A Chat with Sally Kilpatrick


I met wonderful debut author Sally Kilpatrick in San Antonio at RWA and was charmed.  She’s fun and warm and easy to talk to and I knew you’d all enjoy hearing from her too.  Sally’s book, The Happy Hour Choir just hit shelves a few days ago and I had to invite her on JaneBlog for a quick chat!

Help me welcome Sally Kilpatrick! —

Please tell us about your new book.
In The Happy Hour Choir, a fallen from grace honky-tonk piano player falls for a minister, and two worlds collide. I like to think it’s a story about finding the best in people. I wrote it in the southern fiction tradition: sassy, quirky people who don’t always do the right thing.

What prompted or inspired you to tell this story?
I started this story as the answer to “What if you were named Beulah Land but you weren’t religious enough to please your parents?” It just so happened I was at a point in my writing where I wanted to write something for me. I was so tired to trying to figure out what other people wanted to read/buy, and this story was a way to find joy in the writing process again.

Where did you grow up?  Tell us something about your childhood.
I grew up in West Tennessee, spent my whole life in the same little place. I think I was finally drawn to writing about small southern towns because I miss home. I know I’m with the person I need to be with and living where I need to live, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss my parents, friends and family, and the country.

the happy hour choir (1)

Any writing rituals you simply must follow?
I really need to look into these rituals of which you speak. It often seems my kids’ schedules conspire against my having any sort of routine or ritual. When on road trips, I always say “Pee while you can.” In the course of any given week, I sigh, “Write while you can.”

What would you say are two of the most important things you’ve realized in your journey as a published writer?
You absolutely cannot compare yourself to other authors because that leads to professional jealousy, which is pure poison. When you can honestly be happy for the success of your fellow writers, you’ll know your head’s in the write place to be published yourself. Oh, and good things come to those who wait: work hard but don’t rush it. As Miracle Max says in The Princess Bride, “You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.”

Best piece of writing advice you’d want to share with writers just starting out?
You gotta finish the book. You’ll never learn how until you’ve done it at least once. Also, you can’t fix an unfinished book, and you sure as heck can’t sell it.

What are you working on next?
I’m working on another southern fiction—set in the same town—called The Baptist Wife Swap. What are the odds the publisher’s going to let me keep that title?

Name five items sitting on your desk right now.
Too many stacks of papers, Hermione Grainger’s wand, one of the tractors from the movie Cars, a Dammit doll, and an Evan Gattis bobblehead. *moment of silence for the loss of Gattis to the Astros*

Tell us something personal that not many readers know about you.
This is hard because I tend to share all the things on Twitter. Hmmm. I originally wanted to be an English Professor who specialized in the American Romantics? I have a minor in Women’s Studies? I once rustled some cattle accidentally? The first published author to read any of my work dismissed it out of hand? I was eighteen at the time and no clue what a big deal it was to even have Elizabeth Spencer looking at my work.

What is your life motto?
No experience is wasted if you learn something from it. I tell myself this a lot when I mess something up.

Title and author of the latest book you read?
Most recently finished would be The Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O’Connor. I’m usually reading at least four books at a time. At the moment, I’m finally reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, A Perfect Man by Cecilia Dominic, Good With His Hands by Tanya Michaels, and this book called Boundaries. Oh, and I just finished my first Mary Robinette Kowal, Shades of Milk and Honey.

What’s your astrological sign? 
I am such an Aquarius.

Rock or country music?

Dance/hip-hop. No, I’m kidding I listen to ALL OF THE MUSIC. I write while listening to movie soundtracks. We listen to lots of rock on road trips, and I’ve been progressively listening to more country even though I used to hate it back in the day. Lots of dance/hip-hop for running, and I have a Spotify playlist for The Happy Hour Choir that’s heavy on New Orleans jazz and bluegrass versions of hymns—well, that and country bar songs. Because those go together.

Cat person or dog person?
I like pretty much all animals except, say, snakes and vermin. I tend toward cats, though, because earning a cat’s affection is a real accomplishment.  I finally caved and have two indoor cats for the first time in my life. As a kid, all of my pets had to live outside—especially the cow.

Unable to decide between literature and writing, Sally Kilpatrick received an individualized B.A. in both from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. After eight years of teaching Spanish (because that’s what you do with an English major), she earned her MAPW from Kennesaw State University. She has since sold three books to Kensington. The first of these, The Happy Hour Choir, she began while a student at KSU. She serves as President of Georgia Romance Writers and lives with her husband and two kids in the figurative shadow of the Big Chicken in Marietta, GA. You can also find her at www.sallykilpatrick.com or on Twitter under the handle @SuperWriterMom.
Look for Sally’s new release here – Kensington | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Marietta Book Exchange


Thanks for sharing with us, Sally!  Readers, do look for Sally’s book on the above links when you’re book shopping next! To help Sally celebrate, I’m also offering a fun Bookgirl giveaway worth $40 for one lucky winner.  For a chance to win books, goodies and cool new reader swag, leave a comment here and you’ll be entered! Winner announced Tuesday.


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