Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jane Kirkpatrick - A FLICKERING LIGHT - Free Book

I'm happy to welcome Jane back to the blog. Jane, why do you write the kind of books you do?

A few years ago I took some time and worked out my philosophy of writing and it goes something like this. I want to be able to “Inspire and promote, through speaking and writing, the power of story to Divinely heal and transform.” I believe sincerely that God speaks to us through stories. Aside from that, the stories come to me and I try to listen to them. I write historical novels in part because I think much of women’s history is lost, and I think there is spiritual value in exploring ordinary lives and being informed about the way that faith was expressed in ordinary days. I’ve written non-fiction books as well, in part because of my mental health background and a wish to offer healing words inspired by God’s grace whether a memoir, a book for grief, or a book of history and legacy. But overall, I believe that story is a powerful influence in our lives: stories we tell ourselves affect us and our lives are the stories other people read first.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
I really had to think about this one! There’ve been many. But I have to say the day I got to help deliver a baby. I was the birthing coach for a woman I worked with on an Indian reservation. I’d had the courage to ask her if I could be her coach when I overheard her tell the nurse that she didn’t have a partner she could count on; so I was it! And the day the baby came was truly one of the happiest in my life. I got to cut the cord, a privilege usually reserved for the father in Indian country. She’s going to be thirteen this year! A teenager! I felt so fortunate. I have no children of my own though I’m blessed with step-children so being a part of this moment of life was truly an amazing experience.

How has being published changed your life?
Big time, though for 17 years I continued to work in my day job first as a mental health director of a clinic and then as a consultant to people on an Indian reservation. So I commuted a little over two hours to work but I stayed on the reservation two nights a week. Those nights I got up really early 4:00 AM and wrote before going to work. It energized me for my social work day. Seven years ago I was able to quit my job there and write full time. I teach classes, lead women’s retreats and am often asked to be an inspirational speaker for businesses, at universities, charitable groups; and I continue to write. We also have a ranch so we have to work travel around seasons sometimes. I’ve met tons more people than I ever did before I published! And I’ve been privileged to receive some of the most amazing letters from people saying how much the words have helped them in their lives. My spiritual life has also grown as a writer though that began before I was actually published. Writing is a leap of faith, every time we sit down to do it!

What are you reading right now?
A bunch of things. With my husband morning and evening, I’m reading Ann Spangler’s book The Tender Words of God. I also read a piece from Frederick Buechner’s Listening to My Life each day. A Perfect Red a book about dyes and the history of the world’s desire to find the perfect red. The Song Weaver by B.J. Hoff…I’m way behind in her books, I know! The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama because I think there’s value in knowing how our President sees the world. I just finished reading Loving Frank (about Frank Lloyd Wright because the period is the same as my current novel) and The Geography of Love by Glenda Burgess because I love reading memoir. I’ll read a few pages at night before zoning out so it takes me awhile to finish a book.

What is your current work in progress?
The working title is An Absence So Great. It’s the second book in my Portrait of a Heart series based on my grandmother who was a photographer at the turn of the century in Minnesota. She made some poor choices in the first book, and she’s moved to Milwaukee to help a widow run her photographic studio. Photographers at that time often became ill from mercury poisonings from the developing chemicals and she was trained not only to do the photographic work but to run studios while the owner recovered from his illness. She did that in several cities over her lifetime until she married.

What would be your dream vacation?
I get one every now and then: It’s being on a houseboat moored to one spot with tons of books to read, a little music now and then, good food, and my husband and friends. A second would be to travel to places I’ve never been but again with people I enjoy spending time with and being able to be casual and bring the dog along. He’s a wire-haired pointing griffon.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
My stories tend to be character driven and most are based on the lives of real people. Marie Dorion, an Iowa Indian woman who traveled with 60 men, her husband, and two little boys with the Astor Expedition in 1811, began her life in the Wisconsin area. A Name of Her Own, the first in the series about her, I began in St. Louis as that’s where the expedition gathered to leave. I knew that Sacagawea was in St. Louis at that time and there was evidence the women knew each other, a fact that worked into the story later. I started A Clearing in the Wild in Bethel, Missouri, as that’s where Emma Giesy was living at the time. The second book begins in Western Washington and the third in Oregon. It’s nice when the setting is the west because I like to go to the places more than once while I’m writing.
Basically, the settings grow from the characters. I’m also interested in how the landscape affected the characters. I see my writing weaving threads of landscape, relationship, faith, and work around the spine of character and history. My newly released novel A Flickering Light, is about my grandmother, an early photographer in Minnesota in 1907.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Frederick Buechner. Because he’s a fine writer of both fiction and nonfiction, he’s a brilliant scholar and theologian who continues to explore his faith, continues to find new things within scripture and can convey those insights in ways that touch people deeply. I can’t read his Listening to my Life without being overcome with emotion because he has such a way of tearing away the fabric of façade and cutting to one’s heart.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
The other day someone asked me that and I have to say I was really stumped because reading is my number one hobby. I used to do needlework, embroidery, but don’t much now. I guess I’d say walking with my dog, working with him so he won’t be “ruined” as the dog training people say. I have my pilot’s license but since we don’t have a plane anymore I haven’t flown much but I used to enjoy learning how!

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Silencing the voices sitting behind me saying that what I’ve written or am writing is drivel, is worthless, won’t matter to anyone, isn’t faithful, doesn’t ring true, you name it. I have a whole list of harpy comments as I call them. I actually developed a workshop about the seven stories that hold us hostage and how we can transform them. Most of my internal comments fall into seven categories and I have phrases I’ve developed for each one, to change the story.
My biggest harpy buster is a little note I have at the top of my computer that I can read when I feel scared, unworthy, guilty, angry, anxious, perfectionistic, or have hurt feelings. It reads: “You don’t have time for that.” That helps me remind myself that it isn’t my job to write the great American novel or to get Oprah to know my name. It’s my job to show up, to assume the position of a writer and to tell the stories I’ve been given the best way I know how and to trust that I’m not alone in the telling.

Excellent advice. What advice would you give to a beginning author?
To listen to their heart. To set aside time every day or a particular schedule, each weekend for four hours, or whatever fits into their lives, and to not wait for inspiration. I’d encourage them to make a commitment, to set a goal. As the lyric poet Goethe noted that what people don’t realize is “once you make a commitment to something, then Providence moves.”

Tell us about the featured book.
A Flickering Light is about my grandmother who was a photographer in Winona, MN at the turn of the century. At fifteen she began being trained by her mentor, a man 26 years her senior. She was a natural from what I could learn; but she also made some unwise decisions as she began to fall in love with this very married man.
In part it’s an exploration of temptation but also a tendency I’ve seen in very capable and competent people at times, that they do things to sabotage their gifts. It’s caused me to do some real thinking about my own mistakes, even the actions I take in my writing that might very well be shooting myself in my foot and asking myself why I do that and how far that takes me from my relationship with God. It’s a more emotional story than what I’ve written before, or maybe it’s because it is my own grandmother, but I’ve really been thinking of her a great deal and wish she was alive to ask her questions. I’m having to speculate about the answers but that’s what fiction is all about, right?
There’s a video trailer promoting it on Godtube, Shoutlife, Amazon, and my website and some other sites as well.
My web address if
My blog is It’s called The Harvest of Starvation Lane. I’m on Facebook and shoutlife as well. For those interested, I write Words of Encouragement each month on my website that are essays about writing and life. I’d love to hear from any of your readers.
Thanks so much for letting me share my thoughts! Happy writing! Jane
Thank you, Jane, for spending this time with us.
Readers, here's a link where you can order A Flickering Light.
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. The only notification you'll receive is the winner announcement post on this blog. Be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.
If you're reading this on Facebook or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave a comment:


Christy Janes said...

I just finished Jane's Change and Cherish series about Emma Giesy, and they were all such wonderful books. I enjoyed your interview with her as well. Please sign me up for this contest for her newest book! :o)

orca0024 at yahoo dot com

Renee said...

This book looks awesome! The interview was great too, I'll bet the book about Frank Llyod Wright that Jane is reading is very interesting, I live close to Falling Water and it is just a breathtaking example of some of the greatest architecture in our country. If you're ever in South West PA you should DEFINITLY make a point to visit there!

Can't wait to read the book!

Sheila Deeth said...

Hi Jane, How wonderful to meet you here, and enjoy a picture of you plus dog. The Dorion books are still my favorites of yours - I just felt like I'd met her and really really liked her; but the new series sounds fascinating. Hoping to catch up on reading soon.

Edna said...

I have not read anything of Jane's as yet so please sign me up to win one of her books


Megan said...

Sounds like a great book, I do love historical fiction! And I could totally take that vacation on a houseboat too!


megan.nadalet at gmail dot com

Carlene said...

I would love to have my name entered for your drawing.

Abi said...

I have read some of Jane's books. I'd love to win this one. Thanks.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

windycindy said...

I love her midwife story on the Indian Reservations. The houseboat getaway sounds also sounds fabulous to me! Please enter me in your drawing for Jane's book. Many thanks, Cindi

Patricia PacJac Carroll said...

Good interview. And what an interesting book about women photographers.

lastnerve said...

I've never read any of your books but this one looks really good. You seem like such a patient person. I can never sit still long enough to do needlepoint but give me a computer and I can sit for days!

Linda said...

What an interesting background you have, Jane. It's so rich. And yes, God does speak to us in novels--He has to me many times over. Thank you for sharing.
Please sign me up for this book.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Carole said...

I enjoy Jane's book so much and would be honored to win a copy of A Flickering Light. Thank you for the very interesting interview and contest.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Karin said...

Would love to read this book--

Jane Kirkpatrick said...

Thanks, Lena, for hosting me on your blog and thanks to your kind readers who commented, too. I'm working on the sequel to A Flickering Light... Happy reading and writing to you all. Jane

Marla said...

This book sounds very good with a different type of plot. Thank you for the entry.

lovedandamazed said...

My friend was just recommending Jane Kirkpatrick to me earlier today! This sounds like a story that would draw me in. Thank you!


adrienne said...

Hey, please enter me for this contest. thanks.

peachykath said...

This book looks really great, please enter me in the drawing.