Meet Jane

My feet throbbed from walking through shops all morning, but it didn’t matter. Tim and I entered a western-themed book store in Sisters (every place in Sisters caters to the old west – it’s a high desert tourist town east of Santiam Pass). I stood examining titles, flipping pages, and drinking in some good prose. Tim’s restless legs carried him on to the coin shop next door.

I’d been thinking about Mom’s birthday coming soon. What hadn’t she read that would do the trick?

Then I spotted an intriguing title: A Sweetness to the Soul. The author lived in Oregon. Jane Kirkpatrick. I read a few paragraphs into the historical tale.

Mmm. This lady can write.

It turned out she’s a Christian who can write.

That was several years ago. Mom enjoyed the book and loaned it to me. Then we found Jane’s next story, Love to Water My Soul.

I was a regular plasma donator those days. Immersed in this true adventure of a white girl raised by Native Americans, I waited my turn twice a week to let liquid flow from my arm into a machine (so I’d receive $45 – for reading – not bad). I marveled at Kirkpatrick’s skill in creating genuine characters, flawed and likeable. I learned Jane had worked as a counselor at the Columbia River area Warm Springs Reservation.

One Sunday Mom called. “Jane Kirkpatrick’s speaking this afternoon in Florence. Let’s go!”

We arrived late at the coastal town’s library. Jane neared the end of her talk to a roomful of people. She quietly urged them to follow their deepest dreams. She took questions like a teacher, a friend, a pro.

At a book signing later in a small shop along the wharf, I hesitated to ask Jane to autograph my second-hand copy of her novel.

Mom spoke right up. “Jane, we love your books. Deanna’s a writer, too!”

“That’s wonderful,” Jane said, opening Love to Water and writing a whole message on the title page.

So. Yep. I’m a fan.

Her books have multiplied. She’s won awards. Jane and Mom now know each other.

Last month Jane started a blog, Harvests of Starvation Lane. She lives with her husband and dog in a John Day River canyon at the end of a road called Starvation Lane. Really.

If you haven’t discovered Jane’s writing and you think inspiring, historical novels featuring women out west are cool, well. What are you waiting for?