As a Multiple Sclerosis patient, it has become necessary for me to reinvent myself. I have ... and continue to ... refuse to lie down and die, or in this case, follow the normally prescribed drugs and treatments that do nothing to defeat my disease. I am not only surviving by pursuing alternatives, I am thriving. I do the things specialists told me I would never be able to do. I walk and hope to one day even run regularly. I retain my cognitive and creative abilities for the pleasure of my readers. Although you may never see me on my daily walk, you are welcome to read my novel(s) and in doing so, come to ask yourself, "How can the 'out of the box' protocol she has followed, help my loved one with an autoimmune disease like Multiple Sclerosis?"

Interview with JOSI KILPACK Part two

I know, it's been a long month to wait for the second half, but here it is (and two days early at that!)
Josi, tell me about your dream of becoming a writer.

I didn’t dream of being a writer for long—not as a child, teenager or young adult. The dream never really started for me until I finished my first book—something I thought would be a short story but turned into a novel length women’s fiction novel. I’d enjoyed writing assignments in high-school and loved my college writing classes, but being an author was about as realistic as becoming a brain surgeon and I spent the same amount of time thinking about both possibilities (i.e. no time at all) When I did finish that first book and got feedback from friends I thought I was about the coolest thing since individual cheese slices. I dreamed, then, that my first royalties check would take me and my entire family on an Alaskan cruise before buying me a writing cabin in the woods.

Nice dream, so when did you decide you wanted to write, for real? I mean did that one novel serve as your catalyst?

I was on bed rest with my third pregnancy and in the middle of a two-a-day habit of books my sister picked up from the library for me. I got this idea for a short story and started writing it. Six months later I submitted it to publishers, a year after that I held the finished book in my hand. The feedback I started getting was that though they liked the story, the editing was awful. My first royalty check was for $154.00 dollars. I was embarrassed and decided I needed to do more than just write a good story—I had to learn more about the structure of a novel and the mechanics of fiction. And so I did. My second book came out three years later and it was a story I could be truly proud of. I was later able to go back and revise that first book, which was a blessing.

What does it feel like when you write?

Sometimes it feels like I’m going in circles and trying to distract myself from less desirable chores around the house. Other moments feel like work—simply completing a task. (I'm nodding since I feel the same way at times.) Now and then, however, it feels as comfortable as an old pair of sweats and I get this sensation that writing is one of the reasons I was sent here and that God is pleased with the fact that I have taken this gift and, with His help, turned it into a talent and ability I can be proud of and humbled by. In those moments, I get completely carried away in the world I’m creating—that’s the moments I write for and I hold on to the memory with both hands when it happens.

Wow, either I’m a sucker or that really touch my heart strings. How is that you decided that mystery—cozy mysteries at that, are what IMHO you do best?

I started the first culinary mystery, Lemon Tart, in order to enter a contest a friend was doing (Jeffery S. Savage). He’d asked for a mystery that involved food and so I wrote that one chapter with very little thought about chapter two. It was something totally new to me, as everything else I had written was LDS based, and although I didn’t win the contest (I took 2nd place, though :-) I really enjoyed the story. Over the next two years I worked on it here and there as I continued my LDS market books and had a good time with the challenge of taking on something different. It was my publisher (Deseret Book) who suggested adding recipes and making it an actual culinary mystery. I suggested a series and they agreed to three...and then five...and then eight...and right now it’s open ended so we’ll see where it takes us.

And they are yummy recipes! Where do you find these recipes and have you made most or all of them in your kitchen?

Several of the recipes are ones I’ve made, and pretty much everything that appears in the book has been cooked in my kitchen. I also have a test kitchen who has given me many wonderful recipes and who cook everything and help me get it just right. I could never do this without them!

A recipe expert, huh? And with your very own testing kitchen, wow. Is there a secret recipe to writing a good mystery?

Mysteries have long been known as a very ‘recipe’ driven genre. You have a dead person, a sleuth, some red herrings, a little foreshadowing, unsuspected bad guy, and then you tell the story by working backward from the discovery of the crime until you get back to the moment of ‘impact’ which was actually the inciting incident of the story. It’s all a little bizarre, really, and yet readers of a mystery have very specific expectations when they pick up your book. The challenge is to stick to the recipe but still make it your own; add a little extra kick here and blend the flavor differently there but still present the expected dish to your readers. I’ve really enjoyed writing in this genre and learning all the little tricks to make it work.

Josi, you write so well. thank you for spending this time with us.
Here's a reminder of Josi's published work. (I just finished Key Lime Pie and can't wait to try some of the recipes!)
Earning Eternity (CFI 2000)
Surrounded By Strangers (CFI 2003)
Tempest Tossed (CFI 2004)
Star Struck (CFI 2005)
To Have or to Hold (CFI 2005)
Unsung Lullaby (Deseret Book 2006)
Sheep’s Clothing (Deseret Book 2007)
Her Good Name (Deseret Book 2008)
Lemon Tart (Deseret Book 2009)
English Trifle (Deseret Book 2009)
Devil’s Food Cake (Deseret Book 2010)
Key Lime Pie (Deseret book 2010)
Blackberry Crumble (Deseret Book 2011).
Coming soon:
Pumpkin Roll (Fall 2011)
Banana Split (Spring 2012)
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