Kristen Smith Dayley put together memories, lessons, histories, and accounts of hundreds of people in a newly released book titled “For All The Saints – Lessons Learned In Building The Kingdom”. The project began over 15 years ago, Clayton Christensen (Harvard Business School professor and best-selling author) to record and preserve the legacy of Latter-Day Saint pioneers in New England, a group of volunteers interviewed people around the country who had a role in the growth of the church in that area.
I got the privilege of asking Kristen Smith Dayley a few questions about the book, because I can’t imagine what a task it would be to assemble it all.
BB: Can you tell me more about yourself?
KSD: I am a mother with four children at home, including a set of five-month-old twins, who keep us hopping and very happy. I’ve had the privilege of living many different places, which has taught me that there are wonderful people and amazing things to discover no matter where you are. We have been in the Seattle area for nine years now and, having just built a home here, hope to stay put long enough to raise our children. That being said, my East Coast roots are strong and I insist on making regular pilgrimages out to New England with my children in tow so that they have some tie to the area I remember from my own childhood.
I am a practicing attorney and have been for 16 years now. Three years ago I formed my own law firm with some colleagues, which gives me the ability to work from home. The commute is unbeatable, but it does make for a crazy mixture of tasks in any given day, with hours that often stretch from 5:30 a.m. to midnight. Luckily I’ve done this so long that I seem to have learned to get by on less sleep – and I never suffer from insomnia! I don’t often get time to sit down and watch television, but I’m completely captured by Downton Abbey and love well-written dramas like House, The West Wing, and White Collar.
KSD: Truthfully, I never aspired to be a writer. Eight years ago, Clayton Christensen, who is a best-selling author and a professor at Harvard Business School, called and told me that he’d spent the last ten years working with a team of people to collect oral histories from individuals who had been involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New England since the 1930s. They had collected hundreds of transcripts of interviews they’d conducted with General Authorities, new converts and everyone in between.
BB: What are your favorite books to read?
KSD: I love historical fiction. I love learning more about a time and a place through characters’ eyes and perspectives. Several years ago I read Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman about the intrigue and relations between the Welsh and English in the 13th century and was so inspired that I made a trip over to Wales to see for myself. I was impressed at how well her story line held up to real scrutiny against the historical records and artifacts and fell in love with Llewelyn, the Prince of North Wales.
I also enjoy non-fiction writers like Malcolm Gladwell and Atul Gwande who make fields such as medicine, science, and sociology come alive through highly engaging anecdotes and personal experiences. I hope readers find the anecdotes and personal narratives in For All the Saints similarly eye-opening and valuable.