Friday, January 15, 2010

Inteview with Josi Kilpack, award winning author

Josi Kilpack’s first LDS novel was published in 2000 and has since been followed by 6 additional LDS titles. Her seventh novel, Sheep’s Clothing, won The Whitney Award for Mystery and Suspense in 2007. LEMON TART, the first book in Josi’s new Sadie Hoffmiller culinary mystery series released January 2009; book two, ENGLISH TRIFLE was released in August 2009 and the third book, DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE will be out in Spring 2010. In addition to her writing, Josi enjoys reading, baking, traveling, and snuggling with her sweetheart, Lee. They now live in Willard, Utah with their four kids, a dog, and a varying number of chickens.

Award-winning author Josi S. Kilpack introduces a new series of culinary "cozies" that is sure to tantalize mystery lovers. In this debut volume, cooking aficionado-turned-amateur detective, Sadie Hoffmiller, tries to solve the murder of Anne Lemmon, her beautiful young neighbor - a single mother who was mysteriously killed while a lemon tart was baking in her oven. At the heart of Sadie's search is Anne's missing two-year-old son, Trevor. Whoever took the child must be the murderer, but Sadie is certain that the police are looking at all the wrong suspects - including her!

Armed with a handful of her very best culinary masterpieces, Sadie is determined to bake her way to proving her innocence, rescuing Trevor, and finding out exactly who had a motive for murder.

What begins as a holiday trip for amateur sleuth and cooking aficionado Sadie Hoffmiller and her daughter, Breanna, turns into a bizarre mystery. First comes the discovery of a dead body in the sitting room of an English manor belonging to the family of Breanna’s boyfriend, who is also heir to the family title. When the body comes up missing, Sadie and Breanna are stranded at the estate until the police can clear them to leave.

Armed with a jogging whistle, her personal recipe collection, and an unfailing sense of American justice, Sadie begins her own investigation to find the killer. But when she seems to encounter one dead end after another, Sadie wonders if anyone is telling the truth — or if the case is really as hopeless as it appears to be.

Layer by layer, Sadie uncovers a mouth- watering mystery with an English flair. Included are Sadie’s favorite new recipes for American English Trifle, High Tea Lemon Cookies, Coconut Macaroons, Wake ’Em Up Breakfast Casserole, Sausage Rolls, Crumpets, and Sadie’s Scrumptulicious Scones

It’s been years since author Thom Mortenson has been back to Garrison, Colorado. As part of the committee who invited the bestselling writer to speak at the library fundraising benefit, Sadie Hoffmiller wants everything to be perfect—right down to the homemade devil’s food cake she baked herself. Certainly, murder was not on the menu.

When Thom’s manager ends up dead on stage, Sadie jumps in to offer her guidance and expertise to investigators. But when the police refuse to take her seriously, Sadie has no choice but to pursue justice on her own. After all, is Sadie to blame if she keeps stumbling over information? Can Sadie turn her back when people intricately woven into the deception keep crossing her path? With her son, Shawn, at her side, her reputation on the line, and a full cast of suspicious characters, Sadie Hoffmiller is once again cooking her way through a case that offers far more questions than answers.

Here's my interview with Josi:

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Josi: When friends started encouraging me to submit the novel length story I’d written. Even during the writing process I hadn’t thought about what I would do when I was done with it; I was just having a great time with the story. Once someone mentioned it I couldn’t get it out of my head and submitted a few days later. I was 24 at that time.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Josi: Interesting. I was very naïve and very uneducated in regard to the whole publishing industry. I didn’t know anyone who had published a book. I looked inside the covers of some of my LDS novels and called directory assistance to get their phone numbers (I didn’t have internet at my house yet). They told me how to send it in and I did—with no page numbers, no chapter breaks, no editing. The first three rejected me, but one of them, Covenant, gave me a three page rejection letter telling me why it wasn’t ready. It was painful, but made all the difference because they told me what I didn’t know I didn’t know. I rewrote that book and ended up paying a portion of the publishing costs to get it published. After that, I realized even more stuff I didn’t know I didn’t know and began to study the craft and the industry.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Josi: In the beginning I was too dumb to be discouraged. The more I’ve learned about writing and markets and careers, the more likely I am get discouraged. Most of my discouragement comes from my actual writing. It’s not as easy as it once was, and it’s harder for me to find time and ideas than it used to be. That scares me and makes me wonder if I’ve used up my best ideas and I’m on my way down from the peak of my career. To my credit, I keep moving forward and so far it just keeps getting better. But I certainly have my moments.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

Josi: Do you spell that s-k-e-d . . .

(I have no schedule, I shove it into corners and ask for ‘days off’ from my family so I can immerse myself. It’s obnoxious, but for the season I find myself in right now it works well enough.)

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?

Josi: I get most of my ideas from other people’s ideas; books, movies, newspaper articles, short stories. Something will trigger an idea, and that idea grows and develops. Lucky for me, even though the idea is started by someone else’s, by the time I’ve developed it, it has become it’s own creation. I, for one, and very grateful for all the other brilliant people out there since I can’t take credit for the ‘seed’ of a single story I’ve written.

As for knowing if an idea is good enough; I don’t know that when I start which is why I have half a dozen 50 page books on my computer. Sometimes I go back to them, but some of them will likely never become their own story because I just couldn’t grow them past that first 50 pages—poor things.

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

Josi: Get out of yourself. Go to conferences, read best selling novels, learn to read other people’s work critically, meet other writers, learn to give and receive feedback, join a writer’s group, follow other people’s careers, keep and eye on the markets. Writing is a scary thing—putting yourself out there for the world to see is intimidating. It’s also a fact that all of us that write, think we’re brilliant—or we wouldn’t do it. Both of these things equate to a fear of rejection, which is a powerful inhibitor toward fulfilling our dreams. But we have to get out of it. We have to know we are not brilliant, so that we keep learning, and we have to put ourselves into the writing world so that we can find our way to a published book.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline

Josi: I sit down and wait to see what happens and it more often than not makes me bonkers. I wish I knew how to outline, it seems like such a much more efficient process. Alas, I am a fly-by-the-seat of my pajama pants writer.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Josi: Constantly. Because I don’t have an outline, I continually find myself backed into a corner. To remedy it I do one of a hundred things until something works; stop writing and do something else, read other peoples books, edit other people’s books, cry, clean out a closet, bake, skip the problem spot and move on to another part of the story, start another story, ask a friend for feedback, write a time allotment every day to keep me going, write a ridiculous scene I know I’ll come back and fix, pray—stuff like that. So far, something has always worked.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?

Josi: I like noise in the background, but then I get distracted by it. I don’t like writing when other people are around and interrupting me. I hate that a whole bunch.

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

Josi: I like massages and I’ve convinced myself they are a source of inspiration.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

Josi: Beyond anyone else it would be husband, Lee. He has continually supported me, and yet kept me grounded at the same time. I’d have never thought I could do this if he hadn’t thought I could as well and throughout this entire journey he’s encouraged me forward. Within the writing community itself, Rachel Ann Nunes was a huge mentor for me in the early years of my writing. She offered me advice, hosted the first writers conference I ever went to, and suggested this idea of starting an e-mail list for authors that eventually became LDStorymakers which has had a huge impact on my writing. She was very generous to me and it made a huge difference in my career.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

Josi: I have belonged to a writer’s group here in Willard for about 5 years now. They are priceless to me. Getting ongoing feedback helps keep me from making big mistakes, and their encouragement is impossible to measure. I belonged to another group for awhile as well, but doing both groups became too hard for me to keep up with. However, both of them were excellent for me and I highly recommend that any writer, regardless of level, seek out a writer’s group.

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?

Josi: I don’t know. Earning Eternity was my first book, and those characters seem the most ‘real’ to me. To Have or To Hold was a lot of fun to write and I feel it shows a great deal of my own growth as a writer. But then I love Sheep’s Clothing, and of course Lemon Tart was a kick in the pants to write. So, I really don’t know. I love em all, but for different reasons I guess.

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share

Josi: Just that writing novels is my bliss, and I hope that everyone gets to not only discover their bliss but to follow it. God gives us bits and pieces of the gifts we need to develop our talents. It’s not an easy journey, and sometimes it doesn’t seem as though it’s worth it, but it is. Life will march on whether we are pursuing our dreams or not. Pursue.

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

Josi: They can order autographed copies (and first chapters) of all my books via my website, or can find my books at or in any brick and mortar bookstore as well.

Here are the links to find out more about Josi and her awesome books.


Sheila said...

Wonderful interview about a fabulous lady! I just love Josi and her books. Thanks for the great interview.

Krista said...

I loved this interview. I can relate to the "not knowing anything" as I am just starting out, but I am learning! I really enjoyed Lemon Tart and look forward to reading the others. Thank you, Josi and Michele!

Robin said...

I'm loving your interviews. Especially when I have just read the books that are being talked about. I love the character Sadie and the situations she got herself into. I want to be a Sadie. Lemon Tart and English Trifle were great books. Hard to put down. A great way to wind down.

Rachael Renee Anderson said...

Thanks for another great interview, Michele, and I really enjoy your books, Josi. Keep finding those little corners of time to write. :)

Jewel's Gems said...

Great interview! Josi is pretty amazing:-)

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Great interview! I just love Josi's books! Thanks, Michele.

Author, "Women of Virtue", Speaker said...

Michelle and Josi! Great interview. So interesting to know what makes writers tick. Josi, thanks for sharing yourself with us.

Author, "Women of Virtue", Speaker said...

Michelle and Josi! Great interview. So interesting to know what makes writers tick. Josi, thanks for sharing yourself with us.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to hear about successful authors, and way back when they didn't really know what they were doing. I'm so glad you didn't give up Josi.

Thanks Michele, for doing these interviews.

Julie Wright said...

Josi is the bomb!

Ronda Hinrichsen said...

What a fun interview, Michele. I know Josi pretty well, and yet it's still fun to hear/read her "voice" wisdom, and passion for writing. Thanks!

Laura said...

I found myself laughing and relating to Josi. I love the phrase "I was too dumb to be discouraged". I'm going to try to emulate that theory. And writing is bliss- I completely agree.

Tanya Parker Mills said...

I really appreciated this interview. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who doesn't outline!

Josi said...

Thanks for this, Michele. You're a great cheerleader for this entire market!