiscing about earlier years, when the kids were younger.
Tyler: And…we’ve even borrowed some stories from when me and my siblings were growing up. So that’s been cool for sure.
Miranda ~ Karen, your books have always had the aim of leading broken people (especially the adult audience) back to the arms of a loving Savior—a place of hope. Who’s the audience this time, and what do you both hope they’ll walk away with?
Karen: Thank you. That’s the most important thing. I always say that God may put a story on my heart to write, but He has other people’s hearts in mind. He knows what stories people need so they can find healing and hope. While Finding Home was written with 8-12 year old’s in mind, we have had people of all ages enjoy it. For the student reader, we hope they leave feeling like they can relate in some way to a character of scenario in the story. It’s been fun for me and Tyler to visit schools and talk about the book. Because you really get to see who this book is impacting.
Tyler: It’s such an honor to write stories for a younger generation.
Karen: And then, for the adult reader, I hope they can relive childhood memories and look back on a simpler time in life. It’s also a great book to read out loud to a student that you may know. It makes for great conversation. Everyone has responded positively and we are both grateful.
Tyler: I second what she said. And… this book deals so much with change, starting over, and being brave, so I hope that people can take away the notion that change is inevitable and that, while it may not be easy, it doesn’t have to be scary. God is with us in those seasons of change. The most unlikely of people can become friends, and the most unlikely of places can become home.
Miranda ~ What can we expect from you both in the future?
Karen: We have another book in this Baxter Family Children collection coming out next year! And I have a new book coming out May 5th called Someone Like You. I am also loving being a Grammy to my three grandsons (Karen’s daughter Kelsey is married to Kyle Kupecky and they have three boys). My husband (Donald) and I are treasuring this sweet time with them.
Tyler: I am working on a few different screenplay projects, and recording some music as well. I’m really excited about a new musical I’ve started working on. It’s a musical modernization of a biblical story. So… Hopefully, God willing, something with that will happen this year. We will see.
THIS or THAT (The Fun Qs!)
Coffee or Tea?
Karen and Tyler: COFFEE!
Gym or Outdoor?
Karen: Outdoor… with my husband and our dog!
Running or Walking?
Juice or Smoothie?
Tyler: Juice. Any green juice all the way.
Salad or Fruit?
Karen and Tyler: Salad
Movies or Books?
Vanilla or Chocolate?
Karen and Tyler: Chocolate
Summer or Spring?
Karen and Tyler: Summer
Rain or Snow?
Karen: First impulse… Rain. It sets the perfect mood for a writing day. But snow is prettier to look at.
Tyler: Rain. But I do love the snow for a few days.
Blazer or Leather Jacket?
Tyler: Leather Jacket
About Karen Kingsbury & Tyler Russell
Tyler Russell has spent most of his life performing, writing, and singing. He grew up doing theater and acting and began songwriting in high school. He went on to study worship at Liberty University where he toured in a gospel choir. He then moved to Nashville to pursue music and finish his degree, earning his BFA in theater from Lipscomb University. He debuted his single Now or Never in 2018, and has toured the country singing and leading worship, sharing the stage with artists like Jeremy Camp, Mandisa, Tremaine Hawkins, and Michael W. Smith. Along with music, Tyler is also a screenwriter and novelist. He is currently working on recording and releasing original music and you can visit Tyler on Twitter at @TyRuss107! Ephesians 3:20