Author Page: Graham Kell
Graham Kell has been with Bard and Book since 2010, after he won the C.S. Lewis Award (1st Prize).
Graham Kell's Biography
Graham has been a husband to Rachel for 22 brilliant years, and is the biggest fan of their 2 boys, who are reported to be the best kids to have ever kidded. As a senior pastor, charity president, tour guide, newspaper columnist, and psychology student, Graham has learned that survival requires focusing more on his to-be list than his to-do list, and he prefers to be writing. Other things on the list sometimes suffer as a result. Does this make him a bad pastor? It probably does at times, but his church family are an understanding bunch!
He holds a Th.M from Dallas Theological Seminary, a B.Sc in Natural Resource Management from Adelaide University, and a B.Sc in Psychology from the University of Southern Queensland, where he is currently completing Honors, majoring in neuropsychology. So he’s a bit of a geek.
His writing often reflects his background in wildlife, his studies in psychology, and his experiences in Israel, where he regularly guides tours. Graham and his family live in Australia on the Sunshine Coast, but don’t let the name fool you. It rains a lot, giving him plenty of excuse to hide away and write.
Why do you write?
For the same reason I enjoy cooking. I eat because I must, but I cook because I like to create and the result is (I hope) something satisfying. I enjoy eating it, and I like to see other people enjoying my work too. Writing’s the same. We write some things because we must. There are shopping lists to scrawl, and emails to send, but creative writing is more like cooking. It’s about the creative process in us, and the joy of plating up something that others can enjoy.
How would you describe your writing ‘method’?
In a word, chaotic! But there is method to the madness. I have a notebook with me (I’m old fashioned that way) and I write ideas as they come. They usually come from bizarre and unexpected places. Two birds fighting over a chip at the beach triggers an idea about religious rivalry. An elderly man walking past a young boy at the shops triggers a Holocaust story (currently in progress). Once I have an idea and a few characters, I drop them into a time and a place with a problem, and then watch what they do to deal with it. Whether I like their approach or not is irrelevant. I just write it down and see where it goes. Like cooking, sometimes that recipe works and sometimes it doesn’t! I might not cook it for long enough, or I may add an ingredient (a character) who doesn’t add to the flavour of the story. Editing is mostly about tasting the story as I go, before plating it up for others to judge.
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?
Read, read some more, and when you’re finished, keep reading.
Which of your creations has brought you the most joy?
As a pastor, most of my writing is for teaching, but most of my teaching is through story telling. Those stories that have brought me the most pleasure are those that take the modern audience back to a different time and place, or those that bring an ancient character forward into modern times. I like this because it adds modern relevance to the distant past and builds a bridge between the world in my head and the world in which I live.
Which has brought you the most heartache?
The stories that have started out impersonal and ended up deeply personal! Before I can relate to a story I feel a little detached, which I don’t like as an author. But I’ve also had the opposite problem, when a story starts to reveal something in me that I didn’t want revealed (or maybe didn’t know was there!) This is a good sort of heartache I guess, but in the same way a surgeon’s knife is a good sort of pain!
Is there anything you’d like to say?
I’d like to say how much I value being a part of a community of writers. Us authors can sometimes be an introverted bunch, escaping to the worlds inside our heads behind the safety of a laptop. But having other like-minded people around me reminds me that I’m not an island. Or maybe I am, but there are bridges available to cross onto other people’s islands or invite them onto mine.