Best-selling author Sue Monk Kidd bringing life lessons to Ogden schools event

Sunday , October 29, 2017 - 5:00 AM

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Anyone searching for their true voice might want to check out this year’s Ogden School Foundation Fall Author Event.

New York Times best-selling author Sue Monk Kidd will be the featured guest for the 21st rendition of the event that begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Ogden Eccles Conference Center Grand Ballroom, 2415 Washington Blvd., Ogden.

The event is sold out but discounted tickets for $60 are available to see Kidd’s presentation electronically from an adjacent room and includes access to the social hour preceding the event and book signing to follow.

“Being exposed to authors of this stature is the impetus of a life changing experience for any number of our students, and as with our past authors, our community greatly benefits as well,” Janis B. Vause, executive director of the Ogden School Foundation, wrote in a news release about the event.

Besides speaking at the community author event, Kidd will speak at an assembly for Ogden high schools, according to a news release from the foundation.

Other than the author event, there will be a showing of “The Secret Life of Bees,” a film based on the novel for which Kidd is best known for writing. It’s the story of a 14-year-old South Carolina girl in 1964, who escapes domestic violence and flees to the solace the Boatwright sisters, who keep bees. The film will be shown at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at Peery’s Egyptian Theater, also at 2415 Washington Blvd. Tickets for the film screening are $5 and available by calling 801-689-8700 or visiting egyptiantheaterogden.com

Kidd said her books and her presentation often focus on finding one’s voice, particularly for women.

“I believe in finding your own passion, your necessary fire,” Kidd said in an interview with the Standard-Examiner. “It’s that thing that brings us alive.”

Such a passion does not only apply to writing but to other aspects of life too, she said.

“It’s about finding that necessary fire or that passion and pursing it,” Kidd said. “I will talk about different ways and things to do to find that.”

Having worked as a nurse, Kidd said she was in her 30s when she decided to shift her focus and pursue her dream of writing. At first, Kidd wrote non-fiction and has had several books published, mostly about women’s spirituality.

When she switched to wanting to write novels in her 40s, she said she faced challenges.

She planned to write the novel “The Secret Life of Bees” (Penguin Books, 2002) years earlier but she was dissuaded by an instructor at a writing conference.

“I went to a conference and the teacher said he didn’t think it had much potential as a novel and advised me to turn it into a short story,” Kidd said.

That she did, and years later, a woman agent who heard her read that short story advised her to make it into a novel.

“Sometimes we just need a few words of encouragement from someone,” Kidd said. “Sometimes the doubts can be very loud.”

Because of that woman’s encouragement, Kidd said she returned to write the novel as she had first envisioned it.

It took three and a half years, but Kidd finally finished the work. The result was more than 125 weeks on the New York Times Best-Selling Author list.

Following that success, Kidd also wrote “The Mermaid Chair” (Penguin Books, 2005) and together with her daughter, “Traveling with Pomegranates” (Penguin Books, 2009). 

Her latest acclaimed novel, “The Invention of Wings” (Penguin Books, 2014) is about a slave girl who is owned by a wealthy girl, Sarah Grimke, who grows up to be an abolitionist in the 19th century. The novel spans 35 years of their lives.

Reading or viewing Kidd’s work ahead of time will not be necessary in order to enjoy her presentation, she said, noting that her presentation will be in general terms without the need for people to understand specifics.

She wants to talk about the courage it takes to be a writer and her own reflections, she said.

“Sometimes for me, the most exciting moment is when the idea comes and seizes me,” she said. “You never know how that will happen. Sometimes, it’s an image in my imagination. ... I love the process of trying to take this idea that floats around in your head and turn it into language.”

 You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.

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