Author Interview: Kerry Burke + Shereece Connolly-McLeish
The wonderful thing about books is that you can read a person's work and connect with the work, and consequently it's author(s), without ever meeting, or knowing, him or her (or in this case, knowing them.) Still, I believe that learning more about an author can give further insight into their work.
Kerry Burke and Shereece Connolly-McLeish are co-authors of the 21-day, prayer devotionals entitled, If You Love Him, Pray for Him, and If You Love Her, Pray for Her. (Read Cara's review of the devotionals here.)
The duo make a dynamic writing team—Kerry is a first time author, while Shereece has published several children's book. The two met in church.
It's my sincere honor to help facilitate a further connection between you and the prayer devotionals by sharing this author interview with you.
Author Interview: Kerry Burke + Shereece Connolly-McLeish
Where are you from?
Kerry: I was born in London, England. My family migrated from the UK to the USA when I was very young. We lived in New York first, and then moved to Florida where we have lived for the better part of 25 years.
Shereece: I was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica.
When did you first consider yourself a writer, Shereece? And then Kerry, same question.
Shereece: I started writing when I was 12. My mom gave me a notepad to write whatver I was feeling. At the time my parents were separated and I was dealing with anger issues. My mom told me to write down my feelings instead of sulking around. I started doing so. Of course at first most things I wrote were angry, but eventually I started writing about nature and love. And then my writing evolved into something that was necessary for me to do. Writing became a part of who I am.
Kerry: Honestly for me, it wasn't until the Holy Spirit dropped the title in my heart that I considered myself a writer. Rather than back away from the challenge, I thought, "If not me, then who?" I believe that God wanted to use what He had given me to spark a revival of prayer in the lives and hearts of His people.
Since that was a more recent experience, Kerry, can you remember an early experience when you realized that language had power?
Kerry: Way, way, way back, before text-messaging, we used to write and pass notes in class, which was a big no-no. I remember waiting anxiously for a "yes, no, or maybe" response to my questions and follow-up reactions and replies to my thoughts.
Writers are readers, Shereece, what book elicited the strongest emotional response from you?
Shereece: A Time To Kill by John Grisham. That book had me crying and angry for days!
Was that the first book to make you cry?
Shereece: No, the first book that made me cry was The Client, also by John Grisham.
Kerry, what type of books have most influenced your life?
Kerry: I really enjoy books that address and encourage the underdog. If it's a book that talks about how God wants to use those who consider themselves imperfect, unqualified, and overlooked/insignificant to advance His divine agenda? Count me in!
Shereece, what was it like working with a co-author who was a first time writer?
Shereece: Kerry is a natural! She was very easy to work with. It was merely a matter of her discovering the God-given talent she had tucked away [inside of her] for a moment like this.
Kerry, what was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing these books?
Kerry: That God literally looks for opportunities to blow our minds. For me, writing and publishing these books was a miracle. I learned that what we label as "miracles" are simple, routine, everyday, run-of-the-mill kinda stuff for our awesome, all-powerful, all-sufficient God.
So true!! What looks impossible to us is everyday regular for Him! Still writing isn't always easy, at least from our human perspective. Kerry, what was the hardest part about writing these devotionals?
Kerry: Narrowing down the 21 topics for each day of one devotional and then doing it again for the opposite gender. I felt like there were so many avenues to explore and so many needs for greater emphasis in the body of Christ.
Of course! What about you Shereece? What's your writing Kryptonite?
Shereece: My writing kryptonite is self doubt. [Self doubt] will have me ripping up pages, drawing complete blanks, and numb. The cure for me is the beach or a hilltop where I can look out and see all that God's hands have created. That stillness always provides a calm that just washes over me and I can write for days at that point!
A change of perspective is always good. Speaking of perspective, Kerry what would you say is your message to your readers and to people in general?
Kerry: God is concerned. And not just concerned, God is consumed with you. And not just with what we label "big" or "important," no He cares about the minute and trivial things too. God wants you to take it ALL to Him in prayer. And the needs of your spouse, child, pastor, co-worker, and family member are all too important for you to neglect to lift them up in prayer constantly.
Amen! As we consider the needs of others, which are addressed in the devotionals, Shereece what would you say is your favorite day in the devotionals, and why?
Shereece: In If You Love Her, Pray for Her my favorite day is Day 10: "Who knows if you were made queen for such a time as this." Too often we doubt ourselves, our abilities, and our talents. We question our worthiness. What I love about the prayer is that it serves as a reminder that God's grace is sufficient to overcome any of our inabilities and insecurities.
Likewise in If You Love Him, Pray for Him Day 2 is my favorite. That prayer focuses on Gideon and how God reassured him that he would be victorious not in his own strength but in and through the strength of the Lord. It's a reassurance to the men in our lives that God has their backs at all times.
And Kerry, which days are your favorite?
Kerry: In If You Love Him, Pray for Him Day 17, "Integrity by Example" is my favorite. Whether in the home, workplace, church, or community, the Word of God clearly identifies a pattern for godly living that illuminates the characteristics of love, faith, sincerity, and integrity. The ultimate goal is for the man to be Christ-like.
And I agree with Shereece. In If You Love Her, Pray for Her Day 10, "Born For This" is my favorite. Even when it seems like there is no rhyme or reason for what we may be facing in life, it is important that we know that God always operates from a place of divine order, and there is a plan and purpose for everything we encounter.
Awesome! Shereece since you started writing at 12, if you had to do something differently to become a better writer as an adult, what would it be?
Shereece: I would spend more time writing, perfecting my craft. I would have ignored the naysayers who said I couldn't be a writer, and just believe that this gift is from God and intended to be shared with the world.
Kerry, what is your advice to aspiring authors?
Kerry: Write. Just write. Understand that if the Holy Spirit is leading you, you cannot fail, and there are no mistakes. Every good idea comes from God. Trust Him enough to just write.
Okay, before we close, let's do a quick round of either or. Do you write with music or silence?
Shereece: I do both, but I prefer silence.
Kerry: Silence puh-lease! I get too caught up in harmonies and the ins and outs of the arrangement when my "jams" come on.
Lol! Okay. Paperback or E-book?
Kerry: I used to be a diehard paperback kinda girl, but lately I have been really enjoying the convenience of e-books.
Shereece: The feel of a book in your hands is golden, nothing beats that, not even technology, lol.
Okay, last one. Pen or Computer?
Shereece: Both, but mostly computer or writing on my phone.
Kerry: Computer all the way!
To connect with Kerry and Shereece check out the links below -
You can read Kerry's blog here: Grace Talk
To see children's books by Shereece click here: Klas Media Group
On Social Media -
Kerry on Instagram and Twitter: @graceinseason
Kerry on Facebook: Grace In Season Fan Page
Shereece on Instagram: @shereececm
Shereece on Twitter: @shereececm
Get Your Copy of The Devotionals