INTERVIEW | Kendra Norman-Bellamy

Kendra, describe yourself for our visitors.

“A lover of words” is a phrase that describes me well. Whether reading them, writing them, or listening to them – I have a great appreciation for quality creative expression. I find good music very stimulating so I listen to it often when I’m creating a story. Because of its inspirational message, gospel music is my melody of choice, but I also enjoy jazz and adult R&B. Fitness is important to me, too, so I eat well and exercising five days per week.

Above all, I strive to keep spiritually healthy. My faith in God is an essential part of my life. I’m humbled at the ministry that He has entrusted to me. In addition to my writing, the Lord has directed me to establish a cruise that celebrates artists who use their talents to edify the Kingdom of God. The inaugural Cruisin’ For Christ mission launched August 2007. Onboard the Carnival Glory with our group were many Grammy, Stellar and Dove Award winning gospel artists as well as bestselling authors, national evangelists, stage actors, and poets. While my fictional writing is without doubt a form of ministry, it goes far beyond books.

How do you find time to connect with God?

I have to “find time” to do a lot of things on a daily basis, but connecting with God is not one of them. Spending quality time with the Lord is something that I do by design each morning. I dedicate the first several minutes of each morning to a time of spiritual devotion. Prayer is the first thing on my agenda when I get out of bed daily. Before I begin my workout routine and prior to firing up my computer to begin working, I spend time talking and listening to God and reading scriptures. It’s my way of literally “putting God first” in my life.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books?

There are many authors who I admire and my list of cherished books is even longer. My favorite male author is romance writer, Timmothy McCann, who unfortunately, has retired from the craft. Among current male authors, I prefer the writings of contemporary fiction author, Travis Hunter. When it comes to female novelists, Maya Angelou is my choice. Whether she’s writing poetry, fiction or nonfiction, she’s phenomenal. Her book, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is my all-time favorite.

Tell us about your journey to publication.

My journey began in August of 2002 when I self-published my debut novel, For Love & Grace. The day that my order of books was delivered to me from the publishing house, I hit the ground running – and I’ve been running ever since. My self-published novel was acquired by BET Books’ New Spirit imprint (now an imprint of Harlequin’s Kimani Press) a year later and was re-released in 2004 as the first installment of a 3-book “Grace Series.” A month after the editor of BET Books contacted me I received an email from one of the editors for Moody Publishers (Lift Every Voice imprint) who wanted to offer me a book contract for another manuscript I’d written. Because each publisher agreed to non-exclusive deals, I was blessed to write for both. Then, in 2006, I received a phone call from the publisher at Urban Books who was launching a new Christian imprint (Urban Christian) and I was asked to write for that brand as well. I embraced the opportunity, so now, I am connected to three major publishing houses and I love the challenge of keeping up with the demands.

Tell us about your current book?

Battle of Jericho is the riveting story of Sergeant Peter Jericho (a U.S. Marine) who is in both a physical and spiritual combat. Over the past year, situations have caused his prayer life and the bonds of his marriage to weaken. Just before being shipped to Iraq to fight in the ongoing war there, Peter allowed an unresolved circumstance to spiral out of control and tear his family apart. And although he makes a promise to his young daughter that he will mend things between her mother and him upon his return to the States, Peter is blindsided by fate and captured as a prisoner of war less than a month before his tour of duty ends. Watching the death and destruction all around him puts his already waning faith to the ultimate test, and Peter finds himself in the battle of a lifetime, to somehow survive the devices of his murderous captors, and not only regain his place in God, but also return to his wife and daughter. The story is full of suspense and drama, but also sprinkled with humor and romance.

How did you come up with ideas for this book?

Life constantly throws me an abundance of ideas. There is always something to be seen or heard that will spark a thought or plant a seed for the premise of a novel. For this particular story, inspiration was drawn from the many friends and family members that I have who have served or are still serving our country in time of war. On some level, I wanted to pay homage to them for their selfless bravery. When I wrote Battle of Jericho, I was in frequent contact with men who were actively serving in Iraq at that time. They weren’t prisoners of war, of course; but communicating with them and getting first hand feedback on the goings on over there brought a unique level of realness to the novel. When I was writing it, I gained a greater appreciation for our men and women in uniform. They are the true definition of what a hero is.

List your three most recent books (if applicable).

1. Battle of Jericho (Urban Christian – April 2008)

2. This Far By Faith (Kimani New Spirit – April 2008 – a three-tale anthology in which my story is entitled A Cracked Mirror.)

3. Three Fifty-Seven A.M. (Urban Christian – March 2007)

What’s next for you?

Aside from touring and promoting Battle of Jericho and This Far By Faith, my immediate focus is on Cruisin’ For Christ II. The sophomore voyage sets sail on August 2, 2008 and I am in the midst of finalizing the list of celebrity guests as well as the agenda for our week at sea. On the literary side, I have a novel titled, The Morning After that will be released through Urban Christian in January 2009 and I am a part of a half-book anthology (two separate stories in one novel) from Kimani New Spirit that is also set to release in 2009. The title of my story in this collective work is When Violets Turn Red.

Where can visitors find you online?

My official website is www.knb-publications.com. I can also be found on MySpace at www.myspace.com/kendranormanbellamy. For more information on Cruisin’ For Christ, visit www.CruisinForChrist.org.