Shortly after I finished reading Sally Kilpatrick’s soon to be released novel, Bless Her Heart, I was fortunate enough to have a nice conversation with her on Twitter. I asked if she would be willing to do an interview for TGB, and Sally graciously agreed to do so. I am truly delighted to share that interview with you all today, and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
Welcome to TGB, Sally! Thank you for taking some time to chat with us here today. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Well, I’m originally from Tennessee, but I married a Georgia boy so here I am. I used to teach Spanish—because that’s what one does with an English major—but now I write full time and shuttle our two kids to their various and sundry activities. Uh, I’m an Aquarius. My favorite color is red, and I used to have a pet cow. I think that hits the highlights.
I was fortunate enough to be able to read a galley of Bless Her Heart, and I simply adored it. What was your inspiration for writing this story?
I kept having this idea about a preacher’s wife who’s barraged with questions about Fifty Shades of Grey. Then I thought, what if she’s in an abusive relationship because her husband has twisted the “Wives, submit to your husbands” bit. Then I fell down the rabbit hole of Christian Domestic Discipline. Between that and her mother’s having been a hippie, then I understood why Posey would want stability badly enough to stay with Chad—at least until he leaves her in the most dramatic way possible. Oh, and I knew John the Baptist, the piano tuner from my first novel, would make an appearance in the story.
Posey Love went through a lot of personal growth as the story progressed, and is dramatically changed by the end. I’ve seen writers say their characters take on a life of their own, doing what they want to do. Was this the case for Posey? If so, how did she differ from the way you first imagined her to be?
Her decision to give up church for Lent came while I was actually sitting in a Lent service. I was toying with the idea of having her sample the Seven Deadly Sins, but her giving up church surprised me. It made sense, and I thought it was pretty smart of her—her husband’s distorted idea of church was what was keeping her from being her true self, after all. Then, um, she went after some of those Sins with some unexpected gusto. I didn’t intend to have her pole dance, but, you know, there we were in the Pole Cat. Honestly, Liza is that character who just ran away with the story. For a fundraiser at my church, I offered up the name of a supporting character. Man, am I glad that Liza came my way. For some reason, just having that name breathed life into her character, and I simply adore her.
Every book goes through edits before the final draft is complete, removing certain things from the story. Could you give us an example of something that didn’t make the cut, and why?
I tried my best to write this story in third person. I had POVs from Posey, John, Liza, and Lark. I got about three-quarters into the story, and I realized that neither Liza nor Lark really had enough of an ARC to justify their POV. I didn’t want to give up on John’s, but even his wasn’t the same kind of transformation that Posey has. So I went back to first person, and the story started flowing. I have a scene of where John meets his dog, Rowdy, that I really didn’t want to let go. I’m going to include it in my newsletter a little later. Another thing that didn’t make the book was this crazy side story about Mrs. Morris and her rare piano that used to be in a Memphis brothel. What can I say? A writer’s head is a scary attic full of things she knows but doesn’t always use.
Without giving too much away, what was the most difficult part of the book for you to write?
Writing the entire book was tough because I relived some manipulation I’d endured in a previous relationship. Then I was finishing the book as the infamous “grab her by the ——” tape came out, and there was this barrage of anti-woman sentiment on social media. All of the parts with Chad were hard, so hard to write—especially his ability to go from cloyingly sweet to downright mean and back again. I’m really hoping folks will stick with Posey because good, strong, intelligent women sometimes find themselves in these relationships, and they shouldn’t be condemned for it. Just help the sister out, you know?
Every book leaves an impression on the reader. What impression do you hope your readers will be left with after reading Bless Her Heart?
Wow. That’s a hard question. I guess I want readers to remember that they are valuable people, no matter what. I’ll admit that Christianity tends to bleed into my work, and I try to present my characters as real people who may make mistakes, but there’s no mistake too big for forgiveness. Oh, and I try to remind myself—and others, too—that we don’t need any more Miss Georgettes in the world judging others for the things they do.
Thank you for telling us about Bless Her Heart. Let’s wrap up with a lightning round of favorites!
Favorite geeky things?
Superheroes—especially the new Wonder Woman, and I’ve gotten into Doctor Who, especially the 10th doctor. I’m addicted to the movie Clue. Also, I’ve never met a historic house that I didn’t want to tour. Love me some history.
You might as well ask me to choose between my two kids! Let me see if I can narrow it down a bit and go with books that touched me deeply on some level. Their Eyes Were Watching God—I can’t get enough of the juxtaposition between dialect and prose as well as Hurston’s keen eye for human behavior. All of Joshilyn Jackson’s books, but gods in Alabama was like a permission slip to show off the South I know, both the good and the bad parts. I recently finished Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to end up as a classic. I’ve also been mainlining Agatha Christie, and I’m not sure what it says that my comfort reads are all murder mysteries.
Favorite binge-worthy tv series?
Um, we watched all of the Marvel shows which meant that The Defenders was awesome. I particularly liked Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. The first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was addictive. Broadchurch, Sherlock, and that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. At the moment we’re going through old horror movies on TCM. October might as well be Vincent Price Month in La Casa Kilpatrick.
Favorite historical era?
Wow. All of them? Oh, I forgot to mention Agent Carter above. Hmmm. If I had to pick a favorite historical period it would probably be there in the 40s although I do love a good Regency romance and I love, love, love all of Deanna Raybourn’s books set in the Victorian period. Those Victorians were something else.
Reading, touring historic sites, interviewing people for the books I write, running. But mainly reading. Always reading.
That’s a wrap! Thank you so much for being here, Sally. It was a pleasure getting to know more about you, and to talk about your new book, Bless Her Heart. Best wishes for great success with your fabulous book!
Thank you so much for having me and for reading Bless Her Heart! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.
Click the book cover below to pre-order Bless Her Heart on Amazon!