Utah author Josi S. Kipack to share her story in Coalville
Josi S. Kilpack remembers the first novel she wrote, an attempt to emulate the Regency romance genre she had been devouring as a reader for years.
Suffice it to say, that effort was not published. It remains hidden away, unlikely ever to see the light of day.
"That’s because it’s really awful," said Kilpack, who lives in Willard. "But that was the first thing I tried my hand at."
Nearly two decades later, Kilpack can look back fondly on that first attempt because of what has happened after. A self-taught writer, she persevered and has made a career as an author, publishing more than 20 novels and gaining acclaim for her Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery Series.
Kilpack recently returned to her writing roots, releasing the Regency romance novel "Lord Fenton’s Folly." She will discuss her writing career and how it led her back to the romance genre Nov. 18 at a discussion put on by the Summit County Library Coalville Branch at North Summit Elementary School. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m.
"It’s always exciting to get to come to community events, and you get to talk about that," she said. "And you get to connect with readers and other writers and just be a regular person."
As Kilpack tells it, the success she has seen has not come easy. Her second novel found a publisher but was met with little readership. The next few books fared similarly. At one point she calculated that she was making roughly five cents an hour.
But still she wrote, putting out at least one novel a year. And eventually people began to take notice. "Sheep’s Clothing," a mystery novel about the disappearance of a teenage girl, won the Whitney Award for the best mystery/suspense novel by an LDS author. In 2012, her fiction earned Best of State recognition in the literary arts category.
It took more than 10 years, but at last Kilpack’s voice had found its audience. It made all the early struggles worth it.
"For anybody who has ever had a hope or a goal in mind has been able to attain some level of that, it’s a very validating experience," said Kilpack, who describes herself as a "messy" writer. "And I think it’s made sweeter when you can look back and see that it was hard and that it did take a lot of time."
In retrospect, Kilpack is grateful for her winding path. If her first published novel had been met with acclaim, it would not have pushed her to become a better writer. She would not be where she is now, seeing continued success that has made her a sought-after author for events like the one in Coalville next week.
"At the beginning, I was disappointed that it didn’t do better because we all have these great dreams and visions of buying a cabin the mountains and being an eccentric writer and all of that stuff," she said. "But at the same time, it was still really new. I understood that I wasn’t as good as I could be. That motivated me to get better."
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