Meet Kimberley Gardner Graham

Okay, before we even begin, let’s all take a deep breath and push the envy down. I know. She’s gorgeous. And not just on the outside. Kimberley has one of the most beautiful insides! She loves Jesus with every part of her being and it shines like a beacon. 

I rode on a plane with her to Denver last year for the Writing for the Soul conference–and never knew it! We’re from the same area.  It was at the conference, where she finaled, that we met and discovered this. 

Since then we’ve kept in touch and even had coffee at the fabulous bookstore she likes to write in. She’s witty and clever and so much fun to be around. I’ve had the chance to read the book that she’s finaled with AGAIN! It’s a beautiful story. Truly literary fiction at its finest. The winner will be revealed this Thursday! 

 Kimberley Gardner Graham grew up in Madison, Mississippi. She’s always been fascinated with the art of storytelling, but for most of her life she studied the visual arts, not the literary arts.
Before earning her BFA in Graphic Design and Photography from Memphis College of Art, Kimberley studied design at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and photography at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon.
She now lives in Memphis, Tennessee with her husband and three wonderful children and believes that through writing, she’s able to use the creative gifts God’s given her to tell stories that bring glory and honor to the Lord.
The Rocking Horse of Tuscumbia is her first novel and is a two-time finalist in the Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest. The results of the 2011 contest will be announced at the Writing for the Soul conference in Denver this month.
JP: Tell us a little about your book that finaled (again yay) in OFN!
KG: The Rocking Horse of Tuscumbia is a novel about a spiritually blind and deaf woman who confronts her long-buried past after returning to her hometown; the birthplace of Helen Keller.
JP: What inspired you to write about Helen Keller’s hometown?
KG: The, short but very true, answer is that the Holy Spirit inspired me to write about Tuscumbia. Before I started writing the book, I’d never been to Tuscumbia, Alabama and I’d never written anything longer than a three-page paper (and even three pages didn’t come easily). It wasn’t until after I visited a friend in Birmingham and drove through the foothills near the Tennessee River that I began to feel the first promptings toward this story, its characters, and that amazing little town.
Finally, after wrestling with the Lord for several weeks, I crawled out of bed one night and started writing in my journal what would later become the first chapter of the book. That journal entry was written on July 30, 2006 at 1:20 in the morning.  At the top of the page, in bold print, I wrote the words, “OK FINE.” That was just the first of many times throughout this five-year journey when I’ve had to open my hands, surrender, and trust God to do the rest. I stopped writing and researching after about a year and tried to remind God of my inabilities. 
Thankfully, I serve a King who doesn’t see my failures. He’s kindly continued to push and encourage me, despite my stubbornness. We’ve had a lot of “okay, fine” moments when He’s graciously helped me accept His glory-filled guidance. I’m beginning to see that it’s a whole lot easier to do what God’s prompting me to do than it is to ignore Him—go figure.
JP: I can totally see you writing “OK FINE”! I can relate to those kind of moments. And I’m praising God every day because He doesn’t see me the way I do. Love that. I think we’re getting an idea here, but what is one thing you’re passionate about, besides writing? Why?
KG: I’m passionate about my family and the work God is doing in and through my husband and each of our three kids. I’m passionate about a lot of things, and sometimes that causes me to get sidetracked and thrown off balance. 
I’m involved in several ministries in my church and in my city, but I have to be careful not to put them before my mission to glorify the Lord. When I get overly passionate about the project, I sometimes forget about the people or the call to serve. My husband keeps me in check and reminds me that my writing (like my painting, photography, parenting, etc.) is a secondary calling.
JP: Balance. That’s tough for me too! Let’s stray away from writing for a minute. If you were stuck on an island with one villain from a book or movie, who would you pick and why? 
KG: I’d have to pick the wolf from Three Little Pigs. If the third, musically-inclined, piggy can outsmart Big Bad Wolf then hopefully I can too…and wolf probably doesn’t taste too bad either.
JP: I’d guess it’d taste like chicken…like every other odd meat. Speaking of food, what food could you never live without? 
KG: Ask me after a few days on the island–I’ll probably say wolf.
JP: ROFL! You should have starred in the movie The Grey with Liam Neeson. Okay, back to writing before I bust a gut laughing at your answer. What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
KG: Write what’s inside and screaming to get out…
and then go back and change all of the -ing words to -ed words.
JP: Ain’t that the truth! Great advice for all of us. Words. They make us or break us…not really–well sorta, that just sounded good at the moment, but since we’re on to words, are you working on a new project? Can you give us a peek at what it is?
KG: Yes, I’d LOVE to tell you about the project I’m working on now. The Rocking Horse of Tuscumbia is the first novel in a non-sequential series I’m calling The River Cities Series. The second book tells the story of one of the characters from the Tuscumbia book and is set in a neighborhood in Memphis called Binghampton where my family has been serving for about seven years now. I’m thrilled to be writing about a place so close to home.
JP: Me too, because we have the same home. Not literally. I do not live with Kimberley and her family, people. I’m talking area. A-re-a. And I’m so glad because it’s nice to have a writer friend so close. Our busy schedules don’t allow us to get together quite as often as we’d like. We really should remedy that, yah know?
Thanks so much for spending some time with me at my online home! Tell everyone where they can connect with you and before you go, would you like to ask a question.
You can connect with me through facebook, or follow me via my poor, abandoned Twitter account
After years of studying Helen Keller and the amazing life she lived despite being blind and deaf, I’ve become fascinated with how Christ graciously unveils the eyes of those who seek Him. I’m still trying to understand that God doesn’t JUST want me seek Him with my eyes and ears, but also with all of my heart and soul (see Deuteronomy 4:29).
So, my question is this: 
What are some of your most valued eye-opening, heart-clenching, soul-stirring moments—times when the Lord has shown Himself to you?

***Thanks everyone for all the encouragement and questions this past Friday on my first vlog! You can watch it HERE! If you still want to ask questions or throw out a topic for me to ramble about it, email me at jrpatch(at)yahoo(dot)com, twitter me a DM, or leave me a message on FB (links at the sidebar)

***Wednesday, we’ll pick up with our series on strength! Talking about how to protect yourself from an unseen enemy. 

Oh, and Happy Valentines Day tomorrow! 

22 thoughts on “Meet Kimberley Gardner Graham

  1. What an absolutely intriguing novel concept.
    I only wish I was going to be at Writing for the Soul to find out if Kimberly wins. Keep us posted, Jess! (I've attended that conference many, many times!)
    To answer your question: One of the most eye-opening, heart-clenching, soul-stirring moments I've experience was when I'd stonewalled God for almost two years about something — something I couldn't embrace because it would be too, too hard, too painful. It would knock my world off kilter. I finally stopped fighting him (long story) and the moment I did, it all made sense — and the world righted itself in so many ways.

  2. And I apologize for misspelling Kimberley's name wrong the first time. Sheesh.

  3. Fabulous interview! I can't wait to read the book so I hope it gets published soon! 🙂 Good luck this week, Kimberley. Wish I were going to be there but can't wait to see the pictures. 🙂

    The most soul-stirring moment I've had with the Lord happened just a few weeks ago. See, I'd been feeling a lot of stress, pressure, dancing near mild depression, overwhelmed with life to where I just didn't want to deal with it anymore. No, I don't mean I had thoughts of suicide. I was just tired of caring. Tired of trying to rise above for the sake of the kids, the marriage, the ministry, the whatever. Tired of the struggle. It was all about me, you see.

    The moment happened on a Sunday morning. I can't recall what thoughts were going through my head, but the most crystal clear voice of God spoke: "Are you tired of serving me?" I have never felt the Lord speak so directly and personally to me. My heart pounded so hard and He whispered it again. I almost lost it right there in the front row of church.

    Needless to say, I had a lot of praying and repenting to do. Of course it's not wrong to feel overwhelmed at times. But when that's all you can see anymore, you've got a problem. Jesus asked me personally if I would serve Him sacrificially. I can't convey in a blog post how soul-stirring this was. You just have to know what it's like to hear Him speak above all the noise as if He had walked into the room and taken you by the hand. It was the most shattering, yet fulfilling moment for me. I'd been wrong, but here was my Savior to meet me.

  4. "At the top of the page, in bold print, I wrote the words, “OK FINE.”" This is great. It seems like the most amazing things happen when we finally say, "Ok fine" to God. 🙂

  5. Loved the interview! So nice to meet Kimberley!
    God always seem to show himself to me when I am at my most humbled or scared time. Ann Voskamp had a great quote about how we wrestle with God to finally rest in God.

  6. I love meeting new authors. I love seeing the many, many ways God works through every writer. Each story so unique-kinda like He makes each one of us. He is the best author out there, huh? Loved meeting you Kimberely – and best of luck to you!

  7. Such a good interview!! "Ok fine." I love that…I think maybe I'm saying that right now about a couple things in my life. I love that God can take our folded-armed "Ok fines" and turn them into life-changers.

    Kimberley, I hope your book wins that contest. It sounds amazing!

    Many of my most soul-stirring moments were in Westminster Chapel in London during my months there. I often question why I felt soooo amazingly close to God there…and I think it's because I was so completely out of my comfort zone at first.

  8. Thanks, Jessica, for a great interview! Kimberley, your novel sounds amazing. I'm pulling for you to win Operation First Novel so this book can get into our hands fast. Congratulations!

  9. Great interview. I think I experience a soul-stirring, eye-opening moment every time I get freaked out over this writing thing, whether I'll ever "succeed," etc., and then subsequently pray and give it to God. It's amazing the peace that comes when we give it to him. And it's amazing how often I forget that and try to take it back. I'm a WIP myself, lol.

  10. Beth: Kim's book really is amazing and I especially love her Helen Keller quotes at each chapter. A very moving story!

    Michelle: Thanks for leaving such an honest comment about how your soul was stirred. I've been overwhelmed like that too!

    Julie: True! Most of my greatest journeys started with Ok, fine!

    Jennifer: I've found that to be true also!:) I've missed you around lately! Glad to see you got your book finished up!

    Susan: I love that God's an Author…THE Author. Makes me feel good knowing I have Him coaching me while I write!

    Melissa: Another great time when He's the nearest…out of the ole comfort zone! I hope she wins too, btw!

    Donna: Thanks for the encouragement. It really is a great book!

    Lindsay: Don't I know it too! I feel like the queen of take-backs sometimes!

  11. Great interview, Kimberley and Jess!

    I'm pulling for you in the Operation First Novel contest.

    Congrats on your success so far!

  12. This book sounds fantastic. I want to read it already. And I can so totally relate to the "OK Fine" sentiment. I've said it often enough.

    And I have a confession…as I read the beginning of this interview, I thought it read shines like bacon…sigh..

    Kimberley, thank you for sharing part of yourself. And Jess is right–you are gorgeous. 🙂

  13. Thank you, Jessica, for having me over! I hope I didn’t offend any of our vegan friends. And, thank you everyone for being so open and honest about your struggles and God’s amazing triumphs. I’ll let you know how things go Thursday, but I have to tell ya—I know the other four authors and they’re ALL incredible people…and writers. We’ve had so much fun teasing each other about who’s going to win. It’s very heart-warming to know we’re all writing for the same reason; we all love the Lord and we’re desperate to show people His character.

  14. So nice to meet you, Kimberley! I tend to get my callings out of order too sometimes. I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in that! 🙂

  15. Great interview, ladies. I love that novel concept. I'm so drawn to literary fiction!

  16. Great interview! Nice to meet you, Kimberley! I like the concept of your story 🙂 I'm also rooting for you to do great in the contest.

  17. Kimberley, your novel writing sounds like what I tell people about me getting married: I didn't want to get married, but when I met the man who would become my husband, I wanted to marry HIM. Is that what you're saying, that you didn't want to write, but you wanted to write THIS story?

    Great interview, ladies!

  18. Great question, Melissaq! Yes, but imagine if you hadn’t wanted to get married and God had put it on your heart to move to Antigua Guatemala and spend all of your free-time researching the local of your mysterious dreams before you ever caught a glimpse of him. (Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite that extreme.) Honestly, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to write, I just knew that I didn’t have the ability within myself to get the job done. That’s the one thing I was right about. Even if the book never gets published, I’m thankful for the time I had on my knees while writing it—the unexplainable moments when I knew I was walking beside my Savior. Yes, friend, I knew I wanted to write for HIM.

  19. Wonderful interview, and yes, she's gorgeous!

  20. What a beautiful interview. So nice to meet you, Kimberley.

  21. I love your interviews! So glad you met each other and live near each other! How great is that??

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