England Adventure & Interview With Kelsey Bryant

Today is a day I’ve quite been looking forward to for a good while — it’s the release date for a new novel from a good friend and talented authoress, Kelsey Bryant!

I’m excited to share with you a little about the book, and honored to have the author over on my blog for an interview! 🙂 Kelsey’s one of the sweetest people I know and I’ve been watching the book’s journey to publication for awhile now… So this is a very exciting day! Be sure to check out her lovely blog, and another interview with her in honor of England Adventure‘s release!

So, let’s get this party going!

RSCN0847Bio: Kelsey Bryant is a homeschool graduate from Central Texas. Books have been a part of her family for generations. Ever since she can remember, Kelsey has been writing stories and dreaming of the magical moment when her books would join the ranks. She draws inspiration from the Greatest Story Ever Told, which culminates in the Messiah’s salvation offered to every person. Her life would be meaningless without her relationship with Yeshua (Jesus). She’s also inspired by the classics, especially the works of her favorite authors Jane Austen, L. M. Montgomery, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Louisa May Alcott. She loves history and even her contemporary fiction has a historical bent.

England Adventure

Book 2 FrontCover copy

England Adventure (Six Cousins, book 2) by Kelsey Bryant

Synopsis: For as long as she can remember, Marielle has dreamed of seeing England in person. When kind grandparents send her and her cousins there to visit old friends, she can hardly wait to see the places she’s known in fiction and film. The Endicotts are perfect hosts—and their worldly American granddaughter Paris, perfectly beautiful.

But it soon turns out that nothing is as it seems. Her cousins Abby and Reanna, once the best of friends, appear deeply at odds, and the picture-perfect Endicott family is hiding secrets of its own. Distanced by an ocean from home and her family’s protection, Marielle finds herself challenged by a troubling new world. She befriends Paris, but Paris seems opposed to what Marielle stands for. Can Marielle be the witness who helps Paris overcome the lifestyle that’s harming her? Or will Marielle and her cousins be overwhelmed by the conflict this supposed dream trip has brought them?

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My Mini-Review

England Adventure, book 2 in the Six Cousins series, is the sequel to Family Reunion, but I think it stands on its own quite well.

I had the privilege of reading along with the book before its publication. It’s quite a delightful, sweet story, with some good messages and gorgeous scenery (and no wonder, as it’s set in England, and Kelsey Bryant has an extraordinary talent regarding description — such poetry!), plus a memorable cast… I’m beyond amazed at how well the author manages to differentiate between 7 teenaged girls in this book! Their personalities were so well-crafted for me to tell them apart and follow their stories. My favorite is quiet Reanna — and another character, English and grandfatherly Mr. Endicott, of course! 😉

The story was enjoyable, the characters a delight, the descriptions gorgeous, and at one point I found myself near tears at a beautiful part of the spiritual journey in this Christian contemporary YA novel, steeped in a historical feel. I felt like I was visiting England myself!

For the rest, you’ll have to read it for yourself… I know I, for one, can’t wait to get my hands on a real-live copy of England Adventure and settle down for a quiet read of the final version! 🙂

Interview with Kelsey Bryant

1. Did the experience of going to England yourself after writing England Adventure help enrich the story?

It definitely enriched it for me personally. I felt like I was in my story, to some extent, which is one of the best sensations a writer can have. 🙂 It also made me wish I could fit more of my experiences into England Adventure. But surprisingly little of my descriptions and so forth needed to be changed, which I was very relieved to discover! I learned enough new things, however, to make me even gladder I had gone myself before publishing so I could fix mistakes and enrich descriptions.

2. As Christian homeschoolers from Texas with a love of literature and so forth, there seem to be some parallels between you and Marielle, the heroine of the Six Cousins books; do you think she’s very similar to you or still very much from your imagination?

Ah, you uncovered the similarities! 🙂 Marielle is much like me, particularly when I was her age, fourteen. We think the same way about a lot of things. She is shier and sweeter than myself now; as she grows up, I’m not sure how she’ll change. I think she won’t venture quite as much out of her shell as I have, but then again, she may surprise me!

3. What sort of audience do you think England Adventure would most appeal to? (Age-range, girls/boys, homeschoolers/not..?)

I had Christian girl homeschoolers, ages 12 to 16, in mind as I wrote, but as the story doesn’t focus on homeschooling, it’s not exclusive there; the heroine’s being homeschooled, however, probably makes her appeal most to homeschoolers. It’s also a fairly long and involved story (at least from my perspective …) so anyone older than that has a fair chance of enjoying it, too. As for boys … it might not appeal to them unless they can appreciate its universal aspects, like spiritual lessons and travel … sorry, boys! There is Mr. Endicott, and some fun young guys at the end, but still ….

4. Do you have a favorite character (or two, or three!) in England Adventure, and if so, why?

I love any book character who loves writing, literature, and viewing life poetically, which describes Marielle, so I hope I’m not being vain when I say she’s my favorite. 🙂 I also enjoy Reanna, because she’s quiet, mysterious, musical, and somewhat marginalized. I love Mr. Endicott for making me laugh and feel safe, and Winifred Braithwaite for her spiritual maturity, whimsicality, and lifestyle tastes (house, land, food, literature, music, art!). (I hope four is allowed, because I couldn’t leave out any of them!)

5. What was the most challenging thing about writing England Adventure?

Remembering the days when I wanted to tear out my hair, I have two memories: 1) constructing Paris’s character arc and 2) making sure, from afar, that all my details about England were accurate.

6. How long have you been writing, and what got you started?

I’ve been writing stories since I could print (maybe five or six?) and therefore I don’t remember what got me started … probably being read to my whole life! I was inspired by stories I heard and somehow got the urge to create my own worlds from that.

7. What do you think were some really influential books in your life or writing, consciously or subconsciously?

There is the Bible, but that one’s kind of obvious for Christians. 🙂 Jane Austen’s six novels influenced me because of her attention to everyday life and character analysis rather than action and suspense. L. M. Montgomery made me ravenous for scenery description. Nancy Drew and American Girl’s History Mysteries stoked my love of mysteries, which show up from time to time in my work. Young adult historical fiction, like the Royal Diaries, Dear America, Elizabeth George Speare’s books, and the Little House books made history important to me (history usually shows up in my writing, even in contemporary stories). The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia gave me an appreciation for inspirational fantasy epics. I probably wouldn’t be the same spiritually if not for Christian fiction like Elsie Dinsmore, Christy, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Hind’s Feet on High Places. I can say the same for Christian nonfiction … books by people such as K. P. Yohannan, D. Thomas Lancaster, and Hannah Whitall Smith. And then there are the writing books that helped me improve my fiction techniques. 🙂 You asked a very good question, Deborah!

8. Do you have plans for more books in the Six Cousins series?

Yes, I do! Remember those England experiences I mentioned in the first question? I have to put them somewhere, so a third book in the series, when Marielle’s 18 or so and returns to England, would do nicely. But I haven’t started actually writing it yet, so right now it’s just that—plans. I also have ideas for a fourth book when Marielle is all grown up.

9. What other writing projects are you working on right now?

I’m working on a story set in the Great Depression … and that’s all I’ll say for now. 🙂 Well, I must add that it’s been a blast so far, both writing and researching.

10. And, finally, is there a particular message you are hoping England Adventure will share with its readers? (Or do we have to read the book to find out? ;))

Readers may find out more for themselves, but the messages I had in mind while I was writing were these: to make yourself a tool in God’s hands; to not underestimate what He can do with you if you give Him the reins of your life; to be kind to people because it’s the right thing to do and you never know what will make a life-changing impression on them; to be ready to make a stand for the Lord; and, last but not least, to find your worth in God, not beauty, popularity, success, or any lack thereof. I didn’t quite realize there were that many messages wrapped up in the story until I answered your question, but maybe it’ll all be better absorbed once readers read the book! Thank you SO MUCH for having me, Deborah! I really enjoyed being here and answering your questions!

So glad to have you, Kelsey! Thanks for joining us! 🙂

Readers, you can find and connect with Kelsey online in these places:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Google+ | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon Author Page

And don’t forget to check out England Adventure for yourselves!

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