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113I – Imagining a Real Life: An Interview with Jane Kirkpatrick

Jane Kirkpatrick writes historical fiction from a different angle. She researches fascinating real people and then writes what's missing from history — their personal stories.

Everything She Didn't Say is the latest of Jane's novels. It's about the real and imagined life of Carrie Strahorn, a pioneer woman and journalist of the late 19th century. Jane used Carrie's real memoir, Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage, to create the story of what Carrie might have thought or felt but decided not to voice publicly.

Jane says writing this kind of book is a balance between not betraying the essence of the real person while also trying to be insightful about what the person had chosen not to say according to books and historical records.

There are a lot of strange and interesting ways to research real people, and Jane shares many of them with us. A book Jane suggests is Structuring Your Novel by Robert Meredith & John Fitzgerald. From this book, Jane uses three questions when starting a new story.

  1. What is your intention? Jane says this is like your elevator pitch, your one sentence that describes the story.
  2. What is your attitude toward this story? Or…What do you feel deeply about in this story?
  3. What's your purpose in writing this? Or… How do you hope a reader will be changed? Or… I'm trying to prove or show that…(life is an adventure, by relieving the suffering of others we help relieve our own, or whatever your story purpose is).

This is a fascinating interview for anyone interested in history, genealogy, research, and storytelling. You can follow Jane on her website, JKBooks.com, and on Facebook as TheAuthorJaneKirkpatrick, and you can buy her books in your favorite online or bricks-and-mortar bookstore.


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