So…Keleigh Crigler Hadley!

Today on So Says Kimyatta, you have the opportunity to get to know an author
(my favorite kind of celebrity).  She happens to be one of the contributing authors for The Motherhood Diaries but she also has other books we’d like to tell you about.  Introducing Mrs. Keleigh (pronounced like Kelly) Crigler Hadley!!!!

SSK:  Thank you Keleigh for agreeing to be interviewed on So Says Kimyatta!  You’re the first author I’ll interview so please forgive me if I’m a little green around the gills!  It’s so great to have connected with you. 

KCG:  Hello Kimyatta, thank you for having me. I feel so honored to be the first!

SSK:  You are one of the contributing authors of The Motherhood Diaries.  Tell us a little bit about your chapter.

KCG:  My chapter is entitled, The Diary of a Wimpy Mom. It’s about my experience of having a stillbirth when I was 35 weeks. I was about 12 days away from my due date. I’d had three great baby showers and had already set up the nursery. It was a difficult year for me and my family. We grieved but time healed my wounds as it promises.

Six years later, I was blessed with the birth of my son, Malcolm. Initially, I was overjoyed but quickly I was robbed of my joy. The reality that babies can die hit me and I became rather obsessed with his safety. I was a breastfeeding Nazi, terrified of SIDS and autism, and I worried day and night. One day, God freed me the cycle of worry, despair and doubt and showed me that worry was consuming me and ruining my motherhood experience. I made the decision to trust Him day by day and let all that worry go. (Well, most of it.) Two years ago, I was blessed again with my McKenna Drew and I am thoroughly enjoying her and leaving everything else up to God.

SSK:  Wow.  That’s amazing.  I honestly can’t put words to how I THINK that might have been.  You have indeed survived.  What made you decide to submit for The Motherhood Diaries?

KCG:  I don’t know. Reshonda asked for submissions and since I have always loved her books and Facebook posts, I just thought, “Why the heck not?” Never, ever thought it would turn out to be such a blessed experience.

SSK:  It has indeed been a great experience.  The bond we have as sister writers is unbelievable.   Now, before MD, you were already a writer.  Have you always wanted to write?  Was there any one defining moment that made you want to write?  

KCG:  I have not always wanted to write. I devour books on a daily basis. I am a serious reader.  It is practically a part of my diet. But writing wasn’t even a thought. I wrote my first book, Preacher’s Kids when my son Malcolm was a few weeks old. A friend of mine had self-published a book and I thought, “Why the heck not?” (That seems to be a recurring thought of mine.) Turns out, I’m not a horrible writer. I got great feedback from book clubs and major reviewers. I even got picked up by a small publisher. Although I cringe when I read my first book because I have come a long way since then. I take this craft very seriously and work hard at it every day.

 SSK:  You wrote a Young Adult series.  Tell us about that.

KCG:  My YA series is called Preacher’s Kids. Book one is Secrets and SalvationBook two is Wicked and Wise.  I happen to be a PK.  Yes, I was one of those bad-butt kids.  My main character’s name is Mia and she is a socially awkward teenager. She’s clumsy and no one gets her dry sense of humor except her wild-child, bohemian best friend, Brooklyn. Mia’s twin sister Morgan is the darling of the family. She excels at school and at church but she has secret demons to deal with as well.

I decided to write about subjects that I don’t hear talked about enough at church where kids can get a sound biblical perspective not the Youtube version.  I write about issues like; suicide, homosexuality, bullying, witchcraft, etc. because  these are things that our kids are dealing with every day.  I provide a guide at the back of each book to encourage parents to engage with their kids about these issues so they are steered in the right direction. There are only two books so far, but I plan to return to my PK’s as soon as I can.

SSK:  I love the idea of providing a guide at the back.  That is awesome.  I like that it’s not the “reader’s discussion questions” but a guide to help deal with some of the issues.

SSK:  How difficult was it for you to switch from YA to Adult fiction?

KCG:  Not too difficult. I pride myself on writing edgy but clean, Christian fiction. I want my grandmother to be able to proudly show off my work and my kids to be proud of me too. It was just a matter of using less pop culture references and more character development.

SSK:  Now….Revenge, Inc.  Tell us about it.  What put this idea in your head? The idea started with one of the last scenes in the book. I won’t give it away but, I just had a vision of a desperate, mental power struggle. From that thought, the whole book came about.

KCG:  I wanted to put together an unlikely group of friends.  A stripper, a banker, a cheerleader and an angry teenager.  Pretty different right?  Then I thought, what could they possibly have in common?  Where do people come together from divergent walks of life?  Church?  Work?  The Club?  Nope.  AA.  Alcoholics Anonymous.  I did a TON of research on the organization and almost went to a meeting but I felt that might be exploitive. But I did find out that when people have hit rock bottom, AA is a resource that can get them sober again. So I had to take my characters and make them hit the bottom. I threw everything I could think of at them to make them desperate enough to lose themselves in alcohol.  Then I took alcohol away and replaced that addiction with the lust for revenge.  They became revengeaholics.

SSK:  Well, I can certainly tell you did your research!  I really felt like I could have been IN an AA meeting sometimes.  I like the way Eugene facilitated.  Have you ever wanted to serve up a dish of revenge?

KCG:  Heck yes!  Wanted and served many times.  Nothing as elaborate as the plans they created in the book but I’ve done my share of dirt.  And that was what convicted me so much as I wrote this book because I discovered that when God says that “vengeance is mine.”  He wasn’t playing!  It’s His, because he owns it.  If we take it on, then we are stealing something from God.  That’s not cool on any level.  And revenge it not just keying some hoochie’s car that flirted with your man.  It’s the little stuff like the “silent treatment”, or harboring a grudge, or cursing out a stranger in your mind because they cut you off on the freeway.

Needless to say, I’ve done a LOT of praying since writing this book because I needed to get my own house in order.

SSK:  Umm…OUCH.  I’ve always thought of revenge as “the big stuff.”  I never considered the, “Alright..you don’t want to talk to me?  I got something for ya.” moments.  Now I think I need to get MY house in order.  

SSK:   So, what kinds of things do you like to read? 

KCG:  Let’s see.  I named my son Malcolm because the Autobiography of Malcolm X changed my life.  So did, The Red Tent, The Purpose Driven Life, Memoirs of a Geisha, Harry Potter (all of them), and Grown Folks Business, and the Chronicles of Narnia.

SSK:  Quite a diverse bunch!  Do you have a favorite book?  A favorite author?

KCG:  I don’t have a favorite book. That would be like having a favorite child, but my favorite author is C.S. Lewis.

SSK:  YES!  My sentiments exactly!  I swear we’re some kin!

SSK:  What was the last book you read?

KCG:  Right before I started this interview, I began reading Never Say Never by Victoria Christopher Murray. She is one of my writing sheroes. I try to mimic her style of infusing faith and fiction.

SSK:  Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

KCG:  I’ll tell you what other authors have told me. Invest in your craft. Study it. Keep learning tools and techniques. Follow the rules and then when you have them down, you can break them.

SSK:  What can we expect next from you?

KCG:  Next up is a trilogy.  The 101 series.  I’m soooooo in love with the characters.  I really love the second book, but I have to write the first one, in order to deal with the stuff in the second.  I’ve always been fascinated with the biblical story of Paul.  How he started off as the Christian bounty hunter Saul, a really despicable guy and then Jesus transformed him into Apostle Paul, church leader.  I want to take someone who is despised in our society and make her a new creature.  I’m still in the storyboard stage and have only written the first chapter outlines, but the entire story is in my head.

SSK:  How can fans get in touch with you?

KCG:  I love connecting on Facebook or directly at keleigh.hadley.pk@gmail.com. Thank you again for this interview and I can’t wait to read YOUR book!!!

SSK:  Thank you so much for agreeing to do it!  (now you’re trying to make me blush!) 

Be sure to check out Keleigh’s work available where books are sold!

Until next time,

Hakuna Matata

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