Today I have the privilege of interviewing Whitney Award winning author Josi S. Kilpack. She has written the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery Series as well as To Have And To Hold, Her Good Name, Unsung Lullaby, and the Whitney winner Sheep’s Clothing. Josi’s latest book, Pumpkin Roll, has just been released and she is holding a contest to celebrate it. You can follow the link below to find out how to win an iPad.
Without further ado, here is what Josi had to say:
Randy: When you wrote “Lemon Tart” did you plan for it to be part of a series?
Josi: I was mindful of it’s potential, but I was looking at is as just one book at the same time. It wasn’t until Deseret Book said they liked it that I told them the series potential and they agreed to do three, which of course put me in a panic cause I hadn’t thought about the plots for these other books.
Randy: In what way, if any, is it easier to write a book series than it is a stand alone novel?
Josi: There’s already a developed character to work with. I’m not having to create back story and character traits and there’s a sense of familiar that is refreshing and allows my focus to move toward plot instead of character.
Randy: In what ways is it more difficult to write a series?
Josi: In addition to the story arc, there is a series arc which has to use each book as an essential element just like a story arc uses each scene as an essential element in each book. Keeping those questions open, but answering enough of them to keep the books connected has been tricky. On top of that there’s a character arc in each book
AND in the overall series. Sadie has to grow and change but she can’t change too much. It’s been a whole new experience for me and I guess I won’t know until I finish if I pull it off.
Randy: Is there a greater sense of success associated with writing a series as opposed to a stand alone novel?
Josi: A little bit, but there’s also an increased fear. Because the books are connected, I’m constantly worried that people will say “This newest one isn’t as good as the others.” Every writer I know lives in fear that the book they are writing is garbage and will fail. I fear that too, but I also fear that a bad book will ruin the whole series.
Randy: Do you get tired of writing about the same characters?
Josi: Yes. There are times I can’t wait to write about someone else—Sadie and I get very sick of each other. And yet, it’s kind of like a family member that you might get tired of, but then you can’t imagine not having her there either. There’s a sense of comfort when we get going on a new adventure, and yet the woman wears me out too.
Randy: Which is stronger; the sense of comfort in writing in an established and familiar setting or the desire to write something new?
Josi: It depends on the day. When I’m in a groove and the story is flowing, I’m so glad to be here and appreciate not having to take time to develop a character. When the story isn’t working, I’m certain that I’m out of ideas for her, she’s stale and boring and I need to do something new. It does help that each setting is a new one, which forces me to factor in the changes which is a huge help in the stories and in presenting Sadie some growing opportunities.
Randy: How far ahead do you plan the books in your series? Do you write them one at a time or do you have a grand plotline that you follow?
Josi: One at a time. I might have some vague ideas or thoughts on how it will work, but each book starts with a brainstorming session where I consider all the plot devices, motivations, methods, and characters I’ve already used and figure out what I can do that’s new and different. I rarely know who the bad guy is until the second half of the book which is both exciting and neurotic. Mostly neurotic.
Randy: Do you currently have an end for the series in mind? And if so, do you have an amount of time, or number of books, in mind for when that will happen?
Josi: We are planning on ten books. Book 8 is untitled as of yet, but we’re working on it. Book 9 will be Baked Alaska and the final book will be Wedding Cake. Based on the current schedule the series will finish in 2013 with the publication of a comprehensive cook book including all the recipes in Sadie’s Little Black Recipe Book.