Enter below for a chance to win a copy of Jane Kirkpatrick’s newest book, One More River to Cross.
Winner will be announced in the next Author Spotlight feature. Congratulations to Tera Ritchey Weaver for winning a copy of Erin Bartels’ The Worlds Between Us.
Please email my assistant Christen to claim your prize. Note: This post contains affiliate links meaning I will get a small commission if you click and buy from that link.
With more than 1.5 million copies sold, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick has become well known for her historical novels based upon real-life events. Kirkpatrick’s newest novel, One More River to Cross, is another compelling reconstruction of the true survival story of the Stevens-Murphy wagon train which had to endure storms, bad timing, and desperate decisions to outlast the winter in the untamed Sierra Nevadas.
In 1844, the Stevens-Murphy company left Missouri hoping to be the first wagons into California. Mostly Irish Catholic, they sought religious freedom and education. All went well—until October when a heavy snowstorm forced the party to separate in four directions. Each group risked losing those they loved as they planned their escapes, waited for rescue . . . or even their own deaths.
Kirkpatrick plunges readers deep into a landscape of challenge where eight women, seventeen children, and the men of the journey discover that fear and courage go hand in hand. One More River to Cross is a story of friendship, family, risk, and hope that will remind you of what truly matters in times of trial.
Author Spotlight with Jane Kirkpatrick
What is a Bible verse that inspires you to keep on writing?
The Lord knows my lot. He makes my boundaries fall on pleasant places. Psalm 16:5-6 I’m also partial to Proverbs 13:19: Desire achieved is a sweetness to the soul.
Describe the moment that you knew you were born to write.
My husband and I had made a decision that flabbergasted our family and friends. We quit our jobs and moved to 160 acres of rattlesnake, rocks, twelve foot tall sagebrush along a wild and scenic river in north central Oregon. Oh, and it had the promise of a spring. I left my job as the director of a mental health clinic; my husband was a contractor. We felt called to go to this remote place: address 99997 Starvation Lane. While I had finally decided to do this wild thing, I was using the Navigator Bible Study titled God’s Purpose for my life (I think that was the title. This was 1984). I sat in my family room and thought, what will I do at this place? We would be living 7 miles from our mailbox and 11 miles from a paved road (a rural 7-11 without convenience). It had no structures, no water, no power, no phone for sure and this was before cell service. I feared my husband and I might do each other in and be dead for weeks before anyone even knew! So, I prayed about what I might do there and I felt this word come write. Write? I thought. I had written wretched little poems as a child and my teachers had said kind things about my writing all through my post-college years. But my writing had been administrative as the director of an agency. I did know that when I wrote a letter to my legislator or agency head, I always heard back, even got a phone call. So, I knew words had power. I just never imagined I’d write words that others might want to read. But I took that word write to heart. Signed up for a local creative writing class at a community college. My instructor was Bob Welch, a now famous writer and then he headed the sports section of the local newspaper. He suggested that I might publish some of the assignments he gave – and I did getting a two page spread in a national magazine two days before we moved. Then on the ranch, I’d write letters to family and friends to assure them that we were still alive and one wrote back and said “When we get your letters, we don’t read them right away. We wait until after supper and we turn off the tv and read them aloud as they are like chapters in a book.” That inspired me to write about our journey to step out on a cloud of faith believing we wouldn’t fall through. Thirty-two books later, we are still walking on that cloud trusting. We lived on that homestead for nearly 30 years and now it is part of Oregon’s newest state park! A happy ending!
Describe an Aha! moment.
In A Sweetness to the Soul, I had created a character early on who was a minor character I named Eleanor. She was a mute and I liked her but I didn’t really have a place for her in the story after this one scene. I knew I’d have to cut her because I had spent too much time on her and readers would expect to see her again. “I’ll do it later,” I decided and kept writing. I arrived at a point in the story where I knew this family I was writing about had actually build a home for a couple with five children. No one knew the name of them but I had the protagonist knock on the tent door and when the flat opened…there stood Eleanor. I was so happy! She didn’t have to be reduced. She was the perfect person for that moment and I was as surprised as she was I suspect! That’s when I knew that stories take on a life of their own.
Reading a good book is your escape from writing, because it makes you feel wonderful. I’m lost to another author’s ability to take me on a journey and keep me there. Only later do I go back to see how that author did that. Mostly, I enjoy disappearing into that other world and becoming refreshed. Sometimes though, the other book is soooo good I have to work at not saying to myself “Why do I try? I wish I could write like that.” But mostly I am grateful for those author’s who sweep me away.
Name a book you’ve read that made a difference to you (or to others).
The children’s book What You Know First by Patricia McLachlan. It’s a moving story about a little girl who doesn’t want to leave a place she loves and how she is finally convinced to do so in order to teach her little brother about the sounds and smells and sights of what he knew first. I use it in teaching writing classes to young children. I am always blessed by the message about how to leave and what one takes with them on the journey.
What’s your strategy for coping with bad reviews?
Someone once said that at the first sign of a negative adjective in a review he threw the review away. He said he also throws good reviews away but he reads them all the way through. I’m adopting that process.
If for some reason you couldn’t write any more, what would you do with your gift of communication?
I’d do public speaking. I do that now quite a bit, as a keynote for conferences, as a fundraiser speaker for non-profit organizations that matter to me like First Presbyterian Bend or educational foundations, American Association of University Women and others. Speaking is a different sort of skill but I find it gratifying to inspire people and encourage them to write their own stories. And if I couldn’t travel or write I’d volunteer to work with traumatic brain injured people or others with disabilities.
Describe your best writing moment.
When I finish a chapter that has a cliffhanger and I don’t know what the next chapter will bring but the next morning…something arrives to move the story forward. That’s when I feel like writing is a team effort or as Madeleine L’Engle once wrote that when we create, we co-create. We co-create with readers and with our muse, with the Holy Spirit guiding us.
Describe your worst writing moment.
Working on the galley queries from editors asking about inconsistencies in the story or how I repeated the word “light” a hundred times or some other word like “seemed” as in “She seemed to be happy.” Was she happy or wasn’t she? And show us happy instead of telling us! I try to find those intrusive words BEFORE I turn in the manuscript and feel really embarrassed that so far along in the publication process, where we’ll almost ready to go to press that I am still finding mistakes I have to correct. I feel sorry for my editors.
What book would you write if you could write any book?
I have to say that I’ve been blessed and privileged to be able to write the books I’ve wanted to write.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
Keep your word. It’s all you have in the end. From my dairy-farmer father.
Jane Kirkpatrick is the New York Times and CBA bestselling and award-winning author of more than 30 books, including Everything She Didn’t Say, All She Left Behind, A Light in the Wilderness, The Memory Weaver, This Road We Traveled, and A Sweetness to the Soul, which won the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center. Her works have won the WILLA Literary Award, the Carol Award for Historical Fiction, and the 2016 Will Rogers Medallion Award. Jane lives in Central Oregon with her husband, Jerry.