Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Interview with Joyce’s client, Jane Kirkpatrick

It is with extreme pleasure that I introduce you to bestselling author, Jane Kirkpatrick. Jane was my very first client in 1992. I sold her first novel to the very first publisher I contacted, Multnomah Publishing. Rod Morris was her editor. Rod recognized Jane’s talent from the very beginning. Since that time, Jane has won many, many awards.

Jane is inter-nationally recognized for her lively presentations and well-researched stories that encourage and inspire. Her works have appeared in more than 50 publications including Decision, Private Pilot and Daily Guideposts. Many of her sixteen novels and nonfiction titles are based on the lives of real people or incidents set authentically in the American West. Her first novel, A Sweetness to the Soul, won the coveted Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center. Her works have been finalists for the Christy, Spur, Oregon Book Award, WILLA Literary Award and Reader’s Choice awards. Several of her titles have been Book of the Month and Literary Guild selections.

A Tendering in the Storm won the 2007 WILLA Literary Award for Best Original Paperback and A Flickering Light, a story based on her grandmother’s life as a turn of the century photographer, was named to Library Journal’s Best Books of 2009
Now let’s talk to Jane and learn more about her.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

A friend of mine said that at the end of a book where is says "about the author" that what she doesn't want to read are the number of books or awards. She wants to know "stuff" like where you live, how many dogs you have, etc. So, I live on a remote ranch in a very dry part of Oregon near the Columbia River and along the John Day River (so you can find it on the map). The address is Starvation Lane. We now have two dogs and a bunch of cows just released this morning from the corral onto the pasture. They're pretty happy. Until last week, we also had a goat but the previous owners of the cows took the goat home with them as they have sheep so he won't be so lonely. I'm been married to Jerry for almost 34 years (on the 31st). I have two step-children and six step-grandchildren all of which live far away except one. Oh, and we're 25 miles from the nearest town.

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
When I was thirteen we had to write an essay about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I said three things: a journalist, a missionary and a secretary. So through the years I've written nonfiction though I wouldn't call it journalism except when I edited an employee newsletter for the Medical School at the University of Wisconsin; I've been a secretary and an administrator of a mental health clinic; and my missionary status I guess is my writing, hoping it reaches people as my years as a mental health professional did. I did write little poems when I was young and my teachers were always kind about my writing but I didn't write for others to read until I was in my forties.

Where do you get your inspiration?
From everywhere. The landscapes, poetry I read, history books I encounter, scripture, music, family and friends.

What is your all time favorite writing ‘How To’ book?
One that you would like to recommend to other authors. Structuring the Novel by Meredith and Fitzgerald. It was published in the 1970s but is still a solid how to write a novel book.

What obstacles have you had to overcome in your writing journey?

Let me count the mountains! But the word character comes to us from the Greek word meaning "to chisel." It's what's left of us after we've been gouged out, after we've had trials, that is the mark of our character. I suspect the greatest obstacle for me has been giving value to the writing before anyone else thought it worthy of publishing. We tend to minimize our efforts unless they meet the world's criteria of fame and fortune. My husband was a great help to me when I first talked about writing a novel but knew I couldn't as I didn't know how, the family I wanted to write about wasn't my family and I hadn't lived in the community I hoped to write about for a hundred years. He said one day "If you think that's a great story you should just write it down. If other people don't like it they can write their own version. But maybe you'll find out in the writing why that story wouldn't let you go." And I did.

Tell our readers about your “Homestead.”
You can sort of look at the answer to the first question. Our property is quite remote, seven miles from our mailbox, eleven miles from a paved road. We built it from scratch coming here, not knowing anyone except the people we bought the bare land from. We stepped out on a cloud of faith believing we wouldn't fall through. It changed our lives, this landscape. I began writing here; we survived disasters here including a plane crash; we were able to meet the needs of a granddaughter here while her parents dealt with drug addictions and the homestead sustained us through it all giving me another profession called writing just when I needed it. We celebrated our 26th year here in May.

What are you working on currently?

So glad you asked! My next novel is entitled The Daughter's Walk. In 1896 a Norwegian mother and daughter accepted a wager to walk from Spokane to New York City within seven months. If they were successful, they'd earn $10,000 and could save their farm from foreclosure. Things happened. When they returned, Clara, the daughter, changed her name and separated herself from the family for more than twenty years. I was so intrigued by that last tidbit of information read in a nonfiction book about the walk that I began researching and discovering Clara. Her "walk" was as adventurous as the walk she made with her mother. It'll be out in April from WaterBrook Press. And then I have a new project, my first contemporary stand alone novel with working title Barcelona Calling. It's about a writer who confuses fame with fulfillment as she tries to make her way in the publishing world -- with a little help from her friends. Zondervan is the publisher. It'll be out in September of 2011. Beyond that I'm busy with speaking events, fund-raisers, and in September if all goes well, my husband and I and two friends are headed for three weeks in Greece! I'm motivated to get these edits all finished before then!

I am privileged to have had Jane as a client and a dear friend all these many years. We have been able to meet many times around the country. I flew to Oklahoma City for her very first award for her first novel, A Sweetness to the Soul, when she was presented with the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center. I got to visit the ranch a few years ago. Her husband Jerry went fishing in the John Day river early in the morning and caught bass for our lunch. I loved those fish and I normally do not like fish. We’ve been together several times at the ICR. When she was in Pittsburgh my book club got to meet with her and most recent, I was in Texas and was able to go to San Antonio for the Women Writing the West banquet when she was presented with the Willa award. I am indeed honored to be Jane’s agent.
Jane’s web site is You can follow Jane on her blog, facebook & twitter. Go to her web site for that information. Also be sure to sign up for her newsletter, Story Sparks.


Caroline said...

Jane, you sound like an interesting and wonderful person. So glad you and Joyce shared a little bit of your life with us! I loved the part about "giving value to the writing before anyone else thought it worthy of publishing." How true!


Joyce Hart said...

Carolyn, I hope you'll try one of Jane's books, her prose is like poetry. she simply has a way with words and she paints a picture of what she is writing about.
Thanks for reading our blog.

Johnnie said...

Jane, I'm currently reading An Absence So Great and recently finished A Flickering Light -- a friend sent me both books because of my interest in family histories (though I've never written any). I appreciated your use of both first and third point of view so much that I wrote a post about it last Thursday for my online writing group's blog. A couple of days ago, I ordered another of your books through And now here you are!

I promise, I usually don't gush, but I love your writing of "true stories, imagined."

Jeanette Levellie said...

How wonderful that you live on Starvation Lane, and the Lord provides for you so beautifully! I just want to laugh at the devil for that!

Congratulations that you had the grace to listen to your husband and not lay down your gift. It sounds like they made a wise choice for the Willa Award!