Chet summarize this book in one sentence for us. God Only Knows shows how lifelong friends come together and face down the consequences of a violent act they committed as teenagers.
What is the spiritual takeaway of this book?
The book shows how standing on Christian faith, trusting in the friends God places around you, and telling the truth can free you from shackles of fear and secrecy.
Ah, there’s fear again. You mentioned it in your last interview for your novel, The Things We Do For Love. Why is the main thread between both your novels fear? How fear affects not only the way we live, but our loved ones quality of life. (If fear plays any role in your life - fear of losing your job or of not being able to find another one in this economic crisis, fear of your or your family's security, or fears of your past coming back to haunt you in some way - this book is for you.)
I’ll ask this again for those that haven’t read your last interview. Why did you use a pen name? Has it affected your readership?
The pen name was my publisher's idea, to better attract Christian fiction readers who might not want to read books by a formerly "secular" author. Frankly I think it has kept some of my old fan base, most of whom would still enjoy these books, from finding me as easily.
Can you tie God Only Knows with a popular topic affecting urban Christian society today? One popular topic is the divide we see nationally right now between right-wing Christians and minorities (and most of the country for that matter). The Christian Light school system that Julia and Cassie grew up in was based on a school system I grew up in, one which is a perfect example of the culture that eventually grew into the Christian Coalition and Focus on the Family-type groups that put George Bush into office. GOD ONLY KNOWS shows the toll that such cultures can take on African-American and other minority children raised amidst these heavily religious, often racially prejudiced environments.
Why did you choose to discuss multiculturalism in this novel and what is its relevance to today's Christian? Another popular topic that the book can tie to is the Obama family, in at least two ways. First, the role that interracial dating (still somewhat of a taboo in the eyes of many Black women, even those who are now thankful that it happened between Barack's parents) plays in Julia's relationship with Maxwell. The Obama election at least indicates that people 40 and younger are now very comfortable with interracial dating and its taboo is lessening. Julia even concludes ultimately that she has no grounds for holding Maxwell's past interracial relationship (or his biracial daughter) against him, but that she needs to overcome the self-esteem blows she took from years of being told that "light is right" and "long is right, short is wrong" when it comes to hair.
The second tie to the Obama family news-wise is the growing popularity of the Obama girls. Malia and Sasha may be on the way to truly making "Black beautiful" in the eyes of the mainstream pop culture - already they are being recruited to show up on the "High School Musical" type shows and Hollywood is trying to cast actresses and models who look like them, in order to hold them up as role models for girls of ALL races. This is major, and perhaps means that Julia and Cassie's daugthers may grow up without all of the same baggage about their looks that was enforced on their mothers by the Christian Light school culture.
Who is Chet Kelly? What defines you as a Christian artist?
I am not the fast-talking, entertainer-masquerading-as-author type. I am an "artist," a real writer currently focused on commercial fiction but interested in writing deeper/more challenging books eventually. I love my wife, daughter and new baby on the way and am generally nice guy.
Do women readers embrace nice guys, who write stories that aren't filled with drama, but meaning? I think they do, though admittedly drama sells! I definitely get my share of encouragement and thanks from women who enjoy reading books that provide some entertainment but go beyond that. When people tell me that something I wrote encouraged them in their daily life struggles o r their faith walk, that's a great reward.
Chet, what do you know that you know? I know that I know that I need God in my life - that apart from that power source I am capable of falling just as far as the next person. I know that my wife, children, parents and brothers love me and have my back and that the emotions are fully mutual. I'm even blessed to have a handful of friends about whom I can say the same.
How can readers contact you Chet? Through my website at http://www.ckellyrobinson.com/ or at email@example.com. You may also learn more about him from his last interview on UCFT at http://www.urbanchristianfictiontoday.com/2008/11/author-interview-xavier-knight.html
God Only Knows is available wherever books are sold and online at Amazon.com, BN.com, and various other online book sellers.