Josi Kilpack is a well-known LDS author, but unlike many authors, she didn’t always want to write for a living.
Throughout elementary school, Kilpack said that she was a good reader but did not enjoy reading. She mainly read comic books like “Garfield” and “Calvin and Hobbes,” much to her mother’s disappointment.
Her reluctance to reading changed when she was in seventh grade. Kilpack had a teacher who taught the components of reading and literature. For Kilpack, the only thing worse than reading was learning about reading. A book report was due at the end of the term, which Kilpack procrastinated until the night before. However, she had a great idea.
“I knew my mom read all the time, so I came up with this plan,” Kilpack said. “When I got home, I would talk to my mom about what she was reading and (thought) maybe I could pull this off, but she caught on pretty quick. Apparently there aren’t a lot of 13-year-olds who want to know the elements of characterization.”
Her mother gave her “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” to read. At first, with every turn of the page Kilpack complained, but at some point the book drew her in and made her lose all sense of time.
“I can distinctly remember turning the last page and it was blank and realizing that it was over,” she said. “I had been transported during this story into a completely different world, a world I had no interest in when I started, yet somehow it grabbed me, and that was the day the switched flipped for me and things changed.”
From then on, she read everything she could get her hands on. During high school, she continued to excel in reading and writing. Upon graduating, she enrolled in writing classes at Salt Lake Community College and loved them. This was the first time someone told her she was a good writer. After a year of school, she married to her high school sweetheart and started married life, no longer taking classes.
Throughout the years, she didn’t write much except in her journal every so often. While on bed rest with her third child, she read many books by LDS authors and watched “Lifetime,” and it dawned on her she could write a a short story. That short story turned into a 300-page book.
By the time her second book was published, she decided she wanted to write full-time. After publishing a few books, Deseret Book accepted her.
Lisa Mangum, Kilpack’s editor, first encountered her in 2005. “She submitted a novel for review and possible publication,” Mangum said in an email. “I read it and I loved it immediately. I thought her writing was effortless and engaging. She had an authentic voice, and her characters felt like real people. Deseret Book published that manuscript as “Unsung Lullaby” in 2006, and we haven’t looked back since.”
Annette Lyon is currently working on a collaboration project with Kilpack and two other authors titled, “The Newport Ladies Book Club.” She has loved all the books she has read Kilpack has written, but one especially stands out to her.
“With one (‘Sheep’s Clothing’), I thought I’d read a page or two while brushing my teeth,” Lyon said in an email. “I ended up sitting on the bathroom floor, toothpaste dribbling down my chin, because I was so wrapped up in the story.”
As well as working on the collaboration project, Kilpack is working on a culinary mysteries series. It features Sadie, a middle-aged woman, who loves to bake and solve mysteries while she’s at it. The seventh installment of the ten-book series, “Banana Split,” was released this year.
Carol Morgan, from Mapleton and a fan of Kilpack’s books, loves the culinary series.
“(The series) reminds me of the nosy neighbor, it reminds me of me a little,” Morgan said.
Kilpack advises aspiring writers to take the time to learn the art of writing well.
“It’s very frustrating when I pick up a book brimming with potential that the author gave up on because they wanted the accomplishment,” she said. “I’ve been writing for 13 years and I’m still attending conference and reading books on writing and learning new things.”
To learn more about Josi Kilpack and her many books visit www.josiskilpack.com.