Friday, March 12, 2010

Interview with Josi S. Kilpack author of Devil's Food Cake

I learned of Josi Kilpack last year as I was on book tour for The Forgotten Warrior. Many times as I sat signing books, I saw a yellow book titled Lemon Tart. I was surprised to learn it wasn't a recipe book, but a murder mystery. I really felt foolish, but I watched this book grow and grow into a number one bestselling novel for Deseret and Seagull Book Stores. I was fortunate to meet Josi at the LDStorymakers Conference last spring and took a class she was teaching. She knows her stuff. When I heard her new novel was out, in fact out six weeks early (which is almost unheard of), I knew I wanted to interview her for my blog and let you, my followers, learn more about this awesome author.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No. I never even thought about being a writer until a few weeks before I sent in my first book. I had been a voracious reader for several years and then written a book while on bedrest—but although it was fun, I didn’t write it intending to get it published; I didn’t know anything about publishing. I just had a good time. After friends encouraged me, however, I did find out how to submit and only then did I imagine what it would be like to be an actual author. It was a strange thing to contemplate . . . it still is, really.

Tell us a little bit about your new book.
Devil’s Food Cake is the 3rd book my Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery Series. Sadie has helped coordinate a fundraising dinner for the library, only to have it come to a horrifying end when a man is killed on stage. This is the third murder she’s been involved with in six months so she, of course, considers herself an expert. However, the police don’t agree, but even when she tries to step out, aspects of the case seem to come to her. So, she ends up all wrapped up in things.

Tell us about your other books.
Before this series, I had written eight LDS themed novels—most of them dealt with a contemporary issue (addiction, infertility, internet preditors) as experienced by a member of the LDS church. I enjoyed these types of books very much and will likely write them again some day.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?
I just love the feeling of accomplishment and knowing that in my small way I am trying to make the world a better place—at least for those people who, like me, love to get lost in a good book. I enjoy the challenge of stretching in new ways as well.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
I don’t really have a writing mentor, but I have many writers who inspire me either with their writing or with their struggle too write. Mary Higgins Clark is a writer who inspires me on both ends—she worked very, very hard to become a writer, but not at the expense of her family. I also love her writing style and the sheer grace of who she is. I admire CS Lewis for both his words, and his passion in writing them. I admire some of my good friends who also write—Julie Wright, Annette Lyon, Heather Moore, Carole Thayne, Tristi Pinkston, and Jeff Savage are people I’m lucky enough to call my friends, but who inspire the heck out of me because of their individual strengths that pull them through hard [times]. They are likely the closest I have to a mentor as well, because they encourage and applaud me all along the way.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be?
I grew up in Salt Lake, and currently live less than 50 miles from the home I grew up in. I was the third of nine children—my dad was a teacher and my mom stayed home. I grew up very independent and industrious; two things that I think have been huge factors in my writing. I’ve always been headstrong, a little cynical, and felt . . . different. Maybe that’s why I make up characters, because I sometimes feel like I don’t fit very well in real life. About 11 years ago we (my husband Lee and my kids) moved to Willard, which is a tiny little town on the east side of Willard Bay, in between Brigham City and Ogden. We’re both city-folk, so it took some adjustment but we can’t imagine living anywhere else. We have chickens, a dog, 5 acres of land we lease to a local farmer, and plenty of yard work to keep us and the kids busy. Honestly, if I could live anywhere in the world I’d live right where I am. I’m not here by accident—I’m here because of hard work and intent decisions that resulted in this. That said, I think I could be happy living anywhere so long as my family was with me. My husband and I sometimes fantasize about living in a down town area, or a condo with landscapers, or even back in a suburb—we like the adventure and challenge of the idea. And yet we are both very content right where we are.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?
It’s 4:30 in the morning and my laptop is open on the kitchen table. There are piles of schoolwork, dishes from last night, and some coats flung over the chairs. My daughter is practicing piano in the other room and other than the light above the table, the house is dark. I’m nursing a mug of Pero, I’m wearing warm socks, and hunching over the computer in a way that my chiropractor continually reminds me not to do. The dirty dishes are calling to me, but I’ll do those after I wake the kids up for school at 6:00, and I’m trying very hard to just keep my To Do List fuzzy in my brain while I focus on my “vacation” which is whatever book I’m working on. I’ve got an hour and a half until my day explodes, after which my writing will come in little bubbles of time I steal from something else. But right now, this minute, I’m without any other obligation. Let’s hope I can use the time wisely.

Do you watch television or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing?
I adore TV and movies and the TV is almost always on. I like criminal Justice TV, so I watch a lot of City Confidential, American Justice, Cold Case, and Law & Order. I also like shows like I survived and How Clean is Your House, and  Toddlers & Tiaras reminds me there are lots of “characters” in the world. If I can’t find a show that interests me, I love to watch movies—The Scarlet Pimpernell, Lord of the Rings, Return Me. I get all kinds of inspiration from things I watch. Everything from character ideas, to setting, to plot twists—I love borrowing from other people’s brilliance, then making it my own.

How has being published changed your life?
Publishing has changed my life in every possible way. I’ve met people I’d have never met before, researched and learned about topics I would never have known about. I’ve learned to speak in public, I’ve learned to really listen when people talk to me. I’ve learned the feeling of accomplishment I get when I finish a book I’ve worked hard on. For me, publishing has opened a world I’d have never known existed—but it’s not really “Publishing” that made the change—it’s developing the gifts God gave me into the talents I’ve used to take me there. That’s the amazing thing about gifts, abilities, and opportunities that come our way—if we grab onto those things and add our work and determination, life blossoms. Publishing is one way in which that has happened for me, and I marvel at that all the time.

Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where? Also tell about your blog and website.
I’ll be signing at the Seagull Book on Redwood road on Saturday, March 27 from 10:00-2:00 as part of their Sisterhood celebration they do the Saturday before General Conference. I’ll also be at the downtown Deseret Book on April 3rd from 6-8:00 as part of their Ladies Night.

I’ll then be presenting at the LDStorymakers Writers Confernece April 23 & 24 and I’m helping with The Teen Writers Confernece on June 5th. Lots of fun things to do.

My website is and my blog is

Thanks Kathi,

Your welcome!


  1. I love many of Josi's books and her new culinary series is brilliant! The titles and themes and all these "secret" little nuggets that come together are delightful to search out. She constantly impresses me with her skill.

    On a whole new level, Josi is an incredible person. She's kind, wise, and generous too. And she likes indian food too! What beats that?

  2. Really interesting interview! Your home sounds wonderful. Glad to hear your world is so real and normal.

  3. Great Interview! I got to meet Josi at one of her book signings with Julie Wright in St. George.
    It was AWESOME!!!
    She pretty much rocks!
    I am writing and I am determined to get published someday.

    I think I am well on my way. I am a contributor to MMB (Mormon Mommy Blogs) It is an accomplishment I am proud of anyway.

    Happy Friday!
    Thanks for posting this.
    i too will be at the LDSstorymaker's conference!

  4. L.T., Josi is a wonderful author, and I admire her writing skills very much. I've only met her once, and I was very impressed. I didn't know she liked Indian food. Thanks for stopping by and adding more information about her.:)

  5. Jemi: Josi's home does sound wonderful! She has such a busy life. I really don't know how she does everything and then write those amazing books on top of it.

  6. One Cluttered Brain: Julie and Josi at one signing. How cool was that? I'm glad you'll be at the conference. I'll be there as well. Please introduce yourself if you see me. :)

  7. Kathi--Great interview! I have a handful of author friends who have agreed to do blog interviews with me...Reading your post was quite timely for me...I've got to come up with questions for a variety of writers: mystery, thriller, women's fiction, children's fiction, picture book and non-fiction...

  8. I'm glad you liked it, Sharon. Have fun with the interviews you're doing on your blog! :)

  9. This was one of my favorite interviews I've done, thanks so much Kathi.

  10. Oooh, thanks Josi! I enjoyed doing it. :)



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