Kariss Lynch writes contemporary fiction about characters with big dreams, hearts for adventure, and enduring hope. Shaken, her first book in the Heart of a Warrior series, released in 2014. The second book, Shadowed, released in March 2015. A former freelance writer, she now works as the writer for a communications ministry in Dallas. Kariss loves ice cream and sunsets, particularly when paired together.
How to connect with Kariss...
Purchase: Shadowed (Heart of a Warrior)
Author Interview | Kariss Lynch
You and Writing
Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I started writing in third grade with the story of an imaginary world and fairies named after my friends. I had to ask my teacher for more paper. I think she eventually had to give me a limit. I just couldn’t stop! The story had more to say! I kept writing in classes and wrote poetry for myself. I loved every challenge my teachers and professors threw my way. If I could try a different style or genre, I attempted it with gusto. I wanted to grow and get better, but I had a fear of sharing those stories with others. My family and a mentor finally challenged me to step out. I started with a blog and then pursued publication. Book three is currently in the editing process. My dreams never felt this good.
Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...I think whatever I am currently working on is my favorite. I just finished Surrendered, which will hit shelves in Winter 2016. It is the final chapter in Nick and Kaylan’s love story, though we might hear about their lives in books to come. As I explored their relationship, I had to take a hard look at what love looks like, not what culture says it is, but what the Lord says it is. I was lost in this scene as Kaylan is questioning her relationship with Nick. As I finished, I felt this heavy weight on my chest. The way I had written Nick – this Navy SEAL, a warrior, a flawed guy striving to be like Jesus – I realized the way he loves Kaylan and pursues her and the way Jesus loves me and pursues me, even when and especially when I’m unlovable. I can’t wait to share that story with readers.
Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...Nick and Kaylan return in Shadowed as Nick faces the demons of his past on a mission to catch Janus, and Kaylan comes to terms with loving a man who leaves.
...Now in California, Kaylan slowly adjusts to life in the SEAL community with new friends, new neighbors, an internship, and mysterious and threatening notes left by a ghost. When items begin to disappear from her home, Kaylan wonders if she will ever find her place in her new reality and wrestles to develop the strength for the life she desires to have with Nick.
...Nick never dreamed his work would follow him home, but now the very terrorist he stalked is threatening everything he holds dear. Nick must learn to trust God with Kaylan’s life as he and his team fight for justice and answers to his past.
...In Shaken, the characters must learn to heal. In Shadowed, they must learn to love. But will their love forever be stalked by shadows? I think readers will love meeting some of Nick’s SEAL buddies and seeing what really makes the heart of a warrior strong.
Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...I do. I hate admitting that. They feel like my kids and it feels wrong having a favorite, but I think Logan and his little girl Molly are some of my favorite characters. Logan is a SEAL and a father and husband who just exudes confidence, leadership, and Jesus, and he knows how to have fun! I feel like he is such a voice of wisdom in the book. I know I learned a lot writing him. Molly is just sunshine and innocence. She is a sweet four-year-old who has a curious, innocent, beautiful outlook on the world, and I loved watching her shine and love those around her.
What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...Love is a choice. It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it.
Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...My stories and characters are based on the crazy mess in my head and inspiration I see in the world around me. If I see quirks and personality traits in friends, family, or even strangers that fascinate or entice me, I create a character with those traits. In Shaken, Sarah Beth is loosely based on one of my best friends who has the most bubbly personality paired with curly blonde hair and a smile that lights up a room. You can’t help but love her. I chose Kaylan’s passion for helping people and her pursuit of dietetics because of my cousin who has a heart for helping people in third world countries use what they have around them to be healthy and learn how to feed their children. Beware! If you are in my vicinity, anything you say or do is free game for a book.
When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I think stories should entertain and take you to another place. They have been my escape and my place to dream over the years. But I want my stories to also inspire readers to dream big, have courage, and make a difference. God made you uniquely, and I want readers to find in characters the traits and actions they love and then dare to emulate those things in real life. To use the name of my current series, I want readers to have the heart of a warrior!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...You are never too young or too old to write. You have something to say and a story to tell. The key is figuring out how to do that well. When you write, close the door to what everyone else may think or say and get the story on the page. Know your audience, know what they like, and then just write without fear. That’s the second most important thing I can tell you: write without fear. The most important thing I can tell you is to trust the Lord with the journey.
What is a favorite memory you have of your mother?
...We were on family vacation one summer. My brother, sister, and I were in the pool and mom walked down from the condo. She didn’t like to swim, but she loved to come sit on the side of the pool and dip her feet in the water. She sat down on the side, lifted her feet up, and said, “Do you like my pretty toted paint nails?” I think the three of us burst out laughing as she immediately corrected herself. “Pretty painted toe nails, pretty painted toe nails.” We bought her house shoes that looked like furry feet with painted toenails for Christmas, and the joke and memory have never died.
If you had to choose one type of food, what kind would it be?
...Unfortunately, I have cravings for Italian food quite often. I love the flavors, pastas, bread, and salads. So bad for me, but oh so good.
April showers bring May flowers – or so they say. Do you have a favorite flower? If so, why is it your favorite?
...I love lilies and roses. There is something classy and beautiful, yet simple about both.
_____________________________Thank you so much for being my guest today Kariss! I loved getting to know you better and am *SO* excited to offer a copy (or two?) of your book. I can completely relate to the desire to write, write, write and love how you say you tried different genres (I'm right there with you, I love it all!). Probably my favorite quote from today's interview is, "When you write, close the door to what everyone else may think or say and get the story on the page." Amen! And what a sweet memory of your mom - love it!
Ok, readers, don't pass up this opportunity to win a copy of Shadowed! Leave a comment below for Kariss or mention your favorite flower! I'll pick the winner (or winner's if we have enough entries for 2 books!) next Wednesday and announce it here on the blog.
She's won a Kindle copy of The Count of Monte Cristo from my interview with Kelly Bridgewater! If you missed getting to know Kelly, check out her interview here.