ECPA's Rush To Press

From Murder Mysteries to Christian Fiction:
PW Talks to Karen Kingsbury


Karen Kingsbury’s novels, including the bestselling Baxter Family series and standalone titles such as The Bridge and Between Sundays, have sold over 17 million copies worldwide, according to her publisher Howard Books, and the author thinks she knows why.

“I try to write people who are real and who readers can relate to,” Kingsbury told PW. “I write from alternating points-of-view. I go very deep with my characters so readers become emotionally engaged early on.”

She wrote her first work of fiction in 1991 with Missy’s Murder, a mystery inspired by her job as a reporter for the Los Angeles Daily News. After realizing a desire to incorporate her Christian faith into her books, storyline inspiration came in more subtle ways.

“[If] I’m out and about, at a coffee shop or the movies, or having a conversation with someone, it can all become a spark for a story,” Kingsbury said.

“I call myself an emotional detective,” she said. “I can see emotional things playing out in front of me, and those things can be the beginning of a story.”

To date, Kingsbury has written over 50 novels, including 23 Baxter Family books. The 24th book in the series, A Baxter Family Christmas, is coming from Howard on October 26 as the first in a new six-book Baxter Family collection.

The books follow the extended Baxter family of Bloomington, Ind. Patriarch John Baxter guides with love and discernment as the family deals with long-held secrets, wayward children, tragedies, love, and new members as children marry and have children of their own. The newest title has the extended family facing turmoil as John Baxter invites Kendra Bryant—recipient of his late daughter Erin’s heart—to the family’s Christmas Eve dinner.

“People see themselves [in the Baxter family], and see either the family they had or the family they wish they had,” said Kingsbury, who lives with her family in the Nashville area. “The characters have faith and flaws; through all of life’s ups and downs they have stayed strong together.”

Colleen Coble, CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), sees Kingsbury as an asset to all Christian fiction writers.

“Her novels have led multitudes of readers into exploring Christian fiction more fully,” she said. “Whether pulling books from shelves in a mall, a big box store, a library, or an independent retailer, the reader knows the promises Kingsbury makes: hope-laced storylines and characters worth remembering.”

The launch of A Baxter Family Christmas kicked off a 14-city tour for Kingsbury. Each ticketed, two-hour event features worship music, a concert, speaking by the author, and a 10-minute introduction to Compassion International, a child-advocacy ministry that helps sponsor the tour. Area bookstores including Lifeway, Barnes & Noble, and more will provide books for purchase.

Further, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are producing a television series with MGM Studios tentatively titled The Baxter Family. The series premiere is planned for late 2017 or early 2018 on a to-be-determined network.

The initial print run for A Baxter Family Christmas is 400,000 copies. A marketing and publicity campaign for the book includes national media (Fox News, 700 Club, USA Today, and more), a 25-city national radio tour, as well as print and online advertising. Pre-orders for the book were up nearly 80 percent from her last release, totaling over 10,000, according to the publisher,

“Karen’s sales remain strong,” said Howard Books editor Becky Nesbitt. “Readers—especially in uncertain times—still want a happy ending, and Karen delivers.