Author finds Amish inspiration

Spring 2017 Edition

Kelly Irvin realized her dream of becoming an author with research and writing every chance she got

Kelly Irvin

Kelly Irvin

Journalists’ careers are often long and winding roads, but Kelly Irvin (j’81) never expected her path: from being a newspaper reporter to Amish romance novelist.

After working in the newspaper industry for 10 years, Irvin switched careers and started working in public relations in San Antonio, Texas.

Though she loved her PR career, Irvin always had a dream of being an author.

“Throughout my career, what I have always known is that I wanted to write fiction,” Irvin said.

Irvin said she came to the realization that it was now or never, so she started writing every chance she got. Whether it was in the morning, at night, before work or after work, she kept writing.

Irvin never planned to write about the Amish, but when she was struggling to get into the Christian book market, her agent suggested she try writing about them. The opportunity just happened to fall in her lap, but as she learned more about the Amish, she became fascinated by their lifestyle. She ran with the idea and began writing a book series.

“I was hesitant at first, but I did a lot of research and reading,” Irvin explained.

Irvin gathered research to use in her novels by traveling to South Texas and Missouri to observe local Amish communities.

“It’s really important that if you’re going to do something like that, that it’s authentic,” she said.

The opportunity was challenging, but Irvin said it has improved her writing ability.

“It’s not something that I ever expected to do, but it’s worked out for me and I’ve enjoyed it, and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity,” she said.

In addition to writing, Irvin uses her experience in the public relations field to market her novels to her specific audience. She relies heavily on social media to reach out to her readers, primarily Christian women ages 25 and up.

Though the Amish aren’t her target audience, Irvin has seen different Amish novels for sale in an Amish community in Jamesport, Missouri.

Irvin first book was published in 2012, and since then, she has written more than a dozen novels and novellas. Readers can learn more about her four-book series coming out soon on her Facebook page. Each book will feature one of the four seasons in the year and will explore the lives of four women.

“It follows the lives of a group of widows each coming from a very different generation. It’s how they’ve lived in the community as widows and how that’s shaped their lives,” Irvin said.

Although Irvin learned a lot of valuable journalism tools and writing techniques during her time at KU, those were not the most important things she would learn.

“I think the most important thing I learned [at KU] is to keep an open mind and to never stop learning,” she said.

Irvin advises aspiring authors to work hard and follow their dreams.

“I would tell them to learn their craft, to spend time publishing their writing, join critique groups, join writing organizations and when you get ready to submit your work, make sure it’s your very best work,” she said.

–– Dayton Hammes is a sophomore from Moberly, Missouri, studying strategic communication.