Author Josi S. Kilpack’s new venture is ‘As Wide As the Sky’
Author Josi S. Kilpack will give a presentation and participate in a book signing at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Summit County Library Kamas Valley Branch, 110 N. Main St. The free event is part of the Utah Humanities Book Festival and is made possible by the Kamas Valley Branch, the Summit County RAP Tax and Utah Humanities. Dolly’s Bookstore will be on site to sell copies of “As Wide as the Sky.” For information, visit utahhumanities.org.
Author Josi S. Kilpack is ready for a new chapter in her life.
The Willard-based writer, who will give a presentation and participate in a book signing at the Summit County Library Kamas Valley Branch on Thursday, Sept. 27, has published her first women’s fiction novel, “As Wide As the Sky.”
“Women’s fiction is more character driven, and it’s kind of the adult version of a coming-of-age story that we see a lot in young-adult fiction,” Kilpack said. “You zoom into a specific time of a woman’s life where she is going through a life-changing transition and discovering something new about herself.”
“As Wide As the Sky” follows Amanda Mallorie, whose son, Robbie, is a convicted mass shooter, as she begins a journey that takes her back to the time when there was more optimism in her life.
“While Robbie’s choices have landed him in this situation, there may still be time for her to find forgiveness and trust to grow again,” Kilpack said.
Kilpack will discuss the book during the Sept. 27 event.
“The only thing was I wanted to make sure I told a fresh story,” she said. “The emotional aspects, which drive the story, is what I would do if I was in this situation, how would I feel about what I would do, how would my other relationships be affected and how would I balance things out.”
The trick was not writing a melodrama.
“I really wanted it to feel real, and I wanted anyone who reads it to find a way to connect with the story,” said Kilpack, a four-time Whitney Award winner. “If there is too much drama, the story becomes theatrical, and I wanted to avoid that.”
“As Wide As the Sky” was originally going to be a short story and part of an anthology that included stories written by some of Kilpack’s friends.
The theme of the anthology was “Lost and Found,” and in thinking about her story, Kilpack remembered an incident that involved her husband’s uncle 20 years ago.
“He had received a package from his old high school, and the package contained his class ring, which he lost at Strawberry Reservoir 20 years prior to that,” she said. “Someone had found it and saw what high school it was from and sent it to the high school. The high school staff managed to find out it was his.”
Kilpack participated in a weekend writer’s retreat and began writing a romance that centered around someone finding a ring.
“The story changed and evolved over the weekend to the point where I knew it wasn’t going to be a 20,000-word romance,” she said. “After that weekend, I was able to spend time on it and dig into it, and the story started to take the form of being about a mother of a mass shooter and the paradox of the love and hate she feels towards him.”
The message of the story isn’t about what caused the situation, but more about Amanda’s next step.
“I know most of us won’t have children who will commit such a heinous crime, but we all experience relationships that disappoint us and go through some real struggles,” Kilpack said. “We all come to that place where we know we need to move forward.”
“As Wide As the Sky” is also Kilpack’s first book written under her pseudonym, Jessica Pack, to separate it from her other books.
“After writing 30 novels, this is my first nom de plume work,” Kilpack said. “It’s exciting for me to branch into something new — new publisher and new market.”
Kilpack’s fans know her from her culinary mysteries and historical romances that she published with Shadow Mountain/Deseret Book.
“Those books were more religiously bases and marketed towards their audience,” she said.
“As Wide As the Sky” is published through Kensington Publishing Corporation, which is promoting the book on a more national level.
“I’m really lucky in that for the 20 years I’ve been writing, I have been able to write in a variety of genres,” she said. “This book is heavier that what I’ve done, and I was worried about turning off my fan base. But from what I’ve heard, they have been very supportive. That’s been very gratifying.”
Blue Moon Ranch alpacas will welcome spring and visitors during an open bar day on Saturday.