CBP: Iíd like to start out by hearing how you became a Christian.
Kristen Billerbeck Okay. Well, I became a Christian when I was 24 at San Jose State. I think my heart is with that age because itís such a transitional part of life about where your going to go. I know that I could have made all of the wrong choices; I continue to make wrong choices and God boots me up and says, ďNo.Ē I want Him to say that to other people.
CBP: You seem to write more to young professionals in the book.
Kristen Billerbeck I do. Iím living in Silicon Valley, I work with singles mainly in their 30ís. And I noticed that their faith is really their own. Thereís not a lot of discipleship, and the churches have really abandoned a lot of the singles in terms of they donít want that kind of music in their church and that kind of thing. Thereís a separation that society really looks to themselves for faith; so in a lot of ways I feel like I want to disciple them because I canít get the church to do it.
CBP: Wow. Tell me about Sheís All That.
Kristen Billerbeck Well, Sheís All That is a combined effort, as you saw. Itís book about girlfriends and about how your friends are really the ones who are there for you, but ultimately itís God who is the next level of life. Itís a book about Lilly Jacobs who is a fashion designer and sheís finding out who sheís really going to be. I think that right around 30, and that was such a stepping-off point for the rest of your life.
CBP: And I noticed you drop a lot of label names and kind of like, is that to be like Prada and those types of labels culturally relevant?
Kristen Billerbeck No, I genuinely love all those things so Ė I donít really get to wear a lot of them, but I really think it speaks to women of this generation that this is a book for them. Not your motherís Christian book; itís for you. And most gals, whether they have a Prada purse or not, they know about them and they know what they signify.
CBP: Itís in its place.
Kristen Billerbeck I think that in my last book, and youíll probably see it in this one too, there is all this stuff, but ultimately itís about her finding her stuff.
CBP: And I did read your Quick Picks, and that seemed to be a good wrap-up at the end, and you have those other characters almost on the polar opposites to contrast with them too.
Kristen Billerbeck I think that living in this culture is so difficult for todayís Christian women. They really have to be relevant to their peers in order to witness and that's what Lilly really represents. They are helping people who are living in this culture as Christians; it is a very difficult task.
CBP: Whatís the best way that you can be relevant without giving up your unique Christian assets?
Kristen Billerbeck I really think that it comes from finding your part in God and being proud of that. Because itís so easy to get sucked into the culture and not have your Christianity be your strength.
I show my heroine as very fallible; they make a lot of mistakes, and I hope that watching them make their mistakes, readers will learn from their mistakes. I like to teach in the negative. I let my heroines do something stupid in hopes that we grow from it rather than have this great heroine who does everything right. I canít identify with that; I screw up all the time. I want to show how you get back on the track after making wrong turns.
CBP: Do you pull them from the people that you work with, or are these people that just pop up in your mind, that your imagination comes up with?
Kristen Billerbeck I really find that people are architects, and I find that everybody knows this type of person who is majorly organized, or this type of person who is incredibly jaded and annoyingly flaky. I just try to get those types of people that we all have in our lives and really pick on one particular thing. Like my heroine from Sheís All That, I like to pick on the people pleaser and have someone whoís always trying to do whatís right for someone else, and that is a good thing in the bible, but eventually you find out that thatís not really who you are.
CBP: Would you say thatís one of your main themes then that youíre trying to get readers to walk away with?
Kristen Billerbeck I think my main theme is Christians that hurt the cause of Christ. I see so many Christians who are judgmental or cold or not kind to people and Ė being in the Bay Area Ė I should state my background. I was sort of adopted by a Christian family in college. They took me in to try and witness to me, and they were horrible people to me. They were really horrible; and later after having a come out of my hedonistic life and all these terrible things. And it crushed me because they never told me about them. And later, I did get saved and I realized what they were trying to do, but all they did was push me farther away from Christ. So I think thatís what Iím really passionate about is that us Christians be very loving people.
CBP: Pointing out the behaviors that they wanted you to change?
Kristen Billerbeck Right. And that, to me, is always about heart and character. As Christians and churches often focus on the outside, and the outside means nothing to God. Itís your heart.
CBP: Is this a series?
Kristen Billerbeck This is a series of three. And the first book is about Lilly who is a fashion designer. Each one has a different heroine and a different setting and lifestyle.
CBP: Who do you enjoy reading?
Kristen Billerbeck I really love political books; so more non-fiction that way. And in terms of fiction, I like Anne Rule Ė sheís not really fiction either. For fiction I like Maeve Binchy. I love her characters. Thereís something so beautiful about the way she brings her characters. And I love the strength of women in her stories.
CBP: What kind of political books do you like to read?
Kristen Billerbeck What am I reading right now? Iím going to be in trouble. The 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, and Al Franken at 37. Thatís what Iím reading. Itís really fabulous. Theyíre common sense. I appreciate that. I like the common sense.
CBP: And in your writing, who influences you?
Kristen Billerbeck Well, mostly I would say secular authors. I love Jane Austin, and I love how her books are social commentaries. Thatís what I hope my books will be. Her books are social commentary on Victorian times, and I hope mine will be about todayís culture.
CBP: Well, itís funny because when read your books, since I'm also from that area, I think, ďOh, I know exactly where that is.Ē It makes it really fun to read.
Kristen Billerbeck I love that area, I was born and raised in Redwood City. So never got much farther than that. I went to San Jose State. My husband I left a few years ago, and I miss it so badly.
CBP: Well, now you can write about Northern California.
Kristen Billerbeck No, I really canít because Iím kind of in the middle of nowhere.
CBP: Oh. I was thinking it was the Sacramento suburbs.
Kristen Billerbeck Itís actually to the East; itís about an hour from Tahoe. Itís a very pretty area. Iím definitely a city girl and I married a country boy.
CBP: I know you have to run, so thank you for sharing these interesting tidbits with us!