Today, super fun and sweet author, Carol Kinsey is joining me on the blog to talk about her latest release, Witness Protection. I LOVED this newest release because it is an end of your seat suspense novel that is clean and wholesome. Be sure to check out my full review here. Thank you, Carol, for joining me! I’m so excited to have you.
About Witness Protection
“There is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed.”
Ty Westgate is an ex-lawyer living under witness protection. Brooke Dunbar is a young nurse, struggling to find hope and healing from her past. After four years in hiding, Ty puts his faith in Christ and realizes his moral duty to tell his unsaved parents about Jesus. While this step of faith holds eternal significance for Ty’s parents, it also puts Ty’s life in jeopardy. Together, in this fast paced novel, Ty and Brooke work to unravel the truth behind Ty’s adversaries. Will Ty’s decision to share his faith cost him his life? Will Brooke learn to trust the One Who can heal her past? The price of freedom may be too high.
About Carol Kinsey
Carol Kinsey lives with her husband, Von, and their two daughters on a farm in central Ohio. She and her husband have been involved in youth ministry for over twenty years through Student Venture, Young Life, and their church where Von is currently working as the full-time youth pastor. Carol is a contributing author for Relationships Under Construction and has taught relational risk avoidance in various high schools throughout Ohio. She worked as a journalist for almost ten years and has a passion for writing exciting fiction that uplifts, encourages, and gives glory to God. Carol partners with authors, Amy C. Blake and Colleen Scott, through The Writing Family, motivating young authors and cultivating a love for writing for themselves and their children.
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What was your inspiration behind Witness Protection?
I love suspense. I enjoy a fast paced story with lots of action that will keep me on the edge of my seat. As a Christian, however, I want to fill my mind with things that bring glory to God. Philippians 4:8 is the barometer I use when looking for something good to watch, read, listen to, and write. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
I wanted Witness Protection to be a fast paced, contemporary story with a Christ-centered message. When writing Witness Protection, there were numerous things that inspired the story, the plot, each character, and the scenes. It was influenced by a compilation of life experiences, interests, and ideas.
The plot stemmed from the principle that God calls His children to obey. Sometimes obedience to God might mean risking something. In Ty’s case, obedience to the commandment to honor his father and mother meant that he needed to tell them about a relationship with Jesus. This act of obedience put his life at risk. Was it worth it? Ty would say yes.
I wanted Ty to reflect a character whose redemption showed a transformation from a life of moral compromise to a life of humility and love for God. He’d made wrong choices in his life and those choices had consequences. I wanted a character who had a flawed past, but who had turned his life to Christ. Ty is a new believer with a criminal history. As his character began to develop there were little things about Ty that reminded me of Neal Caffrey from the U.S.A network television series, White Collar. The creators of White Collar modeled Neal Caffrey after real life con-man, Frank Abagnale, who also had a tainted past. Both Frank and Neal used their criminal past to catch criminals. There is something beautiful about a character who has laid down his sordid past to pursue truth. For Ty, his pursuit of truth led him to Christ.
As for Brooke, I think her character was inspired by various women I’ve known over the years—friends who have been hurt, abused, struggled for answers—friends who ultimately needed the kind of heart-healing that only Jesus could give them. Her struggles are real. Raw. That’s what I love about Brooke’s character. She didn’t grow up in a perfect home with perfect parents. She’d been hurt. That hurt influenced who she is today and ultimately, she allowed God to take those hurts and bring her healing.
What was your favorite scene to write about?
That’s a difficult question. I loved so many of the scenes! One that sticks out for me was the scene where Ty and Brooke are at a restaurant outside of New York City. In this scene, Brooke finally opens up to Ty about her dreams. She loves art, but her parent’s expectations pushed her to a career in nursing. While Brooke had been opening up about her life, bit by bit, this scene represents a pivotal moment. She’s beginning to trust Ty.
I also enjoyed writing the scene where Brooke is at the airport. I imagined all the emotions she was feeling. Leaving Ty. Was it the right thing to do? Would she ever see him again? There’s a kind of aching in her heart that I wanted to tap into. Then she realizes she’s being followed and reaches out to Cincinnati Bengals player, Ben Williamson. The fact that she even recognizes him gives us a little glimpse into Brooke’s life. Who knew she was a football fan? I enjoyed his character, even though he was only there for a short scene. It was also a fun little way for me to throw in a bit of my own personal Cincinnati love. Cincinnati is my hometown.
What was the least favorite scene (perhaps the hardest to write)?
The scene where Brooke is alone in her hotel room and the masked man comes in and forces her to drink alcohol was probably the hardest to write. I try to be careful in my writing that I am sensitive to reader’s fears. I don’t want a scene to be so disturbing that it puts unnecessary images in a person’s mind. In creating an intense scene I want to portray the evil as just that – evil, and in no way give glory to the darkness. When I’m writing, I try to put myself into the mind of that character. What was she feeling? What was she thinking? The hotel room scene is frightening, somber, and intense.
Which character was your favorite to write about?
Truth be told, I enjoy all of them. The main characters require me to dig deep into who they are and develop their personality. I love that. Ty and Brooke were fun to write about. They each have their own story, and I enjoy allowing that to unravel. I also enjoy creating those minor characters that pop into the story. I enjoyed writing Ben Williamson (the Cincinnati Bengal). I love his response to Brooke’s cry for help—he played along with her. I also enjoyed writing Hannah Grace, David and Linda’s daughter. I find it fun to throw in children because they can say the most random things and break up the seriousness. I also enjoyed writing Pastor David. I like his boldness for Christ and his ability to laugh.
Do you incorporate any of your real life experiences into your books?
Always. Writer, Virginia Woolf, said it well. “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” My stories themselves are fictional—objects of my imagination, however the heart of my characters, their experiences, personalities, and interests, are a window to my mind. I find humor in the saying, “Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.” While my characters are fictional, as an author, I write what I know. Experiences that impacted my childhood or a friend’s childhood might pop up in the life of one of my characters. It’s not usually intentional. It’s part of writing what I know.
Every once in a while a friend who has read one of my books will tell me they caught something in the story that they know reflects my own life. I love writing tidbits of my own experiences and interests into my books. Many of my novels take place in locations where I have lived or spent a considerable amount of time. For example, my husband and I used to live in Rockport, Maine. When I was writing Ty’s parent’s house, I could see the location in my mind. While the house is made up, the town isn’t. Ty’s father’s schooner was based off a boat we spent many hours on while living in Maine. It was a 42-foot schooner called the Shanti II and it docked in Penobscot Bay.
My 2013 novel, Under the Shadow of a Steeple, takes place in central, Ohio, in a church modeled, very much, after the church where my husband is a youth pastor. The secret hiding place under the sanctuary stage really exists. After I wrote the novel, teens and children who’d read my book went searching for it.
My western, Until Proven Innocent (2014) takes place in and around Northern California. My husband and I lived in Northern California while my husband was studying woodworking. The town, Santa Rosa, where Bethany is from, was about an hour from the small town of Fort Bragg, where we lived. Santa Rosa was the closest big town for us and we found ourselves going there quite often. Until Proven Innocent also has a few other fun, hidden things taken from my own life and experiences. The name “Bethany” is one of them. There is a young woman who attended our youth group named Bethany and she loves my books. She’s been a huge encouragement to me and pushed me hard to get my books published. She went on to attend Pensacola Christian College and actually posed for and designed the front cover. The character of “Bethany” is not in any way the same person—but it gave me an opportunity to bless my young friend for her encouragement. For fun, I subtly threw in the names of her mom, dad, sister, and brother.
In my 2015 novel, Greater Love, Rainey attends Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. While living in California, I worked for a summer language program at Pepperdine. While writing the book I could see the campus, the beach, the little shops and restaurants.
If Witness Protection were to be a movie or TV show, who would you pick to play the roles of Brooke and Ty?
I have to smile at that question. While I have an image in my mind of what Ty looks like, I can’t really nail him down one-hundred percent. As I mentioned before, there are things about Ty that make me think of Neal Caffrey from White Collar. But from actor Matt Bomer’s more recent Hollywood endeavors, he wouldn’t be my first pick. I threw out the idea of Liam Hemsworth. He’s got the right look and he’d certainly bring in millions of viewers, but my daughters said he was too typecast. That said, I think I’d go with Jesse Metcalfe, who played Tom Endler in God’s Not Dead 2. He’s the right age and has the ability to pull off Ty’s classiness.
For Brooke, I’d pick Odette Annable. She stars in the movie, You Again. She’s a good actress with a simple sweetness in her appearance that I think reflects Brooke’s character well.
What is the most important message that you hope readers take away from reading the book?
The most important message I hope my readers to take away from Witness Protection is that there is nothing more important than living your life for Jesus Christ. Ty recognized it—he was willing to risk his life to tell his parents about Jesus.
God blesses our obedience to Him. Even though Ty and Brooke had a rough road at first, in the end, the Truth set them free! Brooke found freedom from her past hurts and Ty found freedom from the confines of witness protection.
Through Brooke’s painful past, I also hope to encourage readers who have suffered similar abuse. God is our healer. He cares about us. Jesus doesn’t cause bad things to happen—it’s a result of living in a sinful world. There is joy in knowing that our Savior understands. One of my favorite parts of the book is when Pastor David shares these words: “In that passage where Jesus wept, remember why He was crying? His friend Lazarus just died and his friends Mary and Martha were grieving. Jesus knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead—but it hurt Him to see His friends suffering. Jesus cried not because Lazarus was dead, but because Mary and Martha were sad.”
Before you go, are there any projects that you’re currently working on?
There are a few projects I am working on. Over the years, I’ve written several novels, which I’ve not yet polished and moved toward publication. The Truth About Jesse is one that I wrote several years ago. It has been read and re-read by several friends and recently I’ve had more than one of them encourage me to move forward with this one. It’s about a young woman named, Jesse, who pretends to be someone she’s not. The other novel I’m currently working to polish is a western. I love historical Christian fiction. It gives the reader an opportunity to step back in time and experience life in the past.
Another project I’m currently working on is my curriculum. In 2016, I launched a Christian homeschool writing curriculum called, Creative Writing Through Literature. There are two, year long, courses in the series, so far. I’m currently working on my third one.
Thank you so much for chatting with me Carol! 🙂