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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Blog Tour - Jane Kirkpatrick and A Mending at the Edge

Today, I'm joining a multi-site blog tour already in progress and arranged through Waterbrook Press/Random House publishers. As you'll see when you get to the end of the spotlight interview, there are TWO chances to win something this week. So, be sure and leave a comment to enter.


Jane Kirkpatrick is the best-selling author of two nonfiction books and fourteen historical novels, including the popular Kinship and Courage series. Her award-winning writing has appeared in more than fifty publications, including Sports Afield and Decision. She's won the coveted Western Heritage Wrangler Award, an honor shared by such writers as Larry McMurtry and Barbara Kingsolver. Jane is a licensed clinical social worker as well as an internationally recognized speaker. She and her husband, Jerry, ranch 160 acres in eastern Oregon.

by Jane Kirkpatrick
Published by Waterbrook Press/Random House


A Mending at the Edge
"Of all the things I left in Willapa, hope is what I missed the most."

So begins this story of one woman's restoration from personal grief to the meaning of community. Based on the life of German-American Emma Wagner Giesy, the only woman sent to the Oregon Territory in the 1850s to help found a communal society, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick shows how landscape, relationships, spirituality and artistry poignantly reflect a woman's desire to weave a unique and meaningful legacy from the threads of an ordinary life. While set in the historical past, it's a story for our own time answering the question: Can threads of an isolated life weave a legacy of purpose in community?

This richly textured novel, the third in the acclaimed Change and Cherish series, follows the historical figure of Emma Wagner Giesy, who chafes under the restrictions of her 1860s religious colony. When her bid to belong in her unique way unravels her most precious relationships, she seeks new ways to stitch meaning into her life.

A Clearing in the Wild
Spirited young Emma Wagner chafes at the constraints of her 1850s religious community, which values conformity over independent thought, especially in women. Skeptical of the colony's growing emphasis on preparing for "the last days," Emma clashes with their increasingly autocratic leader—and faces the unexpected consequences of pursuing independence.

A Tendering in the Storm
This lyrical novel, based on an historical figure of the 1800s, follows the spirited and intelligent Emma Giesy, who achieves her goal of separating her family from the repressive religious community in which she grew up. But unexpected and dire consequences leave her family—and her faith—struggling to survive.

Buy Your Copy of A Mending at the Edge Today!


1. This is book 3 in your Change and Cherish series. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

I was invited to a quilters retreat weekend to talk about stories because two of my novels had been "quilted" by Northwest quilting groups. I'm not a quilter, by the way, but quilters are story-tellers, too. Anyway, while there, I perused a book by Mary ByWater Cross about quilts of the Oregon Trail and there was one made by Emma Wagner Giesy. It said she'd come west with nine men to help start a new Christian community. I was intrigued. First, often women's artifacts are lost or remain nameless and here was a beautiful quilt that had the story of the maker still with it. Then I was intrigued by this lone woman traveling west. What might she have been thinking? What was her desire? How did she adapt? I learned she was pregnant when she left and that when this colony had begun other colonies, no woman had ever been sent. That's what got my juices flowing and before long I had begun my research to see what this woman might have to say to us today all these 150 plus years later.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

Someone more skilled (and famous) than I once wrote that most writers are destined to use people from their own lives to help form their characters and I imagine I do that too though sometimes I can't tell! I'm a terrible eavesdropper at restaurants and often pick up wonderful phrases or speech patterns that I incorporate.

In this series, I really found Emma to be both different and alike from me. We share being stubborn (I'm of German descent and so was Emma and that may be a given with German women :) ) but the other side of stubborn is perseverance. We both share a questioning of issues of faith especially in how we draw on faith during times of trial and that sometimes I (we) wait too long before surrendering and realizing we simply must step into the wilderness and trust. Her ability to withstand the patriarchal colony leadership is unique to her, I think. I have stood up to power but it takes me a long time to process whether I should, whether there's another way besides confrontation, etc. Emma stood up directly and I think that was a unique and admirable quality though she paid a terrible price for it too.

I worked hard to create male characters who were both strong and sympathetic; who were benevolent and yet sometimes were condescending but who would be men that strong women like Emma would love. My own husband is such a sweetheart AND he can drive me to distraction! So I worked at making male characters that are believable. A man at a signing once told me he read my books to discover more about himself through the male characters and that I'd given him a "community of strong, good men."

I didn't want to impose 21st Century values onto these people but at the same time I think some emotions and experiences transcend time. Those are the ones I hope help readers relate to the characters regardless of whether the traits are mine or uniquely the character's.

3. What themes exist in A Mending at the Edge that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I hope more than anything that readers will see that communities have ebbs and flows to them and that as participants we sometimes are actively engaged and sometimes we step away and allow others to be more upfront. That this moving in and out is healthy and normal in any community and that coming back after being separated is a strength that enriches the community and our own lives.

Secondly, I hoped to convey a story of a strong woman who did not always get what she wanted in life but who learned how to find meaning within the rhythm of ordinary days. So often, especially as we grow older, into our 40s and 50s and 60s even, we realize we may not do anything "amazing" or "noteworthy" in the record or history books. But each of us does amazing and noteworthy acts everyday in how we relate to our children, our neighbors, our communities and I wanted to honor that and encourage people of all ages that their lives are worthy of remembering.

A theme that came out of the story, one that surprised me, was when I discovered that an earlier colony with which Emma's parents had been associated, had labyrinths. I read more about labyrinths and the practice of their use in contemplative prayer and thought it would add to Emma's journey to contentment and it's made me want to engage more in labyrinth walks for my own prayer life.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The most difficult was the part about the relationship between Emma and her sons and what happened to their relationship by the edict of the leader. I just felt so sad for her! I based that material on the historical record of where the boys lived in the colony and when that happened. It's pure speculation about the why but I hope I created a reasonable explanation.

My favorite? I think the scenes with all the women together as they "hatched" up the romance between Matilda and Jacob and how Emma used her skills to form bonds with women who she had once seen as very different from herself.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

The next book is actually a kind of epilogue to the entire Change and Cherish series. It's called Aurora: An American Experience in Quilt and Craft. And it is about the actual colony in Oregon, and the story is told through the quilts and crafts for which the colonists were known in the region. There'll be lots of pictures, both historical and of the more than 80 quilts in the museum collection and many of the unique artifacts such as the tin work they did, turned furniture, colorful textiles, etc.

The publisher is also sponsoring a drawing of a replica of Emma's quilt, the one I saw a picture of those years ago that set me on my journey. People can sign up for the drawing at and click on the "Contests" link. That book will be out in October.

Then in April of 2009 I have a new series beginning called "Portrait of a Woman." The first novel is called The Flickering Light and the story is based on my grandmother who was a photographer at the turn of the century in Minnesota. It's been a great journey for me personally to research and to write my version of her story. I heard Author Rudy Weib, a Canadian award-winner, speak at Write! Canada where I'd been asked to reach some courses last year and he told the crowd to "write your own people." I loved that and so decided now was the time to tell The Flickering Light. I'm hoping others will find it a good story as well and maybe be inspired to write their "own people" too.

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Thank you, Jane, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Mending at the Edge AND a free copy of all THREE books in the Change and Cherish series. There will be TWO random drawings with this spotlight.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

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Carolynn said...

This series sounds wonderful! I would love to read it, thanks for the chance to win!

ChristyJan said...

I really enjoyed this interview with Jane. Her Change and Cherish series sounds wonderful. Please enter me in the drawings.

tetewa said...

Sounds like a great series, I'd like to be included!

windycindy said...

Evening, I think Jane is a prolific writer of historical fiction. I have been reading a lot about this particular series of hers and it seems amazing. This type of writing is what I enjoy the most. Please enter me in this delightful drawing. I really appreciate it.....Cindi

Donna said...

I love historical fiction so this sounds like something I would read. Please include me in the drawing. runninmama[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

Carole said...

What a great giveaway, Amber! I really enjoy Jane Kirkpatrick's writing, and either the book or whole series would be wonderful to win. Thank you for the opportunity!

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Grateful Gramma said...

Please enter me in the drawing too. Thanks!

LuAnn said...

What a great interview! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

Maureen said...

Thank you for the interview and the books sound different and interesting.

Rachel said...

I would love to be entered to win this series! Having the entire series prevents the agony of waiting for the next book! :)

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

We have two winners for this drawing, and they are:

CAROLYNN for the single title that is spotlighted with this post!


RACHEL for the entire set of 3 books in the series!

Congratulations. Carolynn, I have your mailing information, but Rachel, yours is needed so we can send out your books.

THREE other winners posted. Check out the comments on the recent spotlights back to Janet Lee Barton to see if you've won.

As always, thank you for your continued support.

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Well, Rachel never came back to see that she won, nor did she reply to my comment left on her blog. So, we have another winner for the complete set of Jane's series. And that winner is:


Congratulations! I have your mailing information, so I'll be mailing out your books on Tuesday.

Thanks again to everyone for your support and comments.