Q&A with author Jane Kirkpatrick

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

theroadJane Kirkpatrick has written nearly 30 books, many making the New York Times or Christian bestseller lists. She's won numerous awards over the years, combining her love of writing and her interest in the history of Oregon, the state she calls home. Her most recent faith-based novels are A Light in the Wilderness and The Memory Weaver, both published by Revell. This Road We Traveled comes out in September 2016. Kirkpatrick was in Grand Rapids at the recent Calvin College Festival of Faith & Writing, and answered questions about her writing and life.

Q: How did you come to write your award-winning fiction?

JK: In 1982 I was director of a mental health program in Bend, Oregon, when my husband and I decided to sell everything and move to 160 acres of dirt and rattlesnakes in eastern Oregon. I struggled with what to do there; then a voice said "Write." I had occasion to write letters to officials via my job, so knew that words had power. I also took a class in creative writing at the local community college. I was terrified, but the teacher said I could sell those assignments. I began selling pieces to newspaper and magazines.

Q: And your first books?

JK: I wrote Homestead: A Memoir about our early years at the ranch. We had no electricity, running water or even a phone line. The book is still in print, now with Whitaker House. But not long after the move I got a job working with the local Native American tribe. I planned to work for a year, but I was still there 17 years later. I would stay in town during the middle of week and drive back to ranch for Friday through Monday. I started writing fiction during that time.

Q: Tell us about your novels.

JK: My first novel was based on a real couple who lived on the reservation. A Sweetness to the Soul was published by Multnomah in 1995 and I ended up having a dozen books published by Multnomah and Waterbrook. Revell is now publishing my latest novels.

Q: All your books are set in the same region?

JK: I write about real historical women who lived in the Oregon Territory. And I talk to my characters. After I write a difficult section I ask them if it is true, and all my characters have something I like in them. Because they are based on real women, I try to locate descendants and talk to them. I love to hear stories from the families.

Q: Tell us a little about your ranch.

JK: I loved the ranch. My favorite thing was that I could open the door to the deck and hear the river and listen to the birds, and the dogs could run. If people came to visit us, they were likely to stay a couple of days. This deepened our relationship with those who stayed with us. We sold the ranch two years ago and now it's used as a retreat.

Q: What do you like to read?

JK: When I'm writing I try not to read novels, but I love mysteries, historicals, sci-fi, nonfiction and books I use for research. I like Louise Penny, Jacqueline Winspear, Kathleen Ernst and Donna Leon.

Q: Any last thoughts?

JK: You should know that I'm never lonely because I have all these people zipping around in my head.
Author Information
Ann Byle
Ann Byle is a freelance writer and owner of AB Writing Services. She writes for a number of publications including WMCN, Publishers Weekly, CBA Christian Market and Grand Rapids Magazine, and is author or coauthor of several books including The Baker Book House Story, The Call to Care: A Compassionate Response to Caring for Vulnerable Children (2018) and Christian Publishing 101 (2018). She and her husband Ray, a science teacher, have four young adult children.

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