Why Jane Kirkpatrick Still Travels To Meet Her Readers

Jane KirkpatrickToday my guest is the multi-award winning novelist/speaker Jane Kirkpatrick of Oregon. Jane’s 20th novel, her 2011 release, is based on a true story of a mother and daughter’s historic walk from Spokane to New York City in 1896 in an effort to save the family farm.  As the daughter breaks away from her traditional Norwegian roots, she discovers what family truly means.  This is a story of schism, reconciliation and grace.

The Daughter’s Walk (Doubleday), which earned a Publishers Weekly starred review: “Kirkpatrick is a master at using fiction to illuminate history’s truths. This beautiful and compelling work of historical fiction deserves the widest possible audience.”


Today I asked Jane to share with us why she still travels to meet with her readers.

Jane Kirkpatrick:

Why do I drive six hours one way for a book signing and speak at libraries even farther away? To meet fans, of course, to sell some books and to talk about the power of story. But mostly to inspire readers to listen to their own stories and maybe even write them down.

My first book was published the day before I turned 45 so I can speak a bit to following dreams even in later years. Twenty more novels and nonfiction titles are on the shelves now, most based on the lives of actual women in history.

Writing was a second career for me that blended with my mental health background. I write about the power of the landscapes we live in and long for; and through story, explore the landscapes of our minds. Spending time with readers and encouraging them to consider their landscapes and stories is as much a healing activity as the counseling I used to do.

Being in bookstores, libraries and historical societies answering questions is also energizing for me as a creative person. When someone asks “where do you draw your strength from?” I’m encouraged to wonder how my characters might answer such a question. Or I’m inspired when someone tells me (as they did last week) that following an event she and the four women who attended together and who work at the same place changed their screen savers to one of my quotes: “We seek neither convenience nor ease, but to live at the edge of possibility.” (That happens to be the sign on the gate of the remote ranch we lived at for 26 years).

That the characters I create, the people I write about, could move people is gratifying. One woman, an architect, told me she’d lost fifty pounds, ended a bad relationship and decided to pursue her love for children by designing schools and playgrounds. She said her changes began by reading my story of a Florida woman in the 1890s. I was inspired!

I learn to listen at these events. I find out what store owners are facing. I empathize with mothers and daughters working through issues not unlike the women in my latest book. I hear from men in the audience who tell me they found “community” in my books, other men they can admire. One even said that coming to the signing was his requested birthday present because he wanted to meet the person behind the stories.

It’s important for me as a historical novelist to pay attention to contemporary challenges because I hope to tell stories in such a way that the characters step out from other centuries to teach us and touch us with their lives. Getting out of my office and spending time with readers helps me remain relevant in 2011, although my stories might be set in 1911.

Educator Parker Palmer once wrote that people involved in parenting, teaching or healing are doing meaningful work. Driving hours to spend time with my fans is meaningful work.

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  1. Thank you for the invite to this contest. I hope I win, I’m looking forward to reading The Daughter’s Walk.

  2. I’m very much looking forward to reading this book!

  3. Thanks for the link to find this contest. Would love to win the book but will definitely be reading it regardless of winning or not. Sounds like an amazing story. 🙂

  4. It sounds like a wonderful story. Plus, I am so glad that I found out about the contest. It is so wonderful to read about an author who loves to connect with her readers.

  5. Keeping my fingers crossed that I win! Look forward to reading the book… I’m in much need of a good story.

  6. This book sounds like a book I would really enjoy. I’m grateful to Readerwoman for inviting me here. Who knows, I may have beginners’ luck. Love Jane’s picture with the dogs. What kind of dog is the one on the right? I’ve never seen one like it before.

  7. I really like to hear about writers who love their fans. I would love to read this story. It sounds like a great book.

  8. I would love to share this book with our library’s book club. The previews sound very intriguing. Our library in Mineola, TX may be interested in arranging an author visit.

  9. I have read most of Jane’s books. I’m especially looking forward to reading this one because of my Norwegian heritage.

  10. I love stories about mothers and daughters, how relationships grow and develop and of course different ways to learn more about your self/family/history. I am really looking forward to reading this book.

  11. Thank you for the invite to this contest. I’m looking forward to reading The Daughter’s Walk.

  12. My Grandma read The Daughter’s Walk and loved it! She recommended that I read it. My grandparents live in Spokane. I have many wonderful memories of going with my Grandma to Riverfront Park, riding the carousel, feeding the ducks at Manito Park and walking through the beautiful Botanical Gardens, Duncan Gardens and the Japanese Gardens. I remember watching movies with my Grandma at the IMAX theater, going to garage sales, and going on drives out into the country or drives to look at all the pretty homes in Spokane.
    My ancestors are from Norway. My brother speaks Norwegian and when my brother was in Norway, he met our relatives there and they gave him some family genealogy books. We can now trace our family line back to a Viking and to the first king of Norway! I have a deep appreciation for Norway and the Norwegians since my ancestors come from there. Someday I would love to go to Norway to meet my relatives, to see the fjords and to see the beautiful landscapes of Norway.
    I married a German and am now living in Germany. The German library in my city has a limited selection of English books. So I generally have to order English books from the UK Amazon website. I don’t qualify for the giveaway since I live in Germany, but just thought I would write a comment anyway. I look forward to reading, The Daughter’s Walk even if I don’t qualify. 😉
    Jane Kirkpatrick is always welcome to visit her readers in Germany 🙂 Germany has a big book fair every year in Frankfurt that I’m sure she would enjoy going to.
    Liebe Grüße aus Deutschland (Greetings from Germany!)

  13. Thanks for a great contest. I would love to win The Daughter’s Walk.

  14. Driving hours to spend time with my fans is meaningful work.

    I love this sentiment. Thanks for the invite.

  15. In this day when so much of reading seems to be moving toward technology , I am thrilled to hold a genuine paper book in my hands. I love that there are authors who still strongly desire to connect with the reader in a face to face manner. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think reading on a device is any less intellectual, important, etc. It’s just that, for me, nothing competes with the feel of paper, a deckled edge, and the scent of ink. I would be honored to win a copy of this book.

  16. Thanks for letting me know about this giveaway. I can’t wait to read The Daughter’s Walk!

  17. This sounds like an amazing story and I would love to read it! Thanks for the great interview. I love reading about author’s motivations.

  18. Thanks for letting me know about the contest. I grew up in Spokane so that caught my eye but the story hooked me too. Sounds so interesting.

  19. This sounds like a really good read. Thanks for letting me know about it.

  20. I’m not sure I have the patience to wait for this book to show up at my library! Thinking an Amazon order needs to happen.

  21. Thanks for the invite–this was interesting. I can’t wait to read. Thank you and here’s to winning!

  22. Thank you for letting me know about the contest. I’m looking forward to reading the book!

  23. Thanks for letting me know about the giveaway. I work for a library and have the privilege of selecting adult fiction materials for our patrons. My patrons love Jane Kirkpatrick’s books and I know they will love this one!

  24. Thank you for noticing my interest in the book and letting me know about this giveaway. Also, great intereview. I really love it when authors stay in touch with their readers.

  25. Thanks for letting me know about the giveaway! I’m an avid reader and very much looking forward to this book!

  26. Thank you for letting me know about this! Jane Kirkpatrick is a fantastic writer. I have loved her books for years. Inspiring!

  27. Can’t wait to read this new book. It sounds intriguing!

  28. Thanks for letting me know about this giveaway. I just subscribed – I hope I win! 🙂

  29. It looks like such an interesting story! I’ve been looking forward to reading this one, but haven’t had a chance to purchase it.

  30. Thank you for the invite to the contest. I have had this book on my reading list, and am looking forward to reading it.

  31. I’m so eager to read this book! It’s definitely on my upcoming book list! 🙂

  32. Thanks for letting me know about the giveaway on GoodReads. I love her books! – Melanie

  33. Thanks for letting me know about this contest on GoodReads. I look forward to reading this book!

  34. Jane – Thanks for sharing your stories and visiting your readers!

  35. Thank you for letting me know about the giveaway. I look forward to reading the book. I heard about it from the Pioneer Women’s website.

  36. I would love to win! I have been wanting to read this book.

  37. I have heard a lot about it; it would be great to win and learn more about the blog!

  38. Since I have this on my TBR list, I was very thankful to receive a notice that there was a contest for this book and very impressed that you took to the time to let us know about it. I’m hoping for the best for me, but good luck to everyone who is entering.

  39. I hope someday to be able to attend one of Jane Kirkpatrick’s book signings. She writes beautifully, and it is always a pleasure to read one of her books. I also love her taste in pets, I have two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels–a male, Levi and female, Maggie. Thank you for letting me know about the giveaway. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and the opportunity. – Glenda

  40. Sounds like such a great book!! Thank you for the giveaway!!

  41. Thanks for the link to this website. I have wanted to read The Daughters Walk since April, 2011. I read a little introduction to this book and I said “this one I really want to read”.

  42. Thanks for the heads up on the contest. My friends and I are looking at this as a potential book group selection. I’m looking forward to reading it!

  43. Thanks for letting me know about this! I would love to win and get a chance to read this book!

  44. I would love to win this book. It is one of the top contenders for my to-read list!

  45. Jane Kirkpatrick is one of my favorite authors. Look forward to getting a copy to read.

  46. I think this is such an interesting premise for a story. I’m looking forward to reading it and getting to know these characters and this time period.

  47. I love the quote you have posted on the gate of your ranch “We seek neither convenience nor ease, but to live at the edge of possibility.” Anything is possible!

  48. I am very interested in reading this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  49. Thanks for the information. I read Bold Spirit about the mother/daughter trek and really enjoyed it. Looking forward to the historic fiction side of it.

  50. Thank you for letting me know about the contest through GoodReads. I have been wanting to read The Daughter’s Walk since it was recommended by a good friend of mine.

  51. Thank you Stephanie for this invitation. I look forward to reading the novel.

  52. Thanks for letting me know about this great giveaway. I lived in Spokane for 8 years and am excited to read this novel.

  53. Oh YESSSSSSS…another story that empowers the reader. That’s my kind of book. I admire Jane’s drive and her devotion to an audience, and I agree that we all need to get our stories down for posterity because (like it or not) we’re living history.

  54. I really would love to read this book! Hope I can win a copy to avoid the wait list at the library!

  55. Really enjoyed Jane’s earlier books. My focus of study in college was women in the American West and Jane’s work is the best of the best.

  56. Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me. I would love to read this book. It sounds very good.

  57. Thanks for letting me know about this giveaway. I had previously put the book on my to-read list, but reading this post makes me want to read it even more.

  58. I love historical fiction. Thank you for caring so much about your fans. I subscribe via FeedBurner.

  59. A wonderful and memorable book giveaway. Historical fiction is fascinating. Thanks for this chance.

  60. Nothing better than a book and a free book is wonderful and generous. Thank you for letting me know.

  61. Thanks for this giveaway !! I love true stories!! hope to win a copy!!

  62. I’d love to win this book! I have it on my to read list. 🙂

  63. Thank you very much for the invite to this giveaway 🙂

  64. This is one of the coolest concepts! I saw a blurb of the book last week actually 🙂 And I love that Jane is willing to travel to meet “us” – that’s really special.

  65. Thanks for inviting me to the giveaway! I hope to read this book some day whether I win a copy or not. 🙂

  66. Thank you so much for the opportunity. 🙂 Please enter me.

  67. I’ve been interested in reading this novel for a long time! Great interview, I feel like I know the author better now. Love that she is so dedicated to her readers! Thank you for the giveaway! I subscribed to your blog.

  68. Love to read the book. It sounds wonderful. Please enter me. Thanks!

  69. I look forward to reading this book. I have added it to my to-read list .

  70. Have wanted to read this book for a while now. Sounds awesome.

  71. Jane, thanks for writing such uplifting and inspiring books and dedicating yourself to being there for your fans.

  72. I’ve wanted to read this book for a while too! There’s nothing like good historical fiction. 🙂

  73. Receiving a copy of her book would be wonderful.

  74. Jane, you are a remarkable woman and an amazing author. Thanks for the chance to read your latest novel.

  75. Jane, as always, you’re eloquent and thoughtful, striking right to the heart. Thank you for your insights, and remember to travel gently and take care of you, too!

  76. I am excited to learn of this book giveaway. I look forward to reading it. Thanks for the heads up!

  77. I love the quote from the ranch gate.

    As a reader, I appreciate authors coming to communities to meet with readers to discuss their books, and the history and research involved in writing them. I have been able to attend a few author visits & signings. I will admit I prefer the smaller ones because they afford more of an opportunity to ask questions and talk with the author. I worked in a small library and we were able to get a few local authors to come and do talks, but budgets didn’t allow for anyone out of the area. I ordered many of your books for the library. The Kinship and Courage series and the Tender Ties historical series were very popular.

    You are to be commended for your efforts to reach out to readers, sellers, and librarians. There is always so much more behind the story that is so interesting. In addition, most authors are lovely people who are enjoyable to talk with.

    Thank you for an interesting post.

  78. I love Jane’s books! I’ve read quite a few and they are so good! Thanks so much for a great giveaway, Ms. Jane:) I am an old email subscriber!

  79. Jane your book sounds great! I look forward to reading it.

  80. How inspiring to know that writing was a second career and a successful one! I’ve heard a lot about this book and would love to read it.

  81. It’s such a relief to hear that in 1896 mothers and daughters were dealing with schism and reconciliation. Those sorts of stories are not told in my family so I’ve had to tell them myself. Mothers and daughters walk across landscapes every day and somehow there is individuation and peace. I am curious enough about this book to buy it and wish the author well.

  82. Thanks for letting me know about the book giveaway. Can’t wait to read it. It sounds really good.

  83. I have been wanting to read this book for quite some time now and after reading this I want to read it even more. Please enter me in this giveaway.

  84. Thanks for the heads up on the book giveaway! I’m looking forward to reading The Daughter’s Walk.

  85. Librarypat says it so well, I can hardly add anything except to agree with her. People who write, especially real people stories like Jane’s, are invariably interesting people themselves and well worth the effort to meet and talk with. I love the way she urges her characters to step forward to this century to address current problems. I can see she is very popular by the large number of comments. I wish her continued success with this new book.

  86. I cannot wait to read this book!! I would check it out of the library, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to own books!! :0)

  87. I stumbled across this book on GoodReads and was fascinated by the description – can’t wait to read this one! I’m very excited about the giveaway! 🙂

  88. I had the opportunity to read An Absence So Great last year and would love to read another one of Jane’s books. Thanks for the giveaway (I am an email subscriber).

  89. Reading is such a necessity in my life… if only I had discovered it more seriously and fervently at a younger age… if only I could trade the hours playing video or card games for reading. It seems I began reading more serious material more earnestly after I married (30 yrs old). I read some nonfiction which I call “not-for-the-faint-of heart”. The bitter and difficult realities were sometimes heartbreaking and brought me to weep. My husband would ask, “Why do you read this stuff that makes you cry?” I can only say I would do it again and again. Reading especially nonfiction and historical fiction gives you as the reader the opportunity to “walk in someone else’s moccasins”. It brings us closer in our worldwide brotherhood/sisterhood and takes away the boundaries of time so that we can, for a while, live in another era. I look forward to reading this book and hope it meets my expectations since I feel that I’m quite picky in my to-read list. : )

  90. Can’t wait to read the book!

  91. Great post Jane, Stephanie. I haven’t read Daughter’s Walk but plan to soon! I couldn’t help but wonder while reading your insightful words if you have ever thought of writing from a man’s point of view. You seem to understand human nature so well that it would be interesting I’m sure.

  92. I will be putting Jane Kirkpatrick in my tbr author list! Thanks to Barbara Vey’s Beyond Her Book blog for giving out the link to this post. Can’t wait to read one of Jane’s books.

  93. I have never read one of Jane’s books before. I saw this one on GoodReads and was drawn in by the cover photograph and the delightful title. It is now at the top of my to-read list. Thanks for the introduction to this book.

  94. Would love to win Jane’s book! Have read most of her books, but not this one.

  95. Sounds like a good book. Thanks for having the giveaway.

  96. I’d love to read this book. Thanks for letting me know!

  97. Thank you all for your kind words! I wish you could all win this book. Peggy, I love your image of daughters walking across landscapes every day to find themselves…ourselves. A lovely image well written. Thanks for stopping by and isn’t that Stephanie something grand! Jane

  98. Sounds like a great read. I love historical fiction, especially those where the characters overcome adversity and are strengthened by it. Thanks for letting me know about the giveaway.

  99. Jane, your books (and you) are an inspiration.

  100. Thanks for the giveaway. I would love to win this book.

  101. Thanks Stephanie for letting me know :-). I am looking forward to seeing if I have won this book.

  102. I would love to read this book! Thank you for offering the giveaway.

  103. WOW! Looks like a great new book.

  104. Thanks Stephanie for sending me this offer. I love Jane’s books and look forward to reading each one. Hope I win this copy!

  105. I love Jane’s books and have many of them in my personal library. She gives us great details of history in a very lyrical way that is so pleasing to read. I would be honored to win a signed copy of The Daughter’s Walk. Thanks for having the giveaway.

  106. Stephanie, thank you so much for letting me know about this giveaway. I look forward to reading this book. Have a great day!

  107. I’m enjoying Jane’s novel, A Flickering Light, these days. I’m glad she visits libraries and other venues to meet her readers. There’s nothing more satisfying for an author than to interact with those who read her work. It’s simply magic!

  108. What an inspiring post. Jane’s book sounds fascinating, and the cover is lovely. I would love to win a copy of Jane’s book. – donna v.

  109. There is just something about that book cover that is so hauntingly beautiful, it really draws me in and makes me want to read this book!

  110. I am really looking forward to reading this book, and I will be going back to read earlier books by Jane Kirkpatrick!

  111. I love historical fiction and also love Jane Kirkpatrick’s books. This one looks especially good and is on my to-read list. Sure to be a good one.

  112. I would love to read this book—please enter me to win!

  113. Another inspiring offering from Ms. Kirkpatrick. I love how she is able to “tell stories in such a way that the characters step out from other centuries to teach us and touch us with their lives.” So many attempt this; so many fail. But Ms. Kirkpatrick succeeds; that’s why I, along with myriad others, really enjoy reading her books.

  114. Thanks for the info on the giveaway! I would love to be entered and look forward to reading this book!

  115. Jane sure is a classy lady. I like that she listens to the readers she meets and works from what she learns. It’s also inspiring to me, a woman of nearly 43, that her first novel wasn’t published until she was 45. It gives me hope for the future of my writing career. Thanks for the great post and the giveaway. I do subscribe via FeedBurner.

  116. I haven’t read any of Ms Kirkpatrick’s novels yet. But I have certainly considered it. It’s difficult sometimes when an author has a large amount of work out there. You really don’t know where to start unless someone familiar with the material gives you some feedback.

  117. She sounds like another author I’m going to have to explore. “So many books, so little time!”

  118. I love that Jane Kirkpatrick is a late bloomer, writing about women (in this latest The Daughter’s Walk), in one of my favorite eras. Thanks, Stephanie, for finding such a jewel.

  119. I haven’t read the book YET but I am looking forward to digging in to it very soon.

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