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.



  1. Enjoyed reading this Q & A from a new to me author.I loved that she had a dammit doll on her desk! We sometimes give those as gifts!

    1. I wish I knew who said that first. I think I stole it off one of those purse-sized calendars back when I was in high school. I was such a perfectionist, I needed something to remind myself that it’s okay to screw up as long as you learn something from it.

  2. Congrats on your release, Sally. A lot of people have been waiting to read “The Hour Choir,” including me. I hope they let you keep “The Baptist Wife Swap” title. Sounds like a hoot! Wishing you much success.

  3. Congratulations Sally. What a wonderful interview. The Happy Hour Choir would be a treasure to enjoy.

  4. This book sounds really good. Thank you for sharing this post. I am new to Sally’s books, so I added this one to my must read list.

  5. Hi! I love meeting new authors and your books sounds so sass and a fun book to read, looking for a book that I can laugh for lately its been too many sad things happening to my family and I. Thanks for this giveaway-really need a book girl giveaway!

    1. I’ve been informed that my book did make a few folks cry, but in the good way. Pleasure to meet you and here’s hoping you find a book that makes you laugh no matter what!

  6. Thank you for letting us know a little bit about yourself, especially to those of us new to you. I look forward to reading this book & future ones, because this one sounds awesome!!

  7. Congrats your new release, I will be adding it to my list. I love your motto! Enjoyed getting to know about you in this interview.

  8. Loved the post. I live by your motto. Your book sounds wonderful. Thank you for the opportunity.
    Carol L

  9. What a title! Sally sounds like someone I would like to have as a friend and barring that at least read her books. Thanks Jane for the introduction!

    1. Hey, let’s be friends because I love your handle of “Library Lady.” I think I should’ve been a librarian instead of an English Major. Anyhoo, nice to meet you!

  10. Hi Sally, I love meeting new authors and would love to read your book. Great interview and thanks for sharing with us today!

  11. The Happy Hour Choir sounds like a fun read. I had to look up the dammit doll. LOL Looks like something to poke when needing to relieve stress. 😛

    1. The dammit doll is the greatest. I use it for things other than writing, too. You know, when the kids tell you at the last minute you’re supposed to have 25 cookies for the class? Things like that.

  12. Sounds like a wonderful book for debut! Adding it to my TBR pile and will have to look for future books!

  13. This sounds like the perfect book for me. I sing in a choir and we just came back from our annual choir trip to Prosser, WA. It´s a great trip that ends with karaoke and that sums up the choir in a great way. We have so much fun together. I think I just need to read this book 🙂 Congratulations on your debut novel.

    1. What are the odds I can talk our choir director into karaoke? Of course, then everyone would know I don’t sing that well and kick me out of the choir. Hmmm. Might still be worth it. Oh, and thanks so much!

      1. Well, the funny thing is that you might actually be quite good at singing and quite terrible at singing karaoke. There gotta be a trick to karaoke :-)But we did have a good time. I think it´s worth it.

  14. Sally Kilpatrick is a new author for me. This book sounds like a book that I will be putting on my TBR list! Thank you for sharing!

    I love dammit dolls! It really helps, my co-workers used to laugh at me when I I used it.

  15. I’d love to read this book. I’ve heard lots of good things about it already. (Great PR help from Cindy K-W)

  16. “… a Dammit doll, and an Evan Gattis bobblehead”. I have never heard of these things! (I must be so wrapped up in reading my books of choice that I’ve missed them, LOL!)

    1. The dammit doll is a fabric creation that you can beat against your desk in moments of frustration while shouting a very cathartic “dammit!.” Evan Gattis is the former catcher for the Atlanta Braves. His nickname is El Oso Blanco and we, of the Kilpatrick family, loved him so that we went to the Evan Gattis free bobblehead night at Turner Field. And then he was traded, and we were sad. *has another moment of silence for losing Gattis to the Astros*

  17. thanks for featuring Sally! Always looking for new books to read by the pool over the summer!!

  18. Thank you, everyone, for being so welcoming to Sally!

    #12 Julie-Ann Ford, Congratulations! Your name was pulled from the hat as the winner of this contest! Shoot me your mailing address and we’ll get package out to you.

    love to all,
    Jane xoxo

  19. Great interview! Love the writings advice. The book sounds like a fun read, and I love the cover.

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