Many of us have a dream. So does Zack Dylan, the main character in Karen Kingsbury’s new novel, Fifteen Minutes. Zack has a nice life on his family horse farm in Kentucky, but he wants more. He has a burning desire to sing in front of large crowds. Fortunately for him, he has an opportunity to compete on a reality show called, Fifteen Minutes.
“Fifteen Minutes was inspired by the reality shows that we see all time,” says author Karen Kingsbury in a promotional video for the book. She’s referring to shows like American Idol, The Voice and The X Factor.
“I really wanted to take a look at and question, ‘who are the real winners?’ Whenever you take that step into the limelight when there are a millions of people who suddenly recognize your voice, your face and your name, there will be a cost and Zack certainly pays it.”
Kingsbury knows a little something about dreams. As a former sports writer for the Los Angeles Times and later for the Los Angeles Daily News, she wrote her first book, Missy’s Murder in 1991. It was based on a murder story that she covered in Los Angeles.
“I have a photo of [my son] Tyler when he was one year old sitting on my lap. He’s staring at the screen and I’m writing with my hands on the keyboard. My husband snapped that picture. We look back at that, and that was life. Life was happening all around us. Dishes and laundry. Taking care of the kids. But I still pursued my passion to write.” Since that time, she has written over 50 novels and she is a mother of six kids!
However, in the case of the fictional Zach, he tries to manufacture his dream and it might be outside of God’s will. He leaves his girlfriend to pursue his dream, promising her that nothing is going to change him, their relationship or his relationship with God. Some promises are easier to voice than to keep, though.
As it turns out, Zach becomes America’s most popular country singer practically overnight. As his success grows, he is asked to make his religious beliefs shrink and to compromise his values.
Meanwhile, his girlfriend Reese is wondering if her dreams of walking down the aisle with the love of her life are still valid, and she herself is given an opportunity to pursue her dreams as well. Zach could actually win and lose everything at the same time.
Then, there’s Chandra Olson, one of the judges on Fifteen Minutes. She’s lived with her own public success and private hell and is afraid that Zach will go down that same road. She is empty and is searching for meaning in her life.
Fifteen Minutes is a story of building or losing character, standing up for what you believe in or compromising at any cost.
Even with the temptations that come with success, Kingsbury still believes in dreams as long as they up with God’s will for your life. She continues on the video: “You may have a dream. You may have something you’ve been wanting to do or maybe you’re at home and are looking forward to what is next. Well, you don’t really have to do that because God has a plan for you right where you are. This is the time to take action because in the story of your life, you only have a finite number of pages. So dream big and act now.”
Kingsbury isn’t against fame, but she is realistic about trying to “have it all.” Working through one’s selfish desires is a common theme in Kingsbury’s books and like her other stories, Fifteen Minutes aims to inspire and challenge its readers with real characters in real circumstances.