I am so excited to present this interview with Josi S. Kilpack on today’s Writers’ Corner! Josi S. Kilpack is the author of the cozy mystery series, A Culinary Mystery, which includes The Candy Cane Caper that was published on October 1st this year.
1) Are you a plotter, pantser, or somewhere in between? (A plotter is a person who loves to outline characters, plot, and/or world building before starting to write. A pantser just dives in and writes!) Tell us about your writing process.
I heard a term a bit ago that sums my writing process up pretty well: Plotster. I do a synopsis before I start and often take a break from drafting to work through problems and plan my next course, but most of my story develops as I move forward. When I over-plot, I feel beholden to that plan and struggle to enjoy the writing process. I wish I were a plotter, though, I have plotter-envy of my friends who can so seamlessly write their first draft based on all the work they did beforehand. It just doesn’t work for me the way it works for them and I’ve learned to just go with it.
2) Any “pantsing” tips? How do you avoid plot holes?
I write and revise as I go, so if I write 1000 words on Monday, on Tuesday I will revise through those 1000 words before I write new ones. When something changes in the story—as it is apt to do with me—I’ll often go back to the very start of the story and revise from there, weaving that element in. I’ll do at least one full revision after I finish a full draft, and often two or three. By the time I turn my book in I’ve gone through it at least five times and *hopefully* filled in those plot holes.
3) The “A Culinary Mystery” series is now thirteen books long! Any general tips for planning and writing a series?
This series was unique in that I didn’t write it as a series to start, and it kept growing as the series continued. If I had known it would be a 12+ series, I’d have kept better notes and character sketches that would have made referencing those details easier than it was for me. Knowing what kind of series you’re writing is an absolute—is it building, where book 4 is dependent on book 2 and 3, or is it a stand-alone where reading the ones before isn’t necessary to making sense of the one you’re reading. The difference between Harry Potter (building) and Murder She Wrote (stand-alone.)
4) You’ve written books in many genres such as romance, mystery, women’s fiction, and even novellas! Do you have a favourite genre to write in?
My favorite is women’s fiction, but I have loved the opportunity to write in all the genres I’ve written in. It allows me to challenge myself and stretch while exploring many things that interest me.
5) Speaking of genres: Actors tend to be type-casted into certain roles. Do you think writers are “type-casted” to write the same genre? How easy is it for writers (such as yourself) to publish books in more than one genre?
I think this happens a lot. There are extreme examples like JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyers who have struggled in new genres, but many new writers get stuck trying to make a name for themselves in one genre and don’t feel like they can step away from it until they are completely recognized there even if another genre calls to them too. As I said, I’m lucky to have had the chance to write so many different ones, but I have a pen name for my contemporary women’s fiction because it can be frustrating to readers to have one expectation associated with the author’s name and find a different type of story. Writing multiple genres has worked for me thanks to Shadow Mountain publishing who has allowed me to publish different types of books with them and my agent, Lane Heymont, who has found me additional publishing opportunities, including my Jessica Pack books. If I had only been able to write one type of story, I would not be writing anymore. I’ve needed the ability to grow and learn in new places to keep writing interesting for twenty years.
6) It’s awesome that your “A Culinary Mystery” series contains recipes for readers. Do you have a dummy-proof and delicious recipe in your series that you would recommend for me?
Annie’s Savory Cheese Blintzes (Wedding Cake) are one of my favorites and come together really fast. I also love the Cheater Sourdourgh (Fortune Cookie). I love to cook, but I’m not a gourmet cook and so almost every recipe included is pretty easy to put together. This has earned me some criticism from some people who want more elaborate recipes, but that’s not how I—or Sadie—cook. I want to make and eat good food that I can find ingredients and pans for and I know will work out.
About the Author
Josi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and credits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and has written twenty-five novels, one cookbook, and been part of multiple collaborations since then. She is a four-time Whitney Award winner and Best of State winner in Fiction. Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her husband and children.
When Kensington Press picked up her first national women’s fiction novel, As Wide as the Sky, Josi was in need of a pen name to differentiate between her other genres. For years, Josi has been called Jessica Pack by people who hear her name but don’t know her. It made her new pen name easy to choose. As Wide as the Sky will be released in paperback sometime in 2018.
For more information about Josi or her books, please visit her blog, What is a Sundial In the Shade?
About the Book
This Christmas, Sadie Hoffmiller Cunningham is making a list and checking it twice. For the first time since she and Pete married five years ago, their combined families are gathering for the holidays in Fort Collins, Colorado, for a party that would make Santa and Mrs. Claus proud.
She just has to bake the famous Cunningham Candy Cane Cake, make sure the looming snowstorm doesn’t derail everyone’s travel plans, and oh, yes, solve one teensy-tiny mystery before the big day.
At ninety-four and nearly blind, Mary, Sadie’s friend and neighbor, knows this will be her last Christmas. When Sadie learns that someone has stolen antique Christmas ornaments from Mary’s tree, she vows to find the thief, no matter what. The ornaments had been appraised at more than $40,000, but they were worth even more to Mary, who had intended to bequeath them to her great-granddaughter, Joy, as a final gift.
With Pete in Arizona wrapping up a case of his own, it’s up to Sadie to question the residents of Nicholas House, where Mary lives, and deduce who had the means and the motive to steal heirloom ornaments during what should be the most wonderful time of the year.
When stories of other thefts surface, Sadie feels like she’s creating a “naughty” list that could rival Santa’s. Identifying the thief, recovering the ornaments, and restoring them to Mary’s tree in time will take a Christmas miracle—and maybe a few extra-special cookies.
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