This week’s author interview is with Ryan Kelly. He is the author of our brand new release: Calls to Worship, Invocations, and Benedictions.

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve lived in a number of states and usually outside of major cities: I spent my childhood near Chicago, my teens near Houston, two years near Oklahoma City, a number of years back in Texas, three years in Michigan, and the last ten years near Philadelphia where my wife Noelle and I currently live with our three daughters. Like many professional musicians, my career has spanned multiple disciplines. I work partly in the academic sector (I’m a professor of music at West Chester University of Pennsylvania) and partly in vocational ministry (I’ve spent decades as a music director and liturgist in churches around the country). Hobbies . . . I enjoy playing softball, smoking brisket Texas-style, composing music, and writing. 

  • Have you always enjoyed writing?

I’ve enjoyed writing since I was in my early teens when I started writing articles for neighborhood newspapers and regional periodicals. Though I speak publicly in many venues and enjoy doing so, I always feel I’m at my most persuasive when writing. 

  • What inspired you to write this book, about this topic?

First, I wanted to offer worship leaders a resource to help them plan worship—not solely a collection of calls, invocations, and benedictions, but a sourcebook that might help them match a theme, scripture, time of year, etc. I also wanted to offer some historical perspective on the development and liturgical function of these elements. 

  • Do you have an interesting writing quirk?

Years of computers crashing in the late-90s and early-00s instilled in me a habit of hitting “Ctrl-S” to save my work multiple times a minute, saving drafts of works in multiple files (in case one of them got corrupted), and e-mailing manuscripts to myself . . . all to ensure I had multiple backup copies in case of a disaster. One can’t be too careful!!

  • What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Teaching talented writers to improve their craft is difficult; teachers usually spend more time with struggling students than with those who aren’t. I found myself nearing thirty years old when one of my doctoral dissertation committee members gave me the lowest grade on a paper I’d ever received. I was upset because all their red marks were, in my opinion, stylistic; however, I was determined to learn. So, I set up a meeting with the professor. When I told them, “There are no errors in this paper,” they responded, “Just because there are no errors doesn’t make it good.” This short sentence tremendously impacted me as a scholar, professional, and writer. Lack of error is never the final benchmark for “good.” To aspiring writers I would say: Learn how to edit your own work. Bloat and redundancy kills readers’ receptivity to your message. Less is more. If you have to explain what you just wrote, then you didn’t write it simply enough. If you want to get better—ask a friend or colleague to meticulously criticize your work and learn from them!

  • Favorite flavor of ice cream?

German Chocolate Cake

  • The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia?

Can I change the question to Star Trek or Star Wars? Star Trek, hands down. Yes, I can name the supporting guest actors going back to episodes in the 60s. Yes, I have been to a Star Trek convention. Yes, I own Star Trek novels. And yes, I have been to the Star Trek Original Set Tour in Ticonderoga, New York. Oh . . . I forgot, you asked about Lord of the Rings and Narnia? I like both. But I don’t love them like I love Star Trek!

  • Tea or coffee? 

Coffee, black, very hot. 

  • Favorite sport to watch? Favorite sport’s team?

Chicago Cubs baseball forever!

  • How can readers discover more about you and your work?

NOW AVAILABLE — Calls to Worship, Invocations, and Benedictions

Amazon: $19.99

Christianbook: $15.99

CVBBS: $13.50

P&R Publishing: $11.99

PCA Bookstore: $15.59

WTSBooks: $13.35